100. Telegram From the Embassy in Yugoslavia to the Department of State0

568. Deeply appreciate Secretary’s support vis-à-vis Popovic (UN ed Secto 50, Belgrade 3).1

It is naturally source of regret to me, but not one of surprise or repentance, that some Yugoslavs should make out of adverse reaction they have recently aroused in US a source of grievance against myself. Actually, they are wrong in their suspicions. My briefing to US press representatives here was not given until long after latter had filed their stories on Tito’s speech; and reactions I received on that occasion reflected much sharper resentment of Yugoslav line than anything said in reply. If Yugoslav leaders really believe adverse reaction due my personal influence, they are simply nurturing illusions about temper US opinion in light present crisis.

There are unquestionably embittered anti-Western elements within Yugoslav set-up. Exactly where these lie is hard to determine. Assistant Foreign Minister Djerdja, who was member Yugoslav delegation at recent conference, and who appears now to be at Tito’s side in latter’s Slovenian retreat, obviously belongs to this category. It is significant that there has evidently been, during recent months, a quiet retirement at Foreign Office, aimed at elimination of pro-Western officials.

We are safe in assuming that anti-Western advisers have often argued with Tito that he could safely take anti-American positions without fear of jeopardizing Western economic support. Past experience has seemed to confirm this view. Thesis has frequently been heard here, after all, that Western nations cannot afford not to give aid, and that ulterior political motives would house [force?] them to continue it even if economic necessity did not. If now US reaction to recent Yugoslav conduct seems to threaten validity this view, it is not surprising some people are embarrassed and find it easier to blame things on an individual foreigner than to admit to having made false estimate of limits of Western patience.

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Am persuaded that aside from Tito’s speech, time has now arrived when thorough re-examination US-Yugoslav relations could no longer have been avoided. Extent to which Tito has now gained full effective independence vis-à-vis Moscow changes certain of basic assumptions on which US policy toward Yugoslavia has heretofore been based. In addition to that, what was tolerable in Yugoslav official utterances in quieter times is no longer acceptable in a time of crisis, when the chips are down. At some point, demand had to be raised for greater coherence between Yugoslav political attitudes and reality of country’s economic and cultural necessities. To be forced to realize this is highly disagreeable to Yugoslavs, who are not used to taking political consequences of their own words and to whom pleasure of eating cake and having it too has become so familiar as to seem a god-given right. No US Ambassador who had task of bringing this realization home to Yugoslavs could or should expect to be universally popular here; and he would not be doing his duty if he was. This is a burden I will cheerfully bear so long as I am supported by Secretary’s and President’s confidence; for readjustment in question is not only inevitable but is in interests of both peoples. There are many people in Yugoslavia to whom this truth is no less visible than to people at home. We can be sure that for every bit of open opposition occasioned here by any effort to put relations on basis more in accord with realities of time, there will also be many friendly though muted Yugoslav cheers.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–BE/9–2961. Confidential; Limit Distribution.
  2. This telegram, September 28, informed the Embassy: “During outspoken but friendly luncheon conversation Secretary told Popovic we had great confidence in Kennan and shared his concern over some remarks made by Tito during conference. Popovic replied he could understand that but expressing it in aide-memoire was wrong and designed to bring pressure on GOY. Secretary replied whole conference obviously designed bring pressure on us, that Yugoslavs did not hesitate to criticize us when we did something they did not like and should not mind when we did likewise and furthermore Guantanamo was none of Yugoslavia’s business.” (Ibid., 396.1–BE/9–2861)