170. Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hughes) to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1


  • Your request this morning to George Ball for INR comments

Attached is a paper in which we look at Soviet policy over the last week or so in some detail.2

In a nutshell, the Kosygin speech, Supreme Soviet declaration and protest note on Haiphong use some tough talk.3 But we can see no qualitative change in the Soviet policy lines already evident for some time: aid, probably increasing in quantity, to North Vietnam; diplomatic and propaganda pressure to get us to desist or at least to deter us from escalating; no initiative toward a peaceful settlement unless and until Hanoi gives the green light; nevertheless keep in touch with us on issues such as outer space and nonproliferation and on selected bilateral problems such as fisheries.

The Soviets seem to be confident that they can continue along these tracks with some profit, though we think some of their recent tough talk reflects worry over our further plans in Vietnam. Curiously enough, they also seem worried about US-Chinese Communist collusion, though their recent emphasis on this is in large part intended to rebut Chinese charges against them.

The troublesome thing about how Brezhnev and Kosygin have handled themselves is that they do not seem to have thought much beyond current profit to the time when their willingness to hitch their cart to Hanoi’s horse may lead them into a direct confrontation with [Page 412]us that can no longer be glossed over, like their present involvement in some of Hanoi’s air defense. Perhaps the time has come to get that message across more clearly.

Tom Hughes
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, USSR, Vol. XII. Secret; Noforn. Rostow forwarded the memorandum and the attached Intelligence Note to the President under cover of an August 6 note stating: “As requested, herewith the State Department response to your two questions of this morning conveyed to me by Bill Moyers.” (Ibid.)
  2. Attached but not printed is INR’s Intelligence Note 494, August 6, “Temperature Check on the State of US-Soviet Relations.”
  3. Reference is to Kosygin’s August 3 speech to the Supreme Soviet, the Supreme Soviet’s August 3 Declaration on Vietnam, and the August 5 Soviet note charging American interference with Soviet shipping near Haiphong. For text of Kosygin’s speech and the Declaration on Vietnam, see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, August 24, 1966, pp. 11–18. The Soviet note was handed to Kohler by Kuznetsov on August 5, but Kohler refused to accept it in view of its “abusive language.” (Telegram 609 from Moscow, August 5; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 15–1 USSR)