176. Editorial Note

On October 7, 1966, President Johnson delivered an address before the National Conference of Editorial Writers in New York on steps to improve East-West relations. For text of the speech as delivered, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966, Book II, pages 1125–1130. The Embassy in Moscow reported in telegram 1802, October 16, on the negative Soviet reaction to the President’s speech, particularly as expressed by Leonid Brezhnev in an October 15 speech: “While Brezhnev avoided any such terms as ‘hypocrisy’ or ‘insincerity,’ and while he observed in passing USSR also wants mutually beneficial U.S.-Soviet relations, his line is hard and biting and accords with initial Sov press comment on President’s speech, i.e., main prerequisites for development such relations are cessation U.S. ‘aggression’ in Vietnam and abandonment by U.S. of its alleged interventionism in general. According to him, President’s ‘attempt’ suggest U.S. relations with USSR and other socialist states can develop unimpeded despite U.S. aggression Vietnam and interference in affairs other states is a ‘strange and pernicious delusion.’”

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The telegram concluded, however, that Brezhnev’s failure to deal with the specific proposals in the President’s speech probably reflected the “basic predicament” the Soviets were in as a result of their negative stance on the development of U.S.-Soviet relations and their interest in certain specific steps, such as the civil aviation agreement. Brezhnev’s negative reaction should be interpreted as a “go slow” signal rather than as an outright rejection of those steps in which the Soviet Union had a strong interest. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 15–1 US/Johnson)