219. Memorandum Prepared by Zbigniew Brzezinski of the Policy Planning Council1


  • Kosygin’s Mood and Perspective

In the event the President meets with Prime Minister Kosygin, some consideration should also be given to Kosygin’s mood and perspective on US policy. It is quite likely that Kosygin will be influenced by:

A sense of humiliation and frustration, brought on by recent events in the Middle East as well as by Soviet inability to deter the United States from bombing North Vietnam.
A strong suspicion that the Soviet Union is facing “a general offensive by the forces of imperialism”. The Communist mind likes to reason in patterns and to detect broad trends. Accordingly, the Soviets are inclined to see a connection between events in Brazil, Ghana, Indonesia, Congo, the Dominican Republic, and Greece. To them, the recent hostilities in the Middle East were part of this general effort to install pro-US regimes—thus to topple Nasser and the pro-Soviet Syrian Government, with Israel acting as a front for the US.

Given that, it is rather important that Kosygin emerge from any eventual meeting with the President disabused of the notion that the [Page 495] United States is out to humiliate the Soviet Union and is currently engaged in a broad political offensive directed against it. Some gesture may be in order. Kosygin should be made to feel that the President remains determined to pursue a policy of reconciliation, along the lines outlined in his speech of October 7th.2

At the same time, it is also important that Kosygin does not leave with the erroneous impression-which apparently Khrushchev took home with him from the Vienna meeting with President Kennedy-that a policy of bluff and bluster will get the Soviet Union anywhere. He is not likely to do so if in the course of the conversations the essential US interests either in the Middle East or in Vietnam-interests which we cannot afford to compromise-are concretely and specifically spelled out to him. This would not only help to allay his ideologically-rooted suspicions; it would appeal both to his Russian common sense and to his communist sensitivity to realities of power.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, USSR, Vol. XV. Secret. Forwarded to the President by Rostow under a June 17 covering memorandum in which Rostow stated: “With respect to Brzezinski’s point, the third of the three points you gave me on the telephone yesterday seems just right; namely, that we welcome the Soviet Union as the other ‘older child’ in the family of nations and look to the Soviet Union as a partner in setting a framework which will avoid hostility between ourselves and by the other members of the family.”
  2. See Document 176.