25. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Outlook for Eastern and Central Europe


  • U.S.
    • The Secretary
    • Secretary Fowler
    • The Under Secretary
    • Under Secretary for Political Affairs Rostow
    • Assistant Secretary Leddy
    • Mr. Charles R. Tanguy, Country Director, FBX
    • Mr. Alec G. Toumayan, Interpreter
  • France
    • Foreign Minister Michel Debre
    • Ambassador Charles Lucet
    • M. Jacques de Beaumarchais, Director for Political Affairs, Quai d’Orsay
    • M. Roger Vaurs, Director of Information Services, Quai d’Orsay
    • Mr. Jean-Yves Haberer, Director of M. Debre’s Cabinet
    • M. Jacques Leprette, Minister, French Embassy

The Secretary emphasized the importance of being clear in advance as to what our commitments are vis-á-vis situations possibly involving war. Debre reiterated the importance of the distinction he had drawn in his talks in New York between a Soviet move against Romania and any [Page 101] such move against West Berlin, Yugoslavia or Austria. The Secretary agreed that there would be significant differences between these two types of action. He added that the United States was watching Soviet troop movements carefully. We do not see any imminent Soviet threat today against Romania, Yugoslavia or Austria. The Secretary added that Soviet intervention in Romania might well be designed to prepare a move against Yugoslavia. Debre observed with feeling that any new Soviet moves would close the door to a resumption of Western conversations with the Soviet Union. Debre thought that the Soviets were aware of this and would give it considerable weight in planning their future actions. The Secretary hoped that Debre was right but he was personally less confident that this factor would deter them. When the Russians judge that their fundamental interests are involved, the Secretary said, it is difficult to know in advance how far they will allow themselves to go.

M. Debre declared that the French Government operated on the postulate that Russia did not want to become a country which was forced to choose “guns over butter.” Such a development within Russia would mean a return to the worse days of the Stalin period. It would also mean that the Soviets accepted the possibility of a new war. When and if this day comes, Debre continued, “everything would change” including their leadership and our estimate of their policies and intentions.

The Secretary observed that hopefully the Russians may now be learning that some things cannot be accomplished by means of armies of occupation. If so, this would be a helpful development. The Secretary asked Mr. Leddy to look into the feasibility of expanding our information programs to Yugoslavia and other Eastern European countries to accentuate the message regarding the immense problems which the Soviet Union has created for itself by its use of armies of occupation. Debre commented that the leaders of Communist parties in the other Eastern European countries seem to have gotten the point of direct interest to them from the Czech experience. In the event of Soviet intervention and occupation the local Communist party must change one leader out of every two.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL EUR. Secret. Drafted by Tanguy and approved in S on October 21. Debre was in the United States to attend the U.N. General Assembly session. The source text is labeled “Part V of V.”