6. Memorandum From the Acting Deputy Director for Intelligence (Smith) to Director of Central Intelligence McCone1


  • “Bridges to Eastern Europe”
This memorandum is responsive to your request that we identify some of the moves which could be taken with respect to implementing [Page 18] the President’s policy of “building bridges across the gulf which has divided us from Eastern Europe.” It is not intended as an exhaustive study of the many possibilities available.
Obviously some steps which might advance our interests with the current regimes in Eastern Europe might have adverse effects on the general population in the area. They might also have similar effects on our interests in other areas, for example in West Germany or in the USSR. In general we have not attempted to sort out and weigh the balance of interests involved in each case.
The memorandum also does not attempt to evaluate the chances of obtaining positive action by the US Congress in cases where legislative action might be necessary.
We have coordinated this paper with DD/P.

General Considerations

Clearly, implementation of the policy must avoid dramatic and flamboyant actions which are likely to generate suspicion or which would be difficult for an Eastern European nation to accept. A series of small steps that convey our intentions and that do not create embarrassing political overtones would best serve Western interests. Even these must be subtly initiated.
There are open to Washington certain domestic actions which, although they would arouse a critical response in certain circles in the US, would contribute to a general improvement in the atmosphere with Eastern Europe.2 Among these are:
Abandonment of the annual Captive Nations Week resolution by the US Congress. It is outdated, obviously resented, and ignores the diversity in Eastern Europe.
Withdrawal of direct and indirect support of East European refugee groups and governments-in-exile. These organizations enjoy no political influence in their native countries and could never serve as an acceptable nucleus for a non-Communist government. US support of these groups, moreover, carries the implication that they are an alternative government to that in power with which we would be attempting to establish a bridge.
Expansion of the modest efforts now underway to educate the US public so that it will understand the evolving situation in Eastern Europe. This could lead to a lessening of local discrimination in the US [Page 19] against the sale of goods imported from Eastern Europe. It could lead to a favorable attitude in Congress toward the President’s policy.
Essential to any program of “building bridges” is the easing or repeal of restrictive legislation on dealings with Communist countries, so that the executive agencies of the US Government can deal with these states with greater flexibility. Under present law the extending of aid even for humanitarian purposes, such as after the Skoplje earthquake, is time-consuming and extremely difficult to arrange.
There are other general official actions the US can take which would not require any change in existing policies.
The Department of State could clarify immigration policy regarding people born in Eastern Europe who now are resident in the free world and who have subsequently made trips behind the Iron Curtain. Many such people erroneously fear they would lose the right to visit or emigrate to the US if they make a return trip to their homeland. Western European citizens also suffer under the same illusion.
The Department of State could publicly clarify in Eastern Europe US policies on issuing visas to rank and file members of the Communist party or other extant parties in Eastern Europe. Many party members do not realize they are eligible for US visas under existing regulations.
Provisions could be made for more expeditious handling of requests by US citizens of Eastern European origin who desire and need official help in making substantial gifts (such as the X-ray machine recently given to Wroclaw Hospital in Poland) to their homeland. The present process of arranging for delivery of such gifts is very laborious because the machinery of the Department of State and other government agencies is not prepared administratively to deal with such requests.
Since 1949–1950, US restrictions on trade with Eastern Europe and Communist emphasis on production for internal or intra-bloc use have kept commerce between the two areas far below its potential.
In recent years, however, all the Eastern European countries have shown growing interest in increasing their imports from the US, primarily of advanced technical equipment, but also of agricultural and other products. Some of these goods are denied the Eastern European countries by means of US export licensing restrictions. Moreover, the ability of these countries to pay for imports from the US is limited since they are denied access to commercial credit and are not accorded Most Favored Nation (MFN) treatment. Partly for these reasons, and partly because of domestic economic priorities, the East European countries have not made a major effort to develop production of goods marketable in the US. The exceptions are Yugoslavia and to a lesser extent Poland, which have been treated much more liberally than the other countries of the area in regard to US export licensing. They receive normal commercial credits, PL-480 credits, and MFN treatment. More liberal export policies [Page 20] and access to commercial credits also are being given to Rumania, which, however, does not have a very large short-term potential for exporting to the US.
Czechoslovakia probably has the most urgent need for increased trade with the West, including the US. Hungarian interest in Western machinery and equipment has increased. Bulgaria, the least developed of the Eastern European countries except for Albania, has a vital and continuing need for foreign equipment, technical assistance, and credits. The USSR has provided this support and recently granted Bulgaria a credit of $333 million. Bulgarian interest in increased trade with the US, therefore, probably would be mainly long-term and devoid of great urgency.
One way to increase US trade with East European countries without new legislation would be to liberalize US licensing requirements and make available normal commercial credits. Licensing policy toward Eastern Europe, however, involves questions of what constitutes “strategic goods” and of policy toward the Soviet Union, which may have access to products and technology sold to Eastern Europe. Substantial expansion of trade with these countries in the long term would require extension of MFN treatment to East European countries.
Further dissemination of information, trade fairs and exhibitions, resident offices and other means of trade promotion on a reciprocal basis would also serve the general objective of expanding US contacts with Eastern Europe.
US support for the accession of East European countries to the various Western-oriented international economic organizations, such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), might help to provide additional forums for East European contacts with Western countries, although the present nature of Soviet-type economic systems precludes any meaningful adherence to the policies of these organizations.
Outside the trade field, encouragement of tourism and exchanges of delegations and of university students and professors could be pressed further.
There is another general consideration bearing on the “bridge” policy as a whole. This is to avoid unnecessary competition with our Western European allies in certain Eastern European countries. By virtue of history and economic factors, several NATO states are better qualified to undertake some aspects of the “bridge building” and could be encouraged to expand their current role. Whatever steps the US may take to improve relations with Eastern Europe will necessarily influence the policies of our NATO allies.
Appended are annexes detailing possible approaches for each country in the area.3
R. J. Smith
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, East Europe, Vol. 7. Secret; No Foreign Dissem. A handwritten note on the source text by McCone reads: “Personal for McGeorge Bundy, JAM.” In a June 26 memorandum to Bundy, attached to the source text, McCone explained that the memorandum printed here consisted of “some ideas that we have developed as to how these bridges might be constructed.” He noted that no attempt had been made “to deal with the questions of legal restrictions or the practicality of suggestions on the basis of political or public opinion considerations.”
  2. Appended as Annex I is a summary of former Ambassador Kennan’s views on US policy toward Yugoslavia, written in December 1962. His views are pertinent to the “bridge building” policy. [Footnote in the source text. For text of Kennan’s memorandum, dated November 28, 1962, see Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XVI, Document 140.]
  3. None printed.