Volume #18 - 961.|
RELATIONS AVEC L'UNION SOVIÉTIQUE ET VEUROPE DE L'EST
RELATIONS AVEC L'UNION SOVIÉTIQUE
POLITIQUES NATIONALES ET INTERNATIONALES
Le chargé d'affaires en Union soviétique|
au secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures
le 25 avril 1952|
SOVIET FOREIGN POLICY|
Reference: My despatch No. 761 of November 28, 1951.
In my despatch under reference I said that I thought Soviet foreign policy had temporarily reverted to a tough line vis-à-vis the West but that it would return to a policy of appeasement when the Soviet leaders felt the psychological moment had come, possibly in the Spring.
2. I think it safe to say that this tactical change in Soviet policy has now commenced. The evidence can be summed up as follows:
(a) The International Economic Conference in Moscow. This was clearly designed to give the impression that in the economic field the Soviet bloc was prepared to do business with the West. There are other aspects to the conference, such as the Soviet aim of exerting pressure on Western governments to relax export controls, and so on, but in the field of economic propaganda the theme is co-operation;
(b) Stalin's answers to a group of United States newspaper editors. While not very startling, they did assure the world that war was not necessarily imminent, that a meeting of the heads of the four great states might be useful, and that peaceful co-existence was possible;
(c) Stalin's interview with the Indian Ambassador. Though probably directed primarily towards India, the gesture may have also had some connection with the general lines of Soviet policy;
(d) The new Soviet approach to the German question, and the request for four-power talks;
(e) The diminishing of the bacteriological warfare propaganda in the USSR.
3. This is not very conclusive evidence but I think it sufficient to indicate that the Soviet authorities may be cautiously feeling their way towards new tactics. Their aim remains the same - to split the western alliance, to confuse the peoples of the West, and to slow down western re-armament before it becomes a danger to the USSR. But they may feel that they have greater chances of accomplishing this aim by giving the appearance of greater reasonableness and greater willingness to co-exist peacefully, without at the same time really giving way on any vital sector. As usual the strength of the Soviet position lies in the fact that having followed consistently a violently uncompromising line, the slightest retreat from it at once has the effect of convincing the more gullible that considerable concessions have been made.
4. So far the few signs of a modification of Soviet policy visible to us in Moscow have pointed only to "appeasement" in Europe; and it is quite possible that a tough line will continue in the Far East. This will depend to a large extent on developments in Korea.
5. At the same time it must be stressed that the cautious experiment with appeasement can very easily be abandoned if the Soviet leaders think it is not going to achieve the results expected, as happened last summer. At that time their attempt at a new line inevitably had to be abandoned because of the position into which they were forced by the San Francisco Conference to conclude a Japanese Peace Treaty. This time some similar event, possibly in Germany, might equally convince the Russians that "appeasement" docs not pay. It will depend very much, in my opinion, on Soviet reaction to the western decision to press ahead with the alliance of Western Germany and Western Europe. We are therefore only in the preliminary and tentative stages of this Soviet policy.
6. I think it hardly necessary to add that such a policy, if it were developed, would in no way represent a change of heart on the part of the Russians. It would be simply an indication that new tactics were needed. It would be the best proof possible that the determination of the West to build up its strength to oppose Soviet imperialism had proved correct.
7. At first glance it seems paradoxical that the Soviet Union should be experimenting with a "peace offensive" while at the same time carrying on most violent germ warfare propaganda against the United States; but I do not believe that there is necessarily a conflict there. As it seems inconceivable that the two should not be connected in the minds of Soviet planners, I have been trying to guess what the connection could be .
8. I would like to suggest that one of the purposes of the internal germ war propaganda in the USSR, about which I have reported in my despatch No. 322 of April 8,? may have been to prepare the people against the eventuality of a lessening of international tension. As I mentioned last summer, one of the difficulties confronting the Soviet authorities is: How to keep their people working at fever-pitch without the imminent threat of foreign war and invasion; and at the same time take measures to lessen the danger of war? The bacteriological warfare charges may have offered a good chance to convince the Soviet people that the Americans are such barbarians that the Russians must always be on their guard against them, even though for the moment relations should improve slightly.
9. This may sound a little fanciful but I have talked it over with a number of old hands here and they all think it sounds reasonable, and that it is the kind of logic the Russians are capable of. In any case the internal bacteriological warfare propaganda has now been reduced to a trickle, though it could easily be revived if necessary.
10. The germ warfare propaganda as taken up by the World Peace Council is another question. For the moment it is good anti-American propaganda and gives the Partisans of Peace some useful new material. If could, no doubt, be dropped easily, if necessary, as I understand that up to now there is no sign that a new campaign for the collection of signatures for an appeal to ban the bacteriological bomb is contemplated. In any case the Soviet attempt to appeal over the heads of the Western governments to their peoples will continue, as it is an essential tenet of Soviet political philosophy.
11. If the Russians should develop a new policy of appeasement, I don't think they would let it go very far. A real settlement of outstanding international questions is not, in my opinion, their aim. They might like a relative easing of international tension for the reasons I have already mentioned and because their own economy could not at the present easily stand the increase in Soviet armaments required to offset Western re-armament. But continuing international tension is practically a requisite for the Soviet system.
12. In the first place this provides one of the main justifications to their own people for the maintenance of huge armies and police forces, the necessity to work long hours for little pay and few incentives, and the failure to provide the material conditions of life promised to the Soviet people for the last 30 years. (If the USSR wished to concentrate on consumers' goods I am sure they could provide this basis, but a people materially satisfied would constitute a serious menace to the Soviet system.)
13. In the second place a tense international situation is more likely to create the conditions for the advance of Communism than a peaceful world. I think it quite possible that the Russians may think in terms of alternating periods of "appeasement" with periods of "toughness" just to confuse and bewilder western governments and public opinion. Then so long as western re-armament does not become so great as to constitute an immediate danger to the USSR, the Russians are not averse to seeing it pile up difficulties for the economics of the capitalist world. This is evident not only from Marxist-Stalinist theory but also from recent articles in the Soviet press.
14. To conclude, it seems to me that:
(a) Soviet foreign policy is at the beginning of a new and tentative experiment in "appeasement";
(b) This will probably be confined to Europe for the present;
(c) Its course will depend very largely on developments in Germany, a serious rebuff there might lead the Russians to abandon appeasement, as they did last summer after the defeat in San Francisco;
(d) The domestic bacteriological warfare campaign was intended, at least in part, to prevent the Soviet people from slackening their effort as a result of a possible lessening in international tension;
(e) The aim of Soviet foreign policy will remain the same - disruption of the Western alliance, the slowing down of re-armament and the sowing of confusion in the minds of the western public; the new tactic would be an admission that western policies vis-à-vis the USSR have been basically correct;
(f) No real attempt to solve outstanding international questions nor to reduce tension beyond a certain point can be expected since this would be contrary to basic Soviet internal and external aims.