THE OPEN MIND
Host: Richard D. Heffner
Guest: Henry Jackson, Elliot Richardson, Frank Shakespeare, Donald Kendall, Harrison Salsburg
Title: “US-USSR Relations”
I’m Richard Heffner, your host on THE OPEN MIND, where tonight we propose to examine a subject we often discussed a generation ago on this program. Only between then and now the fervently held opposing positions of many leading Americans seem ironically to have been exactly reversed. Our topic, broadly speaking, concerns relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Détente, to use the current antonym of the cold war of earlier years. Now, let me use a kind of summary shorthand, one that probably won’t satisfy protagonists on the issue before us, but that might signal something meaningful to the rest of us. For I think it would not be unfair to say in summary that on the one side many persons who in the 1950s were condemned for being soft on communism now express real doubts about détente. They see it as approval of, or at least indifference to, Soviet internal repression. They see increased economic relations between the US and USSR as a means by with the Soviets may stand to gain more than we do by learning American industries’ technological and organizational know-how. And they fear that in the spirit of détente we are naively putting down our military guard against those who have promised to bury us.
Now, on the other hand, of course, there are those many, many business leaders and distinguished political figures who, a generation ago, firmly opposed as naïve at best, and perhaps traitorous at worst, any efforts at merely containing Soviet communism rather than totally destroying it. Many of them now feel that it is indeed earth’s holocaust we must fear the most. As The New Yorker magazine wrote recently, “At root, the bomb is what unites us. It clamps us together in common dread of extinction.” And Winston Churchill said that, “It is better to jaw jaw than to war war.” And the only answer to the threat of nuclear war, these people believe, is détente. Trade and economic relations with the soviets, arms limitations, and a sympathetic but strictly hands-off posture regarding Soviet posture regarding treatment of Jews who want to emigrate, and other soviet dissidents who search vainly for a semblance of freedom in their homeland.
The subject clearly is a difficult one. It cries for men of good will to think and to speak rationally without malice and with a minimum of political purpose. Two such men are Senator Henry M. Jackson and former Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson. Mr. Richardson was also Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. He was Undersecretary of State, and Secretary of Defense under President Nixon, with whom he clearly disagrees on certain domestic matters. On the Nixon foreign policy, however, I specifically asked Mr. Richardson in an exclusive interview the other day, if détente hadn’t indeed been hopefully and carefully designed to avoid nuclear conflagration, above all to foster survival and mutual coexistence. Now let’s watch a videotape of his reply.
Richardson: …say just that, it is of course a unique situation in the history of the world that two countries, each should possess not only the destructive capacity to virtually to eliminate each other’s populations, but wreak untold and unimaginable devastation on the rest of the world. And this in turn creates a powerful need to find ways of bringing about accommodation, and more especially, reducing tensions. Remember that back in the very beginning of the Nixon administration, in fact in his first inaugural address, the president spoke of the “era of negotiations.” And I think it’s fair to say at a time when there are a great many criticisms of the president, that no campaign pledge that I can think of has been more fully delivered on. He did begin, from the very outset of his administration, to lay foundations for approaching the resolution of tensions. For, as you remember, the visit to Romania, which was a stop in eastern Europe designed, first of all, to indicate that the United States was prepared to normalize relations with eastern Europe, it was simultaneously a signal to China and a country within the Warsaw Pact that had demonstrated a degree of independence in its relationship to the soviet union itself. There followed negotiations on Berlin, which have certainly all but eliminated that situation, at least so far as we are now conscious, as a source of friction and potential confrontation. Steps were initiated toward the opening of SALT negotiations, and these of course did culminate in a preliminary agreement on international, on intercontinental missiles and an actual treaty on ABMs. We were abler to deal with the Soviet Union in respect to Southeast Asia in a manner that certainly contributed to bringing about a ceasefire there. We opened negotiations with the Soviet Union and other Warsaw pact countries on mutual and balanced force reductions. And in the meanwhile there have been improvements in cultural exchanges, and of course a great increase in trade. And so I think we can honestly say that whatever has seemed practical to do in the direction of reducing the risks to the United States and the rest of the world created by the situation between the two countries, the tensions that developed out of the Cold War for so many years, is now being done. I don’t think that, on the other hand, it would be reasonable or rational to conclude that we have détente. What we are engaged in is a process of getting from where we were to a more stable world order, and it’s a process in which there is no real gain unless each side carefully calculates its own interests and takes a step toward agreement that is arrived at because the result is more advantageous to each than the situation in which they were previously situated.
Heffner: This is quite a pragmatic approach. And I gather you feel that détente, to the extent that it has been achieved, has been a very positive step in our relations with the Soviet Union.
Richardson: I think it’s a process rather than a step. I think it’s a process still underway. We are, of course, only beginning to get into the mutual and balanced force reduction negotiations in central Europe, a very difficult and complex process. It’s too early to forecast success. In a way it’s an even more complex negotiation given the situation there with the soviet Warsaw pact forces poised on one side of the north/south line and that NATO forces, including our own, on the other. Very different in composition, weapons systems and so on. We don’t have a whole lot of reason yet to be encouraged about the progress of SALT II. On one hand though, the very fact that for the first time since the Cold War, the United States is engaged in these negotiations, and it’s hopeful.
Heffner: Do you think that this process will be undermined by bringing to life again the echoes of Cold War clichés?
Richardson: I don’t think there’s any useful place for cold War clichés. On the other hand, I don’t think there’s any point either in trying to pretend that the Soviet Union has become a nice, warm pussycat that we can just pat and that we should overlook the fact that we are dealing with a country that still maintains an internally repressive regime. The problem with the Soviet Union essentially is that it has not found a way of dispersing power, and it has not found a way of dispersing power because it has not found a way of effecting the peaceful transition of power from one regime to another. I don’t think we in the United States appreciate enough what happens at the end of a president’s term of office and when a successor comes in. a huge transfer. Now, a country that hasn’t found out how to do that feels compelled to grip power tightly in order to prevent the center from falling apart and the capacity to exercise any sort of direction over governmental policy from collapsing. This I think is a fact that we have to face.
Heffner: What is your response though to those people who say that we can’t possibly avoid these echoes again of the Cold War if we persist in meddling in the internal affairs of the Soviet Union?
Richardson: I don’t think…I think the question here, of course, is what is mean by “meddling.” We cannot really, if “meddle” in the sense of exerting an impact directly inside the Soviet Union. The question really is whether the objective of encouraging a greater degree of freedom and opportunity for dissent in the Soviet Union itself should be an objective of the negotiating process. Should we regard this as one of the things we are trying to accomplish through our talks with the Soviet Union? I think the answer that really is where, while we ought to make clear our attitude, we ought not to leave any misimpression that we think the treatment accorded to Solzhenitzyn, for example, is totally at variance with our standards of treatment of a, not only a distinguished creative artist, but any human being. Nevertheless, I don’t think we should inject this into the process of negotiation itself in the sense that we are saying, “Only if you relax your internal regime will we agree to do whatever else we might do in the weapons field or the trade field in some other issue of negotiation between us.”
Heffner: Do you think that if we insisted upon “Only if” that we would undermine the continuation of the lessening of tensions and the lessening of the possibility of nuclear war?
Richardson: I think it would get in the way. And in any event, of course, the objective of the reduction of tension is, in terms of our own future survival and the preservation of peace, an objective so much overriding. Let me just add the point, after all, we got into the Cold War shortly after World War II. That’s getting to be quite a long time ago. We only began to negotiate the resolution of these situations of tension very recently. We still have a long way to go. And I think we ought to keep our eyes on the primary objectives of…just to jump into another facet of the whole situation, take the Middle East and the Gulf and the Indian Ocean and the problems arising out o the worldwide energy crisis. There is a situation which really could lead to confrontation if we do not keep our eyes on the objective of systematic pursuit of understandings that can reduce the risks of war.
Heffner: Are you sanguine, hopeful that we will keep our eye on that primary objective?
Richardson: I have no doubt about it, as long as President Nixon is in office and Henry Kissinger is Secretary of State.
Heffner: Thank you very much, Mr. Richardson.
Richardson: Thank you, Mr. Heffner.
End of taped excerpt.
Heffner: There are other points of view, of course. The Sunday New York Times Magazine, for instance, recently described American businessmen as “scurrying around the Eastern Bloc with a zeal that belies the fervent anti-communism often attributed to them. Business leaders now sound like 1950s bleeding-heart liberals in their frequent assertions that different political philosophies and systems need not stand in the way of warm and friendly economic relations between nations.” And the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce is quoted as saying, “There is a certain amount of cache associated with east-west trade. The business community is very enthusiastic about it.”
But there is another growing community of intellectuals, humanitarians, and even hard-headed military strategists who are increasingly leery of détente and its implications for our will, and perhaps our ability to foster America’s best economic interests, to defend ourselves, and to protect and encourage human rights and human freedom for all mankind. Secretary Kissinger reminded us recently, “For half a century we have objected to communist efforts to alter the domestic structures of other countries. For a generation of Cold War we sought to ease the risks produced by competing “ideologies.” And he asked, “Are we now to come full circle and insist on domestic compatibility as a condition of progress?”
But of course, perhaps for some Americans, the New Yorker made a finer point. And it said, “All of us in this country have only begun to think about the looming question of how to reconcile our survival with our liberty. For the moment we may embrace Secretary General Brezhnev. But it is Solzhenitzyn who we take to our hearts.”
One American statesman stands out in his concern that in an uncritical devotion to what has been labeled “détente,” we may strengthen the Russians and disadvantage ourselves economically in one-sided trade deals with them, that we may disproportionately give away more than we safely can or should in arms negotiations, and that we may, in effect, turn a deaf ear to the hopeful cries for liberty and human rights that come from behind Russian borders. Henry M. Jackson is United States Senator from the state of Washington. A Democrat who is frequently mentioned as a candidate for the presidency, he was also criticized for opposing détente. And I asked Senator Jackson if it is fair for him to be pictured in this way. Here is a videotape of his reply.
Jackson: Well, first of all, what do we mean by “détente”? I want to see a human détente. “Détente” is a French word for which we don’t have a counterpart in English. But its’ an understanding, better relationship, better working arrangements with another country or another group, so to speak. In light of that sort of definition, what I want is a real détente, a human détente; not an ad hoc détente of convenience that’s tied to a 1972 election, the idea that we had to get something moving in this part of the world, and then as a result of that, why, everything’s going to be great.
Now, what we really got out of it was a SALT I agreement that’s very destabilizing and that must be changed if it’s going to bring about a proper balance forces – and I’ll come to that in a moment. Secondly, we don’t want any more Russian grain deals. I want to use our economic power to help make for a better world. But the Russian, or should I say the great grain robbery of 1972 caused a terrible reaction, and properly so, in the United States, set off a new chain of inflation, the most devastating since World War II now to be followed by an energy and a food inflation at the same time. And our taxpayers had to pay out a large sum of money. And then, to give you a classic example of the kind of détente I don’t want to have, is for Mr. Nixon and Mr. Brezhnev to meet, as they did last June and say, another communiqué from the summit, and what did they say? Well, they said, “We’ve had a great meeting here, and we’ve got better relationships now between our country, and we believe that we can avoid the possibility of confrontations.” And he gave us an example, the Middle East. Three and a half months later we were virtually eyeball to eyeball in a confrontation with the Soviet Union. Now, I think it’s this sort of thing that’s bad.
Now, what do I mean then by a real détente, a human détente? The first thing is that I feel that if we’re going to have better relations with the soviet union, there needs to be some movement here of eliminating distrust. I have offered an amendment which is tied directly to the implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, approved 88 to nothing by the UN in 1946, which says a person under Article 13 can leave a country when they want to and return to a country. Now, I said if we’re going to provide economic help – and I am in favor of giving economic and technical assistance to the Soviet Union under proper conditions – then if we’re going to do that, let’s get nothing for ourselves, but let’s get something for a better world. And the least the soviets can do is live up to that declaration of 25 years ago. That’s the first implementation. I want to see a, literally, you know, thousands of Russian students come to the United States and thousands of American students going to Russia. Well, what do we have? Little old Luxembourg, the smallest country in the world sent, I think two or three year ago, the last I looked at the figures, sent more students to the United States than the Russians sent. And the average age of Russian students is not exactly college age, for the most part. Then I want to see thousands of American tourists going to Russia, not a one-way street as it is now, but thousands of real tourists from Russia coming to the United States.
Heffner: but if the Russians do not want to realize your vision, what will the price be that you’ll make them pay?
Jackson: Well, I’m not going to give them economic help. They’re asking for the United States to put money out of the treasury, large sums, long-term loan interest rates at six percent. They want special technological assistance; special know-how in the field of agriculture and agriculture help (they got that wheat, you know, for $1.60 a bushel, and it went to $5.00); and they want business corporate management know-how. Now, they want this from us. And I say, “Look, if you want all this economic help, why don’t you then agree to a real disarmament program?” Which I support. Not an arms-control arrangement. Let’s say to the Russians, “Okay, you need all this help. But why are you spending such a disproportionate amount of your total economic output on arms, far in excess of anything on our government?” Let’s say, instead of having these 1,618 huge, land-based missiles (we have 1,000), let’s both countries get down to some new level, say 800. The Russians will save billions of dollars, we’ll save billions of dollars. Okay, same thing with submarines. Why do they need 62 submarines and we 44? Of course it’s disproportionate. Let’s both countries be at a level of equivalence, but a lower level, of 30.
Now, this is what I mean by détente. I think the world will be convinced. And the mood, the environment, will be so much better if they see for the first time honest disarmament, real disarmament, in which money will be available in both countries to do the things that we all know need doing, especially in Russia. And the United States has its problems too.
Heffner: Many of those who support you in your contentions about disarmament, on the other hand, are concerned with your desire to involve yourself, or for this country to involve itself in the internal affairs of the Soviet Union. You made your statement about human rights. Now, how do you explain that posture?
Jackson: No, I certainly am not suggesting that the Soviet Union be made over in our image as far as civil liberties are concerned. I’d like to see it. They’ve got a constitution just like Hitler’s in which every right’s guaranteed there, but try to find a lawyer to implement it. And if you have any doubt about it, ask Solzhenitzyn and Sakharov. Dr. Solzhenitzyn and Dr. Sakharov have strongly supported Jackson’s amendment, and these two men, I am honored to have their support. And they say, “Look, this is no internal interference in the affairs of the soviet union. That a lot of Americans who argue that are naïve and fully do not understand it.” The main point is that what we do in giving the right of people to leave is to say the Soviet Union does not need to change its totalitarian attitude. We’d like to see it. But all we’re saying is that those people who want to come to another country where they can get the Bill of Rights and freedom. Now, that’s what it’s all about. I have some deep personal convictions about it. My people came from Norway. And our people were blessed with, like the English with a thousand years of freedom. They didn’t need to worry about tyranny, but they wanted to come to a country in which there was a greater I think, economic opportunity, a better chance to get ahead for working people and just plain, ordinary people.
Heffner: But if the Soviet Union won’t respond to your amendment and to your efforts as you want them to, what would be the consequences? What consequences are you willing to impose on our relations with the soviets?
Jackson: Well, I’m not going to draw a specific line, but I feel that what I’ve done already has been tremendously helpful. When I see these thousands of people that are coming out because of the Jackson amendment, when the Russians, you know, were saying before they wouldn’t’ let them out, I believe there’s room here for negotiation, and we’re on the right track in trying to make it possible, you know, for just a tiny bit of freedom for these people. And what is so revealing though is here are these two towers of strength. I think these two men, Dr. Alexander Solzhenitzyn, who is at the summit of his profession, a man of letters, and Sakharov, Dr. Andre Sakharov, the father of the hydrogen bomb, here are these two men laying their lives on the line in support of my amendment. I’m not going to let them down. And the western world, I must say, owe an undying debt of gratitude to these, the most courageous men of this century.
Heffner: What is your…
Jackson: The feeling of liberty is standing up against…it’s easy to go down on a soapbox here in our country or some other country that’s free and make some big blast against someone, but these men stand for, I think, the overwhelming majority of the people in the soviet union who seek just a tiny bit of freedom.
Heffner: What is your response then to the charge on the part of some that this puts you in the position of continuing to be a Cold Warrior?
Jackson: Oh, well, that’s nonsense. Look, let’s take, you know, the problem in South Africa. I have voted to deny special sugar benefits to South Africa, because I don’t like their apartheid program. Rhodesia on chrome, the same thing. And to support the UN action against Rhodesia for their racial policy. Now, is that interference? What do all those people say about that? I’ve tried to be pretty consistent about this because I, all my life I’ve been interested in civil liberties, whether it was voting against the House on American Activities Committee when there were only 25 out of 435 in the House that vote against it, or whether it was Joe McCarthy during that period of just about – by the way, the hearings started 25 years ago next month – I apply sort of a universal rule here. I think that if you’re a civil libertarian at home, it has something to do with your foreign policy. And the issue is the age-old one of individual liberty. Are you going to stand up for it? If you stand up for I, are you a Cold Warrior? Well, as I say, I have some strong convictions. My mother was born up – maybe that’s why they say it – north of the Arctic Circle in Norway. So maybe they’re a little stubborn sometimes (laughter). But they’ve been committed for centuries to individual freedom. It’s the age, age old quest that we’re still struggling with, applying it now in a very troubled world. And without it, there can be no real détente in the end, real and lasting détente.
Heffner: thank you very much, Senator Jackson.
End of taped excerpt.
Heffner: Important points made by both men. Now, let’s turn to our panel, who will discuss this subject, US-USSR Relations. My first guest is Mr. Donald M. Kendall, Chairman of PepsiCo, Inc., Chairman too of the US-USSR Joint Trade and Economic Council. Harrison Salsburg, soviet expert, former Associate Editor of The New York Times. And Mr. Frank Shakespeare, who is the former Director of the United States information agency.
Gentlemen, I think it wouldn’t be unfair if turn to Mr. Kendall and ask him what his response is to many of the points, particularly those raised by Senator Jackson.
Kendall: Well, this is a case which the news media quite frequently have been accused of instantaneous analysis of someone’s comments, and I’m only sorry that Senator Jackson is not here so that we could have a discussion, because I think he touched on some subjects, but he only touched on them, and I would like to have an opportunity o probe those questions. For example, he talks about one-sided trade deals, and I’d like to know what he means by that because the balance of trade with the Soviet Union so far is heavily in our favor. He talks about a human détente. I think that’s what all of us want, is a human détente. And I don’t know how you get a human détente if you don’t have trade and discussions. And I think that we must have most favored nation treatment for the soviet union in order to continue discussions, because that was part of President Nixon’s negotiations which were certainly open negotiations with General Secretary Brezhnev on the lend-lease that they would be granted, what I’d like to call nondiscriminatory treatment, because we give this same treatment to all the other countries in the world, with few exceptions. He says he wants a real détente, not an ad hoc détente. I don’t know you get a real détente if we don’t’ continue moving forward in our negotiations and particularly in the area of trade. He talks about what has become almost an advertising slogan for those that question our business transaction, the great grain robbery. I really would like to discuss that with him, because the soviets bought grain in this country the then-going price that we were selling grain to everyone else in the world and under the same identical conditions that we were selling grain to everyone else. The only difference was that the quantity of grain they bought. And it was that quantity which brought about the tremendous increase in worldwide prices of wheat, because all of a sudden our inventory was gone down alarmingly when people buying larger quantities they get even a better price. However, their price was the same as others that they were getting. I do think that if there’s any mistake on negotiating the grain deal, it was ours, not theirs, because their responsibility, like everyone else, is to buy for the best possible price.
He mentions he doesn’t want any more of the so-called Nixon-Brezhnev meetings like last June where statements come out that are not meaningful. And then we have the Middle East War start right afterwards. Unlike Senator Jackson, I think that the Middle East War is a very good proof that the détente is working. I would hate to think what would have happened five years ago if the Middle East War had started and General Secretary Brezhnev and President Nixon didn’t have the relationship that they have. I think it’s certainly Secretary Kissinger and President Nixon who I think are probably in the best position to analyze what happened in this. Both have said on numerous occasions it was because of this relationships that we with the soviets were able to bring pressure to stop the war. And I think that if we end up with peace in the Middle East in the settlement I think it’s going to be because of the détente. And so I think that we’re going a long way in what he also refers to, he said he would like to see us eliminate distrust. And as Mr. Richardson said, we’ve only started this two years ago, and we’ve been in Cold War since 1950. And I think that we’ve gone a long way in eliminating that.
He also talks about he wants students and tourists to go back and forth. And I can tell you that I had a three-hour session with General Secretary Brezhnev in Yalta last august in which one of the main subjects which he discussed with me was how to get American tourists to the soviet union, that at the present time they do not have or know how to organize tourism, they need hotels and motels. They’ve asked two American companies to come over and make proposals on tourism. Those companies are now negotiating to organize tourism in the Soviet Union.
He also mentions that he doesn’t want the money to go out of our treasury to the Soviet Union. When we’re competing in a world when we’re selling to France or Japan or the Middle East, anywhere else in the world, we have to be competitive with other nations. The XM bank credit, which I assume he was referring to, was set up to sell US equipment on a competitive basis to all countries around the world. And all we’re doing is meeting competition from our competitors I international trade such as England and France and Germany and certainly Japanese, who are doing the same type of thing. He says he just doesn’t want to give them scientific technology and business know-how. I would like to know how Senator Jackson feels that the sale of Pepsi-cola is going to give scientific technology to the soviets. And that was one of the first business deals made. (Laughter)
Heffner: Let me turn, Mr. Kendall, and ask whether Frank Shakespeare, whose field as former head of the USIA, puts him perhaps into a different frame of reference to what’s been going on, has a different approach to the subject.
Shakespeare: Well, I think I do have a different approach, which I think that you have to look on détente and judge it by the record to date, not by the words, but by what has happened. I conclude that it is at this point disadvantageous to the United States. I think the military balance which has progressed side by side with détente has reached the point where the United States may be approaching a point of very serious peril. And as a result of the record of détente and the military imbalance that we must reach a point in the United States where we have a national debate on the question of whether détente is in the best interests of the country, we reanalyze our premises, and hopefully we make some substantial changes.
Don mentioned several points. He said, for example, that when he talked with Brezhnev in Yalta that Brezhnev was concerned with how to get United States tourists to go to the Soviet Union. What he didn’t’ mention is that the figures of 1970 were that there were 55,000 American tourists who went to the soviet union, and 200 tourists from the soviet union who came to the united states. And you can be sure that those 200 tourists who came to the United States were either cleared members of the Communist hierarchy or KGB members. In talking about students, we’re going to the question of how open that society is. We have in the United States today about 150,000 students from foreign countries all over the world. Forty of them come from the Soviet Union. Now, I think there’s only one conclusion you can draw from another superpower which permits only 200 tourists in a year into the United States and 40 students. And that is that they are not going to let any of their people get out of the Soviet Union and see the United States and then go back in and infect their society with ideas of openness and freedom which may not be conducive to them.
Don also referred to the Mideast War, which he suggests was helped by the Nixon-Brezhnev relationship. Perhaps that is so. I’m skeptical on that because after you strip away the diplomatic talk on the October Mideast War, you are left with two hard facts. One is that the Suez Canal will be opened, which will be a very great advantage to the soviet navy, since it will be able to transport its fleet from the Black Sea down through toe Dardanelles, the eastern Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, and right down into the underbelly of the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf, which is the cockpit of oil of the west. The west, on the other hand, which derives its naval power essentially from carriers, cannot use it to that advantage because the carriers won’t fit through the canal. And secondly, the second fact which will emanate from the Mideast crisis is that there has been a very serious disruption in the energy supply and price structure of the west. And those are the two hard facts.
As to the military situation which occurred and perhaps to which Don referred, you are left with the fact that the President of the united states and the national Security Council had to call the American military forces to a worldwide alert presumably because o the result of a very tough and frightening cable that he got from the soviet union, which they said they would release but have not released. Another evening, Admiral Zumwaldt, the chief of Naval Operations of the United States, said on television unequivocally that if it had not been for the US carriers in the eastern Mediterranean that the soviets would have landed troops during the Mideast War in the Middle East. Now, how one can say, considering the outcome of the Mideast War, that it was helped by détente, how one can say that the soviet union at this point is a society that we can trust, how one can look at the frightening imbalance between the Soviet military buildup and the flatness of the US military situation, and say that détente has been advantageous to the United States, I don’t understand. I think the policy is dangerous and it needs re-examining.
Heffner: Mr. Salsburg?
Salsburg: I’d like to start out by saying that I don’t like the word “détente.” I think it’s confusing. I don’t think that it really describes the process that we’re going through, or indeed the process that we might hope to achieve. Détente, to my way of thinking, implies a close relationship, a relationship of sympathetic systems of great powers which have a generally similar objective. Detente, to my way of thinking, implies a relationship between England and France before World War I and before World War II, or possibly you might say the kind of relationship that existed between Germany and Austria, the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the First World War. Now, I don’t think that that’s what we’re talking about at all so far as the Soviet Union and the United States is concerned, and I’m sorry the word got into general use. I know it’s used in Washington, and I know it’s used in Moscow, but I just don’t believe that describes what either side is up to.
I think what we have really is, it is a desire on the part of both Washington and Moscow to create a world structure which will, in a sense, lessen the possibility of world nuclear catastrophe. And this is a perfectly natural and reasonable objective on either side because we do possess the ability to blow the Russians off the map and they possess the ability to blow us off the map. So anything that is, any program that’s designed by both sides to try and lessen that as a possibility, I think must, can only attract popular support, not only in either country, but as far as the world is concerned in general. But I think that what we really are talking about is what is going on under this general umbrella. And lots of different things are going on. Perhaps the most spectacular thing that’s going on is a very determined effort initiated, I think, largely by the Soviet Union, to broaden the base of its trade, economic, and technical relationships with the United States. Now, I don’t believe this has a great deal to do with avoiding nuclear disaster, although certainly, possibly trade relations between two countries do tend to make overall relations easier, although I think we could find plenty of examples where it didn’t work out that way. I think we have to look to the soviet motivation there, and quite clearly it’s a selfish one. I think countries generally act from selfish motives and not from those of great benevolence, although they always try to cloak themselves in something of that kind. And the plain, hard fact is that the Russian economy, after 55 years of communist management, is in bad shape. It hasn’t been able to expand at the rate they would like to see it. It’s in a down, it’s rather a down draft which has been going on essentially since they overcame the great difficulties of World War II when we established their industry. They’ve tried all kinds of things to get it going, and this is, to my way of thinking, almost the last throw of the dice. A strong infusion of healthy, capitalist blood into the old, tired communist blood. And that, they think, maybe might make it work. I don’t think it will, myself. I just don’t think their system ever is going to work. It never has. I think don can sell all the Pepsi in the world to them and it isn’t going to make the Russians any stronger economically. It may make them feel a little better. I hope it does. I think it is a perhaps a very good reading of the state of the soviet economy that after 55 years of communism they’ve not been able to produce a Pepsi of their own. They’re still working on the Old Russian cross, which as I recall, is made out of fermented rye bread, and it was made for centuries before the communists came along. And they have to turn to us for Pepsi-Cola and a million other different things. So that they’re not really in all that good shape.
Now, the question then is, we have no, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t do business with the Russians. I don’t think it’s going to create a great military machine over there, any greater than they have already. They’ve been very capable in that direction. The question is, since they want our trade a great deal and they want our technology and they want our know-how and they want our business principles, what else can we get for it? We can make a little money in these deals. And American business can stand to make some money, and I’m all for that. But can’t we get a little bit more? Can’t we get something for something that is in line with American principles and American objectives and maybe those of the whole world? Can’t we in some way help the Russians into a better kind of life as well as making it possible for them drink Coca-Cola and have perhaps more computers in their system, something of that kind? I think we can. The Russians have always believed in the principle which Mr. Nixon and Henry Kissinger believe in, which is linkage of issues, of putting them all together. I remember many, many years ago when President Roosevelt negotiated diplomatic recognition for the Soviet Union at a time when the Russians also needed that because Hitler was moving up and the world was very uncertain. They wanted to have the United States in a better relationship with them. He was able to negotiate a whole series of things that had nothing to do with trade or diplomacy. He got them to promise to stop their subversion and their propaganda against us. Of course they didn’t’ do it, but they made the pledge publicly before the whole world. He got qualifications on religion and other internal matters. And this was all done in open diplomacy and, as far as I know, there was no question raised as to whether it was appropriate or not.
I say this by way of trying to answer the argument which I think lies in the minds of Dr. Kissinger and the president that in some way it’s inappropriate to push too hard about Solzhenitzyn and Sakharov and the Jews and all these other internal questions. I think it’s quite appropriate to push on those questions and to…it doesn’t have to be done publicly. But I think we can get a great deal. The Russians need us. We don’t need them particularly. And I think we ought to use the leverage we have for the general American objectives, and this is where I would be critical of our present policy.
Heffner: Mr. Shakespeare, you looked as though you were ready to spring a question.
Shakespeare: Well, I very much agree with Harrison’s statement that “detente” is a poor word. It’s a French word, and most Americans don’t understand what it means, and it’s become a cliché, and we do need a new word. Maybe “accommodation” or something of that nature would be better.
Heffner: Would you be any more for it if we called it “accommodation?”
Shakespeare: I think it would make clearer to the American people what the essence of the process is. Harrison then went on to say that he though – he didn’t say trade was of the essence – but he found trade was a very important part of the policy of accommodation. I think that that’s the desire on the part of the Soviet Union, and it’s the desire on the part of American businessmen. I suggest that in the long run it may not be of the essence, because what appears to be the most critical point now is why the soviet union, with their need for trade, with their need for western technology, with their need for American credits, for the apparent desire for a relationship of accommodation, have the military buildup accelerator down to the floor on both nuclear and conventional weapons? It was only three or four days ago that Marshall Grushko, who is Minister of Defense in the Soviet Union of course, said that they intended to keep building up their strategic forces and their conventional forces regardless of the fact that there was a Geneva Conference on the limiting of forces in progress. Jackson mentioned that the first SALT, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks were destabilizing. Well of course they were destabilizing, because we acted under what has turned out to be a false premise. We gave the Soviet Union a quantitative edge in missilery. In land missiles, it was on the order of we would take 1,000 and they would have 1,600. In sea missiles it was on the order of we would have 700 and they would, by the time all of the process works out, they would have some 950. So by giving them many more missiles, what do we get out of it? We had at that time a qualitative advantage, because in our nosecones we can put a weapon which can sprinkle nuclear devices and thus hit more targets than one target. That’s called MERV. We made the assumption that the Soviet Union would not have MERV for five to eight years, and they have now one year from SALT tested MERV.
We’re now in the Pacific, while this very discussion is going on, they’re testing what the Pentagon describes as a huge new missile, larger than anything in our arsenal or in their arsenal, and at the very time that the SALT talks are going on. When we had the Mideast War that Don Kendall referred to a while back, people were startled because the united states navy, which has been supreme for so many years and which we think of as being the world’s greatest navy, was suddenly caught with us having 60 ships in the eastern Mediterranean, most of them 20 years old, and the soviet union having 100 ships in the eastern Mediterranean, most of them eight or nine years old. Well, the best non-government analytical source of naval strength is James’ Fighting Ships, published in London. And last year, James’ Fighting Ships said that the United States navy had now become number two. Now, our admirals dispute that. But even assuming we’re in a top position, with their accelerator down to the floor, building submarines, now building carriers, they obviously are going for broke on a military buildup. They have an economy which cannot, as Mr. Salsbury so correctly pointed out, provide for the material well-being of their people. The people outside the big cities live a very, very poor life. They have no luxuries, they have no appliances, they have no cars, they have no real infrastructure like we have in the United States. They desperately need to accommodate their own people. And yet they’re not doing it. They’re spending money at an enormous rate for military buildup.
Now, if that’s true, and certainly our military people say it’s true and certainly our leading academic people like Dick Pipes, at the Russian Research Center at Harvard, or Brzezinski at Harvard, or John Ericson at the University of Edinburgh, or Shapiro at the London School, people who are studying this matter with great care say it’s true. If that’s true, then I think it raises the gravest question about détente. And the business of trade has to take a secondary position, because one has to do with material well-being, and the second has to do with survival of freedom, and that’s of the essence.
Heffner: Mr. Kendall?
Kendall: Yes. I’d like to go back to several points that Mr. Shakespeare made. First of all, he talked about the 200 tourists and the 40 students I this country, and I don’t think that’s really going to change a great deal for a while. But I think that the road that we’re on is going to lead us to more tourist and certainly more students coming to this country. It’s just getting started, and after all, we’ve only been on this road for two years. The one thing I must say that sort of shakes me about Mr. Shakespeare’s whole line of thought is, as I understood his job in the United states government, he was head of the united states Information Agency. And as the Head of the United States Information Agency, I would think that he would be a believer in communicating with people, because that’s the essence of that job in government, is the communication with people. We’ve had Radio Free Europe, which has been going for years to try and influence the people in the Eastern European countries. The United States government through the USS USIA and other efforts has been trying to get to their people. And here we now have the opportunity to go and communicate ourselves or encouraging business people to come over there. They’re encouraging tourists. I ran our international company for ten years. I have probably been to the Soviet Union certainly more times than Mr. Shakespeare and maybe as many times as Mr. Salsburg, probably more. I’ve been going there since 1959. And I think Harrison will agree that the changes are just unbelievable. And I’m not saying that their society can compete with ours. I don’t think that any society can compete with ours, but that’s not the issue. The issue is whether we should continue down the road of détente – whether you call it that or something else – which means trade, it means continued negotiations with the Soviet Union. I think that President Nixon and Secretary Kissinger are both in very good position to know whether or not we’re getting into trouble on the arms race, and that’s a separate subject because they’re proposed a higher military budget, and they’ve had trouble with that budget every time they put it to Congress.
Heffner: Excuse me, sir, you say that’s a separate subject, and I think that Mr. Shakespeare is insisting that it is not a separate subject, that the postures that the two great powers have with…
Kendall: No, it’s a separate subject. And I think if you want to discuss that then we get into our own Congress of whether or not they give enough money to do the things that the president has recommended to Congress in the military budget. I think they’re going to have great difficulty getting what they’ve already recommended through.
Shakespeare: Don, with your knowledge….
Kendall: If I could just finish. Just a moment, Frank.
Kendall: The point that I want to make, Frank, and that I think that you and some of the senators I met this morning, you only look at the business community that we’re only interested in making profits. Frank, I have two children, one five and one seven years old. And I fought in World War II out in the Pacific and New Guinea and the Philippines, and I don’t want my children to have to go to war like I did. I don’t want any more Vietnams. I don’t want a World War III. And to me the only way that you prevent another Vietnam and another World War is to continue with the détente, you continue with trade, and you continue down any avenue, whether it’s exchange of students, whether it’s exchange of tourism. And no one has proposed that the United States take down our military guard. I have not heard the president propose that, I have not heard Secretary Kissinger propose that, and certainly not Secretary Schlesinger. Everyone is for a strong military posture in this country. But how we maintain that, let’s negotiate and try and reduce military expenditures on both sides so we can do more things for our people in both countries and hopefully in the rest of the world.
Heffner: We have just a couple of minutes left. I think you were going to ask a question, Mr. Shakespeare.
Shakespeare: Well, Harrison hasn’t had a chance in a moment, and I do have a question, but I defer to Mr. Salsburg.
Salsburg: Well, I’d just like to refer back to a well-known remark that Mr. Khrushchev made to Mr. Eisenhower when détente or an attempt to improve relations really began back in 1959 and 1960. It all went to pot, as we all know, over the U-2 incident. But before that they had a discussion up at Camp David, and one of the things that they talked about was this terrible, crushing burden of armament that was pressing down their people. Now, anybody who knows the Soviet Union knows that their total budget is about one half that of ours. Their GNP is about one half of ours. So that whatever they’re doing, even granted their low labor cost, is costing them one hell of a lot more than what it’s costing us. And it’s costing us plenty. And the plea that he made to Eisenhower, and Eisenhower certainly agreed with it, and I’m sure that this would be agreed upon by both President Nixon and Secretary Brezhnev is it is worth doing almost everything to try and get this off our backs. At the same time, as Mr. Shakespeare says so eloquently, we sure as hell don’t want the tradeoff, the edge that we have and the advantage which I am confident we still have, to give them something which they don’t deserve. We’ve got to keep our superiority. And I think that’s the job of the diplomats think that’s the job of the president and Dr. Kissinger.
Heffner: You’re talking about a military edge.
Salsburg: I’m talking about a military edge.
Heffner: What about a moral edge?
Salsburg: A moral edge, the only way we could keep that is by expressing it. And if eel that we haven’t expressed it as we should have.
Heffner: Would you say, Mr. Kendall, that we should do that more? Can we interfere with the trade process? In a half minute.
Kendall: I think we’ve made great progress in the Soviet Union in this are with what we’ve already done. But the one point I would make is, I don’t think that we can legislate in the United States Senate and the United states Congress social changes in other countries.
Heffner: Mr. Shakespeare?
Shakespeare: Don Kendall referred to communications with people and the fact that he wanted for his two little children, whom I know and think are divine, he doesn’t want them to fight the way he had to fight. I agree with him. I also have little children. He suggests that trade and communications may be the answer. In part I agree with him, and in part I do not. Because if the military balance gets so far out of line, then it becomes too late. I would take us back, Don, to remembering an age in the ‘30s when Dalajay and Baldwin and Chamberlain and other people wanted contact, but Solzhenitzyn said in his Nobel Prize speech, “We may be heading towards another Munich.” And Solzhenitzyn is a man who is perhaps the greatest communicator that we have in the world today. He thinks it may not be enough.
Heffner: And that’s, gentlemen, I’m afraid, all the time we have today. But thank you very much for joining me today, Mr. Donald Kendall, Harrison Salsburg, Frank Shakespeare. And thanks, too, to you in the audience. Good night. I hope that you’ll join us again.