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The United States responded, as it always will respond, to any prospect, however slight, of making peace more just and durable. That response was backed up with virtual unanimity and on a bipartisan basis. So the United States joined with Britain and France to invite the Soviet leaders to the summit conference at Geneva.1 There President Eisenhower met for 6 days with the Heads of the other three Governments in an effort to create a better atmosphere and a new impulse toward the solution of the problems that divide us. That meeting indicated a desire on all sides to end the bitterness and harshness which could generate war. War, all recognized, would be a common disaster.
In addition, the Heads of Government agreed that their Foreign Ministers should get together in October to negotiate about European security and the problem of Germany, about the limitation of armament, and about the reduction of barriers between the Soviet bloc and the free world.
The three Western leaders recognized that the value of the summit conference would be largely determined by subsequent results. Thus, President Eisenhower, in the closing speech of the conference,' said,
Only history will tell the true worth and real values of our session together. The followthrough from this beginning by our respective governments will be decisive in the measure of this conference.
Following the summit conference the United States, in cooperation with Britain, France, and the Federal Republic of Germany, prepared thoroughly for this Foreign Ministers conference that was to
We were fully aware of the complexity of the problems which we faced. The summit conference had shown deep differences on the issues of German unity and European security, disarmament, and freer contacts. To be acceptable, solutions of these problems must take account of legitimate interests on both sides-especially as to security.
Our preparations for the meeting recognized this basic fact. The Western proposals provided the basis for real negotiations with the Soviet Union.
In my initial statement to the conference, I expressed the point of view I have just outlined. "The United States," I said, came "to this meeting dedicated to exploring patiently and sincerely all possible approaches to realistic solutions of these problems.'
Despite the effort, no specific agreements were reached.
The explanation, as I see it, is this: The Soviet Union appears to want certain results in terms of European security, disarmament, and contacts of a sort. But it is not yet willing to pay the price needed to get these results. And when I say pay the price, I do not refer to
1 See The Geneva Conference of Heads of Government, July 18-23, 1955 (Department of State publication 6046; 1955) and supra, pp. 111-114 and infra, pp. 1887-1897, 2009-2016, and 2841-2843.
2 Infra, pp. 2013-2014.
3 See statement by the Secretary of State, Oct. 27, 1955; The Geneva Meeting of Foreign Ministers ., p. 25.
bargaining terms. I mean the price in terms of doing what is inherently necessary to reach the results which we all say we want.
Let me illustrate what I mean by telling you what happened at the conference.
First of all, we talked about European security and Germany. The Soviet Union wanted security against the possible resurgence of German militarism. This was not unreasonable in the light of what the Russians had suffered from the German armies during World War II. The Western powers were indeed prepared to meet the Soviet Union in this matter.
We made security proposals of a serious and far-reaching nature.1 Perhaps the best proof of their merit is the fact that the Soviet delegation later came up with security proposals which copied many features of our own.
But there was one basic and decisive difference. Our proposals were based upon the reunification of Germany. We do not believe that solid peace in Europe can be based on the injustice of a divided Germany. The Soviet proposals were based on preserving the Soviet puppet regime in East Germany and the indefinite division of Germany, at least unless Soviet control could be extended to all Germany.
The Soviet Union at the summit conference had explicitly promised to consider the reunification of Germany by free elections and had explicitly recognized the close link between the reunification of Germany and European security.2
We tried hard, but in vain, to get the Soviet delegation to discuss seriously the problem of the reunification of Germany.
When the Soviet Union came to face up to what that involved, it balked. Obviously, if Germany were reunified by free elections this would mean the end of the puppet regime which the Soviet Union has installed in East Germany. This in turn would almost surely have serious repercussions upon the other satellite countries of Eastern Europe. There the Soviet-controlled governments are facing rising pressure. Many within the satellite countries believe. that the "spirit of Geneva" means that they are entitled to more tolerance and to governments more responsive to the needs and aspirations of their own nation.
So the Soviet Union took the position that while they were eager to get a treaty of European security they would not be willing to sacrifice their East German regime to get it. Despite what they had agreed to at the summit conference, they declared they would preserve their regime in East Germany, in clear defiance of the ardent wishes of the East Germans themselves.
Some had thought that the Soviet Union might be willing to allow Germany to be reunified by free elections if reunified Germany would not enter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But in fact the Soviet delegation made it abundantly clear that it would not permit Germany to be reunified by free election even on such terms.
So we see that, although the Soviet Union doubtless wants a
1 See infra, pp. 1897-1903 and 1921-1922.
2 See the July 23, 1955, directive to the Foreign Ministers of the Four Powers, infra, pp. 2015-2016.
European security system to which it is a party, it is not willing to provide an essential prerequisite, namely, the reunification of Germany in freedom.
The second problem that we had to discuss was that of limitation of armament. Primary responsibility in this field is now with the United Nations disarmament subcommittee. But the Foreign Ministers were directed to help if they could.
Both sides showed an eager desire to bring about limitation of armament. We want this both as an aid to peace and to permit economic resources to be devoted in greater measure to the benefit of mankind. But the Western nations are unwilling to agree to disarm unless we can be sure that both sides are carrying out the agreement. That is why we insist that disarmament be effectively supervised and controlled.
Three times in this century the United States experience has shown that one-sided weakness in disarmament does not in fact preserve peace. The United States does not intend now to risk its very existence upon promises which may not be kept.
The United States is, however, second to none in its desire for safeguarded reduction of armaments. It was to make that more possible that President Eisenhower, at the summit conference, proposed to the Soviet Union an exchange of blueprints of military establishments, and then aerial inspection to verify the blueprints and thereby improve the atmosphere by dispelling the fear of aggressive intentions on either side. That concept of President Eisenhower was rejected by the Soviets, although they did recognize for the first time that aerial inspection had a proper place in a control system.
But the Soviet Union does not attach the importance which we do to inspection and control. It continued to urge agreements, even though there was no way to check adequately whether these agreements were being fulfilled.
So our discussion of disarmament was inconclusive. We left further development of the subject to the United Nations subcommittee on disarmament.
It seems that the Soviet Government feels as yet unable to allow inspection and control which, if it is adequate, would open up their society, which is still largely based on secretiveness. So the Soviet Union, while wanting the immense benefits that could come from reduction of armament, is not willing to submit itself to the safeguards which would make this possible.
The third and final item of our agenda was the development of contacts between the East and the West. The Western powers put forward 17 proposals of a concrete nature. Many of these would have involved the freer exchange of ideas, information, and news. All such proposals the Soviet delegation rejected. It was willing to have contacts which would enable it to garner technical knowhow from other countries. It was willing to send and receive persons under conditions which it could closely control. But it reacted.
1 Infra, pp. 2841-2843.
2 See infra, pp. 2018-2021.
violently against anything that smacked of the elimination of barriers to a freer exchange of ideas. It abhorred the introduction into the Soviet bloc of thoughts which might be contrary to the official doctrine of the Soviet Communist Party.
So we reached no agreement on this topic.
The reason again is clear. We believe that human contacts are designed, not to serve governmental purposes, but to enable the members of the human family to have the understanding and knowledge of each other which is a foundation for durable peace. But after a generation of fanatic indoctrination, the Soviet rulers can hardly bring themselves to loosen their existing thought controls to permit of freer contacts with the free world.
On all these matters dealt with at Geneva we tried to negotiate seriously with the Soviet Union. We wanted to reach constructive agreements if that could be done. But we were not prepared to reach agreements at the expense of the aspirations or security of the United States or its partners. Neither were we willing to make socalled "agreements" which were really meaningless. So when the Soviet Union showed itself unwilling to negotiate seriously on this basis we came away without agreement.
It would have been easy to make some apparent agreements with the Soviet Union-but they would have been without real content. They would have given an illusion of a meeting of minds, where none in fact existed. The three Western powers stood steadfastly against that kind of performance. In doing so, they showed their confidence in their own strength and in the steadfastness of their own people. Thereby, this conference may have improved the prospects for real agreements in the future.
I now turn to the answers to the questions which I put at the beginning:
(1) Does this second Geneva conference end the so-called "spirit of Geneva?"
The answer to that question depends upon what is meant by the "spirit of Geneva." Some felt that the spirit of Geneva was some magic elixir which would of itself solve all of the great problems of the world. Obviously it was not that. Any such view was doomed to disillusionment.
That was never the view of the President nor myself. We constantly warned against that view. President Eisenhower, before he went to Geneva, said that that conference would be a beginning and not an end.1 At Geneva he said that the value of the conference could only be judged by what happened afterward. And after he returned he told the American people that the acid test of the summit conference would begin when the Foreign Ministers met.3
That testing, so far as it has gone, has shown that the Soviet leaders would like to have at least the appearance of cooperative relations with the Western nations. But it has shown that they are not yet willing to create the indispensable conditions for a secure peace. Also
1 Infra, pp 2005-2008.
2 Infra, pp. 2013-2014. Supra.
they have seriously set back the growth of any confidence the free world can justifiably place in Soviet promises. They did this by refusing to negotiate for the reunification of Germany, to which they had agreed in July.
However, they seem not to want to revert to the earlier reliance on threats and invective. In that respect the spirit of Geneva still survives.
(2) Has the outcome of the second conference at Geneva increased the risk of general war?
President Eisenhower said that he believed that the summit conference made it less likely that there would be open war between our countries. Nothing that happened at the Foreign Ministers conference requires a change in that estimate. So that aspect of the Geneva spirit also remains.
(3) Do the events of the last 3 weeks mean that the cold war will be resumed in its full vigor?
The phrase "cold war" is a loose one.
Of course, there are sharp differences between the objectives of the Soviet Government and our own. We believe in justice for all and in the right of nations to be free and the right of individuals to exercise their God-given capacity to think and to believe in accordance with the dictates of their mind and conscience. We shall not cease to pursue these objectives or ever seek a so-called peace which compromises them.
However, these great purposes which have been characteristic of our Nation from its beginning can be and will be pursued by us without resort to violence or without resort to the use of hatred and perversion of truth which are characteristic of war. It is our purpose to continue to seek friendship and understanding with the Russian people as a whole and to use truth as the instrument of our national policy.
The "cold war" in the sense of peaceful competition will inevitably go on. The spirit of Geneva could not and did not change that fact. Moreover, we must assume that the Soviet Union will continue its efforts by means short of war to make its system prevail as it has done in the past. We can, however, hope that this competition will not entail all the same hostility and animosity which so defiled the relations between us in the past.
(4) Will the United States now have radically to revise its programs for defense and mutual security?
The answer to this is "No." We have not lowered our guard on the basis of Soviet promises and did not do so because of the summit conference. Our security programs, which are bipartisan in character, are designed to meet the peril as long as it may continue. We are on what we call a long-haul basis. Our military strength must be based on the capability of the Soviet bloc and cannot vary with their smiles or frowns. We will reduce our own military strength only as the Soviets demonstrably reduce their own. Hence the outcome of the Geneva conference does not require us to alter the general scope of our programs. Their general order of magnitude can remain as planned.