WAR AND PEACE IN THE NUCLEAR AGE – TAPES A0404-A0406 MICHEL TATU [2]
Interviewer:
WHY DID KHRUSHCHEV PUT THE MISSILES IN CUBA?
Tatu:
In my view the reason for putting the missiles in Cuba is simple. Khrushchev wanted to make a point against the United States. Secondly, he wanted to change the balance of forces, because here we come back to his exaggeration of the number of missiles he had. He knew in fact that he had not enough missiles against the United States while McNamara and Kennedy had started a huge build-up of 1,000 Minutemen against the Soviet Union...The reason for Khrushchev putting missiles in Cuba is in my view simple. First he wanted to make a point, to have a success against the United States. After the trouble he had with his tough allies in China, and with some opposition inside the Politburo. Second, he wanted to change the balance of forces, because after boasting so much about his missiles build-up after his rockets, the reaction he had was that Kennedy and McNamara launched a strong build-up of American ICBM, 1,000 Minutemen. In '62, already this was clear, that he was losing a lot of forces. So he wanted to change the balance of forces by a cheap way. He had not yet a big program of ICBM, but he had a lot of European missiles Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles, SS-4 and SS-5 of which he had already hundreds against Europe. So he wanted to put a couple of those, so about 40 SS-4 and SS-5 in Cuba in order in fact to transform those IRBM into ICBM to have the same effect against the United States. So that was one main argument.

Khrushchev's Decision to Put Missiles in Cuba

Interviewer:
HOW DID HE PERCEIVE PRESIDENT KENNEDY? DID HE THINK THAT HE WOULDN'T RESPOND IN A TOUGH WAY?
Tatu:
I think yes, he had a hope that Kennedy will be mild on Cuba. For what reasons, in my view, Khrushchev had seen two things in 1961. First in Cuba there was a Bay of Pigs operation which was a failure for the United States, and an evidence of a mild attitude of Kennedy about Cuba. He apologized himself. He didn't do anything to help the contrast of the time in Cuba. While in the same year, in August, 1961 we had the Berlin War operation, where Kennedy reacted rather strongly. He sent his tanks, and there was a confrontation so the Americans were rather tough on Berlin, mild on Cuba. And we have to have in mind that the main objective for Khrushchev at the time was Berlin. He had to put a proposal of so-called unilateral peace treaty between Moscow and East Berlin in order to evacuate in fact West, the Western powers from West Berlin. So he had the still this in mind. But Cuba and the chain of balance of forces which we hoped from the deployment of the missiles in his view was a sort of way to help him put a bigger pressure on Kennedy on Berlin, but through Cuba it was easier because Kennedy was milder, had shown that he was softer on Cuba than on Berlin.
Interviewer:
LET ME JUST ASK YOU TO RECAP THAT LAST PART OF WHAT YOU SAID. HE FELT THAT HE COULD PUT THE MISSILES IN CUBA BECAUSE KENNEDY WAS SOFTER ON CUBA THAN IN BERLIN. COULD YOU JUST REPEAT THAT PART?
Tatu:
Un-huh. But I have to get back to the '61 year, Bay of Pigs and so on?
Interviewer:
NO.
Tatu:
Well, and so it was better to put stronger pressure on Kennedy in general and in Berlin in particular by using Cuba, because Kennedy had shown that he was softer on Cuba because of the Bay of Pigs, than on Berlin where he had been, taken his tough... a tough stance.
Interviewer:
THANK YOU. THE DECISION TO PUT THE MISSILES INTO CUBA, DO YOU THINK THAT WAS KHRUSHCHEV'S DECISION ALONE OR DID HE HAVE WIDESPREAD SUPPORT IN THE KREMLIN?
Tatu:
Well, no, in fact every evidence we got later about that is that Khrushchev was the main decider. It was his own idea, and I think he... imposed that even maybe on some militaries which were a little bit more careful about American reaction. We don't know exactly which ones, but maybe Moskalenko, for example the Marshal of the Soviet Union at the time was maybe against, but in fact, everybody agrees now that it was Khrushchev's own decision to deploy missiles in Cuba.
Interviewer:
WHAT ABOUT CASTRO? WAS HE INVOLVED IN THAT DECISION DO YOU THINK?
Tatu:
In my view, no, he was not involved. He accepted it. Sorry... In my view, Castro was not the initiator. He needed some support of the Soviet Union against American pressures. He needed the help, including military help, but everybody agreed that he did not ask for missiles in Cuba. And so Khrushchev had to not to impose that upon him, but he took the initiative and Castro accepted the missiles. Sorry, you say missoils or missiles?
Interviewer:
SO WAS KHRUSHCHEV AWARE OF THE RISKS HE WAS TAKING? DO YOU THINK HE WAS AT ALL NAIVE ABOUT HOW THE UNITED STATES WOULD RESPOND TO THIS ACTION?
Tatu:
Yes, certainly, he made a gamble and he was naive in believing that Kennedy, that sorry. Certainly Khrushchev was a little bit naive when he thought that Kennedy would do nothing. But we have to take into account that he thought that Kennedy had been already rather soft on Cuba during the Bay of Pigs operation by not supporting the contrast at the time. So he could think that Kennedy would do the same, and will not be too... will be frightened to react too much and to make military operations against Cuba to get rid of the missiles. I take again the same argument because you can pick it up at the time, if you like.
Interviewer:
SO DO YOU THINK KHRUSHCHEV EXPECTED KENNEDY TO DO NOTHING? TO NOT RESPOND?
Tatu:
He did not expect in my view such a strong reaction. Otherwise I mean Khrushchev in my view did not expect such a strong reaction from the United States, otherwise it's simple, he would just not have put the missiles in Cuba, because it was a failure or at least a lack of prestige, a loss of prestige. Which was difficult to bear for him. So the only thing that what happened later means that he certainly would not have put missiles, if he had known the, Kennedy's reaction.
Interviewer:
OK. WHAT ABOUT THE NOTION THAT THIS ACTION WAS TIMED TO COINCIDE WITH ELECTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES? DO YOU THINK THERE WAS ANY CONSIDERATIONS OF THAT OR ANY OTHER TIMING CONSIDERATIONS ON KHRUSHCHEV'S PART?
Tatu:
I don't think so, no. After all I do not remember that those elections were so crucial for, I don't know, for the United States, but for the Soviet Union. I don't remember comments showing that these elections were very important. And in fact the decision to deploy the missiles was certainly taken in the spring of 1962, April or May, in my view. Even if the actual deployment started in September/October.
Interviewer:
SO YOU THINK THERE WAS NO PARTICULAR REASON FOR MAKING THE MOVE AT THE TIME THEY DID IN TERMS OF COINCIDING WITH ANY OTHER EVENT?
Tatu:
It is not my impression that this was connected to such an internal event like mid-term elections in the United States. Maybe if it had been a... Presidential election, maybe yes it would have an impact.

Soviet Reaction to US Blockade

Interviewer:
WHAT ABOUT THE REACTION IN MOSCOW TO KENNEDY'S IMPOSITION OF THE BLOCKADE? WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THAT?
Tatu:
Well, the first reaction was the first reaction to the Kennedy blockade was as we have seen in Moscow for many other events, that brings no reaction. Myself as a correspondent, I listened to that not through the Moscow radio not through the Soviet press, but through the BBC. And for about one day, I remember the first day we had no reaction at all. And it came only in the afternoon, and so it was late reaction and non-committed also. Just a protest. And for many days, we had we... the reaction, you know, in Moscow comes after the decisions are made. And even the information comes after a line has been adopted.
Interviewer:
TELL ME ABOUT OTHER REACTIONS? DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING IN MIND?
Tatu:
If I can analyze the broader Soviet reaction to these the government reaction to Kennedy's blockade, I will see, I will say, three parts. The first day there was sort of disarray. No information for one day. It was first strong protest, but rather tough in tone. Then we see, and it is interesting to look at the tightness of Pravda, everyday of this week. It was tough down with the American imperialists and so on. And then the second or third day the tone goes down, you know, more pacifist, and in the middle of the week it is a rather mild reaction, "We must do everything to save peace," arid so on and so on. "No war." Then we have after this second low reaction, we have a third one, very, rather tough, and surprisingly tough on Saturday, the day before the end of the crisis, I would say. Because in Moscow, you must remember, we were in advance for about eight hours on the United States. So Saturday, that means Friday night in Washington, the tone was again rather tough in the press. The general tone. And only the Sunday when Khrushchev accepted in fact the Kennedy's proposals we came back to the low profile reaction, peace, no war and so on.
Interviewer:
WHAT DID THE PRAVDA HEADLINES REFLECT? THERE HAD ALREADY BEEN SOME DECISIONS MADE AND THEN?
Tatu:
Yes Pravda, usually, is reflects exactly the tone and the mood of the leadership just as the day and the time Pravda is made. That means, Pravda of Saturday night Saturday morning reflected the mood of the leadership of Friday night. And the same for the days before.
Interviewer:
SO WHAT WAS HAPPENING WHEN THE HEADLINES WERE LESS TOUGH? WHAT WAS THAT REFLECTING?
Tatu:
It was reflecting the Khrushchev awareness, I mean the milder tone of the press in the middle of the week reflected the growing awareness of Khrushchev himselves, of the dangers of the situation, and of the will of Kennedy also. He realized little by little, but not at once, that Kennedy meant business, that he has to do something to give, finish this crisis, while at the beginning he could consider after all with good reason that maybe it was just protest by the United States, not very strong, tough stance. So the more Kennedy showed his determination the more Khrushchev realized that he has to find an accommodation, So this was reflected in the tone of the press and also in the, in the messages which were sent to the Washington, on the on the settlement.

Khrushchev's Letters to Kennedy

Interviewer:
TELL ME ABOUT THE TWO DIFFERENT LETTERS, WHO WAS BEHIND THOSE TWO LETTERS? WERE THEY FROM DIFFERENT SOURCES REALLY?
Tatu:
Yes, there is exactly two letters, but some official statements in the meantime, but I understand they were two letters of Khrushchev, one in the middle of the week, implying a solution a compromise and a second about Turkey on the Saturday. The first letter in the middle of the week was certainly Khrushchev's work, his personal Style, everybody agrees that recognized the way of expressing himself was Khrushchev himself. And but in my view when Khrushchev wrote this letter he did it without the knowledge of the leadership and of the Politburo, and he could only imply what was not yet an official Soviet proposal. So he implied that if Kennedy give the pledge that he will not invade Cuba he might be ready to take the missiles out. But in my view this was not an official Soviet position adopted by the Politburo. While the second letter sent...But the second letter which Khrushchev sent to Kennedy on the Saturday, or maybe Friday night proposing and exchange between the missiles in Cuba against the American missiles in Turkey was an official position adopted by the Politburo and probably adopted against the will of Khrushchev. And here we have a very heavy confusion in the Soviet Union. Because we have in one day or so... the Saturday, first this official letter proposing an exchange between Turkey and Cuba one day later another letter forgetting about Turkey and accepting Kennedy's proposals. And in the meantime an article in Izvestia written by Magiev who was an important commentator and who remained so for many years, when Saturday evening Magiev writes in Izvestia that every talk about the compromise between the missiles in Cuba and some base, American base close to the Soviet Union is nonsense, should not be accepted has to be denounced, and the only way of settling the questions is to have a talk, a general talk about all American bases in the world. So this is the toughest positions of all, but completely contradictory even to the first letter of the day about Turkey, and even more to the, next letter, the next day about acceptation ... of Kennedy's condition.
[END OF TAPE A0404]
Interviewer:
TELL ME AGAIN ABOUT THE THRID LETTER, WAS THAT, WHAT WAS THE SOURCE OF THAT LETTER? DID THAT AGAIN SEEM TO COME FROM KHRUSHCHEV OR FROM THE...?
Tatu:
Well, in the last final days of the crisis we have two Soviet letters signed by Khrushchev. One published Saturday morning in the Soviet Union about an exchange Cuba-Turkey. And the next day we have another letter by Khrushchev, which forgets completely about the previous letter on Turkey and mentions only the acceptation of Kennedy's proposal. You Americans give a pledge that you do not invade Cuba and we take our missiles back. In fact we know we knew later that Turkey wasn't completely forgotten, because there was an implied understanding that Kennedy will sooner or later withdraw the missiles from Cuba. But officially nothing was said in the settlement at the time. And for the Soviet population, for the observers in Moscow this was a very confused situation why this Saturday's message about Turkey, which was never again mentioned in any document of the Soviet Union about that.
Interviewer:
SO THAT THIRD LETTER, WAS THAT BACK FROM THE SAME SOURCE AS THE FIRST? WAS THAT KHRUSHCHEV HIMSELF TALKING THAT FORGOT ABOUT TURKEY?
Tatu:
I think the third letter of Khrushchev which accepted the Kennedy's proposal was typically Khrushchev's own idea, and my strong impression is that Khrushchev just followed the line from his own personal message to Kennedy in the middle of the week through the last final letter accepting the Kennedy's condition which were in fact in, the Kennedy's proposal was announced to his own invitation ... during the week. So, and he decided to forget about the Saturday's letter because it was not his own idea, and it was imposed upon him by the Politburo. He didn't approve certainly these documents.

Resolving the Cuban Missile Crisis

Interviewer:
OK, WHY DO YOU THINK KHRUSHCHEV AGREED SO QUICKLY TO REMOVE THE MISSILES?
Tatu:
I think Khrushchev agreed quickly and probably after two or three days of hesitating he agreed to withdraw the missiles because he saw Kennedy's determination. He understood that he made a mistake, that Kennedy meant business, and he would have a huge crisis, maybe war with the United States which nobody wanted, and maybe also an invasion of Cuba. And so he lost Castro and these would be a big, and even bigger loss of prestige for him. So probably personally he decided he would have to swallow the pill. But he had some trouble to get the Politburo onto this line. And so it took him two or three days more. I think in fact, Khrushchev seemed from Moscow at the time, by the observers, by the journalists, by the diplomats, the main breakthrough came maybe Wednesday or Thursday when Khrushchev admitted for the first time that he had deployed missiles in Cuba. And my impression was that it was already a big loss of prestige and the beginning of the end or of the concession because they denied so strongly before that they had any missiles. So when you lie and then you have to admit that you lied and that you... your opponent was true, you suddenly become much less strong.
Interviewer:
SO ESSENTIALLY HE FELT LIKE HE HAD TO CUT HIS LOSSES BEFORE THINGS GOT WORSE?
Tatu:
Yes, yes, because yes, Khrushchev had to make concessions, because otherwise he would have either a world war, which was completely unable to consider in any way, not only because it was a terrible thing but also because of the balance of forces, you know. What we heard, in Moscow at the time was that the American submarines, the first Polaris, were exchanging messages between the sub and the center in Washington, Pentagon about the targeting that in clear without crypt — cryption, the messages went to the table of Khrushchev, that these sub has Moscow on line, on target. Another one has for Kiev and so on. And I think this was in... intentional certainly. So that was the first reason. The balance of forces was completely unequal and the second was that even short of war he...they would have, there was a strong a strong possibility of an American landing on Cuba, or even an air raid and very bad things for Castro, and this would have been a very a strong loss of prestige for the Soviet Union.
Interviewer:
WHO INSTRUCTED ALEKSANDR FOMIN TO MAKE A DEAL IN WASHINGTON THROUGH THE CORRESPONDENT JOHN SCALI? WAS IT KHRUSHCHEV DO YOU THINK THAT INSTRUCTED FOMIN TO TALK TO SCALI?
Tatu:
I think the deal which was talked through Fomin and Scali was certainly Khrushchev initiative. Because we know that Khrushchev used these sort of channels to have a quicker approach to the American decision center and also maybe because he didn't want to get through the foreign ministry and through the Politburo maybe, so he wanted to have his own personal diplomacy, to go quicker to the objective and also because he wanted to test some ideas. And as far as I understand, the deal of Fomin-Scali was along the same lines as what was in his letter so that was certainly Khrushchev's own decision.
Interviewer:
THE MISSILES OF THE UNITED STATES THAT WERE IN TURKEY WERE OLD. THEY WERE CONSIDERED TO BE OBSOLETE. WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT FOR THE SOVIETS TO MAKE THIS EXCHANGE, THE MISSILES IN TURKEY FOR THE MISSILES IN CUBA?
Tatu:
Well, in... the question of Turkey and Cuba was, I understand a topic for debate among the Soviet leaders you know, Because their main preoccupation was where the old American bases in Europe and so on close to them. But we must say that Turkey was more important for them, because you had three types of American bases with IRBM at the time in Europe, one in... there was one in Great Britain, one in Turkey, and one in Italy. But only the Turkey base was able to hit Moscow with Jupiter or and... Thor missiles which were...which were there. So it was normal that the Soviet leadership was a little bit more concerned about Turkey. It was much closer to them. But at the same time the some people could say that it is too cheap to pay only with Turkey the withdrawal of the Soviet missiles from Cuba. They thought that it would be better to get more from the United States and other bases also.
Interviewer:
SO YOU THINK THAT BY DEMANDING THAT THE MISSILES IN TURKEY BE WITHDRAWN, EVEN THOUGH IT WASN'T REALLY AN EVEN TRADE IT WAS SOMETHING THAT THE LEADERS OF THE GOVERNMENT COULD POINT TO AND SAY, WELL WE GOT SOMETHING?
Tatu:
I think yes, the Turkey, the Turkey-Cuba exchange was also useful for the prestige, because at least they could show that they got something and something equivalent to the withdrawal of their missiles from Cuba, there was also a withdrawal from missiles...while the end result of the crisis was different because there was no talk about American missiles being withdrawn from anyplace, except that this was probably an understanding between Kennedy and Khrushchev but Kennedy wanted that to be kept to be kept secret.

Political Consequences of the Cuban Missile Crisis

Interviewer:
OK, DO YOU THINK THE SOVIET LEADERS TOOK KENNEDY'S THREATS OF INVADING CUBA SERIOUSLY? AND DO YOU THINK THEY CONSIDERED WHAT THIS WOULD MEAN TO THE FUTURE OF COMMUNIST MOVEMENTS IN LATIN AMERICA?
Tatu:
I think they took seriously the risk of the Soviets, took seriously the risk of military operations from the United States against Cuba. Whether a landing or bombings, but anyway something very unpleasant not only for Cuba, but also for them. We must not forget that the Soviets were at the time very strongly involved in a polemic with China, but also with other communist movements communist parties, about the support to national liberation to the fight against imperialism and so on. And Khrushchev was always accused to be soft on that. Especially by the Chinese. So he got involved in the last... in the last two or three years very heavily on the side of Cuba, even more than what he wanted at the beginning, and he felt that if Cuba disappears, if Castro disappears he will have a very strong political consequences. So I understand that explains why after at the end he accepted all... one thing which was after all important for him, the non-intervention of the United States against Castro.
Interviewer:
YOU SAID THAT IF CASTRO DISAPPEARED FROM CUBA THAT WOULD HAVE HAD POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES FOR KHRUSHCHEV. COULD YOU EXPLAIN THAT A LITTLE BIT IN MORE DETAIL?
Tatu:
The political consequences of disappearance of Castro, would have been important for Khrushchev internally and externally. Internally because this would have given strong arguments to his opponents inside the Politburo. We know he had quite many who criticized his détente policy, his being too soft with Kennedy and so on. And these began in 1959, after the Khrushchev - Eisenhower meeting in Camp David. Externally he had the trouble with the Chinese, with the Albanians who at the time we must not forget were full members of the communist movement. Played a role in all communist meetings, the last one being in 1960, and who were already developing a strong politics against Soviet so-called revisionist and pacifist policy. And disappearance of Castro would have strong argument for the Chinese to criticize the Soviet leadership.
Interviewer:
I'M GOING TO BACK UP A LITTLE BIT AND ASK ABOUT WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT BEFORE THE TAPE WAS NOT RUNNING. IF THE UNITED STATES HAD SOMEHOW GOTTEN CASTRO OUT OF CUBA AT THAT TIME, WOULD THAT HAVE ENDANGERED THE FUTURE OF THE COMMUNIST MOVEMENT, AS FAR AS, FROM KHRUSHCHEV'S POINT OF VIEW?
Tatu:
A: Sure disappearance of Castro would have created an embarrassment for the Soviet Union just as bad example for any communist leaders in the world, just as an evidence that Moscow is not able to support, to protect his own friends and that so-called movement of history goes back, you know, and so they don't like that at all.
Interviewer:
OK, THANK YOU. WOULD YOU SAY THAT EITHER SIDE, THE UNITED STATES OR RUSSIA COULD BE CONSIDERED TO HAVE WON THIS CONFRONTATION?
Tatu:
Well, in terms... in term of prestige of the general image which was given to the world after this crisis, the clear winner was Kennedy. Because in Moscow for example, we were not used seeing the Soviets accepting to undo what they did to withdraw missiles and even more for example to lift the to show these missiles to American observers, in order to check it you know. At the time they were even more sensitive than now about control, about prestige and so on. So it was clearly a failure for Khrushchev, and he had to pay for that in terms of the Chinese criticism after that. We must not forget what the Chinese said accusing Khrushchev of being adventuristic in the first place when he deployed the missiles, and capitalisurist... capitalrunt, in the second place when he...when he just conceded in front of the Americans. So that was the general comment in the communist movement. But if we look at the things in a longer range one can argue that Khrushchev made a gain with Kennedy's pledge not touching Cuba and allowing Castro to stay there.
Interviewer:
COULD YOU START AGAIN.
Tatu:
But if we look at it from the longer perspective, I can understand the arguments of people who say no after all Kennedy made a gain because he saved Castro. And if we see what happened...
Interviewer:
I'M SORRY, YOU SAID KENNEDY AND YOU MEANT KHRUSHCHEV —
Tatu:
OK. But if we look at the longer, from a longer perspective, I think one can argue that Khrushchev made a gain because he saved Castro. And if we look what happened in the next 20 years, 25 years, Castro is still there and now he has some cousins in Latin America all things, which after all would maybe would not have been possible if Khrushchev had not gotten this pledge. We do...we do not know. Maybe Kennedy would not have invaded anyway. But suddenly if he wanted to invade he was prevented after the Cuban missile crisis because of his pledge.
Interviewer:
OK, WE JUST HAVE A FEW MORE HERE. WHAT EFFECT DID THE MISSILE CRISIS HAVE ON SOVIET DESIGNS ON BERLIN?
Tatu:
The interesting question is this interaction between Cuba and Berlin, because we must not forget that one of the main objectives of Khrushchev during all those years was his challenge on Berlin. Either as a so-called peace treaty operation with the East Germany, either because he wanted to make some gains against the Western presence in West Berlin. And so he tried everything, and in my view Cuba, the Cuban gambit was a new approach to the...this Berlin problem. So and I think that this is confirmed by the fact that after the Cuban missile crisis this was finished by Khrushchev's challenge on Berlin. In fact, nothing happened anymore on Berlin, and his claim about the secret peace treaty was quietly dropped and never revived again by himself or Brezhnev. So in fact Kennedy made a gain here. Because through his firmness in Cuba he probably finished the crisis on Berlin.
[END OF TAPE A0405]
Interviewer:
TELL ME THAT STORY AGAIN ON CAMERA ABOUT THE HUMILIATION INVOLVED WHEN THEY TOOK THE COVERS OFF?
Tatu:
Well, there was another humiliation for Khrushchev after the crisis when the missiles were brought away on ships, on Soviet ships to the Soviet shores. There was a control by the United States and some discussion about that, the Soviets refused direct control on the spot. But when the ships moved, the American, the Soviet ships moved, the American ships went along and this time the Soviet seamen had to lift the cover of the missiles to show to the American seamen on the other ship, you see, these are our missiles and the Americans could count how many and so on. And I think that this was another humiliation for the Soviet leaders knowing their sensitiveness, their feeling of prestige, which was probably even more at the time than now. And that's why the Soviets never mentioned this particular detail to their readers in the press.
Interviewer:
HOW DID THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS AFFECT KHRUSHCHEV'S POSITION IN MOSCOW? DID IT HAVE AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT?
Tatu:
The meaning for Khrushchev stature later? Some... people argue with good reasons that in fact the humiliation of Khrushchev after the Cuban Missile Crisis was the first element which brought his elimination from power two years later. And I think there are good reasons because it gave new arguments to his opponents inside the Kremlin, to the Chinese, and at the time the Chinese had some
Interviewer:
YOU WERE TELLING ME ABOUT HOW THE MISSILE CRISIS AFFECTED KHRUSHCHEV'S POSITION IN THE KREMLIN.
Tatu:
Well, some people argue with good reasons that the Cuban Missile Crisis was the first element of the chain which brought Khrushchev down two years later. And there are good reasons for that because it gave new arguments to his opponents including the Chinese, but also inside. What we saw after that for example, in 1963 was a new and strong attack against Khrushchev internally on his domestic policy and especially as far as Stalin and de-Stalinization is concerned. A few months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, in March, April 1963, all the Politburo imposed on Khrushchev a very tough line against the rightists, they were not yet dissidents at the time, but they were the liberal movement inside the party and the writers... particularly, with very strong attacks against anything liberal, which was something quite new and completely different of what Khrushchev said for example in November 1962.
Interviewer:
DID THE MISSILE CRISIS HAVE AN IMMEDIATE EFFECT ON KHRUSHCHEV'S POSITION?
Tatu:
The crisis did not have an immediate effect on Khrushchev's position, but it is true that it was the first element of the chain which brought him down two years later. And in fact a couple of months after the crisis in March-April, 1963, we had in Moscow a very sudden outburst of criticism against any liberal writers not the dissidents, because we had no dissidents at the time, but all the people who had been identified with the strong anti-Stalinist policy in the cultural movement. Yevtushenko and the like were under very strong attack, and we're quite sure that Khrushchev was not supporting that you see. And certainly it was connected to the loss of prestige and of power which Khrushchev had to suffer.
Interviewer:
OK. DID THE MISSILE CRISIS ALSO LEAD TO A SUBSEQUENT MILITARY BUILD-UP IN THE SOVIET UNION?
Tatu:
One main consequence of the Cuban Missile Crisis was the Soviet military build-up which was decided certainly at the time and at least a few years later with — when Brezhnev came to power, but we know the remark which was said to McCloy from the United States by Kuznetsov who was at the time in the foreign, the Soviet foreign ministry, who said to him, you will never do that to us again, which meant that the Soviets realized their very strong inferiority in terms of strategic weapons, and they decided that they had to compensate for that, and that the way to do that was not by sort of quick fix like Khrushchev did by deploying IRBM medium range weapons in Cuba, but just to build ICBM for the Soviet Union and to build it by thousands hundreds and then thousands like the Americans had done. And then after that certainly also it encouraged the military to ask for more in many other areas, and this explains partially, not completely the very strong, very militaristic policy of Brezhnev... Although I am not quite happy with that, Brezhnev would have been interested in it anyway. But because he was, and the regime was. Along this line.
Interviewer:
I DON'T THINK WE NEED TO GET INTO THAT, BUT DID THE MISSILE CRISIS LEAD TO THE PARTIAL TEST BAN OF 1963 RATHER THAN A TOTAL TEST BAN? DID THE MISSILE CRISIS PLAY A ROLE IN THAT?
Tatu:
Well, diplomatically the consequences of the crisis, I see two of them. One was the agreement on a direct line, a hot line between Washington and Moscow because it is true that the crisis showed a very big lack of communications. I remember very often, you know, the letters of Khrushchev to Kennedy had to be published in Pravda or broadcast by the radio in order to get quicker to Kennedy. Because through the diplomatic channels through the embassy with coding and so on it took hours which was too long for us in such a crisis. The second was the test ban treaty which was in my view ripe or ready, because we must not forget that in years before, beginning in 1958 already there was a big exchange...diplomatic exchanges about the test one country did a had a unilateral ban and then it was broken and so on and so on. And also the two powers were ready to have the test only underground at the time so they decided to formalize that. And...and maybe it was a consequence of the crisis because in fact it created a better atmosphere for dialogue. And Khrushchev was under attack on many subjects, but I think he was in agreement with the others on the fact that we must keep a kind of dialogue with the United States on many subjects because otherwise the situation could be too dangerous.
Interviewer:
DID THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS FRIGHTEN BOTH COUNTRIES ENOUGH THAT THEY WOULD START CONSIDERING A TOTAL TEST BAN AND WHY WAS NOT A TOTAL TEST BAN POSSIBLE AT THAT TIME. IT SEEMED LIKE A POINT AT WHICH BOTH SIDES WOULD HAVE SAID, OK, WE CAME CLOSE. LET'S STOP.
Tatu:
I'm not very familiar with the American position at that time, but in my view even if the crisis brought the 2 countries together to make some accommodation on some issues, I don't think the time was right for a full test ban. Because in fact the Russians, in my view, as well as the Americans thought that as long as we have to live with nuclear weapons, you have to test them some way. You are...you are not going to stay with machines with devices which in five years from now will look very obsolete. And which can't be replaced by the way by smaller weapons, smaller warheads and with maybe a little bit less destructive power. So if...my impression is that the two powers were not ripe for a full test ban. And in my view also they...the partial test ban treaty was already greeted as something. A very important step already very useful in itself. Because after all, you know before that all the tests were in the atmosphere with and there were already...people were starting to protest for ecological reasons.
Interviewer:
WAS KHRUSHCHEV HOPING FOR A STRONGER AGREEMENT THAN THE PARTIAL TEST BAN? WAS THERE PRESSURE ON HIM NOT TO...
Tatu:
Officially the Soviet's propaganda and Khrushchev himself said that he would have preferred a full comprehensive test ban treaty, but you know, the same as they say now and before, we are against any nuclear weapons; we are against any weapons altogether. And they tried to put the charge on this...on the partial test ban treaty on the other part. But I'm not convinced that the Soviet military and the Soviet leadership would have been quite happy to have no test at all.
Interviewer:
WAS KHRUSHCHEV PUSHING FOR A MORE COMPREHENSIVE BAN? WAS THAT SORT OF HIS SWAN SONG AS HE WAS LOSING POWER? WAS HE TRYING TO MAKE ONE MORE GESTURE TOWARDS PEACE?
Tatu:
I don't think that Khrushchev was very focused on a full test ban treaty. His propaganda for all the years during this period was full complete total disarmament. And there was under United Nations surveillance. He had big plans. So his objective was not especial...particular...uh...particular area, but a more general picture which was certainly more propagandistic than of real value.
[END OF TAPE A0406 AND TRANSCRIPT]