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Nixon in USSR/Dallas

on Sat 11 Nov 2017, 3:14 am
I always thought that it was funny that Nixon argues with Niki about television
just before Lee goes to work at a Minsk TV factory and that he was in Dallas
for Pepsi before the assassination...jko


Eleven hours out of Baltimore's Friendship International Airport, 4 1/2 hours
after a refueling touchdown in Iceland, the gleaming Boeing 707 jet transport,
emblazoned U.S. AIR FORCE, peacefully cruised eastbound above the sandy beaches
of Baltic Latvia toward the heart of the Soviet Union. With Russian officers
peering over the shoulders of American pilots, with its distinguished passengers
at the windows looking down upon unfamiliar landscape, the jet flew on across
the great Russian plain, the jagged pattern of Russian farm fields, an
occasional blue lake and great patches of green forest, until it let down
through a blur of urban haze for a smooth landing at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport.
It was 2:47 p.m. when Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon, fresh in dark grey
summer-weight suit and light grey tie, emerged blinking into the sunlight from
the forward hatch, followed in a few moments by Wife Pat, by the President's
brother, Milton Eisenhower, by the Navy's Atomic Vice Admiral Hyman Rickover and
the rest of an official party of 35.
With one sweep of the politician's practiced eye, Nixon sized up the situation;
he was clearly getting the cool hello. On hand was a little group of welcomers
from the U.S. Embassy led by Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson, and the 56 U.S.
newsmen who had preceded Nixon by an hour in a record-setting (8 hr. 45 min.),
nonstop flight in a new, long-legged Boeing 707 from New York. The face of the
Soviet Union was the familiar grin of Nixon's opposite number, First Deputy
Premier Frol Kozlov, only ten days back from opening the Soviet Exhibition in
Manhattan and his tour of the U.S.
There were handshakes all round, but there was no playing of anthems, no crowd
of the kind the U.S.S.R. can muster for a visiting Mongolian. Imperturbably,
Nixon read through his short airport speech, drawing extemporaneously on his
freshly learned stock of Russian proverbs ("Better to see once than hear a
hundred times."). As the party set out for the U.S. Embassy, Nixon stopped long
enough to shake hands with bystanding Russians in the manner that has served him
well through Britain, Asia, Latin America and Africa. But the Russians had not
the slightest idea who he was.
Powerful Personification. Yet within what may be remembered as peacetime
diplomacy's most amazing 24 hors, Vice President Nixon became the most talked
about, best-known and most effective (if anyone can be effective) Westerner to
invade the U.S.S.R. in years. Officially, he was in Moscow to open the fabulous
U.S. National Exhibition in Moscow's Sokolniki Park. But Nixon did much more: he
gave sharp point to the glittering achievement of the fair because -- on
Communism's home grounds -- he managed in a unique way to personify a national
character proud of peaceful accomplishment, sure of its way of life, confident
of its power under threat.
This was not done in the quiet hush of conference room or in the empty exchange
of views between professional diplomats. It was done in the hours that the
grocer's son from Whittier, Calif., the hard-driving, notably anti-Communist
Republican politico, the No. 2 man in the U.S. Government, stood up in verbal
slugging matches with the raffish, cold-eyed son of a Kalinovka miner, the
hard-driving, notably anti-capitalist Kremlin politician who had survived purge
and plot, the No. 1 man of the Soviet Union, Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev.
Riled by Resolution. Usually self-confident, Nikita Khrushchev had plainly shown
that he was bothered by the challenges of the Nixon visit and the U.S.
exhibition. For days the official Soviet press had sniped at the exhibition in a
campaign to convince Russians that what they would see would not really be
representative of U.S. life. As a counter- attraction, the Soviet government
rushed through a "traditional Moscow fair" to display and sell Soviet consumer
goods, some of them rarely or never seen in Moscow stores. The Soviet press
buried the news of Nixon's impending visit so thoroughly that few Soviet
citizens knew about it ahead of time.
It was a week already marred for Khrushchev by signs of Allied firmness in
Geneva, a coolish reception on a visit to Poland, and cancellation of a planned
trip to Scandinavia because of an icy lack of enthusiasm among the
Scandinavians. Then came the news of the U.S. congress's joint resolution -- by
happenstance coinciding with the Nixon visit -- proclaiming Captive Nations
Week. At the very moment that Nixon landed, Khrushchev was at a mass meeting
denouncing the U.S.'s Captive Nations Week as "provocative" interference in "our
internal affairs."
But in his own peculiar way, Khrushchev dropped his surliness, if not his
grudges, when he began to tangle with Nixon: Old Politico Nikita Khrushchev, the
world's most colorful showman, can never resist an argument in the spotlight,
and Old Politico Richard Nixon, with the eye of U.S. television and the pencils
of the nation's press at his elbow, was ready for one.
"What Black Cat?" The two first met the morning after Nixon arrived in Moscow.
In a black ZIS limousine he was whisked to the Kremlin for a call on President
Kliment Voroshilov, the figurehead Chief of State, and then on Nikita
Khrushchev. In Khrushchev's office began a running debate that lasted, on and
off, into the evening. Khrushchev started it by complaining fiercely about the
Captive Nations Week proclamation. U.S. over- seas bases and restrictions on
U.S.-Soviet trade.
Shortly before noon, Nixon and Khrushchev turned up at the U.S. exhibition in
Sokolniki Park, posed for pictures with the gold-colored dome of the central
building gleaming in the background, then set off on a tour of the exhibits.
They paused to test new TV equipment that enabled them to speak in front of a TV
camera and then, right afterwards, to see themselves on a TV screen and hear a
tape playback of their voices. As the camera turned his way, Khrushchev, wearing
his floppy straw hat, looked sour. Said Nixon: "You look quite angry, as if you
wanted to fight." It soon came out that Khrushchev was still considerably
disturbed about the Captive Nations proclamation. "You have churned the water
yourselves," said Khrushchev. "Why this was necessary, God only knows. What
happened? What black cat crossed your path and confused you?"
Nixon, who had not yet quite caught on to the Khrushchev doctrine of any debate,
tried politely to turn the conversation to the color TV, but Khrushchev would
not be turned.
"In another seven years," he boasted, "we will be on the same level as America."
Russians standing nearby broke into applause as he added that the Soviet
achievement was worth bragging about. Nixon, getting into the Khrushchev spirit,
replied that there should be "far more communication and exchange in this area
that we speak of. We should hear you more on our television, and you should hear
us more on yours." He added that Khrushchev "should not be afraid of ideas."
Khrushchev: We are telling you not to be afraid of ideas. We have no reason to
be afraid.
Nixon: Well, let's have more exchange of them, then.
Khrushchev: Fine. I am in agreement.
Then, in a double take, he said he wanted to make sure what he was in agreement
about. "I know that I am dealing with a very good lawyer, and I want also to
uphold my miners."
Nixon: You would have made a good lawyer yourself... After all, you don't know
Khrushchev: You know nothing about Communism except fear.
Khrushchev complained that his impromptu TV appearance would not be translated
into English so Americans could understand him. Nixon promised that it would be
and -- the good lawyer -- said quickly: "By the same token, everything that I
say will be recorded and translated and carried all over the Soviet Union.
That's a bargain." Khrushchev swung his hand in a high, wide arc and literally
slapped it into Nixon's to seal the agreement. (The full exchange was duly
broadcast in the U,S. by the three major television networks, with an English
translation of everything Khrushchev said.)
After a stop at a booth where Khrushchev took a skeptical sip at a Pepsi-Cola,
Nixon and Khrushchev went on to the exhibition's most publicized display: a
six-room, model ranch house with a central viewing corridor so that visitors can
see the shiny new furnishings. Soviet propaganda had been telling Russians in
advance that the ranch house they would see at the U.S. exhibition was no more
typical of workers' homes in the U.S. than the Taj Mahal was typical in India or
Buckingham Palace in Britain.
Nixon made a point of telling Khrushchev that the house was well within the
means of U.S. working-class families. The house cost $14,000, Nixon said, and
could be paid off in the course of 25 or 30 years. "You know we are having a
steel strike," said he, finessing a certain Russian high card. "Well, any
steelworker can afford this house." Then the conversation drifted to kitchen
equipment and exploded into a cold-war debate that newsmen dubbed the "kitchen
conference" and the "Sokolniki summit."
"Threat with Threat." Looking over the ranch house's sleek, gadget-stocked
kitchen, Khrushchev showed, as he did dozens of times at the exhibition, the
braggy defensiveness that seems to come over Soviet officials when they confront
the U.S. standard of living.
Khrushchev: You Americans think that the Russian people will be astonished to
see these things. The fact is that all our new houses have this kind of
Nixon: We do not claim to astonish the Russian people. We hope to show our
diversity and our right to choose. We do not want to have decisions made at the
top by one government official that all houses should be built the same way.
Khrushchev made some remarks about washing machines, but Nixon pursued the
debate. "Is it not far better to be talking about washing machines than machines
of war, like rockets? Isn't this the kind of competition you want?"
Khrushchev (loudly): Yes, this is the kind of competition we want. But your
generals say they are so powerful they can destroy us. We can also show you
something so that you will know the Russian spirit.
Nixon: You are strong and we are strong. In some ways you are stronger, but in
other ways we might be stronger. We are both so strong, not only in weapons but
also in will and spirit, that neither should ever put the other in a position
where he faces in effect an ultimatum.
Tense and wide-eyed, the scores of officials, security guards and newsmen who
were touring the exhibition with Nixon and Khrushchev clustered around the
debaters. "I hope the Prime Minister has understood all the implications of what
I said." Nixon went on, with an oblique reference to Berlin. "What I mean is
that the moment we place either one of these powerful nations, through an
ultimatum, in a position where it has no choice but to accept dictation or
fight, then you are playing with the most destructive force in the world."
Khrushchev (flushed, wagging a finger near Nixon's face): We too are giants. If
you want to threaten, we will answer threat with threat.
Nixon: We never engage in threats.
Khrushchev: You wanted indirectly to threaten me. But we have means at our
disposal that can have very bad consequences.
Nixon: We have too.
Khrushchev (in a friendlier tone): We want peace with all other nations,
especially America.
Nixon: We also want peace.
Turning to the Geneva foreign ministers' conference in Berlin, Nixon added
gravely: "In order to have peace, Mr. Prime Minister, there must be a sitting
down at the table and a discussion in which each sees the points of the other.
The world looks to you for the success of the Geneva conference [even though] we
have great respect for [Russian Foreign Minister Andrei] Gromyko, who looks like
me but is better looking."
Khrushchev: Only outwardly.
Nixon (looking intently into Khrushchev's eyes): It would be a great mistake and
a blow to peace if that conference were to fail.
Khrushchev: That is our understanding as well.
Nixon put his arm on Khrushchev's shoulder and said: "I'm afraid I haven't been
a good host." Khrushchev smiled and underscoring the weird aspect of the whole
performance, turned toward the American guide who had been standing in the model
kitchen and said: "Thank the housewife for letting us use her kitchen for our
Richest Opportunity. At the formal opening of the exhibition that evening,
Khrushchev concluded in his speech to some 4,000 official guests that he had
felt "a certain envy" in looking at the displays. But, he went on, the U.S.S.R.
"would surpass the U.S. not only in total volume of production but also in per
capita production." Russians, he said, "see the American exhibition as an
exhibition of our own achievements in the near future." That day is not far off
"when our country will overtake our American partner in peaceful economic
competition and will then, at some station, come alongside America, salute her
with a signal, and move on ahead."
Nixon's speech was a ringing retort to Soviet internal propaganda that the
exhibition was not typical of U.S. life. Expecting that his speech would reach
millions of Russians (it was printed in both Pravda and Izvestia). Nixon had
thrown away the State Department's proposed drafts and written his own text to
take advantage of the richest propaganda opportunity the Soviet government had
ever handed a U.S. official.
"To what extent does this exhibition accurately present life in the U.S. as it
really is?" Nixon asked. "Can only the wealthy people afford the things
exhibited here?" The average U.S. factory worker, he said, can "afford to own a
house, a TV set and a car in the price range of those you will see in this
exhibit." Of the U.S.'s 44 million families, 31 million own their own homes.
Those 44 million families own 56 million cars, 50 million TV sets. He did not
cite these statistics to boast of material wealth, said Nixon. "But what these
statistics do dramatically demonstrate is this: that the United States, the
world's largest capitalist country, has from the standpoint of distribution of
wealth come closest to the ideal of prosperity for all in a classless society."
The ideal. Making a point that he hammered again and again during his visit,
Nixon said: "Material progress is important, but the very heart of the American
ideal is that `man does not live by bread alone.' Progress without freedom, to
use a common expression, is like `potatoes without fat.' There is nothing we
want from any other people except the right to live in peace and friendship with
"The peace we want and the peace the world needs is not the peace of surrender,
but the peace of justice; not peace by ultimatum, but peace by negotiation.
"The fact that one of us may have a bigger bomb, a faster plane or a more
powerful rocket than the other at any particular time no longer adds up to an
advantage. No nation in the world today is strong enough to issue an ultimatum
to another without running the risk of destruction."
The second half of the 20th century, Nixon went on, "can be the darkest or the
brightest page in the history of civilization. The decision is in our hands."
The speechmaking done, Nixon escorted Khrushchev around the exhibition again for
a look at displays he had missed that morning. Khrushchev smilingly scoffed at
an electronic household "console" that is supposed to enable housewives of
tomorrow to run their appliances through remote control. A model pressed a
button and a dishwasher scooted out of a cabinet and across the floor. At the
press of another button, an automatic floor washer and polisher emerged from
another cabinet and scurried about like a creature out of science fiction.
"Don't you have a machine that puts the food in your mouth and pushes it down?"
asked Khrushchev with heavy sarcasm. "This is not a rational approach. These are
gadgets we will never adopt."
The group left the "glass house" of the exhibition and passed a voting booth
arrangement where visitors can use American voting machines to choose their
favorite display. Said Khrushchev coldly, "I have no interest in that." He
ignored the models in the fashion show, brushed aside the RAMAC computer that
automatically answers 4,000 questions about the U.S. "To shoot off rockets, we
have computers," he said, "and they are just as complicated as this."
Toward the end of the tour, on the gravel walk leading to Khrushchev's
limousine, his hosts had set up a table stocked with California champagne and
white and red wines. Nixon chose red wine, Khrushchev chose white. "A good
wine," he said. Then he raised his glass and proposed a toast: "To the
elimination of all military bases on foreign lands." Milton Eisenhower, who had
not quite heard the translation, almost drank but stopped the goblet at his
lips. The smile stayed on Nixon's face, but he did not raise his glass. "I am
for peace," he said.
Khrushchev: How can peace be assured when we are surrounded by military bases?
Nixon: We will talk about that later. We will drink to talking--as long as we
are talking we are not fighting.
Khrushchev drank to Nixon's toast. At that point a Russian waiter raised a glass
and proposed "one hundred years to Premier Khrushchev."
Nixon: One hundred years of life, I will drink to that. We disagree with you,
but we want you to be in good health.
Khrushchev: When I reach 99 years, we will discuss the question of bases
Nixon: You mean that at 99 you will still be in power? No free elections?
Hall of Rabbits. By this time the Soviet press had thawed, and began running
detailed accounts of the running debate between Nixon and Khrushchev. Both
Pravda and Izvestia even carried photographs of Nixon. When Nixon got around to
visiting Moscow's permanent U.S.S.R. Agricultural and Industrial
Exhibition--which even includes a Hall of Rabbits--Nixon shook more than an
hundred hands, smiled at and was smiled at by thousands of friendly Russians.
He also got his first taste of Soviet heckling, and he drew cheers from Russian
bystanders by politely turning aside hostile questions. Samples:
Heckler No. 1: Why does America opposite a solution to the Berlin question?
Nixon: I am going to sit down with Mr. Khrushchev and discuss that question
tomorrow. You must remember it takes two to agree.
Heckler No. 2: Why do you say that we are captive people?
Nixon: I think it is fine to have freedom of speech, and I hope that you will
always have the right to speak your opinion.
"Ice on Our Backs." On Saturday evening, Nixon hosted a roast-beef dinner for
Khrushchev at the U.S. embassy's Spaso House. A surprise guest was Khrushchev's
wife Nadezhda, who, like most Kremlin wives, usually stays offstage. Speaking
serviceable English, she chatted amiably with Pat Nixon, who had been spending
her days visiting orphanages and hospitals.
With the first toast of the evening, Nixon set a friendly tone for the
gathering: "I want to say a word about Mr. Khrushchev on an occasion when I am
representing the President of the U.S., Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Eisenhower are
alike in one respect. They are both men who had humble beginnings and came to
the top. The Prime Minister was once a miner. The President worked his way
through school, and among his jobs was the backbreaking job of carrying ice."
Khrushchev's response was amiable in tone, but he could not resist strumming
away once again at his obsessive these that the U.S.S.R. will soon catch up with
the U.S. "In the people of the U.S.," he said, "the Soviet people have a match.
But you do not recognize us as a match. The sooner you recognize this the
better. We will be wealthy, too, and we will surpass you. We too, are carrying
ice on our backs."
He followed up with a toast to President Eisenhower. "I, like all my colleagues,
like your President," he said. "We like his sincerity, his gentlemanship."
In a surprise gesture of friendliness, Khrushchev invited the Nixons, Milton
Eisenhower and Ambassador Thompson to spend that night at his cream-colored
dacha 20 miles outside Moscow. The invitation was promptly accepted.
At the dacha next day, Nixon and Khrushchev issued a joint statement protesting
that their exchange at the U.S. exhibition, while "frank," was not
"belligerent." Then Khrushchev took his guests for a ride on the Moscow River in
a 25-ft. motor boat. Eight times Khrushchev had the boat stopped so that he and
Nixon could talk to groups of bathers on the beaches along the river, and each
time, with broken-record repetition, the same thing happened. Khrushchev would
point out the bathers to Nixon as "captive people"; they would yell "nyet,
nyet," and Khrushchev would grin, nudge Nixon and say: "Here are your captive
people. Just look how happy they are."
After the boat ride came a late lunch on a knoll overlooking the river, and then
Nixon and Khrushchev settled down to serious private talks.
The Urals and Beyond. Before he left Washington for Moscow. Richard Nixon had
worried that Khrushchev might snub him and permit only brief, formal contacts.
Instead, Nixon saw Khrushchev more often, on more intimate terms, than any
American visitor to Moscow before him. A totalitarian unused to real debate,
Khrushchev grew increasingly amiable despite Nixon's back talk--or perhaps
because of it.
Khrushchev's amiability even survived Nixon's surprise announcement near week's
end that after his tour of industrial centers in the Urals and Siberia this
week, he is planning to make a four-day visit to satellite Poland on the way
back to the U.S. In a sense, Khrushchev had himself to blame for Nixon's
decision to visit Poland. Nixon had asked for permission to fly across Siberia
and visit the Pacific port of Vladivostok, returning to the U.S. by way of
Alaska, but the Kremlin vetoed that plan. After that, Nixon decided to accept a
longstanding offer from the government of Communist Chief Wladyslaw Gomulka to
visit Poland.
Coming after that U.S.'s Captive Nations Week proclamation and the coolish
reception that Khrushchev got on his recent visit to Poland, a warm Polish
welcome for Nixon would be a notable wind-up for a most notable cold-war
The two-block wedge of Moscow real estate where Vice President Nixon and Soviet
Premier Khrushchev held their spectacular verbal fencing matches last week is a
wonder of U.S. planning, talent, and do-it-yourself ingenuity. Conceived four
years ago, the American exhibition in Moscow was not finally approved by the
Kremlin until last December, and the fact that it was ready to open on schedule
marked some sort of speed record for major international expositions.
Handsomely situated among the lofty old pines of Sokolniki Park, a former
czarist preserve, the fair is a wonderful, themeless serving of American
science, technology and culture.
At the entrance to the fair is a geodesic dome, a 78-ft.-high, aluminum,
gold-anodized building based on the original design by Architect R. Buckminster
Fuller, which resembles a giant, gilded armadillo shell and houses a
kaleidoscope of scientific and technical exhibits. Across seven screens--which
take up one-third of the interior wall space--flash keyed sets of color pictures
of U.S. life (e.g., seven cities, seven college campuses, etc., accompanied by
Russian commentary and musical score). This unique process was invented by
Designer Charles Eames. Watching the thousands of colorful glimpses of the U.S.
and its people, the Russians were entranced, and the slides are the smash hit of
the fair. Another big attraction: IBM's RAMAC 305, an electronic brain that
produces written answers in flawless Russian to any of 4,000 questions about the
Strangers at a Wedding. Behind the dome is the glass pavilion, a sprawling
(50,000 sq. ft.) building of glass and steel with an accordion-pleated aluminum
roof. It is the cultural center of the exposition, with everything from a Stuart
portrait of Washington to the latest model kitchen. Scrutinizing the latest
American modes, the Russian women seemed most impressed by the spectacular
wedding sequence. "We used to have that long ago," said one wistful spectator.
"But not anymore."
Among the other big-drawing displays: a pondful of gleaming new boats, an
avant-garde children's playground, the Macy-furnished ranch house, rows of
shining 1959 cars, and the 360-degree Cinerama film, a leftover from the
Brussels World Fair, which has been updated by Walt Disney and fitted out with a
Russian sound track. On opening day, uniformed girls handed out free Pepsi-Colas
from gaily painted kiosks. More than 60,000 red begonia, white chrysanthemum and
blue ageratum plants splashed color through the exhibits--not out of any special
patriotic fervor, but because they are the most abundant flowers in Moscow at
this season.
Books off the Shelf. For the bedeviled director of the fair, Harold Chadick
McClellan, a wealthy California manufacturer (paints and chemicals), former
Assistant Secretary of Commerce and onetime president of the National
Association of Manufacturers, the project was one unmitigated migraine. On top
of his breakneck schedule and a niggardly allowance ($3,600,000) from
Washington, he met daily opposition from all sides. The Kremlin vetoed the plan
to distribute free Coty lipsticks, President Eisenhower's doubts about the
top-heavy modern art show prompted some changes. The Russians haggled like
capitalistic stockbrokers over the rent ($142,250).
As the deadline drew near, the crises came almost hourly, a planeload of models
was stranded in Helsinki for a while, and 18 trunks of costumes were briefly
lost in Copenhagen. At the last minute, Soviet censors confiscated 100 of the
fair's 8,000 books--including some Russian folk tales, the 1959 World Almanac,
works of Adlai Stevenson and Norman Thomas--on the ground that they were
critical of the U.S.S.R.
In the final frantic hours before the big opening, Chad McClellan and his wife
donned coveralls, pitched in alongside the Soviet workers and volunteers from
the American colony to apply the final strokes of paint. To get his rest,
Impresario McClellan was reduced to taking sleeping pills for the first time in
his 61 years. Now he could rest easy; with one-ruble (25 cents) admission
tickets being scalped for ten times their face value, the American fair had
wowed Moscow.
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