JULY 29, 1959
HYDE PARK—From the reports on Vice President Richard Nixon's visit to the Soviet Union, it has been difficult to decide whether the visit thus far has been satisfactory to the Vice President or to Premier Nikita Khrushchev.
All of us who have been in the Soviet Union know well the type of propaganda campaign that goes on against the United States there, and we can be sure that it has been continuing since the opening of the American Trade Exhibition in Moscow and the Vice President's arrival.
But as far as I have been able to determine, this propaganda previously had no effect on Soviet workers. They seem as interested in American visitors and as friendly toward them as if nothing has been said against the U.S. government and its people.
The only propaganda that seems to be taken seriously is a fear that we will start a war. They believe, too, that their government will not start a war.
The description of Mr. Nixon's visit to Mr. Khrushchev's country home gives me hope that the Vice President's trip has been of value. For we have gained much if he was able to convince Mr. Khrushchev that he was presenting an accurate and sincere picture of the way the President really feels, at the same time convincing him that the people would back the President in any effort to keep the peace.
I would welcome a visit by Mr. Khrushchev to the U.S. if for no other reason than he would see first-hand the underlying unity of the American people when the safety and honor of their country is at stake. This, I am afraid, he does not now understand.
Mr. Khrushchev several times has implied that he understands the feelings of the U.S. workers and that they would agree with his point of view on whatever question might be under discussion.
He looks upon strikes as an indication of the division between classes in this country while, in fact, I think we are more of a classless society than is the Soviet Union.
Strikes are usually a sign of prosperity, for unions strike only when they feel financially able to survive a battle to obtain better working conditions. During the depression there were no strikes, for then the unions were deplorably weak and workers generally were afraid they would not eat, so they tried only to hold onto what they had.
Fortunately, such conditions have not existed in this country since that time, and the workers as a group would respond to the President's call to meet any emergency considered vital to this country's safety.
If the Vice President has been able to convince Mr. Khrushchev that this is true, we can be grateful. But I am afraid that the Soviet Premier needs to be convinced by seeing it with his own eyes on a visit to this country.
Both Mr. Nixon and Mr. Khrushchev can be pleasant and genial, so I hope that the underlying strain of their conversations was relieved at times by humor and by a mutual interest in trying to understand one another better.