DECEMBER 1, 1961
DENVER—It was interesting to read the entire interview granted by President Kennedy to Alexei Adzhubei, editor of the Soviet government newspaper Izvestia. I am glad this interview took place over a weekend, for it gave both parties the opportunity to have a relaxed and fairly comprehensive talk.
The President answered truthfully and without any effort to soften the points that he wanted to get across. The young Russian editor, party member that he is, son-in-law of Premier Khrushchev, put his questions in the framework very often of responses to what the President had said. And he was not afraid to give the point of view of his party government.
It appears that except for one statement made by Mr. Adzhubei there were no changes made in the actual transcription and publication in Izvestia. That single instance concerned Mr. Khrushchev's visit to the United States in 1959. The President had said that the results had not been "completely satisfactory." As translated in the Soviet press it stated that the results of the visit, because of the attitude of the American administration, had been completely unsatisfactory.
To have all the answers given by the President printed correctly, save that one, and in full is quite a remarkable change in communications between our two countries. For the first time the Russian people reading Izvestia can read the American point of view as stated by the President of the U.S.
I think this is a very important first step toward better understanding. If this kind of honest interchange can be continued, I think we may hope for better relations.
I particularly liked the President's analysis of the situation in Central Europe. I am not quite sure that if he were a Soviet veteran he would look at it in quite the way he now does, but his is a good analysis. If the other NATO powers will back up this analysis and agree that German military power shall be kept at its present level and that NATO power shall be limited to defense and not to being a military threat, then I think real changes may come about.
With less fear on both sides, the trade situation may improve and with more frequent interchange of ideas we may be able to do away with some of the fear of the Communist ability to dominate in the neutral areas of the world. This, of course, largely depends upon our own self-confidence in the U.S., upon our own belief in what we have to offer the world, and in our ability to really live up to giving people a free choice to develop as they wish and not as we think they should.
There are many countries that, in whole or in part, are going to prefer a socialist system of economics because they do not have the natural resources for a capitalist system. From my point of view this does not prevent any country from developing a democratic form of government in which the people have a voice and take part. Nor does it prevent the development of greater belief in the value of a human being. It may even be that in time this belief may grow in the Soviet Union.
When you come to power through revolution, it takes a certain amount of time to believe in stability and to do away with the fear of counter revolution. In this country we have reached a point of stability where we feel that we can allow many dissenting voices the right of expression because we have come to believe that the great majority of our people are basically committed to democratic institutions and will abide by the will of the majority.
This is a strength for us. Our only weakness, I think, is shown in the fear that now exists that our people might succumb to Communist ideas or beliefs.
Actually, I feel that there are few among us who are vulnerable. I feel we would do better to give up doubting our own people and give our full attention and our full strength toward what we can do legitimately to show in the world as a whole the values that exist in our form of government and our way of life.
The President's interview is a valuable step in the right direction and I hope the same friendly and honest approach can be continued throughout the discussions which must before long be held between the heads of the great powers.