MAY 20, 1948
NEW YORK, Wednesday—It begins to look as though the Russians are most anxious to have some kind of conversations with us. For Premier Stalin to design to answer a private citizen's open letter is rather unusual. True, Henry Wallace is a candidate for the Presidency—but on a third-party ticket, and traditionally in this country third parties do not win great adherence in the first year of their organization. For the head of the great Russian state to take note of a letter of this kind shows greater anxiety for an opportunity to state his views than we have seen for a long time.
Whether or not one agrees with everything that was said in Mr. Wallace's letter, he did the country a service by obtaining an indication not only of Premier Stalin's willingness to parley but of the Politburo's interest in the renewal of diplomatic conversations. Mr. Stalin's reply would not have been so prompt and cordial if his Government had been opposed.
The trouble is that the United States officials are not interested in just renewing conversations. They are tired of conversations that lead nowhere. They want some indication that the USSR has decided to make a few compromises.
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Premier Stalin points out that, while the Wallace letter is not completely satisfactory, still it has presented a program and he considers it an open, honest attempt to give a basis for a peaceful settlement on basic questions of difference between the USSR and the USA. But I must say that, as I read the list of Mr. Wallace's proposals, it sounded to me strangely similar to the lists of subjects which have been up for discussion many times before.
Nowhere does Mr. Stalin commit himself further than to say that the Government of the USSR "considers that Mr. Wallace's program could serve as a good and fruitful basis for such an agreement and for the development of international cooperation, since the USSR Government considers that, despite the difference in the economic systems and ideologies, the coexistence of these systems and a peaceful settlement of differences between the USSR and the United States are not only possible but also doubtlessly necessary in the interests of a general peace."
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The recognition of all this must have been there during all the meetings that have already occurred. The only thing that has been lacking has been an ability on the part of the Soviets to grasp the fact that unwillingness to compromise, even in the smallest way, leads to a deadlock and to the same kind of unwillingness to compromise on the part of all the people meeting together.
I would not be much surprised if our government representatives feel that they need something a little more concrete than the Russian program, as expressed in Mr. Stalin's statement, before a meeting would seem worthwhile. But I think the conciliatory tone which is apparent today is encouraging. I hope that before long something actually concrete will come across which would encourage the various governments involved to meet again, and would give them a feeling that this time they might achieve some real results in the process of making a peace.