INT: To what extent do you think that visit to the United States eased the situation over Berlin, temporarily as it turned out?
AG: Oh, I've no doubt that it did and I think that... the conference that was set up for May of 1960, the summit that broke down because the U-2 affair, would have continued the negotiation and Eisenhower, I think, like... Prime Minister Macmillan and the French and the Germans, understood that the Soviet Union really had a problem and the East Germans had a problem in the flight of people into Berlin and I think they would have been prepared to discuss that, to look to see whether some other solution could be found in what Khrushchev had proposed, which was simply to walk away and leave it. But we felt that the Soviets had entered into a commitment, accepted an obligation in the agreements that were reached after World War Two as to the status of Berlin.
INT: At that summit...
AG: That never was.
INT: Well, it had a fixed date and Khrushchev walked out...
(INTERRUPTION - SIREN)
INT: General, can you tell us a bit about Eisenhower's attitude to a summit? Did he welcome it?
AG: Oh, Eisenhower very much welcomed the summit. In fact he thought that a great deal had been accomplished at the summit in 1955, when we really opened dialogue with the Soviets and moved toward a greater measure of civility in our relationship. He saw this as a step in the process that he was working toward to reduce the militarisation of the confrontation and to move toward dialogue and negotiation. Also at Camp David, he and Khrushchev had come to some pretty definite conclusions about the possibility of reducing the level of armaments and the military burden that each country was bearing. Khrushchev told Eisenhower, he said, my generals come to me and tell me what the United States is doing and now we must rush to catch up. He said, does that happen to you? And Eisenhower said, all the time, that's what I have to deal with all the time.
INT: So quite a spirit of détente?
AG: Oh yes. I think they saw good possibilities of future negotiation.
INT: Had there been a complete blockage in negotiation, how did Eisenhower assess what military options were open to him and his allies?
AG: I think the idea of showing gradually the danger to the Soviets, in case of disorder or any hostility, any conflict in Berlin, they would be confronted with the question is it worth it? As the allies took steps to move troops to probe the possibility of sending additional forces into Berlin. And they would be confronted with the question of whether they wished to see this break out into actual conflict.
INT: How much was discussed at the time, '58, '59, on the nuclear options? Was that raised at all?
AG: It was not in any specific way at all, but of course it was constantly in the background and Eisenhower had made clear that his view was that if there were to be actual conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, it would move quickly to large scale, all out conflict, where everything would be drawn into it and that was the danger, that was the risk, and he wanted the Soviets to ponder very carefully, as I myself put it in later years, what is there West of the Iron Curtain for which they were prepared to see the destruction of the Soviet Union?
INT: (Starts mid-sentence) ...of the program about Stalin. This is June the sixth, 1996 for the Cold War series. During the Hungarian crisis in 1956, to what extent, as far as the United States was concerned was the Suez Crisis a distraction from what was going on in Hungary? Or would you say it's just coincidence?
AG: The two issues were being dealt with quite separately, but there was an interconnection. at one time during the Suez affair, the Soviets had threatened to take action against our allies and we received word about this and Eisenhower authorized his press secretary to make a statement that regardless of what had happened up to that time, we would stand with our allies in case there should be any attack, he didn't expect any attack, but we would stand with our allies. The fact that we did not have a united front with our allies, I think may have had some weakening affect in our ability to exert influence and pressure on the Soviets in what they were in Hungary. But essentially, with the exception of a few connections of that kind, they proceeded separately.
INT: So you don't think there was a big (unintelligible)?
AG: I did not see sitting where I was, working with Eisenhower, I don't think we saw a big interplay.
INT: Now in November 1956, the Russiansthreatened to drop acid bombs on (unintelligible) or Paris after the British and French attacked the Egyptians. What was Eisenhower's response to that threat?
AG: When was this?
INT: Well, I'm told that on the fifth of November 1956...
AG: (Interrupts) Oh I think that's when Eisenhower was responding to... I think the statement was made by Khrushchev, as I recall, that the rockets will fly and at that point Eisenhower got word from... He regarded that as bluster and nonsense, but he got word from General Grunther, who was the (unintelligible) at that time that our European allies were deeply concerned about this and it was in response to that that he made the statement that an attack on our allies would find us standing with them.
INT: And that was the end of that?
AG: We thought that was the end of that.
INT: Did Eisenhower see the Russians at that time as a legitimate and established world power or did he think that this was going to be a temporary phase, that the Communists' rule in Russia was a temporary and rather illegitimate venture?
AG: Eisenhower always felt that ultimately but we couldn't define ultimately, this attempt to maintain totalitarian control would break down. And it was for that reason that he wanted to keep, as he put it, keep the hope of freedom alive in the Central and Eastern European countries, the so-called satellites, that had been set up under Soviet domination. With regard to the Soviet Union itself, he felt that the Communist ideology and attempt of the Communists to maintain totalitarian control would be bound to crumble in due time, but nobody could say just how soon that would be.
INT: So he regarded the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe as an illegitimate and temporary...
AG: Yes, and he felt that that would be bound to break down. My guess is that he thought that it would happen sooner than it did, but he did think it would happen.
INT: The United States at that time was very much against... a struggle against Communism worldwide. How important was Eastern Europe in Eisenhower's thinking on that, Eastern Europe per se?
AG: We were quite concerned about it. When Stalin died there were proposals that this was a time to take psychological warfare initiatives against the Soviet Union. It was out of that that Eisenhower set up a very thorough going study in the summer of 1953 to decide what our policy should be. And he had three lines of policy evaluated, each team charged with making the best case possible from their line of policy. One was containment, one was drawing a line with the threat of retaliation if the sphere of influence were breached, and the last was roll back, that had been talked about during the campaign. At the end of it, Eisenhower drew out of this that roll back, any idea of use of military forces for roll back was out of the question, that our effort would be to keep the hope of freedom alive in these countries and that we would really pursue a policy of containment, backed by the threat of massive retaliation if there should be any egregious violation of the safety of our allies.
INT: So, he hoped one day to get what is now called Central Europe and Eastern Europe, to get it back, but wasn't prepared to enter any dangerous military activity?
AG: That's correct. We excluded the military, any military option as a result of that study.
INT: Right. Eisenhower... you mentioned psychological warfare, Eisenhower was very, after his wartime experience, was very keen on covert operations. How much did he use covert activities in Eastern Europe?
AG: He allowed for the conduct of covert activities to try to support dissident groups, try to support groups committed to the freedom of their countries, while recognizing the limits that such covert action would have under a totalitarian regime, as had been established in most of these countries and in the Soviet Union.