Friday, June 13, 2014

men on the chessboard


The Glassboro Summit

------------------ [excerpt] ----------- "Kosygin had an obsession about China," LBJ told Senator George Aiken on the eve of Kosygin's visit, "he was scared to death." 

...Kosygin wanted to meet with Johnson.  The Soviet leadership feared a Sino-American accommodation over Vietnam, which might force a U.S.-Soviet confrontation.  A meeting with the President might ease some tensions and deter the White House from any arrangement with Peking.  ...

...Johnson told a Hearst newspaper man the same day:  "The Soviets seem to be terribly worried about China.  Something odd is going on."  The "something odd" was heightened Soviet fear of a China that in June 1967 detonated its first hydrogen bomb. ...

...Johnson foresaw no concrete agreements coming from a conference.  And he worried that the only gains would go to the Soviets.  "Kosygin had suffered a fiasco worse than the Bay of Pigs, [the Six Days War] and was struggling to recover," he told network bureau chiefs on June 19.  Kosygin "came over here to try to get some of the polecat smell off of him," Johnson told another journalist. 

"His policies in the Middle East have been a flop and a failure.  As far as I can tell, he has nothing constructive to offer toward a solution."

Nevertheless, Johnson felt compelled to meet the Kremlin's head man.

...Problems finding a mutually agreeable site to meet foretold the difficulties of reaching substantive agreements.  Johnson proposed the White House as a first choice or Camp David, a presidential retreat in Maryland, where security would present no problem. 

But being an official guest of the U.S. government would undermine Soviet relations with the Arabs and Hanoi and give Peking a propaganda advantage. 

Why not meet in New York?  Kosygin asked.  But a meeting in the city, and especially at the U.N., seemed certain to attract "a sea of pickets and protestors" from both sides of the political spectrum who would embarrass Johnson and Kosygin. 

The White House, which was now terribly apprehensive about any LBJ public appearance as a magnet to Vietnam War opponents, suggested Maguire Air Force Base in New Jersey, where there could be no demonstrators. 

But Kosygin saw a military setting as an attempt to intimidate his government.  ---------------------- [end excerpt]

Which is how they wound up in Glassboro, New Jersey. ...

In the photograph below, I don't know who the woman is, who's visiting with Pres. Johnson.  I like the photograph, for some reason.  That thing standing there -- that three-legged display thing, with a bust of someone resting on top -- is it a bust of LBJ?  I'm not sure...Seemed a funny place for it -- kind of floating there in a space in the room.  If there was any dancing, it could get knocked over. ...I don't think that's a room at the White House, but am not sure. ...Mystifying.

{book excerpt:  Flawed Giant - Dallek - Oxford Univ. Press}


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