Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

We do not belong to an academic institution, and therefore our project was selffunded. Our older half-sister, whose life was a black hole of sorrow, died in a nursing home, bedridden by the toxic effect of drugs given to combat mental illness. She left us a small inheritance that enabled us to move forward with the research for and writing of this book. And so we dedicate it to our parents and to her.
We are extremely grateful to the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the Department of State for putting the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series of...

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Introduction. Llewellyn E Thompson: A Cold War Owl in the Cause of Peace

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pp. 1-2

Along, lean, graceful, and absurdly quiet man, Llewellyn E Thompson Jr. is and was a mystery. He was sociable and made friends easily, yet he was reserved and selfeffacing. He gained respect from his subordinates but was never domineering. He was a ladies’ man, but not a playboy. He joined and stayed in the Foreign Service both to feed his desire for adventure and from a deep sense of duty.
Those in the inner circle of the administrations he served were well aware of his accomplishments, but he is often overlooked by historians, because he purposely left little documentary evidence and never wrote a memoir. No one could boast of being very close to...

Part I: Expectations and Education

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pp. 3-4

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1 The Beginning

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pp. 5-12

People are both packets of personality and a continuation of an ancestral wave. To understand who an individual person is, you must look at the wave they are on. The Thompson “wave” can reliably be traced back to Scotch-Irish Presbyterian origins.1 In the late 1600s, increased land rents and religious restrictions impelled a great number of people in northern Ireland, including the Thompsons, to emigrate to the colonies. Once in America, as land in the east became scarce, they moved west. “Clannish, aggressive, violent, and devoted to their livestock,”2 some of these Protestant migrants underwent a religious conversion along the way and became Baptists, the Thompsons among them....

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2 Into the World

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pp. 13-18

His time at the University of Colorado whetted Thompson’s appetite for the world beyond. After graduation, he thought he might get to see more of it by traveling northwest and seeking employment in an import-export company in Seattle, but he was rejected for lacking “foreign experience.” Somewhat at a loss for what to do next, he boarded a steamer and headed south to Los Angeles. In one of those mysterious coincidences, he sat next to a retired consul for the US Department of State.1 In the ensuing conversation, Thompson expressed worry that he would end up in an office, as an accountant,...

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3 To Moscow

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pp. 19-25

After a short visit with his family, Thompson arrived at the State Department’s Office of European Affairs (EUR) in January 1939 and was promoted three months later.1 He was happy to be working with James C. Dunn, who had written one of the letters to get him out of Geneva. Heading the League of Nations desk at EUR, Thompson could sense his career finally gaining momentum. He settled into a comfortable apartment on Sixteenth Street in Washington, DC. It had an enormous fireplace and high ceilings, and it was just across the hall from his friend Jacob Beam.2...

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4 The Siege of Moscow

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pp. 26-38

The State Department struggled under FDR, who left his secretary of state and his ambassadors in the dark, preferring instead to use personal envoys like Harry Hopkins and Averell Harriman when dealing with the Soviets.1 The Moscow embassy suffered because of this. Both Roosevelt and Stalin ignored the first ambassadors under whom Thompson served in Moscow. Stalin was only interested in talking to the people responsible for the cornucopia of Lend-Lease aid, which was overseen by Colonel Philip Faymonville.
FDR’s marching orders to Faymonville were clear: keep the Soviets in the fight and give them what they want. The embassy’s military attaché was infuriated, because Faymonville...

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5 The Germans in Retreat

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pp. 39-47

After his temporary break in London, Thompson returned to Moscow with Averell Harriman’s delegation, to participate in a foreign ministers’ conference on how to wind up the war.1 It is worthwhile taking a close look at one of these journeys, because it helps to explain what travel was like in those days. Flying then was like taking a car trip today. There were frequent stops for refueling and for eating lunch and dinner, as well as occasional overnight stays in one or two places. Travelers entered into a kind of limbo that could last for days or even weeks....

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6 Conferences

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pp. 48-55

Though it left Thompson with only a week at home in Las Animas after nearly four years in Moscow, he followed Harriman’s advice and stopped in Washington, DC, for consultation at the State Department. It had been difficult for Thompson to leave Nina. He had proposed marriage to her in order to get her out of the Soviet Union, but she refused. She did not want to leave her country, and she understood that their relationship would not necessarily work elsewhere. Kennan promised to keep an eye on her.1 Thompson flew out of Moscow with Harriman in October 1944, making the trip to the...

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7 The Hot War Ends and the Cold War Begins

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pp. 56-60

Thompson finally left for “the most exciting city in the world” a year after his original appointment there.1 He arrived in London as the Japanese formally surrendered, on September 2, 1945, which would have certainly made it the most exciting time to be in that city, especially with his new Studebaker. The war was really over. London bore many scars from World War II. Physically, it was drab and gray and smelled of dust, and many neighborhoods were nothing but rubble. But the capital was also coming back to life in spirit, almost as though all the joy that had been shuttered for the...

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8 The Truman Doctrine

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pp. 61-68

The general hope was that when the peace treaties for the former Axis countries were finally signed in Paris on February 10, 1947, this would alleviate the growing friction between the United States and the USSR, but Thompson did not think so.1 Stalin would do whatever was necessary to secure the Soviet Union. Surrounding himself with sympathetic nations was not enough. He needed to control every aspect of these countries’ governments and policies—so much so that he stayed aloof from Communist leaders Mao Zedong and Josip Broz Tito, because he could not exert enough control over them.2...

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9 The Birth of Covert Operations

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pp. 69-79

In view of the increasing tension with the Soviet Union and to better deal with the resulting security issues, the National Security Act of 1947 created a presidential advisory group, called the National Security Council (NSC), to coordinate between the executive branch, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).1 The first resolution of the NSC (NSC 1/1) authorized US peacetime covert espionage. Thompson and his colleagues in the State Department would all become involved in this in one way or another. Kennan began a new organization, the Office of Policy Coordination,...

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10 Overseas Again

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pp. 80-88

The Berlin blockade reinforced the belief that the Soviets had sinister goals. Thompson did not think the Soviet government was planning an armed action, but neither could he discard the possibility of war, since, in his opinion, the greatest danger was “from Soviet miscalculation.”1 The United States might underestimate the USSR’s perception of a threat caused by American actions, or the Soviets might not fully recognize the Western nations’ determination to safeguard what they considered important to their security....

Part II: Negotiations

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pp. 89-90

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11 Chief of Mission

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pp. 91-100

Thompson got his own mission when President Truman appointed him as the US high commissioner and ambassador to Austria in summer 1952. That country, although liberated from the Germans, was still occupied by the victors of World War II. Negotiations for a final settlement had been going on for nearly a decade, but no resolution was in sight. Nor were there indications that anything important was supposed to happen in Austria. Thompson was merely expected to hold things together and continue with those endless discussions....

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12 The Trieste Negotiations

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pp. 101-115

At the end of World War II, the city of Trieste and the surrounding area were claimed by both the Yugoslavs and the Italians. It went to neither. Just as in Austria and Germany, Trieste fell hostage to failed negotiations. Thompson was not the State Department’s first choice to lead the new attempt at negotiations about Trieste. Julius Holmes, who had worked on the Trieste issue for years, had topped the list, but the department rejected his candidacy because the Justice Department was investigating him for alleged financial wrongdoing.1 Only a few knew about Holmes’s problems, leaving Dulles to...

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13 The Austrian State Treaty Negotiations

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pp. 116-131

Each time the question of independence arose at one of the postwar conferences, Austrians hoped to see an end to their country’s occupation, but one Soviet obstacle after another dashed their dreams. They were also frustrated by what they saw as equivocation by the Western allies and felt caught in a balance-of-power struggle between East and West.1 Julius Raab, less pro-American than his predecessor as chancellor, Leopold Figl, won the Austrian elections in February 1953, perhaps reflecting this frustration. The Soviets, however, had not been equivocal. They had used every pretext to make matters more difficult for a treaty, ranging from objecting to the distribution of dried peas from...

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14 Open Skies, Closed Borders

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pp. 132-146

In summer 1955, finally able to get home leave, Thompson and his family boarded the USS Constitution, traveled to New York City, and then went on to the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. While in Colorado, Thompson received a phone call telling him to cut his vacation short and rush to Geneva to attend a summit with the Soviets. That summit propelled Nikita Khrushchev onto the world stage....

Part III: Diplomacy

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pp. 147-148

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15 Khrushchev’s Decade (1953–1964)

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pp. 149-151

By the time Thompson arrived in Moscow in 1957, Khrushchev had reshuffled the cards of the Soviet government and come out on top, having successfully thwarted the Anti-Party Group. Thompson had never dismissed Khrushchev as an ungraceful peasant, the way some Western leaders had. He also recognized that Khrushchev was different from Stalin. Despite having a totally unpredictable character, Khrushchev was sharp and shrewd, and he wanted his nation to succeed. Khrushchev came by his Communist zeal honestly. He had grown up in paralyzing poverty, where food was not a certainty, shoes were not wasted on those who had not yet survived childhood, and education was a...

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16 Moscow 2

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pp. 152-164

Thompson wrote from Vienna to his soon-to-be deputy chief of mission, Edward Freers: “I must say, I have mixed feelings about the job. It will be difficult to succeed Chip, particularly after all of the hullabaloo about it and we do hate to leave Vienna. On the other hand, it should be an extremely interesting period.”1 And so it was....

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17 Khrushchev’s First Gamble: Berlin Poker

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pp. 165-179

For the Western allies, Berlin was either an active problem or one that lurked in the background, ready to spring out and color all the major moves in the Cold War. Thompson stepped into it soon after his arrival in Moscow. The division of Germany was an intractable problem that produced a series of crises collectively known in the West as the “Berlin Crisis.” For Khrushchev and the Soviets, it was an East German problem, with the city of Berlin being either an impediment or a lever, depending on the moment....

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18 Dueling Exhibitions

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pp. 180-189

The Thompsons, and everyone else in the embassy, prepared for Vice President Nixon’s arrival. He was coming to open the American National Exhibition in Moscow, part of the Cultural Exchanges Agreement. Between the time when the invitation to Khrushchev to meet Eisenhower was proffered and when Khrushchev answered on July 21, Eisenhower had signed a congressional resolution making the third week of July Captive Nations Week, to raise public awareness of countries oppressed under Communism and other nondemocratic governments. This infuriated Khrushchev, who...

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19 The Russian Is Coming

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pp. 190-201

On September 12, 1959, something momentous happened—the Soviets launched the first manmade object to reach another celestial body, the moon. Almost as fantastic, two days later, the leader of the Soviet Socialist Republics landed in Washington, DC, for an official visit to the United States.
The Thompsons left their two younger daughters and the girls’ nanny in the care of Carl Hummelsine at magical Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, a huge stage set filled with costumed interpreters in the world’s largest “living museum.”1 For children who had learned...

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20 U-2: The End of Détente

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pp. 202-221

When the Thompson family returned to Moscow in November 1959, they found the city captivated by a kind of “coexistence euphoria.” The embassy staff was already busy preparing for the Four-Powers summit in Paris and President Eisenhower’s visit to the USSR, now scheduled for June the following year, so if Thompson and Jane thought there’d be a little respite after their long and grueling trip through the United States, they were wrong—starting with another memorable New Year’s Eve....

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21 Picking Up the Pieces

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pp. 222-232

At the end of May, the Thompsons returned from Paris to Moscow to find the city looking particularly well—the trees on the boulevards had a shiny green tinge, and lilac bushes perfumed the air.1 Even Spaso House had been transformed from a dull battleship gray to a happier yellow and white for Eisenhower’s now-cancelled visit. Despite the pleasantness, the Americans in Moscow worried about how the failed summit would affect Khrushchev’s “peaceful coexistence,” as well as détente. Yet none of the embassy officers encountered hostility from their counterparts or from the public at large.2 As...

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22 Working for the New President

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pp. 233-245

The next year, 1961, started with bad news from Colorado. Thompson’s mother had fallen and broken her hip. She was extremely frail, and her doctors doubted that she would recover well. The other bad news was Khrushchev’s January 6 speech to a group of Communist Party ideologues. Jane called it “a real lulu.”1 The published version ran to more than forty-four pages, and the original was twice that.2 Thompson reported that the speech was nothing out of the ordinary, and it was such a good example of Khrushchev as a Communist propagandist that he advised members of the new administration to read the entire speech. There were other sides to Khrushchev, Thompson added...

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23 Meeting in Vienna

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pp. 246-265

JFK counted on getting a test ban agreement at the Vienna meeting, but Khrushchev was not interested in freezing what was then America’s lead in nuclear capability or in opening up the Soviet Union to inspections. Thompson warned the president that a        test ban agreement was “extremely doubtful,” and that the only point of agreement was the neutrality of Laos.1 Even JFK’s back channel, Bolshakov, had passed the message to the president that Germany was Khrushchev’s focus for the meeting.2...

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24 The Twenty-Second Congress of the Communist Party

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pp. 266-273

Jenny returned home one day from school to recount an unforgettable history class with a special guest teacher. The woman instructed the students to put their heads on the table and close their eyes and just concentrate on what she said. She described      what life would be like once Communism reached its apogee. For now, she told her students, they had only reached the stage of Socialism, but one day true Communism would arrive. She told them what their day would be like from the moment they got up until they went to bed: “You will wake up in a well-lit apartment that is only for your family,...

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25 Up the Down Escalator: The Thompson-Gromyko Talks

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pp. 274-283

Thompson knew about his instructions before the State Department actually sent them, because the British Ambassador in Moscow had shown him a draft.1 Thompson wrote to the department on December 21 to find out what was going on, and the official instructions came from an embarrassed State Department a week later.2 Too many people were involved in the Thompson-Gromyko talks: the Ambassadorial Group from the Four-Powers summit in Paris, JFK’s Berlin Task force, West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, the French (who opposed any kind of “talks”), the State Department,...

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26 Goodbye Moscow, Hello Washington

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pp. 284-297

At the beginning of June 1962, Thompson traveled to Washington, DC, to meet with JFK and discuss the new position he would hold at the State Department after he left Moscow.1 He also received an honorary doctorate from Columbia University and learned that he would receive the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service when he returned to the United States on August 7. He could now reflect back on a career that had for so long looked like it was going nowhere and say that he had made the right choice not to abandon it. He was pleased to learn that he would have...

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27 Thirteen Days in October

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pp. 298-333

On October 14, 1962, an American U-2 spy plane flying high over western Cuba took the first photographs that proved Senator Keating’s suspicions about the Soviets building nuclear missile sites on the island. In the wee hours of October 15, the chief of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research phoned Thompson’s former aide, Vladimir Toumanoff, and told him their fears had come true. “That covers a lot of ground,” Toumanoff groggily thought to himself, and asked for specifics. The INR chief simply told him to get to the office, ASAP. Toumanoff joined others in...

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28 Limited Test Ban

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pp. 334-354

After the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Washington, DC, rumor network held that Thompson had a lot to do with things turning out right. Thompson and his wife’s social life quickly became more demanding. JFK and Thompson had connected during the crisis, and the president began to consult him more frequently. This included calling him at home after hours and on weekends. Thompson, a firm observer of protocol, asked Secretary of State Rusk for permission to give JFK his advice on the spot, before clearing it with Rusk, who told him to go ahead.1...

Part IV: Policy

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pp. 355-356

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29 The Lyndon Johnson Years

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pp. 357-365

Lyndon Baines Johnson was a crude man—outspoken, direct, and blustery, with a cowboy manner and a Texas drawl. He enjoyed making his presence felt, to the point of discomfort, by leaving no space between him and the person he was speaking to and poking his finger in the other guy’s chest. When asked if LBJ listened, one of his aides said, “He listens so hard it’s deafening—it’s like being at the bottom of a lake, the pressure’s so high.”1 Thompson thought that “Johnson could turn on his people in a ruthless way,” adding that “this made them less frank.”2...

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30 Strand One: Vietnam (1962–1967)

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pp. 366-369

The tragic dilemma of Vietnam was that there was no acceptable solution.1 Once the United States had a presence in South Vietnam, Cold War logic maintained that withdrawal meant losing. Countries in Asia would fall like dominoes as Communism advanced, jeopardizing America’s global strategy.2 The United States would be seen as the paper tiger China claimed it was. Furthering the war was the sole means of protecting America’s global credibility, as well as the Johnson administration, from accusations of “losing Vietnam to Communism.” The United States could only accept defeat,...

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31 Thomps on’s Vietnam

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pp. 370-390

Between 1964 and 1967, Thompson played key roles in the earlier stages of the Vietnam War. His first was to prevent actions that might induce China or the USSR to enter the war. His second was to strike a cautionary note against the americanization of the war in 1965. His third was to limit the bombing of North Vietnam. And his fourth was to promote an inclusive approach to peace negotiations.
In late July 1964, Thompson once again attempted to combine work with a family vacation, this time in Colorado, where he was speaking at the Aspen Institute, but he suddenly had to return to Washington, DC, to deal with an unexpected...

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32 Strand Two: Nonproliferation (1962–1967)

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pp. 391-403

Arms control in the 1960s was something everyone wanted in theory, but in practice it was a balloon filled with problems—squeeze one end, and new problems poked out the other.1 There were two underlying currents at play in both the United States and the USSR. One supported taking risks that could make the world safer. The other focused on gaining an edge over the adversary, in the belief that making any concessions on arms control would jeopardize national security. Nuclear arms control consisted of three connected issues—testing, disarmament, and nonproliferation—each with its own complex set of interconnected problems. In America, it also involved multitudes of agencies...

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33 Strand Three: The Road to SALT (1962–1967)

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pp. 404-412

In the years from 1962 to 1966, disarmament seemed like tilting at windmills, and it paralleled the efforts toward nonproliferation in many ways. Adrian Fisher at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency put out proposals for his boss, William Foster, to present to the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee. But the United States could not agree internally, so many of these drafts never saw the light of day at the ENDC meetings in Geneva. It seemed as though every time a consensus draft would emerge, the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have the last look and find a reason to squash it, giving the impression that they were opposed to arms control in principle.1 The United States kept pitching...

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34 Moscow 3

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pp. 413-427

In early January 1967, Thompson took up his third posting to Moscow. He hoped he could make some contribution, but he wondered if modern communications hadn’t made the role of ambassador less important than it used to be. Later, when he said something to that effect to Kosygin, the Soviet leader disagreed, because, “in addition to his chair and his telegram wire, an Ambassador has a head; if the head is good, people at the other end of [the] wire listen to it.”1...

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35 The Six-Day War: Hotline Diplomacy

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pp. 428-434

Thompson planned to be in Washington, DC, for two weeks to review the United States’ Vietnam policy and US-USSR relations. Instead, he found himself embroiled in another crisis, the Six-Day War between Israel and the United Arab Republic, which broke out just as he reached the capital.1 He spent the better part of the next week in the Situation Room, a “bleak beige” room in the basement of the White House, “furnished simply with an oval conference table and an assortment of comfortable chairs.”2...

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36 Glassboro: The Summit That Wasn’t ( June 23–25, 1967)

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pp. 435-450

The Soviets called an Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly to deal with the worsening crisis in the Middle East. Kosygin would head the Soviet delegation, opening the possibility of a summit between him and LBJ, which Thompson explored in several meetings with Dobrynin.1 Thompson was in favor of the meeting. His assessment of Kosygin was that, although a hard-boiled Communist, he was more intelligent and flexible than most of his colleagues, and he would be more inclined than his rivals to support policies favorable to the United States. He had stuck his neck out...

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37 1968: A Year of Frustrated Promise

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pp. 451-464

A kind of worldwide existential shift occurred in 1968. Young people, especially, seemed to question the ways of the world, and these feelings were translated into the way they dressed, the music they listened to, and the drugs they took to free themselves from outmoded social constraints. They seriously questioned the values of the older generation and often rejected them, in part or completely. The hippie movement and other societal dropouts were à la mode. Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s HaightAshbury district became meccas for the counterculture movement. The year 1968 was not just about a seemingly frivolous generational rebellion, however. This was also the year of...

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38 “Retirement,” So to Speak

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pp. 465-478

The Thompsons left Moscow for the last time on January 14, 1969. When the press asked Thompson what his chief accomplishment was, he answered, “Not having done anything to make matters worse.”1 “Although,” he added, “there are great opportunities for causing harm here.” He explained that his formula for dealing with the Soviets was that “honesty was the best policy,” and that it was never a good idea to resolve world problems in a hurry. He told reporter Edmund Stevens that his “bitterest disappointment” was the U-2 incident.2...

Notes

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pp. 479-566

Bibliography

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pp. 567-572

Index

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pp. 573-587