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- Now sir, you've been visiting the United States at a very interesting time, how did you find public reaction over there to all these rather world shattering events that have taken place recently?
- Well, they seem to me to be rather shattered themselves at first, until we got them back into a more composed state of mind. They seemed to think that some fundamental changes had taken place, when actually something very exciting had happened and international relations had not been altered by them at all. That is to say these sputniks have proved that the Russians are right in their claims that they can send ballistic missiles to American cities, and this of course, meant that America was in the first line in the event of a World War III breaking out, so I pointed out to them that this was no new thing for us. We have been in that situation for the last 6 years. It only proved more conclusively than ever that the nations have a capacity to destroy each other.
- But you had the opportunity of meeting both Mr. Krushchev and President Eisenhower fairly recently. How do you think they react to each other's spheres of influence now?
- I'm not quite sure I understand the question. How do they react to each other's spheres of influence - it's a bit ambiguous is it not?
- It might be. May I then put a supplementary. Mr. Krushchev is very confident to use a turn of phrase - he's very cocky at the moment, and one gathers that President Eisenhower's influence is not so strong in the States.
- I wouldn't say that anything so very serious has happened. The Russians are more self-confident than they were before, of course, but I think that probably that might make negotiation rather easier with them than otherwise. They might be ready to make concessions out of a feeling of strength that they might not have been ready to make out of a sense of weakness. I told my American friends that I though it would be an awful mistake if we postponed negotiations with the Russians until the United States had produced some gadget that would make them once more equal with the Russians, because that sort of race is endless.
- We gather sir, you had a rather happier time in America during this recent visit. Now would you say that you have sown seeds of good will, should in the future a Labour government come back into power in England.
- I'm not able to assess the results of my visit myself. I must leave that to a more objective opinion. But I was received everywhere warm heartedly and with great hospitality. I saw the President, as you say, and Mr. Dulles, Mr. Harriman, and I lectured at the four universities, Brandyce, Harvard, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins and everywhere had very large and warm audiences.
- Mr. Bevan, as a result of your visit do you think it will be a good thing to hold Summit talks between East and West row?
- There must first of all be preparation. I think that first of all the Western powers must concert with each other in order to have their own plans clear. Then having done that I think that summit talks ought to be held as soon as possible. As I said earlier, I think it will be disastrous if we really thought it necessary to strengthen Western defences and tried to produce some mechanical answer to the Russians. I think that's a sterile attitude to take and I believe that now that the capacity for mutual destruction is so self evident, that there exists between us and the Soviet Union one piece of common ground at least, and that is to avoid mutual destruction.
- Do you think the Americans are taking an over emotional attitude to the russian satellite?
- Slightly. I think. I think it is one of general chagrin.
- Did you get the impression that there was going to be a strike in America soon?
- They thought not and it may be that now that the bank rate has been reduced and they're going in for more arms production on a far greater scale than ever, that this will be a boost to the economy and may have the effect of warding off what might otherwise have been a quite substantial recession.
- Did you tell them that we would feel the effect of America's slump over here?
- Yes indeed, I said so in very plain terms. I said that the Americans economy was such a large factor in world trade that a recession there might have disastrous consequences on us in Great Britain and in Europe especially on the uncommitted nations and if a recession did take place of that order, it would have very serious effects indeed, not only upon our employment, but also upon our status in the world.
- We gather sir, that you were rather disappointed with the outlook of young Americans, their opinions and so on?
- I found everywhere a distressing conformism, a tendency to think in headlines. I must be quite frank and say I believe the influences of what has been described as the Mac Arthy era still has a very considerable momentum in America.
- A mentally crippling attitude?
- A certain cautiousness in the universities where you ought not to find conformities.
- A certain disposition as I say to conformism to think in slogans, and a certain aversion so that intellectual recklessness that you hope to see in young people.
- Mr. Bevan, don't you think that sceptism about international and national affairs is essentially an Old World characteristic?
- So as long as it doesn't degenerate into cynicism its a good thing.
- Would you say that it was a characteristic of the New World?
- No, I wouldn't say scepticism so much as an absence of awareness. I think that it may be that these Russian inventions may have made it quite clear to millions of Americans who would otherwise not have taken an interest in world affairs, that the world is very much on their doorstep.
- Besides the leading citizens of America, did you have a chance to mix and travel about in America, and if so what did you enjoy?
- I travelled very widely. I went as far as Los Angeles, for one meeting, and I spent some time in trains, but I'm afraid that my itinerary was so full that I would not be able to report faithfully on the views of the man in the street.
- But nevertheless, you did enjoy it?
- I did very much yes.
- Thank you very much.
...................What was your reaction to that?
- When I was in the United States, I made exactly the same sort of speech
I would have made at home, for I believe that the Americans like frankness. I don't think it is a wise plan to say something different there, from what one says at home. Therefore Mr. Macmillan must take it for granted that I told the Americans exactly what I would tell him if I were addressing him in the House of Commons................generaliser about the American people? All generalisations are subject to qualifications which are almost invariably wrong.....
- As for future Foreign Secretary?
- How can I answer that. It's one of those question impossible for me to answer, You'd better ask the Americans about this one.
- About American press reports, a lot of them are very hostile to your visit and to your remarks.
- I'm sure you've studied them, have you?
- I have studied the reports of them here, yes.
- The reports of them here, but not the reports themselves?
- No, but you must have done that.
- Yes, but then I would imagine that many of the reports here would be slightly tendentious It would be a good idea to study them at first hand.
- Is this your sophisticated view of the British press?
- No, no, but I'm acquainted with the British press.....
- I think it would be friendly, if there were an election in America, the Republicans I think would be defeated, and there will be a closer approximation. I wouldn't say there would be a decision by any means, but there will be a closer approximation between the policies of a democratic government in America and a Labour government in Britain.........:..... As I said earlier I was greeted everywhere very warmly. This hostility to me in America was, I think, artificially conjured up. In any case it is sometimes an advantage because if you are described as an exceeding ugly person and you're only a very plain person, when people see you then they think you quite good looking.
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