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1149. Policy. Gromyko initiative on Cuba yesterday (Embtel 1139)(1) appears corroborate estimate of Soviet intentions salvage as much as possible of their position in Cuba. In this respect seems to us to reflect same kind of internal pushing and hauling which must have taken place between despatch Khrushchev private letter October 26 and published letter October 27.(2)
Western colleagues incline to view "heads must roll" as result set-back, though neither they nor we are able to identify source of any differences in leadership.
In any event, we believe Khrushchev personally convinced situation was critically dangerous and had to be liquidated. (We are struck by parallel between danger to USSR in which Cuban gamble eventuated and Khrushchev's accusations against Stalin in "secret speech" for having permitted Soviet Union come up to threshold World War II grossly unprepared, both militarily and psychologically.)
On balance we consider selection of Kuznetsov for New York and decision to despatch Mikoyan to Cuba encouraging factors. Seems to us of some importance they chose to send Mikoyan via New York for consultation with Kuznetsov rather than direct, as they could have done (Embtel 1145).(3)
Factors producing dramatic decision withdraw included not only striking display US determination and unity Western alliances when chips are down, but distaste Soviet populace for Cuban adventures. Sense of relief here following publication exchanges of letters unmistakable.
Source: Department of State, Central Files, 761.00/10-3162. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Received in the Department of State at 7:20 a.m. The source text notes that a copy of the telegram was passed to the White House on October 31.