1998 (2) Winter

The CIA and Double Demonology: Calling the Sino-Soviet Split

By Harold P. Ford


Sino-Soviet relations are in a critical phase just short of an acknowledged and definitive split. There is no longer much of a fundamental resolution of differences. In our view, the chances that such a split can be avoided in 1962 are no better than even.

—NIE 11-5-62, February 1962

[Ambassador George Kennan:] In summary, it seems to me that Chinese-Soviet relations bid fair to receive, in the coming months, a certain easement…. An environment of continued sharp, military bipolarity will leave the two partners little choice but to repress their differences and carry on. [Ambassador Charles (Chip) Bohlen:] I am inclined to with agree George. . .there is not the slightest sign that any adjustments of the basic elements of that dispute have been or are in process.

—Comments on NIE 11-5-62, May 1962

This article treats the highlights of that Sino-Soviet the story: judgments CIA officers made in the years up to 1963, by which time estrangement between Moscow and Beijing had become publicly evident; why these CIA officers came to hold those particular views; what they were up against in trying to promote their heresy amidst many policymakers who remained true believers; and the impact these CIA officers’ judgments had, or did not have, on policymakers.

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