Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with William A. Crawford
CRAWFORD: Balaceanu [Petre Balaceanu]. After having called on Secretary Hodges [Luther H. Hodges] initially, to pay his respects, he'd been encouraged to go and see Behrman [Jack N. Behrman] over at [Department of] Commerce, who was Hodges' deputy, about what Romania might be interested in buying from us. And so he had presented Behrman with a list of ten plants valued at some $200 million for which the Romanians wanted Commerce to authorize export licenses.
Q: Was the synthetic rubber plant on that list?
CRAWFORD: That's right. The two synthetic rubber plants—one the polybutadiene, and the other the polyisoprene—were among them. So these were presented in March to the Department of Commerce. And in May, the Department of Commerce said, “Sorry, but we can't approve licenses of nine out of the ten, and we're going to need more information before we can consider the tenth, et cetera.” So the Romanians got no farther, and when I saw Balaceanu in the summer of '62 when he came back to Bucharest on holiday, he was pretty depressed. He'd made his big pitch, and he'd been told no soap. So much for their approach to us at that time. And to illustrate just how small was our trade then, our total trade turnover with Romania was but slightly above one million dollars, whereas Romania's turnover that year with West Germany alone, with whom they had no diplomatic relations yet, had reached some $150 million. So although her trade with our NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] allies was growing rapidly, it was going nowhere with us.
However, other things were occurring, for the Romanians were running into serious problems with the Russians. In June of '62, Khrushchev made a state visit to Romania, and he spent a week or so traveling around the country with Dej to see the new Romanian industry. And, from all the reports that we got, he not only didn't like what he saw but told the Romanians in pretty abusive language that they were on the wrong track and shouldn't be going ahead with this kind of thing. We heard that he was very insulting to Dej, and as Dej had to take all this on his home grounds, he was very sour in turn. Apparently the purpose—as well as the net result—of the visit, was to tell the Romanians to climb off their effort towards industrialization and to get back to doing mainly what they'd always done so well as a breadbasket for Europe.