Western powers, one person from the socialist bloc, and one person from the non-aligned states. This was a proposal requiring constitutional revision of the Charter, which meant that it had no chance of success. Yet Khrushchev pursued it, even threatening to veto any successor to Hammarskjöld at the end of his term unless the troika was accepted. The Soviets also refused to pay any special assessment for the Congo operation, joining France and a few other states in challenging Hammarskjöld's policy. The following spring the Kennedy administration would have to ask Congress for $100 million in bond issues to keep the United Nations afloat. The troika idea, coupled with the USSR's nonpayment of its assessments, demonstrated the depths the cold war had reached, even threatening the future viability of the United Nations itself.
I believe, Mr. Chairman, that you should recognize that free peoples in all parts of the world do not accept the claim of historical inevitability for the Communist Revolution. What your government believes is its own business; what it does is the world's business.
— President Kennedy to Nikita Khrushchev
April 18, 1961
The Congo, the troika, Berlin, Vietnam, Formosa—all were part of the foreign policy agenda on a very cold January 20, 1961, as a new president took up the cold war struggle left to him by Truman and Eisenhower. The previous year had only added to the angst felt in world capitals and hometowns. Hopes had risen the previous spring because of a "Big Four" summit planned for Paris in May. Expectations were quickly dashed, however, by the shooting down of an American spy plane over the Soviet Union—which led, on the opening day of the summit, to Khrushchev's demand that Eisenhower apologize for the overflight. When the president refused, the meeting adjourned permanently. In Indochina, communist forces ratcheted up the attacks on the American-supported regime in South Vietnam and fomented revolution in Laos. In the Western Hemisphere, the new Cuban government under Fidel Castro, originally thought an improvement on the dictatorship of General Batista, declared its allegiance to communism, leading to a break in relations with the United States. The pristine white landscape left by a snowstorm in the District of Columbia