President Ford–Bipartisan Congressional Leadership memcon (September 12, 1974)

1766011President Ford–Bipartisan Congressional Leadership memcon1974with Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger, George Mahon, John Stennis, George Aiken, John McClellan, Wayne Hays, Elford Cederberg, Felix Hébert, John Sparkman, Carl Albert and Robert Byrd





President Ford
Bipartisan Congressional Leadership
Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Major General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Thursday - September 12, 1974
8:30 a.m.
Cabinet Room
Foreign Aid

E.O. 12958, SEC 3.5
NSC Memo, 11/24/98, State Dept. Guidelines
By       NARA Date 1/18/00


President: I appreciate your coming and the cooperation you have given me. I was thinking last night of the many meetings I have been to, going back to LBJ, in this room on this problem. I want to talk on this problem for a minute and then Henry will talk. I meet with Henry every morning for over an hour. We face a number of difficult problems over the world. Whether it is Southeast Asia, the Middle East, or another part of the Mediterranean -- Greece and Turkey, where Henry is in daily contact with Greece and Turkey -- or the relationship with the Soviet Union where we are laying the groundwork for SALT and trade, or with Western Europe where we're trying to bring close cooperation, we are faced with problems and tough decisions. I wanted to get the Leadership together to layout the problems with you.

That gets to legislation -- we must have what we need. On the defense appropriation, I appreciate what you have been able to do. In aid assistance there is a problem. We must assure that what we are trying to do in Vietnam is not destroyed through lack of funding or that our hands are not tied in using those funds. There are amendments which would limit me in emergencies. We need flexibility and an adequate amount of money.

There is a prospect of increased military activity in Vietnam, and also in the Mideast. We went through a crisis in Cyprus. We hope there won't be anything else, but we must be prepared in case there is. Now let me turn it over to Henry and then I hope for a frank discussion.

Kissinger: I strongly support the President's statement about the opportunities we face in foreign policy. There is new leadership in Europe, and with our new situation, it has created a new atmosphere. The Soviet Union has gone out of its way to create a good atmosphere. In SALT we are facing the best prospects we have faced in some time. In the Mideast we are facing a difficult negotiation. It is difficult to phase them to show progress and prevent a blowup. We are pursuing a low profile with Greece and Turkey because passions run so high; we want to nudge them to negotiate so we will not be blamed for a collapse. We are making progress though. This is by way of background:

In Southeast Asia, there is the problem of money and restrictions. If we bug out of Vietnam, it would affect our whole foreign policy and the reliance that countries can place on us. If the amounts are too small, it matters little whether it is barely too little or much too little. In MAP, you know the requests and the appropriation.

President: I was discussing this a day or so ago. A soldier on patrol normally carries 8 grenades. Now they carry two. What does that do to the soldier's morale. Their morale inevitably sags and that at the least unsettles the situation in South Vietnam.

Kissinger: It is a vicious cycle. The psychology is as important as the military situation. Until June they felt good. Then their ammunition was reduced and their morale sagged. Then they gave up some outposts and their morale dropped more.

We think North Vietnam is on the brink of deciding whether or not to go the military route. To the extent we cut back, we encourage military action.

It is not a matter of economizing -- we don't have enough. We have done what we can. Unused equipment disintegrates rapidly.

We realize the funds are agreed.

Mahon: There is one area, though. There is $77 million for the F-5's which can be used.

Kissinger: We agree, but we will still have to come in for a supplemental. It's not enough.

On the economic side, the funds are totally inadequate. We gave a 5-year program and we said the worst way is to give just too little because you can never get a process of growth. $600 million is the minimum to stabilize the situation. At the levels now the situation will be seriously jeopardized. Food and fuel costs have risen tremendously. This has to do with political stability. In June we were impressed with Ambassador Martin's report of progress. Now the impact of these cutbacks is turning the situation around. The situation is a disaster.

Stennis: The actual facts as I understand. The money until now has come out of Defense without a method to let it be traced. This year there are requirements for proper accounting. I suggested a personal Presidential representative to watch the spending. I think we should try it and we should give $800-900 million. With tightening up it should be enough. They were firing like we did. They have reduced that. I think we should try this.

President: Do you recommend a military man?

Stennis: He must have military knowledge.

Aiken: One reason for the cut is they still have a million men under arms.

President: I would assume they have kept the levels up because there has been no reduction in the opposition.

Kissinger: On the contrary, North Vietnamese forces have tripled since the Agreement. North Vietnam has built a whole system of roads so that equipment can come in in a day or so. They [the ARVN] were doing OK until these cuts.

We maybe shouldn't have trained them in our tactics, but we have and it is now their own and it would be disastrous to change.

McClellan: How much more do you need?

Kissinger: $200 million in military and $150 in economic.

Mahon: We can provide Kissinger with this money right now. We have to try to hold the line now and try in the new session for more.

McClellan: So how much more are you going to ask for?

Hays: I have never seen the Vietnam aid debate more acrimonious. This is an election year. Fertilizer is a sore point here -- you can't get it here. To talk two months before elections about more aid and more fertilizer is dreaming. Try to hold the line and come back after the elections. I think these are the facts.

President: I understand, but we are trying to lay things out frankly.

Hays: We could have done it earlier, but to reopen it now is really impossible.

Cederberg: I think we will not get a bill before the elections and will be working on a CR. The problem is the CR is low and doesn't include the Middle East.

Kissinger: That's right. The bill has been cut so badly that in many ways we would be better off with a CR, except it would cripple us in the Middle East.

Hebert: We defeated attempts in the House to cut to $900 million. The Senate was lower but we gave $1 billion. It was Appropriations which did the $700 million. We will give you a supplemental; it is on the floor that the trouble will come.

President: The Middle East is tough right now. We are negotiating with Rabin now. They are asking for substantial funds. Look at it in global terms: How can we be having a disaster in Southease Asia while we are trying to negotiate in the Middle East?

Hays: I filibustered a cut-off of aid to Turkey. You can get Israeli aid, but Greece and Turkey is another problem. I am afraid the Committee may put the Turk prohibition in. You better work on that one.

President: A cut-off to Greece and Turkey would have dire consequences. Negotiations are moving in the direction which we think will be satisfactory.

Sparkman: My committee reported out a bill which had inadequacies. To be frank, though, I think we will have a fight on the floor trying to sustain what is in it.

Kissinger: In addition to the funds, we are concerned about the restrictions. In Greece and Turkey, the only way the situation can be worked out is by American influence on the Turks. We have been husbanding that to use in the negotiations to get what is necessary. If we cut beforehand, we get nothing for it, and the Greeks get nothing for it. Turkey can't move except in the context of negotiations.

Hays: You should tell this to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mahon: It is evident to me that there won't be a foreign aid appropriation bill by recess. We will need a new CR. If we could get a standard CR without gimmicks -- without Mideast funds -- we could avoid the restrictions for awhile.

Cederburg: But I think the CR would be amended to include the restrictions.

Speaker: A CR is modified by any authorization bill passed.

Kissinger: Our problems are not Israel, but Egypt and Syria.

Hays: But you have to tie them together to get anything for Egypt and Syria.

President: There are some very delicate problems which rely on use of contingency funds. It's almost gone. We will account for it after, but can't do it now.

Sparkman: I think we should take no action on Greek-Turkish aid until Kissinger finishes negotiations.

President: I agree. The situation in Greece is touchy. The government could go sharply right or left.

Kissinger: I say this privately -- Karamanlis has a tough problem. He has to maneuver to isolate the Papandreou group and to make anti-American statements to preempt the left.

Mahon: It is the consensus that we have a CR until November.

Speaker: I am not sure you should have a bill before January or February. How about the Senate?

Byrd: We had intended to take a bill up next week but could probably defer it until after recess. But we should make a CR until February.

Kissinger: We will pay a price in the Mideast, but maybe the President could use PL 480 to tide us over. I think the CR route is better. We will see what we can piece together.

Albert: If we pass a CR until February and then pass an authorization, does that change the CR?

Cederberg: But the CR could be subject to amendment.

Hays: Get a rule.......

President: Meanwhile, Henry and I will meet with the Foreign Affairs and Foreign Relations Groups next week. We will lay on the talk.

Albert: This will be one of our toughest jobs. There is a philosophical antipathy to aid.

Cederberg: Has anyone talked to the Greek leaders?

Kissinger: Yes. They aren't as well organized as the Israelis. The ones we talked to have left supportive and they understand our strategy is the only one. Only our influence on the Turks is the only way to help the Greeks.

Cederberg: The leader of AHEPA just sent me a letter asking for the Turkey aid cut-off.

Byrd: I think Kissinger should come up to talk to the Republican and Democratic caucuses.

Scott: Can you make it next Tuesday?

Kissinger: I will try.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).

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