President Ford–Henry Kissinger memcon (August 15, 1974)

President Ford–Henry Kissinger memcon  (1974) 
Gerald Ford, Henry Alfred Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft

August 15, 1974 conversation covering multiple subjects. ARC #1552750

Presidential Libraries Withdrawal Sheet


REASON FOR WITHDRAWAL National security restriction
TYPE OF MATERIAL Memorandum of Conversation
CREATOR'S NAME Ford, Kissinger, Scowcroft
CREATION DATE 08/15/1974
VOLUME 7 pages
FOLDER TITLE August 15, 1974 - Ford, Kissinger






President Ford
Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Thursday, August 15, 1974
9:00 a. m.
The Oval Office

The President: Shouldn't we get it out of the way?

Kissinger: The problem is getting a good statement. The thrust should now be different. You would be comfortable with next Thursday?

The President: It is up to you.

Kissinger: On the Saudi military -- I don't think you should leave any department that leverage. Just have Brent get the availability. You don't have to do anything now. Right now it just creates problems. Now it creates the impression of bad faith. It is not illegal but it would look like sharp practice. We can wait for the Saudi team. We can just give Egypt delivery times at my levels.

I think it is better to hold it all informally to avoid any possibility of a charge of sharp practice. If this is okay, we will do it this way and have Schlesinger and Clements over when the times comes.

The President: Does that break faith with Fahmy?

Kissinger: He just needs to know when we can deliver. The Saudis probably won't be here until early October. Then you get Defense in and tell them. It is one thing to sell something which then they wish to transfer; it is another to sell with the intent to transfer.

There is a Security Council meeting today. We will try to avoid a condemnation. The French are with us. We got a little heat from the New York Times but things will look good in four weeks.

The Greeks liked our letter and want to publish it. It will annoy the Turks a bit, but they understand. Turkey thinks we are the only ones who understand.

The Turks are not moving well in the West. The Greeks have asked the Brits for cover. They are stalling.

We need to talk about Cuba.

The President: I noticed Panama attempting to rustle up support. It was turned down by Colombia.

Kissinger: Yes. But that won't hold. Brazil is our only ally.

The President: Do you have any suggestions for a Cuban policy change?

Kissinger: There have been many appeals from Cuba. Castro wants to meet with me.

The Latin American Foreign Ministers are meeting in Buenos Aires next March. If we don't violently oppose it, a consensus would probably develop to let the Cuban delegates come. They may quiet it. Or I could say we won't be ready by March, but would discuss it then.

We have to loosen up or we isolate ourselves. But not high visibility like a Castro meeting; that would be a drastic policy change.

The President: What would we get out of it?

Kissinger: We would move grudgingly and hint of a change. We should work closely with Brazil. We should treat Cuba low-key as just another country.

The President: Would we give back the sugar quota?

Kissinger: Yes, but we shouldn't do it. The issue is the trade embargo. We can lift it slowly or be blackmailed through U.S. subsidiaries. We don't have to move for three months.

Nixon had strong personal views on Cuba. This would be a change of his policy.

We should keep the initiative and not look like we were forced grudgingly.

The President: One other thing is the Byrd amendment. I know what the Department thinks.

Kissinger: [Discussion about State] They must be disciplined. On the Byrd Amendment, they are bucking for repeal.

My view is that every black African country is governed by a dictator and that is no better than a white dictator.

I have gone along just because it isn't worth the fight with the liberals. I haven't signed letters on it, but Humphrey has called.

The President: [Assistant Secretary] Holton tried to get me to do something when I was Vice President. I said I had voted for the Byrd Amendment. Jordan, head of the Urban League, called too.

I thought it was your view too.

Kissinger: I shouldn't look like I am supporting the Byrd Amendment because of the African states.

Should I make a few preparatory calls?

The President: When the amendment was approved, business wanted it.

Slowcroft: [Explained the raw material situation.]

The President: If it is not a raw material problem, why not repeal it?

Kissinger: What bothers me is the bypassing. But with the need for liberal and black support....

The President: I don't know whether the House has strength.

The black caucus: I could make points with them.

My instinct is it wouldn't really help us that much. They never stick with us.

Kissinger: My instinct is we should make low-key support. We would get some little black African state support. But you would keep the liberals for about 48 hours.

The President: If we could get a quid pro quo. Okay, but the caucus doesn't work that way.

Scowcroft: The Whip can't even keep them.

The President: Then if we weigh in, that would do it.

Kissinger: That is why they want us to get in.

The President: If they can show it is industrially to our benefit, okay.

Kissinger: We would get a couple of headlines and that is okay. But in the long run we are better off if we can't be pushed.

The President: Okay, I will stay out of it and you call Rhodes.

Kissinger: On the Soviets -- we are brutal when they step over the line. They will test you and we should keep this in mind. LBJ dosed out power; I believe if we use American power it should be massive.

In 1970 they started building a submarine base in Cienfuegos. State wanted to wait until the base was finished. Nixon told me to make a strong statement and put a destroyer off the base.

Our experience is hit them early and hard when they threaten.

Their power structure is cumbersome. You have much more flexibility.

Scoop doesn't understand -- he thinks you can keep squeezing them.

Cyprus is another humiliation -- it is being settled without their participation. We send them letters so they can't say we are freezing them out. Their frustration has to rise. That is where the trouble comes in. Dole it out so it eases the problem but doesn't make a strategic difference. The Dulles idea of talking tough can't be sustained in practice. We talk softer than our actions. The Left is strong in Europe; we paralyze them by talking soft. That is what you are up against with McClellan.

The President: If I were the Soviets, I would use the Congress.

Kissinger: These numbers games on SALT miss the point. The firm approach means we must sustain a 10 to 15 percent budget increase, be prepared for crises like Berlin, and so forth.

I wanted to use this peculiar year -- with liberals going conservative -- to get a ceiling on strategic forces beyond which we wouldn't go anyway.

We couldn't sustain an arms race.

The President: Without a direct threat.

Kissinger: The Liberals will soon say we have too much. If we need more, it is in the tactical area.

I am pleased by Abrams' report on three more divisions.

The President: He is a great man. He made a real effort.

Kissinger: You have a good team. I don't know Holloway.

The President: Nor I. But I don't think he is another Zumwalt.

Scowcroft: No. Deliberately not so.

Kissinger: Zumwalt is an opportunist.

On CSCE -- we never wanted it but we went along with the Europeans. It includes some basic principles, something on human contacts, no change of frontiers, and what they call "confidence-building measures."

The Soviet Union wants it as a substitute for a peace treaty. They more or less have that. The big hang-up is on freedom of movement. It is meaningless -- it is just a grandstand play to the left. We are going along with it.

What you will face is whether to conclude it at the summit level or foreign minister level. My guess is the Europeans will decide on a summit. We have positioned with the Soviet Union, so we look like we are ahead of the Europeans.

The President: What is the timetable?

Kissinger: Maybe next March. The Soviet Union wants it this year, but that is not possible. If you meet Brezhnev in December, they won't want it before that.

There are no decisions to make now.

When you meet Gromyko the end of September you should give him the impression we are trying to be helpful.

There is no implementation in the treaty.

On MBFR -- we made an absurd proposal which couldn't fly. Now we are modifying it. The Soviets should cut more than us, but not so much. Then we should add the nuclear package -- 32 Pershings, 54 F-4, 1,000 nuclear warheads. It is strategically insignificant, but it does have the consequence of establishing some ceiling on our nuclear forces.

But we don't have targets for the nucs anyway.

Also we have to take care of FBS. To do it in SALT causes alliance problems. If we could get the Soviets to do it in MBFR, it would satisfy our allies and give the Soviet Union a face saving way out.

Your coming into office will give a big boost. They will be looking for a success, especially if you make a meeting in December conditional.

The President: I have told Brent MBFR is more popular here than SALT.

Kissinger: At the VFW, you might give a tough Defense-oriented speech. It would be good for the Soviets.

The President: I have been doing that, and with no apologies.

Kissinger: We can probably get a 15-20,000 cut in MBFR. Maybe in December. We will have to manage with the allies so it doesn't look like bilateralism. I will focus with Dobrynin on SALT and MBFR.



Presidential Libraries Withdrawal Sheet


REASON FOR WITHDRAWAL National security restriction
DESCRIPTION Notes for memcon
CREATION DATE 08/15/1974
VOLUME 7 pages
FOLDER TITLE August 15, 1974 - Ford, Kissinger

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).