151. Memorandum From David Klein of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1



  • Rumania, Firestone, etc.

With the end of the Firestone-Rumanian deal,2 it is more urgent now than before that we take a square look at the outstanding licenses for the Rumanian oil industry which have been blocked by the Department of Commerce. It is increasingly clear that neither the Secretary of Commerce nor Secretary Mann have looked carefully at the problems of Rumania to examine the characteristics which distinguish it from other Communist countries. (I have been assured that Mr. Mann’s approved [Page 414] script for his interview with Firestone made the point of national interest far more strongly than Mr. Mann actually did and erected hurdles for Firestone which Mann did not use.)

It seems to me that this problem is worth a full-scale debate so that all parties concerned understand what this government’s policy is and the operating guidelines can be set accordingly.

The Firestone deal is over. (I understand Firestone has issued a statement this afternoon in Akron, Ohio, to that effect.) But we may be able to save some of the political pieces. It is not clear at this juncture just how the Rumanians read the cancellation action. Bucharest sent in a cable this morning indicating that Vietnam has left the pages of the Rumanian papers—which could indicate that the Rumanians consider the cancellation a reaction to their position on Vietnam. If that is so, one of the ways we might save some of the political gains of the last months is to move ahead with the pending licenses, demonstrating that there is still a special policy toward Rumania, but it requires a Rumanian quid for our quo. This would also give us some turn-around time during which we might look around for alternative sources to fill the gap left by Firestone.

But as I indicated above, in the long term it is important to bring key members of the government (i.e., the Secretary of Commerce and the Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs) into agreement with what has generally been understood to be this government’s policy. And to be useful this has to be done immediately—if possible before this week is out.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Rumania, Memos, Vol. 2. Top Secret; Sensitive.
  2. On April 16, representatives of Firestone informed U.S. officials that they would withdraw from negotiations with the Romanian Government as a result of a well-organized U.S. campaign against sales to Romania. A memorandum of this conversation is ibid.