130. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Eliot) to the Under Secretary of State (Irwin)1


  • Diplomacy by the NSC Staff

One aspect of the operations of the NSC staff is particularly troublesome: direct dealings on official foreign policy matters with foreign officials without the participation or knowledge of the State Department.

Three recent examples are:

  • —John Thomson’s visit to discuss the Indian Ocean (telegram at Tab A).2
  • —Henry’s discussion with the Pakistan Ambassador on a special U.S. delegation to East Pakistan (telegram at Tab B).3
  • —About 10 days ago, Mr. Nachmanoff informed the Brazilian Ambassador that the Administration would not give a commitment at this time that it would tax Brazilian soluble coffee. We learned this when [Page 279] we were provided the language at Tab C to be added to a telegram we were sending on recent Ways and Means Committee action on the International Coffee Agreement.4

We have no way of knowing of other such actions about which we have not been told.

I think the point to be made to Henry is that unless the President specifically requests that the Secretary of State not be consulted or advised of direct diplomacy by the NSC staff, we expect to be consulted and advised.

Furthermore, we regard all three of the above examples as “operational” and of the kind the State Department, in charge of foreign operations, should have had action on. For the NSC staff to undercut the Department in these ways harms the ability of the Department to carry out the functions the President has assigned to it.

I believe that this matter is so serious and important that you should convey the thought to Henry by implication that if this sort of problem recurs, the Secretary may raise it with the President.5

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 74 D 164, Kissinger–Irwin Meetings. Confidential; Eyes Only.
  2. Not attached.
  3. Not attached.
  4. Attached but not printed. Arnold Nachmanoff was a member of the NSC’s Operations Staff for Latin America.
  5. The State Department’s record of Irwin’s luncheon with Kissinger on December 10 states that Irwin raised the issue of NSC diplomacy “in general terms as well as the specifics of the three cases in point. HK agreed that the White House NSC staff should not be conducting diplomatic business directly with foreign governments.” (Nicholas Veliotes, Memorandum for the Files, December 10; National Archives, RG 59, Executive Secretariat, Summaries of the Under Secretary’s Meetings with the National Security Advisor)