353. Memorandum From the Staff Director of the National Security Council Under Secretaries Committee (Hartman) to the Under Secretary of State (Irwin)1


  • China Trade and Travel


  • The attached Memorandum to the President with transmittal

The Memorandum to the President on China trade and travel2 has been an exceptionally difficult document to prepare. Widely divergent and often parochial viewpoints were expressed and passionately defended. The objective in many cases was to close off certain Presidential options. We had to resist this if we were to respond to the mandate.

As the time for the President’s departure to Peking drew closer, it became clear that all of the divergent viewpoints could not be reconciled, and that if a paper was to be presented, a technique would have to be established for the presentation of diverging viewpoints which was accurate and fair. To accomplish this, it was agreed by the drafting committee (with Mr. Mountain from DOD/ISA dissenting) that where there was a dissent the text of the memorandum would reflect the majority viewpoint and the dissent would be noted in a footnote. The dissenting agency was in every instance given full autonomy in the wording of its footnote. This technique was essential because the DOD representative insisted upon incorporating his views at length and showed no disposition whatever to negotiate their wording in order to make them acceptable to the rest of the drafting committee. Mr. Hormats of the NSC Staff was one of the conferees concurring in this approach.

Careful consideration has been given to Secretary Laird’s request (Tab B) for the incorporation of the footnotes in the text.3 I have severe doubts as to our ability to accomplish this. DOD has consistently [Page 891]refused to allow any rewording of its positions, and the other participating agencies have simply found DOD’s wording unacceptable. If we were now to incorporate such wording, we would have to resubmit the entire text to all original addressees for concurrence. I frankly do not believe that such concurrence would be forthcoming, and we would find that we had gone full circle to arrive at our original impasse.

Even if the small probability of an agreed text were realized, the delay would mean the text would not reach the White House in time to be useful. The DOD clearance process is exceedingly cumbersome; witness the fact that the current document was sent to them for clearance on December 18, 1971 after DOD had promised to get a clearance by Christmas. The clearance did not in fact arrive until three weeks later. The NSC staff has now requested this paper by January 11.

For all of these reasons, I believe this document with all of its esthetic defects and tortured concurrence be forwarded, and that you therefore sign the transmittal at Tab A, and the report at Tab B.4

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 83 D 276, NSC-U/DM 60D. Secret. Drafted by J.K. Wilhelm (S/PC) and cleared in EA by Ambassador Brown.
  2. Not printed; it is an early draft of Document 354.
  3. In his January 4 memorandum to Irwin, not printed, Laird generally concurred with the draft paper but thought placing differing views in footnotes and “further disassociating them from the text by moving them to the end of each section” did “not provide a balanced presentation of opposing views.” He recommended revising the format before submitting the paper to the President.
  4. The reference to Tab B is an apparent error, because both Irwin’s transmittal memorandum and the report are at Tab A. Tab B is Secretary Laird’s memorandum. Also attached is a Tab C, an undated memorandum from Under Secretary of Commerce Lynn to Irwin, expressing pleasure at the inclusion in the report of Commerce Department revisions, requesting some further organizational changes, and urging that the United States should “inform the PRC immediately of our LTA [Long-term Textile Agreement] obligations, in order to preclude an unusually large volume of textile imports and the difficult position in which this would place the Administration.” Attached to Lynn’s memorandum is a December 21 memorandum explaining in detail the Commerce Department positions on these matters.