110. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Dr. James R. Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense
  • William Colby, Director Central Intelligence
  • Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Kissinger: The purpose of this meeting is to talk candidly. I will tell you what I plan—I hope you will do likewise. We will use the machinery, but it is useful to exchange views. Anyone here has the option of saying something here only and it won’t go to the State Department. Otherwise, I may tell Rush and you can tell Clements.

Schlesinger: We can’t have people telling Congress how we are handling it.

Kissinger: Maybe you should begin.

Schlesinger: We can move 20–50 thousand tons from Laos. We have MASF there. We are moving forces out and we will discuss ammunition in excess of Lao needs.

There is money in the Air Force to fund F–5As which was cut from the budget. Stennis will get that restored in conference—that is free money. The Thais want OV–10s. The Thais have ammunition. We can swap, but we need a swap arrangement.

Kissinger: I would like to interrupt for a minute. Give Brent a list of any complaints you have about the State Department. One of the utilities of my dual position is to bring this whole thing together. I basically am on your side.

Schlesinger: So we can keep the ammunition flowing a long time but we need facade.

The reason I don’t tell Tarr is that there are things in the law, but if we talk about it, they will be eliminated.

Kissinger: But they have to have money to shoot people up.

Schlesinger: If I can just get through the conference on F–5A, that will help. It should happen in a few days.

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Kissinger: This has been a big item though. If we suddenly go quiet, someone will get to the Congress. Give me a cover story and write me a memo I can show.

Keep discipline in your shop, Tom. How about equipment?

Schlesinger: If we get this Air Force money back, we can handle this.

Moorer: We have a million or so of spares in addition to ammunition.

Kissinger: On the diplomatic side—for you alone—in June I had the Chinese lined up for a 60-day Cambodian ceasefire and settlement. We had a ceasefire in place and a Laos-type government. The Chinese said they would recommend it to Sihanouk when he returned. That is when we passed the bomb halt, and then the Chinese said the situation had changed.

Moorer: The reason the Communists tried to take Phnom Penh before August 15 was they were afraid it would be solved before August 15 and they would be left out. Of course they were dumb in the way they went at it.

Kissinger: Now I will send a message to Le Duc Tho that we are prepared to discuss Cambodia along the lines we discussed in June. I will tell the Chinese that if Sihanouk has anything to say—we won’t use Mansfield—we will listen to what he has to say. We shouldn’t go to the Embassy in Phnom Penh and upset the Cambodians but sit tight. I don’t plan any contact with Sihanouk.

Moorer: I would be wary of dealing with Sihanouk. I am not sure he can deliver.

Kissinger: There is a 90 percent chance I won’t see him.

Colby: Sihanouk can’t deal with the Lon Nol group.

Kissinger: I don’t see a negotiation coming.

Colby: We don’t need it if we can stall along.

The critical factor is the Phnom Penh leadership.

Kissinger: We have no compulsion to get into this negotiation.

Let’s have our next meeting Wednesday. Brent will be the focal point for items to discuss.

Schlesinger: On Cambodian ammunition, there will be no paperwork. It will just be done.

Kissinger: But give me something I can tell Tarr. It is important we get weapons in. Can I count on that being done?

Schlesinger: Yes.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Indochina.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 2, Memcons. Secret; Nodis. The luncheon meeting was held in the Secretary’s office, Department of State. Brackets are in the original.