200. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • PFIAB Recommendation on Sino-Soviet Intelligence Affairs

The attached package2 is a followup of the FIAB’s concern on the Sino-Soviet issue registered to you at last month’s luncheon. While it goes somewhat beyond the pale of their areas of responsibility, I do think that we should handle it seriously, given the responsible attitude of the FIAB. I do not think the draft reply prepared by Hyland3 fits the bill in any sense in that it passes the buck back to Burke to deal with Helms on something that the FIAB has quite rightly brought to your attention as a followup of their luncheon meeting with you.

I am also not so sure that an NIE of the kind requested would not better be put into a NSSM prepared by us which would reconvene a special Ad Hoc group of experts to review the entire issue and to have at its disposal the earlier work done by the NSC staff on this issue.

If you agree, I will send this back to Sonnenfeldt for the preparation of a comprehensive NSSM and for the development of [Page 608] recommendations for the composition of an Ad Hoc group of the caliber that offers some hope for a decent product.4

Tab A

Memorandum From William Hyland of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)5


  • PFIAB Recommendation on Sino-Soviet Intelligence Affairs

In its early August meeting PFIAB considered the problem of current intelligence estimates of possible developments in the Sino-Soviet confrontation (Tab B). They apparently conclude that, as a “matter of high priority,” a national intelligence estimate should be prepared on the timing, nature, scope, duration and probable outcome of military operations that might be initiated by the USSR against China. Second, they recommend a similar estimate on implications as to the effect on US interests of such hostilities. Finally, they suggest a study of courses of action available to the US (1) to avoid becoming involved, and (2) to improve US relative positions vis-à-vis the two contestants in areas of US interests.


I do not understand why you, rather than Dick Helms, are the addressee of this memo; presumably PFIAB recommendations were also passed to CIA.

The projected studies would do no harm, though probably not much good either. We have been through this exercise twice. It is doubtful that we will produce a better paper than the one shepherded by Roger Morris last year (which still must exist somewhere). Moreover, [Page 609] the National Intelligence Estimate is not the form for the kind of study that might provide a helpful background. A CIA, or CIADIA study without the need for careful coordination, and containing considerable factual data on troop dispositions, capabilities, and possible attack scenarios, would be best. As for the implications of US interests, this is not an intelligence matter and should not be.6

If PFIAB and the intelligence community want to perform a service, they might consider a different aspect entirely. No amount of intelligence guessing on a Sino-Soviet war is of any value unless hostilities seem imminent; when they did last year, the most we got was a waffle. Intelligence might perform a service, however, by considering what factors might lead to a Sino-Soviet accommodation. This is usually ignored, but would be as important for our interests as a war. Moreover, we in the West have comfortably come to regard Sino-Soviet hostility as a permanent feature of the landscape, much as we did monolithic communism. Yet many Sinologists believe much of the hostility is due to Mao and Maoism. Indeed, there is ample evidence that the early phase of the cultural revolution was sparked by a dispute over relations with the USSR—with an important part of the Chinese establishment, including some of the military, disposed to patch up the dispute. The Soviet-German treaty ought to be a reminder that patterns of international politics can shift rapidly.

I have done a memo from you to the PFIAB (Tab A) indicating that you have no objections to the first study, ignoring the policy aspects which are not in the PFIAB bailiwick.


That you sign the memorandum to the PFIAB at Tab A.

Mr. Holdridge concurs in this memo.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 276, Agency Files, PFIAB, Vol. V. Secret. Sent for action.
  2. Attached but not printed at Tab B is an August 10 memorandum from Gerard Burke, Acting Executive Secretary of PFIAB, to Kissinger summarizing the PFIAB meetings of August 6–7.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. Kissinger initialed the “disapprove” option and added: “I would request an NIE minus C.” On September 3, Haig sent Sonnenfeldt a memorandum instructing him to follow-up on items “A” and “B” of Burke’s August 10 memorandum. Those items read as follows: “a) the timing, nature, scope, duration, and probable outcome of military operations that might be initiated by the USSR; b) implications as to the effect on U.S. interests of such hostilities; c) courses of action available to the U.S.: to avoid becoming involved; to improve U.S. relative positions vis-à-vis the two contestants in areas of U.S. interests such as Berlin, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.”
  5. Sent for action.
  6. A handwritten note from Winston Lord at this point reads, “Burke memo does not suggest that it is—WL.”