101. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Kissinger: Laird has been holding press conferences again. He said I absolutely won’t be around in ’76. I don’t need reassurance.

President: It was in the Post or Times this morning.2 He talks about the Cabinet, about you, etc.

[Page 388]

Kissinger: On Egypt, everything that has been done is too late. Now Sadat says there has to be some withdrawal on all fronts. We probably should have moved before the [scheduled] Brezhnev visit [to Cairo].3 I think we have to elicit something from Sadat and then tell Israel they have to give oil and the passes. Then we could move on the authorization with the argument that they need to buy more oil.

We have a serious problem on Ex-Im with the Soviets. It’s not just that Brezhnev looks like a fool on energy—with Peterson 4 and Nixon, they were talking billions. We have lost our leverage. What do they lose if we kick over détente? They won’t do anything for $300 million. The basic trade bill is so appalling.

President: I object to the procedure on the energy projects. The $300 million I don’t like. I would have no compunction about a veto.

Kissinger: I doubt they will accept MFN under these conditions. Even if they do, it isn’t worth it. Dobrynin said they are faced with a position where there is shift of Executive power to the Congress.5

President: If we veto the Ex-Im bill, maybe the businessmen will put some pressure on the Congress.

Kissinger: One theory with the Soviet Union was that we would create vested interests so that their bureaucracy would protest upsetting it. Also, we can stand these vested interest connections, but if they are made with Europe, I don’t know if Europe is strong enough to handle it.

My nightmare is that so far we have bluffed them out of every crisis; what if they take the next one further down to the wire? If they put three divisions in, we couldn’t meet them.

President: Let’s take a look at the bill and give me your recommendation.

Kissinger: I will talk to Dobrynin again today.6

President: We will have to mobilize Don Kendall and the others.

[Omitted here is a brief exchange on U.S. representation abroad.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 8. Secret; Nodis. All brackets, except those inserted by the editor to indicate omitted passages, are in the original. The meeting was held in the Oval Office. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Ford met with Kissinger there from 9:40 to 10:15 a.m.; Scowcroft joined the meeting at 9:50. (Ibid., White House Office Files)
  2. Reference is to David S. Broder, “Lengthy Fight Helped RockefellerLaird,” The Washington Post, December 19, 1974, p. A2.
  3. On December 30, the Soviet Union and Egypt announced their decision to postpone Brezhnev’s trip to Cairo, which had been tentatively scheduled for January 1975.
  4. Peter G. Peterson, former Secretary of Commerce.
  5. In a memorandum to Kissinger on December 17, Sonnenfeldt briefed the Secretary on his scheduled luncheon meeting with Dobrynin the next day. (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 5, Soviet Union, Nov–Dec 1974) No record of the meeting has been found.
  6. Kissinger called Dobrynin at 6:24 p.m. on December 19 and reported: “I just got a note here that says the Communist diplomats in London are saying that the publication of the Gromyko letter is the beginning of a general attitude by me on the Kremlin.” Dobrynin suggested: “You shouldn’t rely on such information.” “On this matter,” Kissinger replied, “I have been trying to defend the Soviet point of view.” (Department of State, Electronic Reading Room, Kissinger Transcripts of Telephone Conversations)