111. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Gerald R. 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: Mike [Mansfield] is basically an isolationist, except on China and Sihanouk.

[Page 426]

I spoke to Dobrynin,2 which confirmed what I said yesterday. There is severe disillusionment there with the United States. They won’t change their policy but they will change their expectations. They will be more matter-of-fact. The press had been ordered not to criticize us and the economic ministries had been ordered to steer business to us. Dobrynin called home, and he says they most certainly will not accept the MFN and credits under the Trade Act as it is now.

You must give a double assurance—that the quantity of emigrants will promote the purposes of the Act and that you have been given assurances that liberalization is taking place.

Dobrynin suggests a warm letter on détente and the things which have to be done on the Trade Act. I think you should write a warm letter and express your disappointment with the Act and say that Kissinger will describe the details. There is no reason for them to reply.

The Congress is forcing us into renewed risk of confrontation.

In the State of the Union Address, I would add a paragraph on Executive-Legislature partnership, but say that it won’t take the form of extreme detailed intervention in the conduct of policy.

I have been thinking of a conciliatory speech, detailing these Congressional restrictions and saying we have to be sensitive to Congress but they also have a responsibility to discharge.

[Omitted here is discussion of international economic policy and domestic politics.]

Kissinger: The Soviets have to keep détente going for political reasons, but our hold on them is gone. These economic projects would have gotten our hooks into them for ten years. The Chinese will be less scared now, and we will have a rockier time with the Soviet Union. We must put a stop to the disintegration of Executive authority on foreign policy.

[Omitted here is discussion of the Middle East, during which Kissinger commented: “It is now becoming more clear that the reason Brezhnev cancelled [his trip to Egypt] was that Sadat wouldn’t give up on the step-by-step process.”]

  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.
  2. See Document 108 and footnote 8 thereto.