175. 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

[Omitted here is discussion of the Arab-Israeli peace process.]

Kissinger: On SALT, we made no progress. And for him [Brezhnev] to say October is busy because he is seeing Giscard . . . We should [Page 719] move now to the Chinese. I could go there around the middle of October. We could announce after my trip. Announce your trip after mine. I would call Dobrynin in and lay it on the table. Ask him what their intention is. They held us off in ’71 and we moved to China. We could do the same thing again.

President: We have the grain thing too.

Kissinger: Yes. I see Butz says he stopped the sales.2 Can’t he just shut up?

President: It’s my thought exactly. DOD should prepare a program to present to the Congress on the assumption there is no SALT agreement—a five-year projection. I want it in writing in a week. Send it through OMB.

Kissinger: I don’t think Brezhnev is so strong any more that he can do what he did at Vladivostok.

President: That is what Tito and Ceausescu said.3

Kissinger: So if they just say, “Hang tough, it’s just Kissinger,” they are just making you the fall guy. Defense has to get out ahead, not go along grudgingly.

President: The Senate vote should have scared Defense.

Kissinger: The Democrats can’t hurt you from the right. But if SALT blows up they can hurt you from the left, which is where they would then move.

All those guys talking about Helsinki; what frontiers have been recognized? All the frontiers but the German one were signed in ’47–’48—with participation by a Democratic administration. West Germany agreed to the German one.

President: We had more overtures from East European countries than ever before, I think.

Kissinger: Absolutely.

President: Why did the East Europeans want CSCE? To keep the Soviet Union off their backs.

Kissinger: Of course. And whose frontiers have been violated? And by whom?

[Page 720]

President: If we lost SALT, etc., shouldn’t we make a speech saying the borders were approved by the Democrats, and the East Europeans wanted inviolability to protect against the Soviet Union?

Kissinger: How about a 15 minute report to the Nation Thursday?4

President: That has some merit. Let’s think about it.

Didn’t Tito go farther than ever before?

Kissinger: I wanted to mention that. Tito is a bellwether of European politics. He obviously liked you—he hasn’t gone to the airport for years. His assessment has to be that you are dominant in world affairs.

[There was more discussion of Tito.]

President: Let’s make sure we deliver on the military equipment for Tito.

I have no hesitancy speaking up for CSCE and the whole thing.

Kissinger: Everything on this trip went right. Not a thing wrong. The Brezhnev problem is not your doing; something is going on. But our SALT position is a disgrace. [Describes Backfire and cruise missiles.]

President: Give me what we have agreed, what is outstanding and what the issues are.

Kissinger: The Soviets don’t know how to tackle the issues remaining. I don’t either, but the Soviets have never come up with any idea to break a deadlock.

You have never seen Brezhnev the way he really was. Vladivostok was the last glimmer, but there he wanted an agreement.

President: On the international economic situation. Wilson, Giscard, Schmidt are concerned about their economic problems and the impact. I get the impression my economic advisors are too carried away with our program. I would like an EPB meeting to describe the European situation. Would you prepare a briefing paper on my talks, so I can explain, indicate my sympathy and desire for closer cooperation. If we recover and Europe’s economies don’t, we could be in big trouble.5

Kissinger: I want to tell Dobrynin the Soviet oil isn’t enough. It amounts to about 100,000 a day. The Iranian thing is set, but we don’t know how to make it legal.

President: Give me a paper on it so I can see it in writing.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 14. Secret; Nodis. All brackets, except those inserted by the editor to identify individuals or to indicate omitted passages, are in the original. Although no location is indicated on the memorandum, the meeting probably took place aboard Air Force One en route from Yugoslavia to the United States; the trip also included a brief stopover at Mildenhall Air Force Base in England. (Ibid., White House Office Files, President’s Daily Diary)
  2. During an appearance on the CBS News program, “Face the Nation,” Butz announced that there was “practically a hold” on any further grain sales to the Soviet Union until the Department of Agriculture issued a report the following week on the size of the current U.S. crop. (Daniel Morgan, “Grain Sales Held Up for Crop Reports, The Washington Post, August 4, 1975, pp. A1, A2)
  3. Ford met with Ceausescu in Bucharest on August 2 and 3 and with Tito in Belgrade on August 3 and 4. For memoranda of conversation, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–15, Part 1, Documents on Eastern Europe, 1973–1976, Documents 3638 and 7374, respectively.
  4. August 7. The President did not deliver a report to the nation.
  5. For further discussion of Ford’s concerns on this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXI, Foreign Economic Policy, 1973–1976, Document 96.