176. 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

[Omitted here is discussion of Vietnam, White House personnel, and Iranian oil.]

[Kissinger:] On the Soviet deal. It amounts to 100–150,000 barrels of oil per day or 5 million tons per year. Robinson has worked out a swap deal of grain for oil. But if we can get the oil at 25% below the market, I think we should forget a swap and just buy the oil and sell the grain. Greenspan thinks the idea has merit.

President: Is there any way we can put all the issues with the Soviet Union together and discuss the whole thing with them—Portugal, grain, oil, SALT, MBFR, etc.?

Kissinger: I think Portugal is not a Soviet issue. It wouldn’t go away if they stopped putting money in.

President: I agree with you on that.

Kissinger: They are willing to make a five-year grain deal. If we could get a 10 million ton oil deal, we might do it. But I don’t think the Soviets have it to sell.

President: A SALT, oil and grain deal would be helpful. Also, MBFR.

Kissinger: On SALT, you will have to get Schlesinger in line.

I can’t be the soft-on-Communism patsy.

President: I will call Schlesinger today.

Kissinger: I think if we somehow trade off the Backfire and cruise missiles . . .

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I plan to get Dobrynin in tomorrow and scare the pants off him.2 But if all these hot shots think they can keep kicking the Soviets in the pants and keep peace . . . Being a cold warrior in a time of peace is no great achievement. Brezhnev came back from Helsinki humiliated.

President: That is good for my American Legion speech.3 I told Bob to discuss it in detail with you.

Kissinger: We should review it in detail. There is an NSC meeting scheduled for Saturday.4 No particular reason for one, except to lay down the law.

President: Is it better to tell Schlesinger privately or in the NSC?

Scowcroft: There is merit in doing it in front of the Chairman. It gives him a chance—if he is inclined to stand up to Schlesinger.

President: Let’s have one.

Kissinger: Sum up, but say that to get a deal we need a new position on cruise missiles and Backfire.

[Omitted here is discussion of Arab-Israeli negotiations, Turkey, Cyprus, the UNGA Special Session, Panama, and Cuba.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 14. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office.
  2. No record of a meeting between Kissinger and Dobrynin on August 8 has been found.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 179.
  4. August 9. The record of the NSC meeting is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXIII, SALT II, 1972–1979.