199. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Kissinger and Joseph Kraft1

K: How are you Joe?

JK: I am in good shape. It was nice to see you. How did the Dobrynin thing go?2

HK: Inconclusive.

JK: Did he make a counter offer?

HK: Not yet. I didn’t expect it that early. Gromyko didn’t get back until a week ago.

JK: He wasn’t outraged?

HK: What do you mean?

JK: I have a chance to write something about Schlesinger. He went over there and surfaced the whole Pentagon position.3 The Economist supports it.4 I was surprised and called them up. The last lines of piece say it is better to get the cruise missile thing straight than to have a bad SALT Agreement. What I planned to do tomorrow . . .

HK: I knew he was talking all over Europe about this. It happened after we made the deal on the cruise with him.

JK: I have a theory about him. I would like to write something about him that will turn him around. I would like to show how he will go down in history with a bad reputation.

HK: I doubt you can do that.

JK: You really do? I am trying to show what is happening. Latin and Kalveman5 thought it would work.

HK: Kalveman is good—Latin I don’t know. The cruise is so ill assorted. There are so many confused things in there. Why do it with [Page 812] cruise when you have 1,000 airplanes. It could easily lead to our removal of our tactical airforces.

JK: Yes. But is there a new position to be taken?

HK: What I told you yesterday, that we are waiting.

JK: What I would be saying is that we are waiting but it would be probably helpful if the Russians could come back with a counter proposal rather than a flat turn down.

HK: That would be helpful.

JK: Is there anything in the way of counter . . .

HK: The two big areas are Backfire and cruise. They wouldn’t propose anything on the Backfire because it is their offset to our overseas systems, but maybe on the cruise.

JK: Their present proposal is one that limits the range to 300 miles?

HK: No to 600 kilometers. There is a compromise possible there.

JK: You mean add 1,000—is that the kind of compromise?

HK: Or a distinction between air-launched and ship-launched cruises.

JK: That takes you way out. Do they need to say something about conventions.

HK: That is the next issue, but they don’t need to say anything about it now.

JK: Let me see what I can do.

HK: It is a useful subject to do something thoughtful with. I am going to get myself . . .

JK: It is the first couple of pages of the Economist.

HK: O.K. Thank you.6

  1. Source: Department of State, Electronic Reading Room, Kissinger Transcripts of Telephone Conversations. No classification marking.
  2. In an October 4 memorandum, Sonnenfeldt briefed Kissinger for a meeting with Dobrynin on October 6. Sonnenfeldt doubted that the Soviets would be ready to reply to the note on SALT that Kissinger gave Gromyko in New York on September 21: “However, we suggest that you raise this with Dobrynin and tell him that any alternative formulations on Backfire or cruise missiles would be helpful to us.” (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 7, Soviet Union, Oct.–Dec. 1975) No substantive record of the meeting between Kissinger and Dobrynin on October 6 has been found.
  3. During an 8-day European tour in September, Schlesinger visited the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, and France.
  4. “Carry on Cruising,” The Economist, October 4, 1975, p. 13.
  5. Not further identified.
  6. In his next column, Kraft singled out Ford, not Schlesinger, for criticism on SALT: “Mr. Ford gets no credit with his right-wing constituency for détente or arms control. So he has now accepted a tough set of Pentagon demands that would put limits on bombers the Russians claim are not capable of reaching the United States, while giving great latitude to the cruise missile, a new weapon being developed by the Pentagon which could put all arms control efforts out of business. The Russians are still considering the latest American offer, and it is possible they want to deal so badly they will accept it. But State Department officials are deeply pessimistic. They fear that for the sake of his right-wing constituency at home President Ford has let go the chance to complete the arms agreement known as SALT II.” (Joseph Kraft, “Mr. Ford Runs to the Right,” The Washington Post, October 9, 1975, p. A10)