200. 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 issues unrelated to Soviet-American relations.]

[Kissinger:] On the grain deal, we can get it any time we want. The key is whether we keep it linked with oil. I think if we hold tough, we will get an oil deal. The Soviets must have the grain. If we don’t we will be lambasted by Jackson for giving up our agricultural power.

The President: I think we should keep them linked. How long do you think it would take?

Kissinger: I think within a week.

The President: Let’s do it. Send Chuck [Robinson] instructions.2

Kissinger: There is another chicken-shit issue on which the Pentagon is dug in—cruise missiles on the seabeds.

The President: Didn’t we agree on this earlier?

Kissinger: You agreed with them at Helsinki.

The President: How would they [the Pentagon] even use it? Do they have a program to do it?

Scowcroft: No, it is not that they have it in mind. They just don’t want to limit them in any way until we resolve the cruise missile issue overall.

The President: It’s nuts. Give Alex [Johnson] instructions.3

Kissinger: That gets me to Schlesinger: NATO has asked that we don’t agree to anything on cruise missiles without consultation. There is an article in The Economist on the virtues of cruise missiles.4 This is Schlesinger’s campaign.

[Page 814]

The President: I’ll be damned. How does Haig stand?

Kissinger: I doubt if he’s heard of it.

The President: Let’s get Haig on board on it.

Kissinger: I am getting him back here to talk about Yugoslavia contingency plans with the British and French.

I talked to Dobrynin.5 He said maybe we could arrange something on cruise missiles, but on Backfire, they are adamant. He also thinks Schlesinger is so dominant now that any agreement would come under very heavy fire here.

[Omitted here is discussion of negotiations on the Middle East.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 15. 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. Kissinger sent instructions to Robinson in telegram 239604 to Moscow, October 8. (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 5, Grain Negotiations)
  3. Not found.
  4. See Document 199.
  5. See footnote 2, Document 199.