255. Message From the Counselor of the Department of State (Sonnenfeldt) and the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Hyland) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1
Hakto 6. The Secretary is sending his reply to the account of the NSC meeting,2 but we wanted you to know that he is being too restrained given the outrageous performance at the NSC. It is incredible that in the middle of these negotiations, after some progress has been made, and with Brezhnev now considering our approach that the entire agreed framework should be collapsed by new positions or 180 degree turns that were never heard before. How can Clements say that there was never any grey area, after Rumsfeld sponsored it repeatedly, or Holloway say they only want a program of a few ships with eight launchers when we have been hearing the most glowing advocacy of it, and the most scurrilous attacks on the Secretary for allegedly giving it away. Where were they all this time? We do not see how we can proceed in these weird circumstances. It is all the more devastating when you consider that the Soviets are showing a serious interest and obviously trying to find some middle ground without capitulating. If we were in the Secretary’s place we would simply abandon the effort or quit, but we will certainly advise him to persevere. We could make progress here today, but not without absolute, unqualified support from Washington. What all this is doing is to drive us to a position where even if the Soviets today show some give we will have to propose deferral of the Backfire/SLCM issues which you and we know is worse for our interest than any of the options we have been negotiating. We are not, obviously, blaming you but for the first time in our careers are giving vent to a real outrage at what is being perpetrated to the utmost potential damage to our country.