259. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs


  • Report on Secretary Kissinger’s Moscow Trip

President: We held an interesting meeting the other day.2

Kissinger: Brent told me. It is a disgrace.

[Discussed the merits of sea-launched cruise missiles.]

What these guys don’t do is compare their memos with what happens if there is no agreement.

What we have on the Backfire is a profile which includes a 300-kilometer supersonic dash. But Brezhnev will give us a commitment on the range and that there will be no upgrading.

We have agreement to reduce to 2300 or below, but right now Brezhnev wants a ban on cruise missiles above 600 kilometers.

President: [Discussion of the NSC meeting.]

Kissinger: I think we can take two-to-three weeks for a decision. I think we can get 2200, with Backfire not counted but with collateral restraints and a letter from us that if they go above certain number we will do something. They may accept surface ships as MIRVs if we show restraint. I would go along with 600 on land-based, but maybe go along with counting intercontinental cruise missiles to get the Vice President [Page 992] off our back. But if we want a mobile missile, I would go with the Ballistic.

President: Don said Wade thought things had moved along well.

Kissinger: I think we are doing well. If we launched a real offensive in terms of the alternatives, we can kill them. I think we can get another set of concessions from them—not big ones.

We should forget about offsetting cruise missiles and Backfire.

President: How should we proceed? Tomorrow we will meet with Don.

Kissinger: Don has to get you what you need from Defense. Wade can tell him substantially what I am telling you. I had him in on everything.

On Angola, they were disdainful. It is the Senate action.3 They think they’ve got us.

President: How about NATO?4

Kissinger: All the Foreign Ministers showed up except for the Greek and Icelander. Their feeling on Angola is really . . .

We had a meeting of the Big Four which was really a Directorate meeting. But Sauvagnargues said we are vanishing from the world scene—we are turning them back into Gaullists. France is very worried about Angola and turning all of Africa against the Francophone countries. Spain was great.

President: How about the European attitude toward Spain?

Kissinger: Much better. As long as Spain announces some movements toward liberalizing . . .

President: If you had not gone to Moscow, it would have been a serious mistake.

Did you get a chance to raise grain?

Kissinger: The mood was not right for it. They won’t do it as a favor. Besides, the ships are backed up in their ports.

[Discussion on the Middle East.]

Kissinger: I am deeply worried about our position in the world resulting from Angola. It is opening the Vietnam wounds again.

President: Do they know it’s not you and me?

Kissinger: Yes, but they must deal with the phenomenon. They like you both personally and for what you have done for the Alliance.

President: Anything on MBFR?

[Page 993]

Kissinger: Yes. They rejected Option III. They proposed a 3% cut in overall forces, taken from U.S. and Soviet forces.

We have got to show you are a winner.

President: The economy is looking up and that was our weakest point.

Kissinger: That’s why they are coming after foreign policy. We got to go on the offensive—we have a damned good foreign policy.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 17. Secret; Nodis. All brackets are in the original. The meeting was held in the Oval Office.
  2. The President is referring to the January 21 NSC meeting. See Document 253.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 229.
  4. On January 23, Kissinger met with NATO Foreign Ministers in Brussels to report on his negotiations in Moscow on SALT.