280. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
  • Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Richard Cheney, Assistant to the President

President: I have decided to make a major defense and foreign policy speech before the DAR next Wednesday.2 Hartman has done a redraft. It is tough—it takes on Reagan. Will you all look at it today so I can have it in final form by Saturday? It is a little tough on the Soviet Union but says we will negotiate . . .

Kissinger: The problem with the Soviet Union is that détente is really right. Second, you will have to deal with them after November. It really isn’t so that they are being irresponsible—except in Angola. And politically, if it is Humphrey and they [the Soviets] decide that Humphrey is preferable, they can be troublesome.

President: I don’t think it really does that. [He describes what is in the speech.]

Kissinger: Schlesinger is now saying the way we play détente is like the cold war.

President: Reagan, you notice, is not now saying that we are behind strategically. He is now emphasizing the conventional needs.

Rumsfeld: We need to avoid wild swings from euphoria to an all-out cold war with the Soviet Union.

[Omitted here is discussion of issues unrelated to Soviet-American relations.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 19. 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. April 21. For the text of the President’s remarks to the 85th Continental Congress of the Daughters of the American Revolution, see Public Papers: Ford, 1976, No. 349.