78. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1

Following the session with General Secretary Brezhnev on Saturday,2 Foreign Minister Gromyko spoke privately with Secretary Kissinger regarding the Jackson amendment to the trade bill. Henry’s re[Page 278]port of that conversation follows and the text of a letter which Gromyko handed him at the same time is at Tab A.3

“Last night after our meeting, Brezhnev and Gromyko took me aside to tell me privately of their total outrage at Jackson’s behavior. It has put them in an impossible situation, since they are being publicly described as having yielded to U.S. pressure tactics on a domestic matter covered by their domestic laws. They find this intolerable. In addition, they said it is causing them problems in their relations with the Arabs, which they consider extremely important.

“All of this shows that what I predicted and warned Jackson about for months has now happened.

Gromyko has written me a letter, which is attached, laying out their perception of the situation. One possible reading of the letter is that it does not repudiate our understanding. It simply asserts that it is not new but a continuation of existing practice. On that basis, we could see how they actually operate. But a second interpretation could be that the letter might be used to show that now no change in Soviet emigration policies will take place.

“I believe there is not an insubstantial danger that the Soviets will publish Gromyko’s letter or let it become known. However, they have agreed not to publicize it before I return—first, because of the potentially harmful impact it might have on Javits’ campaign, and second, because in any case the trade bill is not up for consideration until November.

“However, I do believe we should plan to get the three Senators in after my trip to discuss with them how we now proceed in light of the Soviet letter. We have two choices: (1) To stick by our exchange of letters and see how it works in practice; or, (2) To cancel the whole effort. I favor the first course because basically the Soviet emigration policies will be determined not by the letters, but by their desire to protect their relationship with you. The worst that could happen is that the Soviets will get MFN for 18 months for nothing. I think they will perform quite well for fear of strengthening Jackson.”

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East Discussions, 1974–1976, Box 1, USSR Memcons and Reports, October 27, 1974—Kissinger/Brezhnev Talks in Moscow (3). Secret. Sent for information. According to a handwritten note, the memorandum was transmitted at 1608Z on October 27 to the President, who saw it.
  2. October 26. See Document 74.
  3. Printed as Document 75.