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358. Memorandum From William J. Jorden of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Cable to Santiago

The attached draft cable to Santiago has been sent by State for NSC clearance. It covers two subjects: recognition and a Chilean request for military equipment (helmets and flares).2

On recognition, it instructs our Ambassador to tell the Junta that we will be responding affirmatively to their note re continuing relations “in the next few days.”3 It notes that domestic and international considerations make this very brief delay “highly advisable in the overall interests of the new GOC as well as in our own.”

On the military request (for 2,000 flares for nighttime Air Force operations and for 1,000 steel helmets and liners), it states that we should avoid any possible public identification with military operations in Chile at this moment while some fighting is going on. It argues it would be better for both Chile and us if the Chileans could get this equipment from Brazil or Argentina. If it is not available from those sources, we will reconsider the request “on an urgent basis.” Moreover, State doubts that the supplies mentioned are essential to Chilean military success.

Our Embassy in Santiago judges that the flares are important to the Chilean Air Force’s success in nighttime operations in the days ahead. Ambassador Davis also notes that the new regime is operating under great strain and is “counting friends in this moment.” He believes a negative reaction from us could have serious repercussions and “set a pattern of attitudes” that we should be willing to take some risks to avoid.

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Part of State’s thinking on the possible effects of sending military supplies and having the fact exposed publicly is that it might influence thinking on the Hill, produce outraged speeches and possibly influence Senate action on your confirmation. I would think the effect would be minimal, but you are the best judge. In part, the decision may rest on what you were asked this morning and what you told the Committee. Would our decision to go ahead and send modest supplies be something that should be discussed with Congressional sources first? If you indicated our intention was to move very slowly in Chile, then we probably should not act immediately. But if not, I see no real problems with moving ahead.

It is important to set a pattern of cooperation and trust with the new leaders in Chile. Unless other interests would be damaged (as above), I suggest we go back to Santiago with an offer to meet modest military request—assuming we will take the steps necessary to minimize early publicity.4 On the recognition question, the suggested approach seems about right—but I would urge that we not wait more than “a few days.”

Recommendation5

Approve approach on recognition, but let’s provide the requested supplies

Approve Cable as drafted

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 777, Country Files, Latin America, Chile 73–. Secret. Sent for urgent action. A handwritten notation on the first page reads, “OBE.” Another handwritten note at the end of the memorandum reads, “Kennedy concurs.” Sent under a September 17 covering memorandum to Scowcroft, in which Jorden stated, “Because of the implications [this] might have on the Hill and for Henry’s confirmation, I believe you will want to draw this to his personal attention and get his reaction.” (Ibid.)
  2. Attached but not printed. Sent as telegram 185004 to Santiago, September 18. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P750014–0669)
  3. Davis informed the Department that he had received the note in telegram 4356 from Santiago, September 17. (Ibid., P750011–2107)
  4. Although the State Department approved the sale, it asked that the Chileans try to obtain the flares from another country if possible. (Telegrams 187007 and 29210 to Santiago, September 17 and 20; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 777, Country Files, Latin America, Chile, Vol. VIII) Ultimately, the Chilean Government bought them from the United States. (Telegram 4474 from Santiago, September 21 and telegram 189358 to Santiago, September 22; both ibid.)
  5. There is no indication of approval or disapproval of either recommendation.