138. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The Secretary
  • Deputy Secretary Ingersoll
  • Under Secretary Sisco
  • Ambassador BuffumIO
  • Ambassador MulcahyAF
  • Jerry Bremer, Notetaker


  • Angola

The Secretary: We’ve got to decide now how to take some diplomatic action on Angola. The tide is turning. This hero at CIA has already so informed the White House and has probably been briefing the committees to that effect, too.

Ingersoll: At the Forty Committee meeting he said he was running out of money and we had to get the diplomatic side going.2

The Secretary: It really is a sign of the amateurs at work. Diplomacy is no alternative to what he’s doing.

Ingersoll: Brent and I told him to crank up another program to show what it would take to win.

Mulcahy: The paper is being prepared with three options at a [dollar amounts not declassified] level.3 The operations will then be presented to the committee this week but he is certainly pushing us to do something on the diplomatic side.

The Secretary: That g.d. CIA does not push us! The CIA does their work and we handle diplomacy. All we want to know is the cost of covert actions.

Mulcahy: I agree. I think at the moment until we see what comes from the OAU, we should just talk to our friends.

The Secretary: I think Colby will leak that he’s urged a diplomatic effort so we’d better do something.

Sisco: Particularly on the Soviet angle.

[Page 344]

The Secretary: Can’t we figure out some démarche to the OAU saying we’re in accord on the ceasefire and on the coalition government?4 Secondly, let’s do a note to the Soviets saying their intervention goes beyond the declarations we have in the past signed and detail the stuff going in and ask them to produce a ceasefire.5 What can we do at the UN?

Buffum: It would be helpful if Mobutu circulated a complaint right away about the intervention.

Mulcahy: We can do a message to Mobutu backchannel if you want.6

The Secretary: Yes.

Mulcahy: We sent one saying he should present his initiative. We’ve delivered our reply to him.

Sisco: He should move on it now. I wonder what the possibility of UN involvement is. Get some, you know, Waldheim appointee out there. I think Mobutu should stress in his note that the OAU is already in it.

The Secretary: How can anyone be in government 15 years and say we’ll lose a war in two weeks and therefore you should settle it diplomatically.

Ingersoll: He didn’t give a timeframe.

Mulcahy: He feels the Soviet escalation has been to the MIG level, which will turn the tide. The Strellas from Israel is enough of an answer he thinks. He feels it will gain us a month.

Ingersoll: He thinks we haven’t seen the effect of the Cubans being there yet either.

The Secretary: That I think is correct. Either we will lose, and you know those guys are pros; they’re not amateurs. They will have a ceasefire if the military balance comes towards them and then they’ll break the ceasefire as soon as they can and take over the rest. The other route is to match them if we can. Everything else is doubletalk.

Sisco: Did you get any reaction from the Soviets?

The Secretary: They say they’re doing it against the Chinese.

[Page 345]

Mulcahy: Well, they saw the Chinese pick up Mozambique.

The Secretary: Have they?

Mulcahy: Pretty well.

Buffum: Is the Strella a match for the MIGs?

The Secretary: No, for Christ’s sake.

Ingersoll: They think knocking down one or two planes will stop them, and they say the MIG’s are not effective.

The Secretary: They don’t have to be effective! They just have to drop a bomb or two within a kilometer of the troops and they’ll scatter.

Buffum: Can’t the Zairians put in planes?

Mulcahy: They have seven Mirages, which have just arrived. They’re working on getting them some French pilots right now.

Sisco: I think we should get them some French mercenaries or any other kind.

Mulcahy: The French just gave $1½ million of ammunition to them.

The Secretary: Okay. Prepare these messages. Let’s get Mobutu triggered. Bob, I want you to push Colby. Tell him now he’s given us some advice, that he can get his program put forward in 24 hours.

Mulcahy: The committee meeting is Friday.7 On the note to the Soviets, should that be prepared as a cable?

The Secretary: No, on a plain sheet of paper. Discuss it with Sonnenfeldt before. In fact you might let him draft it.

Sisco: We should keep in mind the public relations aspects too.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 103, Geopolitical File, Angola Chronological File. Secret; Sensitive. Initialed by Bremer.
  2. See Document 137.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 139.
  4. A message from Kissinger to Eteki, November 20, praised OAU efforts to obtain a negotiated solution to the Angolan problem, offered U.S. support and assistance, and reiterated the U.S. position to withhold diplomatic recognition to any regime until “a government which truly represents the will of all factions of Angola’s population.” (Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Africa, Latin America, Inter-Agency Intelligence Committee Files, Angola-Washington)
  5. See Document 140.
  6. A message was sent on November 20. (Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Africa, Latin American, Inter-Agency Intelligence Committee Files, Angola-Washington)
  7. November 21.