144. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The Secretary
  • Under Secretary Sisco
  • Ambassador Schaufele
  • Ambassador Mulcahy
  • Jerry Bremer, Notetaker


  • Angola

The Secretary: The Soviet note says nothing.2 Tell me about your trip.

Mulcahy: Well briefly, it was a good idea I went.

The Secretary: I read your cables.3

Mulcahy: It was very useful. Kaunda didn’t come to Kinshasa because there was a helicopter crash. At least that was the ostensible reason. Actually the real reason was that Amin was there.

The Secretary: Was he irrational?

Mulcahy: No, he was quite soft and gentle and chummy. I saw Roberto for about two hours.4 I didn’t write up my own cables, the Embassy did. We were able to have serious and formal talk. The unanimous answer from each President was they all felt our position was right. We should help more, we should not put in US forces and we should continue our aid.

The Secretary: But can we prevail?

Mulcahy: Without another big input, no.

The Secretary: The President has approved an additional [less than 1 line not declassified]

Sisco: That’s good.

Mulcahy: We have a hang-up with the CIA which still says that the [dollar amount not declassified] has not been approved by OMB.

[Page 362]

Sisco: It was in that package he approved because he approved [dollar amount not declassified]

The Secretary: Will it be successful?

Mulcahy: If we don’t act fast with Roberto, it won’t be.

Sisco: We’ve got to move right away.

The Secretary: Well let’s see to it that this place pushes, too. Are you acting now Bill?

Schaufele: Yes, I’m in place.

The Secretary: Let’s get the [dollar amount not declassified] flowing.

Mulcahy: We still have no good answer for the 122 millimeter rockets. Roberto said they used two to three hundred one afternoon and pushed his people back. In Vietnam we had 155 millimeter cannons or air strikes.

Sisco: You should meet with the working group tomorrow and go over the details.

The Secretary: I want an aggressive, strong, affirmative action from your bureau. Your predecessors kept the facts from me for three months. If we had moved in March, we would have stifled it.

Sisco: The intelligence reports this morning say that there are a few more planes available.

The Secretary: The other side knows what we are up against.

Mulcahy: The Soviets and the MPLA want to knock Roberto out of it now.

The Secretary: They’re pushing north are they?

Mulcahy: Yes, and if they bring in the MIGs they can do it. He hasn’t made much progress in the north.

The Secretary: How does he impress you?

Mulcahy: He’s serious and sober. I think he’s intelligent and devoted to his cause. But he has no depth of leadership. His No. 2 is impressive and tough, however.

The Secretary: Does he think he has any hope?

Mulcahy: [4 lines not declassified]

The Secretary: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mulcahy: [3 lines not declassified]

The Secretary: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mulcahy: Well, the boat only made 10 knots and it could not be moved without having our people on board and since it could be caught by the MPLA, the American guys would have been captured. So we thought it was best not to send it. But small things like that are getting to him.

[Page 363]

The Secretary: There is no substitute for winning. All the characters here are busy second guessing.

Mulcahy: That one was killed by the CIA, not the working group. It was not considered safe.

The Secretary: There are not many operations Colby would consider safe.

Mulcahy: Few other things like that. [1½ lines not declassified]

The Secretary: Why?

Mulcahy: I don’t remember the reason CIA called that one off. I think they told him the time was not right. It never got to the working group.

There were several other things that came up that I need your views on. Bongo wants to have us try to ship things through Gabon to Angola.

The Secretary: It’s a good idea to involve more Africans. Don’t you think?

Schaufele: Yes.

Mulcahy: What about weapons for Bongo himself?

The Secretary: Can’t we sell them? We can put it in our program.

Mulcahy: It takes a presidential determination to sell them any and there’s only $43 million for all of Africa to give or to sell on credit. He’d have to knock someone else off. Mali has already been taken off in principle.

Sisco: We should be responsive.

The Secretary: I think it’s a good idea to ship something through it. We can go to Congress on that.

Schaufele: As long as we don’t have any illusions with how it will help with the other Africans.

The Secretary: No, but it will help with Congress. Has Easum come in bleeding about Angola?

Schaufele: He wants us to level with the Nigerians on what the South Africans are doing.

The Secretary: Are they in with organized forces now?

Sisco: Yes, that’s the real problem with the Africans.

The Secretary: As many as the Cubans?

Mulcahy: No, perhaps 400 but they are very effective. If they pull out of the South, the MPLA will wrap it up. The MPLA has 30,000 under arms now.

Sisco: How does that compare with the other side?

Mulcahy: Well, we think Savimbi has about 5,000 and Roberto has maybe 4,000 in the north and with others, maybe a total of 7,000.

[Page 364]

The Secretary: How will it end?

Mulcahy: If we get [dollar amount not declassified] for ammunition it will help solve the ration problem on which they need advice. Maybe we can do it.

The Secretary: Can it be pulled together?

Mulcahy: If we can move in the next two to three weeks.

Schaufele: Roberto was never very good at organization.

The Secretary: What does pull together mean?

Mulcahy: Roberto says the South Africans are helping Savimbi because the US is helping Roberto and he says the stuff the South Africans claim they’re sending him is not getting to him.

The Secretary: Is it true?

Mulcahy: We think he’s getting it but it’s not possible to tell. [dollar amount not declassified] for ammunition and some 4.2 millimeter mortars should help for about 3 months.

The Secretary: Someone should look to see whether we have a scheme which makes any sense. Colby is trying to do the minimum to cover his ass. He’ll be in worse shape if he fails.

Mulcahy: The problem is how heavily we should try to get more people involved.

The Secretary: Are the French in?

Mulcahy: At the ceremony, I sat next to a Frenchman representing the President who said they would step up their help. [1 line not declassified]

The Secretary: What else can we do?

Mulcahy: Well, there are US naval forces in the area which Mobutu mentioned.

The Secretary: Should we do it?

Mulcahy: [2 lines not declassified]

The Secretary: Well check with the Navy to see if some presence would scare the Russians a bit.

Sisco: I think we have to be careful with that.

Schaufele: The South Africans want us to do that.

Sisco: Back here, it will undermine our efforts I think.

The Secretary: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mulcahy: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Sisco: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mulcahy: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Sisco: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mulcahy: I think Mobutu is trying to get us more involved. We should first talk to the French who have also been asked to put a ship there.

[Page 365]

The Secretary: How’s the Mission doing out there?

Mulcahy: Terrific. Walker is doing a very good job.

The Secretary: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mulcahy: Very well, they’re supporting our policy even more than we are.

The Secretary: More than you maybe. (laughter)

Mulcahy: Should I go to the French to ask about the ship?

The Secretary: The Quai is a very bad channel. We should use the Brossollet channel instead but not with messages drafted in your bureau. Actually, you’ve been pretty good on Angola.

Sisco: On the Soviet note, do you think there’s any opening there in the last two paragraphs? Should we go back to them and say “are you willing to make this good?” Is it meaningful?

The Secretary: Get Hal to draft a reply5 and draw their attention to these last two paragraphs.

Sisco: I think for the record we need a reply.

The Secretary: Also, will you redo this message to Garba please.6

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 103, Geopolitical File, Angola Chronological File. Secret; Sensitive. Initialed by Bremer.
  2. Document 142.
  3. Mulcahy visited Kinshasa November 22–26 to attend the tenth anniversary celebration of Zaire’s independence. He met with several African leaders, including Gabonese President Bongo, Amin, and Muboto. Many of his reporting cables are in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files.
  4. No report of this meeting was found.
  5. Not found.
  6. J.N. Garba, Commissioner for External Affairs, Nigeria. The message is not attached.