156. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Angola


  • Secretary Kissinger
  • Deputy Secretary Ingersoll
  • Under Secretary Sisco
  • Mr. Sonnenfeldt
  • Mr. Leigh
  • Mr. Hyland
  • Mr. Saunders
  • Mr. Schaufele
  • Mr. Mulcahy
  • Mr. Bremer
  • Mr. Strand, note-taker

Secretary: Where are we with the Congressional vote,2 Bill?

Schaufele: There is no way we can go ahead with the new [dollar amount not declassified] The [dollar amount not declassified] we have left will last until the end of January.

Secretary: If the [dollar amount not declassified]will last until then, why were we in such a hurry to get the [dollar amount not declassified]

Hyland: We weren’t. It’s the Congressmen, Clark and others, who have forced the issue.

Sicso: We should get more hardware, less transportation, out of the [dollar amount not declassified]

Secretary: Paying half our money for transport—the Air Force is just charging us to pay off its airplanes fast.

Schaufele: The [dollar amount not declassified] will be used in good part for mercenaries.3

Hyland: Should we raise a mercenary force if there won’t be any more money for hardware afterward? Shouldn’t we just use what [Page 400] money we have now to send hardware to Zaire and Zambia and tell them that’s all there is?

Secretary: The first priority is for you (Schaufele) to get out there and stem whatever panic exists. Redo those cables. Say the Congressional action doesn’t matter, and that you will be coming to discuss how we can continue to meet our mutual objectives. There should be a similar cable to the francophones.

Schaufele: [1 line not declassified]

Mulcahy: They have polled all the agencies concerned except State and everybody is for the idea.

Secretary: The humiliation of the greatest nation in the world going to another country for [dollar amount not declassified] Maybe we should ask the [less than 1 line not declassified]

Hyland: But could we make the arms available?

Schaufele: The CIA would use the money to buy arms just as it has in the past.

Secretary: Can the CIA legally take money from a foreign country?

Deputy Secretary: I just saw Senator (McClellan?) on television saying that the Senate amendment would bar us from funding the [dollar amount not declassified] some other way.

Leigh: Legally, I don’t think that is sound. The Congress appropriates money, but the President makes foreign policy.

Secretary: The first task is to preclude panic in those countries. Then we consider how to get the money.4 Don’t preclude the Saudis. [dollar amount not declassified] would be a pittance for them.

Hyland: It would make sense for us to use our money to buy equipment, then use the Saudi money for mercenaries.

Secretary: We should use our [dollar amount not declassified] to buy hardware. If the Saudi money comes through, we can use it for mercenaries. If it doesn’t, we will have the hardware. The Saudis were willing to give [dollar amount not declassified] to Vietnam—a year of oil imports free.

Schaufele: Zaire has a serious oil problem too. They are running out.

Mulcahy: They want about [less than 1 line not declassified] on credit, enough to tide them over about four months.

Secretary: We can’t ask the Saudis for one thing, and then another. It would soon be up to [dollar amount not declassified] How do we go [Page 401] about asking? We can’t put it in a cable. It would be leaked. We will have to send someone.

Hyland: The best use for the money would be to give it to the South Africans.5

Sisco: The political price would be too high to pay in Africa.

Secretary: I don’t agree. The Zairian Foreign Minister told me the best outcome would be for the South Africans to take all of Angola and then for Zaire to get the credit for pushing them out.6 The Nigerian Foreign Minister didn’t make much of the South Africans when I talked to him but said it presented a domestic problem for them.

Sisco: If you support the South Africans, you give the Russians an enormous club to beat you with in Africa.

Secretary: Nonsense. There is no problem if the South Africans win and then get out afterwards. The problem is a domestic one for us. That makes any discussion of supporting the South Africans unrealistic.

Secretary: I want options by tomorrow, and how to wind it up if that’s what we want to do. And the cables tonight.7 They say: (1) we are still in business; (2) you are going out next week to discuss the situation. You can give me what you intend to tell those people out there later.

Schaufele: Have you seen the Tanzanian proposal?8 It’s not a good deal, but it does show some flexibility and movement on their part.

Mulcahy: I suspect the Chinese may have influenced them.

Secretary: It might have helped earlier.

Secretary: How do you assess the Soviet note?9

Sisco: I think there may be some light there. It’s polemical, but they also say they don’t want this thing to disturb relations between us.

Secretary: I don’t have the diplomatic experience, but I don’t see any light. They would say the same thing if they invaded Berlin. What [Page 402] if I call in Dobrynin Monday,10 tell him, “Don’t count what Congress has done a victory. If you humiliate us on Angola, we will make it tough on you somewhere else.”

Hyland (Sonnenfeldt?): It might work.

Sonnenfeldt: If three Soviet frigates are going there, why should the US Navy stay 10,000 miles away?

Secretary: Whom would a ceasefire help?

Schaufele: Us.

Sisco: I am not proposing it now, but if we want a diplomatic scenario I would propose going to the Security Council and saying we want all foreign forces out of Angola and that we are proposing this in response to the wishes of the Africans.

Hyland: There should be a week or ten days before we make any political move.

Secretary: What if the Cubans, the South Africans, the Zairians all leave? Does the MPLA win?

Schaufele: No. You have perpetual war.

Sonnenfeldt: We should not be the vehicle for getting South Africa out.

Sisco: I disagree. Not doing it cuts against our whole African policy.

Secretary: Nonsense.

Sisco: You may think I’m stupid, as you said a few moments ago, but that’s what I think.

Secretary: I didn’t say you were stupid; I said I was inexperienced. Our job is to get the Cubans and the Soviets out. If the South Africans must go too, OK.

Sisco: That’s just what I’m proposing.

Hyland: There shouldn’t be any move for the next two weeks. It would just look like weakness and frighten our friends.

Secretary (to Schaufele): Can you get your heroes down there to draft a strong message? They haven’t been able to do that yet.

Sonnenfeldt: The European cheering section is fine, but can’t we get them to do something more themselves? The French? The British?

(?): Not the British.

Secretary (to Hyland): Get something to the French tonight. Say we will have another chance at Congress in January, that we have funds to carry us through until then, that Schaufele is going out.

Schaufele: Here’s a memo on Gulf (Secretary signs).

[Page 403]

Hyland: Did you see the Hersch article?11 It says we started the thing by giving money to Holden in January, $300,000. And it has all the details; it says we refused $100,000 for Savimbi.

Secretary: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Hyland: [1 line not declassified]

(?): [less than 1 line not declassified]

Secretary: American masochism . . .

Sisco: It’s ridiculous. We know the Russians made their decision in January to ship arms. Our [dollar amount not declassified] was for political action only.

Secretary: Up from [dollar amount not declassified] And we decided to up the payment to Holden because the African Bureau told us he would come out on top, didn’t we? We wanted to be in solid with the new government.

Mulcahy: We didn’t even know Savimbi then. We thought he was the darling of the Portuguese settlers.

Secretary: Let’s meet tomorrow morning.12

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 103, Geopolitical File, Angola Chronological File. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Strand.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 151.
  3. Ingersoll’s handwritten notes of this meeting expand on Schaufele’s comment: “We have not done well in debate vote in Congress—only [dollar amount not declassified] left to go. We should consider using this for arms—not mercenaries. Someone has suggested we get money from Saudi Arabia.” Kissinger responded: “This may be a good idea.” (National Archives, RG 59, Records of Robert S. Ingersoll, 1972–1976, Lot 76D329, 40 Committee/HAK Meetings)
  4. See Document 153.
  5. Ingersoll’s notes expand on Hyland’s remark about the role of South Africa in Angola: “The key to keeping our side in Angola from collapsing is So. Africa. As far as Africans are concerned they would agree to have So. Africa clean up Angola, but we couldn’t pay the domestic price in this country.”
  6. See Document 149.
  7. See Document 158.
  8. Telegram 301921 to Lusaka, December 23, reported on Nyerere’s proposal: “If U.S. ceased support to FNLA/UNITA, restrained Mobutu from further intervention in Angola and applied public pressure on South Africans to withdraw back across their border, Tanzania, Zambia and other African governments could induce Neto simultaneously to refuse further Soviet assistance and expel Cuban and other foreign helpers.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P850012–2217)
  9. Document 154.
  10. December 22.
  11. On December 19, Seymour Hersch revealed the decision of the 40 Committee in January to give Holden Roberto $300,000 in covert funds. (“Early Angola Aid by U.S. Reported,” New York Times, pp. 1, 14)
  12. No record of a December 20 meeting has been found.