192. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

68649. For the Ambassador from the Secretary. Subject: Message to Foreign Secretary Callaghan.

Please have the following message from me to Foreign Secretary Callaghan delivered directly to the private office: Begin text:
March 18, 1976: Dear Jim: I have had the best of intentions about calling you the past few days. You have been in my thoughts too, particularly since Tuesday’s surprise.2 I find myself much as Socrates did in conducting his own defense, knowing it would be undiplomatic of me to wish you every possible success in the leadership sweepstakes. As you might imagine, I have very ambivalent feelings about the possibility of your winning.

I am most grateful for the excellent long piece on southern Africa you sent me.3 Peter and I had a good chat about the situation last night,4 and I’m sure you will have his report by now, including my agreement to associating us in urging South African action on troop withdrawal in response to the assurances conveyed by the Angolans through the Soviets and yourselves. If Vorster accepts, it should take care of the immediate Angolan problem.

I find myself basically in agreement with your analysis of the rest of the situation in southern Africa and its implications. And I appreciate the pressure on you at home. Frankly, I think we diverge only slightly in the tactical area. If I have been a bit hesitant regarding your initiatives, for example, on Rhodesia, it is only because I think we must not let continued Cuban presence serve as a form of blackmail which stampedes us into hasty moves. Such action could be perceived by our moderate African friends (and others around the world) as being a direct result of Angola and the continued Cuban presence, which could [Page 482] lead others into the radical camp. We are trying to discipline ourselves to tread the thin line between public USG support for majority rule in Rhodesia and firm public opposition to further Cuban/Soviet interventionism.5 Although there are indications of success on the latter, I am not as optimistic from your reports about the possibilities for a settlement in Rhodesia. Let’s do keep in close touch on all this.

I am planning, by the way, a wider European tour in May in connection with the NAC and CENTO meetings, and will be arriving in London the evening of May 25 from Luxembourg. Although I will of course see the British Foreign Secretary across the table in Oslo, I look forward very much to a talk with you in London, in either capacity. I also wanted you to know that I have accepted Christoph Bertram’s invitation to give the inaugural Alastair Buchan memorial lecture at the IISS in London probably the evening of May 27. Warm regards, Henry. End text.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Box 16, United Kingdom—State Department Telegrams, From SecState—Nodis (5). Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Stephen W. Worrel (EUR/NE); cleared in C, EUR, and AF; and approved by Kissinger.
  2. On Tuesday, March 16, Harold Wilson resigned as British Prime Minister and endorsed Callaghan as his successor.
  3. Summarized in Document 193.
  4. See Document 184.
  5. Ford’s March 13 statement to the Chicago Sun-Times expressed his administration’s commitment to majority rule in Rhodesia and concern over how that goal could be achieved. “It’s one thing to have the Rhodesian blacks take the reins of government; it’s another thing to have the Soviet Union and Castro move in and take the reins in Rhodesia.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Staff Secretary Files, Box 4, Chronological File, June 1976)