202. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Anthony R. Crosland, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
- Edward Rowlands, MP, Minister of State
- Sir Michael Palliser, Permanent Under Secretary
- Sir Antony Duff, Deputy Under Secretary
- Dennis Grennan, Special Adviser on African Affairs
- Patrick Laver, Head of Rhodesia Dept.
- Sir Peter Ramsbotham, British Ambassador to the United States
- Richard Dales, Assistant Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
- William D. Rogers, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs
- Winston Lord, Director, Policy Planning Staff
- Amb. William E. Schaufele, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
- Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Executive Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Under Secretary for Management; Acting Special Assistant to the Secretary for Press Relations and Spokesman of the Department
- Ronald Spiers, Chargé d’Affaires
- Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff
- Southern Africa; Cyprus
Crosland: How would you like to start this? Should we discuss how to talk to Vorster, or compare notes on our respective travels?
Kissinger: Why don’t we do the latter?
Crosland: Most of what came out wasn’t unexpected.
Kissinger: (to Rowlands:) You just came back?
Rowlands: Five hours ago.
Crosland: What needed underlining was the passion about Smith, getting him out at the earliest stage.
Number two, the increasing unlikelihood of getting a moderate regime with an uncontested Nkomo. Nkomo’s role is steadily declining. It will have to be more widely based.[Page 528]
Number three, very strong feelings by Nyerere and Machel hoping that there will be no British colonial role. As you know, the most would be a diplomatic role.
Kissinger: Nyerere tells us he gives you credit for resisting American pressure. (Laughter)
Crosland: Number four is our impressions of Machel.
Rowlands: I don’t know if Bill agrees, but we thought Machel was most impressive and had stronger insights.
Kissinger: More than Nyerere?
Rowlands: Because his experiences are more recent. And he is pragmatic. Because he fears an armed struggle on his territory.
Rowlands: Yes. He fears internationalization of the struggle. He is perceptive about the transition period. He feared an undefeated white army, and a police problem.
Kissinger: Did FRELIMO really win, or did the situation in Portugal collapse?
Duff: FRELIMO history is that they defeated Portugal.
Kissinger: But what are the facts? Our impression is neither FRELIMO nor the Angolan groups were gaining much until Portugal collapsed. But it’s irrelevant, because it’s the myth.
Rowlands: He feared a divided security situation with the Rhodesian army and his forces intact. So he felt it should be telescoped. He thinks he can win by peaceful means anyway: If the guerrillas participate in the negotiations, he feels his people can win.
He was also extremely suspicious about our approach—thinking we’re trying to put in a Western-based government, a puppet.
Kissinger: He’s right!
Rowlands: He’s afraid we’re trying to perpetuate a colonial system. He’ll be more critical of the guarantee scheme.
Kissinger: You didn’t give him the scheme.
Rowlands: No. We said something like this might be important for the economic development of Zimbabwe.
Crosland: Their impressions were, number one, personal—his intelligence—and number two, that he doesn’t want an internationalization of the war. And number three, he is genuinely sympathetic to our proceeding on these lines.
Rowlands: He was extremely shaken by these attacks from Rhodesia. He hadn’t expected that.
Kissinger: That impression coincides with ours. He approached us after the attack, and expressed a real interest in what we were doing.[Page 529]
Rowlands: He was the only one who had a brief, and had read into it.
Crosland: (gesturing at the Secretary’s lack of a briefing book:) That’s not a terribly tactful thing to say. (Laughter)
Kissinger: We briefed you, as you did us, on a daily basis. Our impression substantially coincides with yours.
With respect to Rhodesia, the various leaders including Machel wish us well in the effort, but have confused and slightly disagreeing notions of how to bring it to a conclusion.
All of them distrust Smith. All of them give you credit for rejecting our proposal for colonial rule. (Laughter) All of them agree the government won’t be headed by Nkomo but must be more broadly based.
But the question is what they mean by these general formulations. They’re all, except Machel, totally mystified by how they’ll unify the Zimbabwe nationalists. It is easier to blame the white governments than themselves.
I have the impression, which may be wrong, that they are scarcely less terrified we won’t deliver Smith than that we will deliver Smith.
Secondly, these leaders—again except for Machel—are uncertain what they can deliver. Nyerere and Kaunda, if alone, would be fairly responsive to the kind of plan we have, and willing to take two risks—that Smith will not accept, or that Smith will accept and they will be accused by Machel of selling out the others. So they are torn between fear of failure and fear of success.
Machel knows what he is doing. He wants a Rhodesian government as analogous to his as he can get, and achieved by methods as analogous to his as he can get.
The formula they have all hit on as a way out of this is to put in a transitional government now, with a black majority, and after that they will unify the Zimbabwean nationalists.
Rogers: It’s Kaunda’s view.
Kissinger: And Machel’s.
Grennan: What Machel wants overridingly is a peaceful settlement. The other is secondary.
Kissinger: The problem we have—I don’t know about the U.K.—I don’t see how we can put in a black government unconditionally without any prior assurances of what it will be like.
Duff: We haven’t seen that.
Kissinger: No, we haven’t any proposals like this. They say it orally: if the transitional government is put in, their fear of Smith’s duplicity disappears.[Page 530]
Duff: With us, they all accepted the interim stage to negotiate a new government. He said to us: who is going to be the negotiator with the Zimbabwean nationalists?
Kissinger: There are two possibilities: A white government different from Ian Smith negotiates majority rule with British non-colonial assistance. The second situation is they insist a black majority government is put in immediately, with some white participation, and that negotiates a constitution.
Rowlands: Nowhere did we have difficulty with the idea of a white caretaker government to negotiate with the blacks. Machel kept asking who will be the “new force” the Zimbabweans would negotiate with? We said the caretaker government. Machel didn’t demur at that.
Kissinger: For how long would it be?
Rowlands: A very short time.
Kissinger: Our people say 10 days to two weeks.
Duff: “A matter of weeks.”
Kissinger: I can see a white government without Smith negotiating. It’s not for us to say how long, but ten days to two weeks means in effect immediately. A serious negotiation for guarantees wouldn’t be years but at least months.
Rowlands: I think without Smith, they would be more flexible—ten days or three months.
Kissinger: We don’t mind if they settle. But is it a serious negotiation, or an immediate handover?
Rowlands: We weren’t sure how far we could go in our initial soundings. We both fudged it because we didn’t want to unveil the package.
Kissinger: The experience of the two Bills was that whenever they discussed the package, the Presidents said: “This is mechanics.”
Rowlands: Yes. They said: “Smith must go.”
Kissinger: Your conclusion is: Number one, Smith must go. Number two, there must be a negotiation between a successor white government and a black negotiating team. They will then agree on a provisional government. Independence comes into being some stated period thereafter. Full independence, Bill?
Rogers: You have come away with a clearer impression than we did of a serious negotiation.
Kissinger: Our impression is they are really saying to us: “Hand over power first, and we will sort out the unity of the Zimbabwean nationalists.” Nyerere is saying: “Let’s first sort out the unity of the Zimbabwean nationalists and then hand over power.”
Frankly, this would greatly affect my discussions with Vorster.[Page 531]
Duff: Nyerere didn’t want to get into the mechanics, but he said: “Maybe with a new white government, that in itself would be a catalyst for the blacks to get together.”
Kissinger: Caretaker means a white government?
Rogers: Yes. “Caretaker” means a non-Smith white government.
Kissinger: Not Ian Smith.
Palliser: One element is the very deep suspicion of these Africans of Smith, Vorster, and your relationship with them. We think if it is clear Smith is for the birds, the other difficulties will go.
Kissinger: They ask us to use our influence with the South Africans; then when we do it, they are suspicious.
Rowlands: Their suspicions would grow if they see no results, if Smith hangs around. If they see results, I think the problems will disappear.
To summarize: Kaunda is not willing to talk about beyond stage one, but I think if Smith is delivered, he’ll go along.
With Nyerere, we went over the caretaker government. He didn’t demur; he said it’s mechanics which we could talk about. His concern is he couldn’t organize the blacks. The blacks would come in; we would legalize it; and he would be left holding the “hot baby,” as he put it.
With Machel, I went over the caretaker idea. Then the interim government I said would be responsible for the security situation. Then he said it would be short.
Kissinger: What about guarantees?
Rowlands: He’s against it.
Grennan: Implicitly against it.
Kissinger: So he’s for expulsion of the whites.
Rowlands: The other two will accept it and influence him.
Kissinger: So it will all depend on who controls the interim government.
Crosland: Your fear is we may end up with a black government that may drive out the whites. If we proceed down this road, this is one risk we have to take. This looms larger than five weeks ago. The question is, do we proceed?
Kissinger: To describe the worst thing that can happen: A white government that comes in under massive American pressure. The blacks then break apart, and war breaks out, and you have an Angola in Rhodesia.
Rowlands: But they are all against it.[Page 532]
Kissinger: But the question then is, why did it have to be us? Americans would rather, I think, see the blacks overthrow the whites than see us do it.
Crosland: It wouldn’t come to that. The blacks would not have the power to drive them out.
Kissinger: After my Lusaka speech,2 I received 1800 letters, 23 of which supported it. After months of public education, I have received 120 letters of which 36 support it. So I have moved from 99% against to 66% against.
Crosland: My experience is the same. My constituency in Grimsby is restrained by illiteracy, and most of the mail concerns whether I wear white tie with the Queen.
But there will be a military confrontation in Rhodesia, because the whites will fight.
Kissinger: Would David Smith be able to fight?
Grennan: Fight against what?
Kissinger: Would he fight, as the successors to Caetano?
Palliser: There would be a pro-Ian Smith reaction.
Kissinger: Would David Smith fight?
Duff: No. But he would be replaced by those who could.
Grennan: The four Presidents would be eager for a political settlement.
Kissinger: Will they remain united?
Rogers: I don’t think so.
Schaufele: Nor I.
Kissinger: Can any black President take a position less radical than any other?
Rowlands: Only if the end is in view.
Kissinger: So we’re back at the position of before: The British view is that the removal of Ian Smith unlocks everything. My view has been no, but I’m open minded.
Rowlands: We couldn’t tell them how Smith would be got to yield. Neither I nor Bill could tell them how. So they weren’t focusing on beyond that.
Kissinger: Are they saying this because the problems are so overwhelming on their side that they want to blame it on the whites, or is it what they really believe? Really the reason I ask is that they send us imploring letters not to move “on the ground” because they’re not [Page 533] ready. From this I conclude they think we’re ready to deliver and they’re not.
Crosland: They’re ambivalent. If we take your main fear—that the outcome of this initiative may not be our peaceful plan but a black takeover—if we do nothing, won’t we be worse off?
Kissinger: But are we better off?
Now to my problem with Vorster. Basically the only way we can proceed, on your analysis, is for the United States to ask Vorster to overthrow Smith.
Kissinger: And we can’t tell him anything that will happen. We can’t tell him guarantees, we can’t tell him anything. Is his domestic situation strong enough? Especially because some in his country can plausibly say his getting into this negotiation has weakened his situation in South Africa. In June my argument to him was that this would buy him time for his own problems.3 I can’t tell him this now.
Crosland: He’ll say he can’t agree until he knows whether the blacks will sign on to the guarantee program.
Grennan: We think you can get it from the black Presidents if you can promise them Smith’s head.
Rowlands: Yes, because we could never put the whole package to them. The guarantees are part of the whole package.
Kissinger: We’re now at your first question: What can I say to Vorster? If I ask him only to deliver Smith’s head, can I say we will support his successor in the request for guarantees? [Assent from the British side.] The successor to Ian Smith says he will agree to majority rule under conditions of guarantees.
Rowlands, Grennan: Yes.
Kissinger: Then the blacks have lost their excuse, or the reality, of their suspicions. Will the blacks agree to guarantees?
Crosland: Yes. But which comes first?
Kissinger: I’m willing to say Smith’s head goes first.
Vorster has never said he’ll deliver Smith’s head. Can we tell him we will support the guarantee package?
Crosland: The purpose of your visit to black Africa was to say: If you can agree to a guarantee package, then the British and the US will give their backing.
Kissinger: Yes, exactly right. That hasn’t changed.[Page 534]
Crosland: Smith has to go, and guarantees. You would also say to him that neither we nor he will agree unless the blacks agree to guarantees in a more definite way. It depends on the four Presidents.
Kissinger: Do they have a veto? Will we be driven to accept anything they ask? Or there is a point where we say: “From here on you get it for yourselves.”
Crosland: For the British it is a precondition of going forward that the four Presidents accept.
Kissinger: It’s reality. Without the four Presidents, it’s not possible. The only differences between what we said before our two missions and now are: We are saying now that Ian Smith has to go before the negotiations, and secondly, guarantees will have to be worked out in the negotiations between his successor and the blacks.
Duff: No. In the first place, the incoming caretaker government will have to have knowledge of, and make public knowledge of, the guarantee schemes, if it’s going to get public support. We’ll have to back it. This in turn means we’ll have to discuss guarantees, both political and economic, with the African side up to a point, so they don’t reject them out of hand. The escape route for us is if they fail to agree, the whole thing is off.
Kissinger: The second one is that the Zimbabwean national team is a less attractive one than we thought a few months ago.
I don’t think the American national interest, or yours, is served by another Angola in Rhodesia. I’d rather have it come from the logic of events.
Crosland: Presumably something will come out of this meeting [in Dar es Salaam] this weekend.4
Kissinger: On the one hand, I welcome the meeting. It is the statesmanlike way of proceeding. Because of the missions we sent, which saw them all separately, there is no other way for them to give [get?] a consensus.
The danger is when they start blowing smoke at each other, no one will dare to be realistic. They’ll get into fight talk and state unrealistic demands.
When our people discussed Namibia, we heard the maximum position and we were told that modifications were possible. If we were negotiating with Lusaka, the negotiations could get started and it [Page 535] would fall together. Once eight parties get together, there is no way to tell what will come out of it.
This is why I’m going back. Is this what you would have recommended?
Kissinger: And none of us knows what Neto will do.
We briefed you as soon as we decided. Our problem is if we didn’t tell the press then, it would look like Vorster wasn’t cooperative. That would be disastrous in Africa.
Rowlands: Your problem with Vorster is you need to tell him the Africans will accept this package. Our problem in Africa was we couldn’t make this offer to them—we couldn’t say we would deliver Smith if they accept the guarantees.
Kissinger: I can handle it this way. I can ask Vorster: If he is willing to remove Smith, I’ll put it conditionally to the Africans. Then when I go to Africa, I can tell the four Presidents that I can deliver Smith if they’ll accept the guarantees. Then I will tell Vorster, “You now deliver Smith.”
Kissinger: From our domestic point of view, it would be better if the caretaker government in Salisbury initiates the negotiation, rather than Dar. That isn’t more difficult. Whether Vorster will agree, I can’t imagine.
Rowlands: The advantage of this is you can say to the blacks: “This is what Vorster will do if there are guarantees.” If they go along with it firmly, we’re in business.
Kissinger: We have given the South Africans the summary paper.5 They have accepted it in principle, or nearly. Then on Friday I gave them the whole package. I didn’t want a formal presentation because it almost certainly will be modified in the negotiations, and we would be accused of duplicity.
All right, I understand the problem.
Crosland: I suppose there is nothing to be said for your sending telegrams to the five in the course of this meeting, saying it would be helpful to have a more collective negotiation, assuming your meeting with Vorster goes all right. It would be better than meeting separately.
Kissinger: I had concluded that it would be better if I didn’t communicate with them while they are meeting. They think—erroneously—that we need this for electoral reasons. The blacks will vote Democratic anyway; the whites in favor of it are liberal Democrats. It [Page 536] will alienate those who fought the President before. So it will be a net loss; if we break even, we will do all right.
Nyerere told us—I think you know—“If we give you Namibia, is that enough?” [Laughter]
Most Americans think Namibia is a soft drink. [Laughter] So I don’t want to be importuning them.
The problem is if this fails, nothing can be done for six months.
Kissinger: So this is the only way it is affected by the elections. If there is a change of Administration on November 2, nothing could be organized until March. That’s too late for Rhodesia.
Do we want to let it drift?
Crosland: But you can’t change horses in midstream.
Kissinger: I could screw up my negotiation with Vorster.
Grennan: There is no way to turn the tap off once the next round of warfare begins. It’s the rainy season. We know they’re planning kidnapping and killing of white women. The South Africans will see their first television war. There will be volunteers going up there.
Kissinger: You’re saying we have to move now.
Grennan: We have to move now.
Kissinger: I have felt this meeting of theirs would last until Tuesday.6 I wanted to send Bill [Schaufele] down, to tell them of the Vorster meeting and hear about their meeting. I proposed to come back the following week.
Can we brief your Ambassadors there?
Duff: They are all informed.
Kissinger: Bill can brief your Ambassadors. He should report to us, and we’ll brief [Richard C.] Samuel [Counselor in the British Embassy]. But he can brief them. And you can send someone down there if it’s necessary.
Crosland: Just a word about this meeting of the five. Who took the initiative?
Kissinger: He reflected on his dilemma: I would come down and ask him for commitments, and he couldn’t deliver. And the others would be in the same position. So it was actually the wise way to proceed.[Page 537]
The first we heard was Thursday night.
Rowlands: He had already decided when we were there.
Kissinger: The question is: Should we write him a letter and ask him to form a five-power negotiating team? Or leave it to them how to handle it?
Grennan: Their instinct is to leave it to the Zimbabweans to negotiate.
Kissinger: My instinct is to leave it alone.
Schaufele: That’s my instinct.
Kissinger: You’ve got a brilliant career ahead of you. [Laughter]
Rowlands: The problem is that they not come up with a new list of demands.
Kissinger: I have no objection if your Ambassador did this. Anything they get from me, from today on, they’re liable to think was affected by my meeting with Vorster.
Crosland: I agree. They’re likely to think that.
As for our Ambassador, I don’t think it’s a good idea. They’re not novices; they know what the problem is.
Rowlands: We’ll just have to take a chance.
Crosland: We’ll just have to take a chance. One is whether they will add public demands. Second is they will just leave it to the Zimbabweans.
Grennan: The whole purpose of the meeting is to put together a credible Zimbabwean nationalist team.
Kissinger: My nightmare is they’ll publish a program we can’t accept.
Grennan: I would be surprised if they did that.
Kissinger: If they did?
Grennan: If they did. I don’t think they see unity in those terms. They want operational unity.
Kissinger: I see the meeting as positive. If they can find unity or not. If not, it’s better to find out now.
On getting rid of Ian Smith, I’m willing to take that up with Vorster. And I’ll tell him if he agrees, we will put it to the four Presidents that if they agree to the guarantees, he will do it.
It will be a pleasant meeting. The Dutch Reformed don’t have confession, do they? [Laughter]
Crosland: Where are you meeting?
Kissinger: In our hotel. They can’t meet on Sundays. So we invited them to tea. [Laughter] The South Africans announced they wouldn’t [Page 538] meet on Sunday; so our press concluded it was to protest against the Philadelphia speech.7
Crosland: On Rhodesia, a question about this fund. Because we have published our expenditure. A question also about your visit to Paris. Should we express support for Giscard’s African fund8 and link it to this?
Kissinger: I think we can get the Germans to put money into Namibia, either through that fund or directly. I suspect we’ll have massive problems getting the South Africans to put money into Rhodesia.
Kissinger: He made that clear in June.
Palliser: There are a lot of South Africans living in Rhodesia who would benefit.
Kissinger: Are they Afrikaners or British?
Schaufele: Vorster described them as having rights of residency.
Duff: Does he want them back? They wouldn’t vote for him.
Kissinger: I didn’t sense an enormous desire on Vorster’s part.
Can I speak to him on the basis of that scheme?
Crosland: On the basis of it.
Kissinger: That that is what we will take to the Africans.
Crosland: Yes. You will be back here Monday9 to talk to the Prime Minister. Of course, we’re not committed formally to anything as a government. If the omens are good on Monday . . .
Kissinger: I’m, of course, assuming you’re prepared to proceed on a jointly prepared paper.
Crosland: It is virtually certain. But I can’t tell what the Prime Minister will do.
Kissinger: The paper is the same.
Duff: The new Annex C deals with the Interim government.[Page 539]
Kissinger: Can you give us Annex C? If we agree with it, we can give it to the South Africans.
Duff: Yes. (He gives the Secretary Tab A)10
Kissinger: Can we talk about Namibia?
Kissinger: I see no essential differences between the two positions.
Kissinger: I appreciate that our two delegations spoke to the Africans in practically identical terms.
Kissinger: I appreciate it. On both Rhodesia and Namibia.
As I see it, the issue is to have the Windhoek Conference moved to Geneva, and have SWAPO participate, and some UN involvement. And maybe get some prisoners released. What may not be possible is to turn the Geneva Conference immediately into a SWAPO–South African negotiation.
We get two signals. One is that one side can call it one thing and the other will call it another. That doesn’t bother me. The other signal is that we will get more demands—that South Africa immediately withdraw its troops.
My feeling is that once the Conference is assembled, it will be the outcome of independence. But I think there is a limit to how far Vorster can go in the first round. So this is the area of uncertainty.
We can probably figure out some way for South African participation. We need some way to get this Conference going. Once it gets going, it will develop its own logic. If it were just one, we could say this. But when they’re all together, what Neto advises them no one knows.
Grennan: I don’t think there will be problems on these others, but the basic precondition was unstated—that South Africa participates. I don’t see how SWAPO can participate in the Conference, call it what you will, if South Africa demonstrably refuses to participate.
Kissinger: We’ll see. The problem is what we got is what Nyerere asked for in June. And we got a date for independence, which he didn’t ask for.
Grennan: Probably Nyerere got it wrong and assumed the South Africans were there, at the Windhoek Conference. Kaunda said it didn’t make any difference if the tribal groups, the “racist puppets,” were there—because the South Africans were. The other preconditions would drop away.[Page 540]
Kissinger: I feel that too, unless these guys lock themselves into something in Dar.
What will Neto do? The Soviet Ambassador made an attack on us—he lumped us together.
Ramsbotham: I wonder if it is worth considering whether a British message to Nyerere, urging them not to tie themselves to something . . .
Kissinger: I’m more worried about what they say publicly.
Schaufele: I’m more worried about what they say publicly on Namibia than on Rhodesia.
Crosland: We could say that after the visits of Duff and Rowlands, it would be useful if they don’t make any public statements. We are keeping the door open and we think they should.
(To Schaufele:) You still oppose it?
Kissinger: He was against our doing it. If you told him it was your judgment, based on your conversations, or your impression of our attitude, that they shouldn’t commit themselves to anything . . .
Schaufele: Not to Kaduma.
Lord: There’s some advantage in doing it today, before you see Vorster.
Kissinger: They know we’re meeting.
We settled Africa. Now to the rest of the world.
[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Rhodesia and Namibia.]
- Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 345, Department of State, Memoranda, Memoranda of Conversations, External, September 4–14, 1976. Secret; Nodis. Initialed by Rodman. The meeting was held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Brackets, with the exception of those indicating corrections or omission of unrelated material, are in the original.↩
- See footnote 3, Document 194.↩
- See Document 196.↩
- Neto and the Front Line Presidents met in Dar es Salaam September 5–7. The meeting led to continued support for the Rhodesian African nationalists; there was no resolution of the conflict among the rival groups. (Keesing’s Contempory Archives, 1976, p. 28041)↩
- See Document 199, Tab B.↩
- September 7.↩
- Kissinger delivered a speech entitled “The Challenges of Africa” on August 31 before the Opportunities Industrialization Centers in Philadelphia, in which he criticized apartheid and South Africa’s continued involvement in Namibia. (Department of State Bulletin, September 20, 1976, pp. 349–357)↩
- In May President Giscard d’Estaing proposed a fund to be composed of contributions from Western donors for the purpose of assisting development in African nations. President Ford approved U.S. membership in the African Development Fund in November. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–6, Documents on Africa, 1973–1976, Documents 49, 52, 54, 56, and 57.↩
- September 6.↩
- Tab A is an undated British discussion paper entitled “Rhodesia: Possible Constitutional Arrangements for the Period of Transition.”↩