229. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Congressman Lee H. Hamilton (D–Indiana)
  • Congressman Charles W. Whalen, Jr. (R–Ohio)
  • Congressman Paul S. Sarbanes (D–Maryland)
  • Amb. Donald Rumsfeld, Assistant to the President
  • John O. Marsh, Jr., Counsellor to the President
  • Max Friedersdorf, Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs


  • Restoration of Aid to Turkey
[Page 754]

President: I am sorry that Ben [Rosenthal] and Dante [Fascell]2 couldn’t be here but I thought we had to keep the momentum. Since our last meeting,3 I have been looking over the alternatives. It is clear to us that the situation in Turkey has deteriorated. Ecevit was assaulted over the weekend. It is indicative of the growing political unrest in Turkey.

We discussed the last time using Section 614, granting a waiver before the end of the fiscal year and initiating again in the new fiscal year. That would be followed by expressions of support from you. There is $16 million in funds available this fiscal year and of course

I want to be forthcoming. I could indicate my willingness by saying I would exercise my waiver, either in FY ‘75 and ‘76, or hold it as an incentive for the Turks when Clerides and Denktash get together on 24 July. That is a question of tactics. But to show my willingness to compromise—but I think it is then fair to ask you—not to go the Senate route, but to lift the embargo on sales and credits. It seems to me that this is give on the part of both and achieves what we want. I have to add that we can’t guarantee there will be an immediate settlement. We would then be in a position to put the kind of pressure on the Turks to get action. If under those circumstances they don’t perform, it is then their problem, not ours. Henry, do you want to add anything?

Kissinger: We could understand among ourselves the nature of this agreement, but publishing it would destroy it.

Brademas: We are talking just in this room. There are three factors: Arms to Turkey; a resolution of the situation in Cyprus; and preserving the fundamental principle that US arms not be used for aggressive [Page 755] purposes. Restoring arms to Turkey is not the only objective. Your proposal appears to respond to only one objective. When we mentioned your use of 614, there would have to be a prior assurance from Turkey. We could not accept a quid without a quo. You are now asking for Congress to remove the ban on credits or sales and you use the waiver, with nothing coming back from the Turks. There must be some response from Turkey on the ground in Cyprus or an assurance of that. What you have put forth is something for Turkey but with nothing on the other two points—the other thing and the principle that arms not be used for aggressive purposes.

President: On Cyprus: We can’t be the negotiator on Cyprus. We have to create the climate for progress. Without this climate, nothing will happen and in the meantime we will be losing. [2 lines not declassified]

It seems to me if there is a settlement, whatever U.S. arms are there will be principally withdrawn. That is a matter for negotiations between the two.

Brademas: I think we are back to square one. I am very disappointed.

President: I candidly feel the same about your position.

Sarbanes: I think there must be something that justifies a legislative change of position. Absent that, I am hard put to have some rationale for changing. The waiver was to get around the legislative situation. To give Turkey something publicly while they gave us private assurances and then publicly make waves.

Hamilton: Is there some hope that Turkey would respond to your waiver with some gesture?

Kissinger: No chance. The ban on grants bothers them least because they think we have a right to do it. Morally they object to the sales cutoff. They also refuse to link the embargo with Cyprus.

The President told DEMIREL that even though we would not insist on written assurances, if we moved we would expect a reciprocal gesture. I think in July they might give the things that were possible in January, but that is my own feeling, not their assurances.

Hamilton: So the waiver is not a real inducement.

Kissinger: No. We have been trying all along.

I hope we are showing by our efforts and our good faith.

Brademas: It looks to me like we are faced with a complete unilateral gesture. No assurance at all—just a one-way street.

President: The other side of the street is that we stand to lose some vitally important installations. Further, we stand to lose any chance to get a Cyprus agreement.

Brademas: So we would be telling the world if we are pressured we will yield to blackmail.

[Page 756]

President: No. What would you have us do, use force?

Brademas: No. This is water over the dam. We would have used pressure on Turkey earlier. I do not think we should yield to blackmail.

President: We must remember that the Turks didn’t start this.

Brademas: For years I fought the Greek junta while the Administration supported it.

Sarbanes: I think we must distinguish between the moves of 20 July and the moves of 14 August. I concede you this right of the Turks in July, but not August. But I do not think we can concede on this matter of principle. To get out of this, we proposed this face-saving formula. To move without this, would be to sacrifice principle.

Hamilton: On the partial lifting, you wouldn’t object if we inserted language that equipment would be used to further NATO objectives and not in Cyprus.

President: Can’t you put it positively on the NATO thing?

Brademas: I would be in favor of action provided we know that some action would be forthcoming. That I don’t understand.

Kissinger: I think the President was saying that if we don’t move, we would lose bases and forego any chance to get a solution on Cyprus and the Aegean—where Greece is in violation of treaties—with U.S. arms.

Brademas: I would have no objection to invoking the law against Greece.

Kissinger: It is not aggression, just treaty violation. But our proposition is not just that we open the spigot and nothing happens. DEMIREL is under no misapprehension that the President expects movement if he acts.

Brademas: That was the situation for seven months until February.

President: I can cut these things off at any time. I would be obligated to insist that the parties get together and resolve the Cyprus dispute. I would feel personally obligated to the Congress. And I think both the Greeks and Turks are anxious to get the problem solved.

Sarbanes: Given the last observation, I am not sure why the scenario where you do the waiver, the Turks make some moves, and the Congress then takes action, won’t work.

Brademas: At no point have we suggested the waiver be used to get the Turks to be forthcoming. It has always been conditioned on prior Turkish assurances. The point of the waiver was to help the Turks save face.

Sarbanes: It was to break the chicken and egg problem with respect to the Turks—not to get around the Executive-Congressional problem.

[Page 757]

Whalen: What did you have in mind on simultaneous timing?

Supposing there is no action and you think I am negligent about moving. There are legislative devices to cut it off.

Sarbanes: They are also subject to waiver.

Brademas: We are aware of our weakness in this regard. If we could work something out, it would be good for the country. I hope we don’t move at total loggerheads.

I have another thought, which the Secretary may not like. At no point until recently did the Executive use the tools available—an aid ban—to make the Turks move. Even now the Turks are being told that Congress is being pressured to rescind. Why should the Turks move? I wouldn’t. Why not tell them there is no chance for the Congress to move and they better move. Why not put the pressure on Turkey?

President: We have been firm but we don’t hold all the cards. Our bases aren’t bases for their security but for ours. We don’t hold all the chips.

Whalen: Do we hold any?

President: I told DEMIREL that if we got a lifting, they had to understand we expected action. We believe they will act, but they won’t move under pressure. They will act on the bases and I don’t want that responsibility.

Hamilton: The question is how you get them to move. We have a carrot and a stick. I disagree with Brademas and Sarbanes. I think we are more likely to get movement by a carrot than by a stick.

Kissinger: We have been trying to pressurize the Turks. We can argue forever whether the tactics are right.

Congressman Whalen: What does Turkey lose if we do nothing?

Secretary Kissinger: The Turks will lose spare parts and their Army will run down. They may try to move before that happens—in the Aegean and maybe Cyprus. They may not move to the Soviet Union but they will move toward the radical Arabs to get the funds for arms. Turkey will lose their tie to the United States. They don’t want to. Maybe if we hang tough, the Turkish army will veer off. But I know no one who believes that. We all think they will pay the price and everyone will lose.

Congressman Whalen: If you exercise the waiver while Congress is going through the legislative process, is there any chance of action on Cyprus?

[Page 758]

Secretary Kissinger: My instinct is that action would bring some concessions—token ones—in July. Then we can make a massive effort. We can get, after Turkish Senate elections—a settlement that is tolerable to Greece.

Congressman Brademas: You have been fair in describing in restrained terms what could be expected. We have not discussed the impact of this in Greece. In 1971, when I opposed sending arms to Greece because of the dictatorship, Sisco said Greece was vital to NATO. Can we now write off Greece?

The President: Not at all. We have completed two steps toward bases and aid. The new government is a big asset to us and NATO. We want to help. We haven’t finalized it but we are making good progress.

Secretary Kissinger: We have to balance the dangers you describe—which are real, stimulated by the Papandreou forces—and the consequences of a prolonged stalemate with the prospect of confrontation and conflict in the Aegean. Karamanlis wants to get this behind him so he can focus on his other problems.

Congressman Sarbanes: The carrot and stick ignores the principle from which I don’t think we can recede without violating. To recede without some basis that Turkey has receded is really bad.

Congressman Brademas: There is much cynicism in the United States over the last few months. If the Congress were to roll over, the people would say laws and principles mean nothing. Our action would then appear just a “get Kissinger” action, which it wasn’t. We took it based on principle and we would have to recede the same way.

The President: I will give you all the benefits of doubt on that principle you express. But we also have a broad responsibility that in the process we don’t undercut something which involves our national security.

After the last meeting I tried to find a way to compromise. Despite my feelings on the waiver—which you know—I told Secretary Kissinger I would have to show my willingness to work with you. I had language prepared—I have it right here. I respect your views, but it is an understatement to say I am disappointed.

Congressman Brademas: At no point did we suggest using the waiver without private assurances. A simple invocation of a waiver without assurances was never put forward. The waiver was prepared not by us but by Schlesinger.

The President: Maybe, but it was proposed by Congress, not Schlesinger.

Congressman Sarbanes: The waiver was not to make you cave but as a device to get the Turks to move.

Congressman Whalen: I would agree with John that the waiver was contingent on private assurances. But the assurances would in any [Page 759] case have to remain private, so the cynicism would still remain. The other problem is that the Turks have already rejected a waiver.

Secretary Kissinger: The things we give the Turks free they think we have a right to cut off—while they don’t like it. It is the sales embargo which gets them.

Congressman Brademas: I would hope you wouldn’t press this to a vote. First, I think we can defeat you, and in any case, it would infuriate the Greeks and, if we win, it would infuriate the Turks.

Mr. Rumsfeld: The Turkish army has behaved very responsibly— not like a banana republic. They are proud of their Army and won’t like it running down. When they start closing bases, they are on their way to unravelling a basic relationship. The stakes are very high.

Congressman Sarbanes: True. But it is also basic to ask what are the purposes of our alliances. If members use force to violate the very thing the alliance was designed to prevent, this too is basic. My scenario is to use the waiver, get Turkish concessions in July, and then we see what we can do.

The President: I think we unfortunately have reached an impasse. I think the consequences will be tragic.

Congressman Whalen: To summarize, I think some of us think some action must be taken. It would be facilitated if all the parties could agree. That can’t happen, it appears. So Lee [Hamilton], Dante [Fascell]4 and I will have to go back to see what we can do.

The President: We want to work with all of you. We will keep our rhetoric down and hope for movement which can prevent disastrous results.

Congressman Brademas: On the last point, we have been quiet for months. I did say that Executive statements about pressuring Congress are not helpful. I agree about keeping the rhetoric down. We will do our part.

The President: We can’t be oblivious of the deadlines facing us.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 282, Memoranda of Conversations, Presidential File, June 1975. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room at the White House.
  2. Brackets are in the original.
  3. See Document 228.
  4. Brackets are in the original.