235. Memorandum From Acting Director of Central Intelligence Walters to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • NSSM 227 (US Security Policy Toward Turkey)
We have reviewed the NSSM paper and have mixed feelings about it. In its description of the security relationship between the US and Turkey and how that relationship got where it is today, the study provides useful background material.
The section on US options is one-dimensional; it is based on the premise that the embargo on US arms to Turkey will not be lifted when Congress reconvenes after Labor Day. While we would be remiss were we not to plan for the worst, it is quite another thing to assume, as this paper does, that the worst is inevitable. The NSSM study does not examine policy options over the next few weeks, which are described as a period of “watchful waiting.” In this important respect we find the paper passive and fatalistic.

Specifically, we think the following key assumption (on page

“Despite continued U.S. requests and pressure on Turkey, there will probably be neither definitive early progress toward a Cyprus solution nor sufficiently visible Turkish flexibility or concessions on Cyprus to persuade those in Congress who have taken the lead in imposing the arms embargo to change their minds.”

Few would argue that it would be possible to change the attitudes of “those in Congress who have taken the lead in imposing the arms embargo.” It seems less far-fetched, however, to suggest that some of the waverers in the House who may have decided at the last minute to vote against the last bill might be persuaded to reverse their votes.

A breakthrough in the negotiations on Cyprus might suffice to change enough minds, and in those talks the ball is now in Turkey’s court. Significant progress will require Turkish territorial concessions in return for the concessions the Greek Cypriots said they were willing [Page 783] Clerides and Denktash early this month.
We endorse Ambassador Macomber’s recommendation that the US government actively urge the Turks to facilitate real progress during the next meeting between Clerides and Denktash on September 8–9 in New York. Certainly at this stage it would be very painful for the Turks to bite this bullet. But we would not rule out the possibility that they can be brought to the conclusion that their interests would be best served by giving a timely boost to the administration’s efforts to change attitudes in Congress.
As for the longer term, the NSSM paper’s discussion of US options seems a useful first cut at the general problem. It seems particularly important, in view of the damage already done, to dismiss any notion that it will be possible to return to the status quo ante. Hence, we should certainly continue to try to come up with imaginative alternatives for restructuring the US presence in Turkey in ways that would allow us to derive the maximum possible benefit from a reduced presence.
In sum, we concur in the paper’s recommendation that for now the US should avoid adopting any one of the options presented in the response to NSSM 227.2 In our view, primary attention over the next few weeks should be given to the talks on Cyprus. Ambassador Crawford commented recently that from the Cypriot perspective (both Greek and Turkish) there has never been a more opportune time for a breakthrough, if Turkey is willing to seize the opportunity.
Vernon A. Walters
  1. Source: Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H-37, NSSM 227. Secret; No Foreign Dissem. Sent to the attention of Jeanne Davis.
  2. In memoranda dated August 28 and September 11, respectively, the National Security Agency and the Department of Defense also concurred, with the latter suggesting minor modifications. (Both ibid.)