32. Minutes of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meeting1

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Greece.]

Mr. Hartman: We sent you a memo a while back on how to handle the preparations for these negotiations,2 and you suggested a NSSM. I’d like to suggest that we limit the NSSM to the one issue that I think requires that kind of an in-depth study—[1 line not declassified]—

Secretary Kissinger: No.

Mr. Hartman: —because we’ve got, as far as all the other base installations—

Secretary Kissinger: If we have [2 lines not declassified] will be leaked and we’re going to be beaten to death in the Congress before the study is a third completed.

Mr. Hartman: Well then, we’re going to have a very abbreviated study because the Greeks are going to be coming, in about two weeks, with their list.

Secretary Kissinger: All these studies are done in one afternoon, anyway. What does it mean—“study”? You don’t have officials studying papers.

Mr. Hartman: Well, just to get the inventory of the installations; and some assessment of their relative strengths will take some time.

Secretary Kissinger: Are you telling me you can get ready for a negotiation but you can’t get ready for an internal meeting?

Mr. Hartman: No. I’m just saying if we start on the base inventory—

Mr. Sisco: I want to sit down with the intelligence people.

Secretary Kissinger: The Pentagon wants to pull out of Greece, or it thinks if it throws half the bases away it can save the other half. I mean, we know what’s going on. I believe for us to stampede out of there will just accelerate the whole process.

Those are the facts. We don’t have to have a big study on that subject.

Mr. Sisco: I think it’s easier to accomplish that informally and quickly.

Secretary Kissinger: I want it in the national security system; I do not want it informally. I do not want a treaty between State and Defense [Page 123] on this. This is a matter that has to go to the—I would not let that be used to bust this national security meeting, which is what the Pentagon wants.

Mr. Hartman: Then we’ve got to get moving on it very quickly. Secretary Kissinger: Why? I mean, I just don’t understand the reasoning, according to which you can be ready for a negotiation but not for a senior review group meeting.

Mr. Hartman: No. The strategy, as I understand it, was we were going to let Greece take the initiative.

Secretary Kissinger: All right.

Mr. Hartman: They will be coming to us very shortly.

Secretary Kissinger: And we can tell them we can take a week to think about it, if necessary.

Mr. Hartman: All right—if it’s only a week.

Secretary Kissinger: Why can’t we speed it up if it’s in the process?

Mr. Hartman: Well, I think there’s quite a bit of work—to straighten out the work for the facilities we now have.

Secretary Kissinger: Don’t we need it for the negotiations too?

Mr. Hartman: We need it for the negotiations. For example, Averoff’s office is already coming to us saying: “I think we can save your homeporting.” Well, the question is: Do we want them to save our homeporting? Do we want to agree early with him on the limit of what we can do?

Secretary Kissinger: Fine; I agree with that. That ought to be determined. But why is it easier to determine that without a review group meeting?

Mr. Hartman: Well, we can have a review group meeting. But I think if you can get the NSSM off, say, in the next few days, we’ll give you a draft.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, why is it I haven’t seen a draft yet?

Mr. Hartman: Well, the normal way this is done is we haven’t been suggesting drafts to you. I think you have in the White House; they’re considering the NSSM.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, why don’t you work on a draft—but just so that we don’t get into too many review group meetings without my views being known, I do not favor [11/2 lines not declassified] because I think it will send entirely the wrong signal. So, at any rate, at least I’d need a lot of convincing before I go along with that.

What do you think, Hal?

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: I think that part is fine.

Secretary Kissinger: I mean, if the Greeks push us out of Greece, [3 lines not declassified].

[Page 124]

Mr. Hartman: Well, we have a legal issue that we’re going to have to solve [less than 1 line not declassified]—and that is that if we end up in these negotiations without a specific recommitment to the integrated NATO structure, then there’s some question about whether our current agreement applies.

Now, we may have to have a different kind of—

Secretary Kissinger: That is a different issue; and that is something that must, of course, be discussed.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: That’s an issue [1 line not declassified].

Mr. Hartman: Yes.

Secretary Kissinger: [3 lines not declassified] And if we do it, I think we must do it as part of a study in which the Turks participate. I don’t think it’s going to be easy to convince them that this has no political significance.

Mr. Sisco: I think we’ve got a reasonable chance of retaining much of what we got there now.

Secretary Kissinger: There are two separate problems: One is the base negotiation. The second is—you saw the conversation between Schlesinger and Kubisch

Mr. Hartman: Yes.

Secretary Kissinger: —[1 line not declassified].

Mr. Hartman: Well, there are some technical reasons why you want to take some of the things that are there now out. I mean, if you look at why they’re going to be used and how they’re going to be used, it will make a lot of sense.

Secretary Kissinger: The whole thing doesn’t make a helluva lot of sense. For that same reason, I don’t want to start the process without a careful NATO consideration of it, because all the arguments that apply to Greece will apply to Western Europe and, the next thing you know, the signal of a general American withdrawal.

I admit they don’t make too much sense, but they don’t do damn much either, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t be kept [51/2 lines not declassified].

Mr. Hartman: We’ll work it out.

Secretary Kissinger: But we can issue a NSSM today, and I think you can start an informal one—they’ll arrive. Therefore, we have to go into it with the greatest care.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: The NSSM ought to be on the broad subject.

Secretary Kissinger: No. The NSSM must be on the broad subject for the reason of my concern that I’ve expressed.

Mr. Hartman: O.K.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Greece.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Henry Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, Entry 5177, Box 6, Secretary’s Staff Meeting, January 13, 1975. Secret. Kissinger presided as Chairman and met with the principals of the Department or their designated alternates most mornings. These meetings generally took place in the morning.
  2. Reference is to U.S.–Greek negotiations on U.S. bases and facilities; the memorandum has not been further identified.