12. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1

Secretary Kissinger asked that I pass you the following message:2

“Once again the French have unilaterally gone public with a major initiative without any prior consultation.3 Giscard has invited selected producers, consumers and Less-Developed Countries to discuss the energy problem. Giscard also proposes a system of indexing which because of continued inflation in consuming countries will certainly lead to higher oil prices. Such a meeting is contrary to our strategy—and the strategy agreed by most of France’s partners—that the consumers must first develop a common program before they will have anything to talk to producers about. This France rejects by refusing to join the energy coordinating group.

“While this initiative may cause a certain amount of confusion, it cannot really get anywhere. A meeting with producers without a common consumer position is an invitation to confrontation or surrender. Giscard invites the EC–9 to act as a unit. This gives the Europeans a dilemma which may cause the FRG, UK and Italy to waffle in dealing with us without being able to work with France, for in the end, these countries will have to cooperate with us because that is the only way to meet the financial crisis. In short, the French initiative is characteristic of French policy over the past decade; it is vain, useless and destructive of any cooperative effort. No possible good can come of it.

“Our strategy should be to let the producer-consumer meeting take its course and proceed to organize our consumer group. The French saw that we were beginning to succeed and that is why they moved at this time. They obviously prefer being bailed out by OPEC [Page 60] than by the US. Yet in time we shall prevail despite French sabotage. This is an area where we have had a consistent, imaginative policy and your Administration can take credit for what we have been trying to accomplish behind the scene.”

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 140, Geopolitical File, France, September 7–December 20, 1974. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Ford initialed the memorandum.
  2. Kissinger was in Moscow to meet with Soviet officials.
  3. On October 24, Giscard held a press conference to announce that France “planned to contact consumer and producer governments at once to see whether a producer-consumer conference could be organized early next year.” Brunet spoke with the Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires and the Economic Affairs Minister on October 25 about Giscard’s statement and formally invited the United States to participate in the preparatory conference that the French President had proposed. He further explained that France wanted to invite “officials of rich consumers, poor consumers and producers to participate in a preparatory meeting in Paris next month,” although a date had not been chosen. Finally, he told them that Sauvagnargues had cabled Kissinger in Moscow on October 23 (see footnote 2, Document 16) to give him advance notice of Giscard’s intentions. (Telegram 25419 from Paris, October 26; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D740306–0775)