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207. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for Domestic Affairs and Policy (Eizenstat) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1

SUBJECT

  • Policy Toward OPEC

As you know, the economic stability and strength of this country is now dependent in good measure on OPEC oil pricing decisions. Adverse OPEC pricing decisions can break the back of our anti-inflation program and jeopardize prospects for continued economic growth and high employment.

I believe that the perception of our own citizens, and a source of their frustration with whatever Administration is in office, is that the U.S. passively acquiesces in, and acts thankful for, whatever decisions the cartel happens to reach. I think we should study (on a confidential, high-priority basis) the feasibility of a more effective policy toward the pricing actions of the cartel itself and its individual members, particularly those (e.g., Venezuela) which have been heavily dependent on the United States. I know that such studies have been undertaken by prior Administrations to little end, but I think we should try again and harder. There must be some stance the U.S. can take between acquiescence and military intervention and some diplomatic/economic levers we can utilize to achieve better results.

Would you please convene a meeting of Secretaries Vance, Brown, Blumenthal, and Schlesinger to consider this matter? If you think this would be worthwhile (and I hope you do), then I would like to be included.2

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 48, Oil, 3–6/79. Administratively Confidential.
  2. On May 22, Brzezinski responded: “Your proposal is indeed worthwhile. We have had the issues of OPEC pricing and supply under review for some time. Let me review those plans with your suggestion in mind and on that basis convene a meeting in which you would of course take part.” (Ibid.) See Document 209.