339. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Cabinet Meeting

The first item is a report on CSCE and my trip in general. We stopped first in Bonn and had a good discussion with Schmidt,2 who is very concerned over the economic situation. I will talk in greater detail with the economic group tomorrow, because Giscard and Wilson are also concerned. From there we went to Poland where we had good talks with Gierek.3

Then we went to Helsinki. There has been criticism of the meeting. But it bolstered the West and gave a greater sense of independence to the Eastern European countries. The meeting was a definite plus. The borders were settled by treaty, most of them 30 years ago. The agreement–the Final Act–specifies self-determination and peaceful change of the borders.

From there we went to Romania.4 That is a tough outfit, but with a fierce sense of independence. Then we stopped in Yugoslavia. I have never seen an 83-year-old sharper. We had good talks.

I met with Demirel and Karamanlis at Helsinki.5 The Turkish aid decision6 was the worst decision I have seen in my time in Congress.

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I hope it will be reversed. I met with others, including Giscard and Wilson.7

I had two meetings with Brezhnev.8 We spoke about SALT, the Middle East and other subjects. We made progress, but more flexibility is needed. That is a quick rundown. Henry

Kissinger: CSCE was never an element of US foreign policy. We never pushed it and stayed a half step behind our allies all through the process. But we didn’t want to break with our allies or confront the Soviets on it. The complaints we are seeing show the moral collapse of the academic community. They are bitching now about the borders we did nothing to change when we had a nuclear monopoly. Indeed, they beat Dulles about the head for his position. As the President said, the borders were legally established long ago. All the new things in the document are in our favor–peaceful change, human contacts, maneuver notification. At the Conference, it was the President who dominated the Conference and it was the West which was on the offensive.9 It was not Brezhnev who took a triumphal tour through Eastern Europe—it was the President. And even if every spectator was paid—which I don’t believe–the leadership in those countries felt strongly enough about demonstrating their independence to put out so much money.

Our relations now with our allies are better than ever since the early Marshall Plan days. Our relations with the Soviets–we didn’t have the impression this group was on the upswing. Anyone observing from another planet would not have thought Communism was the wave of the future.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 14. Unclassified. The meeting took place in the Cabinet Room at the White House. Present at the meeting were the members of the Cabinet, White House staff, and heads of agencies.
  2. See Document 324.
  3. See Document 326.
  4. See Documents 335 and 336.
  5. Records of Ford’s conversations with Demirel (July 31) and Karamanlis (July 30), see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXX, Greece; Cyprus; Turkey, 1973–1976, Document 233 and 51, respectively.
  6. Congress banned U.S. aid to Turkey as part of the 1975 Foreign Assistance Act, which passed on December 11, 1974. On July 24, 1975, the House voted 206–223 to reject an amended version of S. 846, which would have permitted the resumption of military aid to Turkey. The following day, Turkey ordered the cessation of operations at the 27 U.S. bases on its territory. (Congress and the Nation, 1973–1976, Vol. IV, pp. 858–860, 866)
  7. See Documents 328 and 331.
  8. See Document 329.
  9. Kissinger made similar remarks at a meeting with Callaghan, Sauvagnargues, and Genscher, at his suite in the Waldorf Towers in New York during the meeting of the UN General Assembly on September 5: “I was struck at Helsinki by the total bankruptcy of the Communist system where it’s been in power for 30 years. They can keep in power only by a kind of petty bourgeois nationalism of the 1930’s variety. But in the West, with prosperity and security, that is the only place where it is growing. It is an absolutely inexplicable phenomenon.” (National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, Entry 5403, Box 12, Nodis Memcons, Aug. 1975, Folder 9)