244. Minutes of the Secretary’s Staff Meeting1 2

The meeting was convened at 9:00 a.m., SECRETARY KISSINGER presiding.


  • The Secretary of State—HENRY A. KISSINGER
  • MR. MAW
  • MR. LORD
  • MR. VEST
[Page 2]

[Omitted here is material not related to human rights.]

MR. INGERSOLL: The other thing is you are going to have a meeting with Don Fraser on human rights on the 12th of November. We have prepared a paper which you can take with you on your plane and look it over.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: I am not so sure I am going to have that meeting. Are we going to have television there?

MR. INGERSOLL: No, it is in your office.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: What am I supposed to do—show that I am a humanitarian?

MR. INGERSOLL: No. I think they just want to talk to you. You had a letter from Don.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: They don’t just want to talk [Page 3] to me. They surely don’t just want to talk to me.

MR. HABIB: They have had some hearings.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: What do they want to prove?

MR. HABIB: What they would like to do is see that we introduce into some of our decisions considerations that they consider are overriding with respect to what you might call moral responsibility. In addition, the Foreign Assistance Act has a section in it, Section 32, which is difficult to define, but which they are seeking to define, which provides that we will cut off aid in circumstances where—

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Is it going to end differently than the Greek meeting where—

MR. HABIB: I don’t know about the Greek meeting. But I had breakfast with Fraser when I first came back, because Korea is one of his pet subjects in this regard, and he held some hearings on it. And I found that you could talk to him. And I thought that I steered him a little bit in a better direction than he was going. The subject is a very important one from the standpoint of the Philippines, Korea, Indonesia—my area. I am sure it is important in some other areas as well.


[Page 4]

MR. HOLTON: This is purely a political meeting, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: It is going to be a pleasure to be an ally of the United States—those are the ones where we change the government.

MR. HABIB: You could make that point to him in slightly different language. And I am sure he will take it. For example, he was going to come all out to oppose the President’s trip to Korea. And I talked to him and pointed out to him that there was no point in opposing it, but that if he wanted to say that he thought that the trip was—at least make sure that the American views were known in this regard, that is another matter. That is the least you can expect him to do. He did not oppose the trip. He is on a kick—but he is holding hearings. And the Department cannot ignore the hearings, because they call us up as witnesses. As a matter of fact, I thought Art Hummel’s appearance before the committee was very successful.

MR. INGERSOLL: Yes. And it helped.

MR. HABIB: It helped a great deal.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: I don’t know whether there is any sense for me to meet with him five days before we go to Japan and Korea, which just forces him into a grandstand play.

[Page 5]

MR. INGERSOLL: I think it is just a matter of your schedule, trying to fit it in.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Why not do it when I come back?

MR. HOLTON: When are you coming back?

SECRETARY KISSINGER: In December, or late November.

MR. HOLTON: These guys are pretty key people on the Foreign Assistance Act.

MR. HABIB: I would suggest you see him before you go, let him have his say about Korea, and you can listen.

MR. HOLTON: There will be some nuts in the meeting, though.

MR. HABIB: No—this is a meeting with him alone, isn’t it?


MR. INGERSOLL: Five or six.


MR. INGERSOLL: He set it up.

MR. HOLTON: We haven’t fixed that finally yet.

MR. HABIB: For example, if he takes Nix with him on the hearings— Nix is very sensible.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Are you telling me you have set up a meeting with an unknown group that is dedicated to a set [Page 6] of propositions which you know they are going to get me into trouble?

MR. HOLTON: No, sir.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: You know my view on the subject. You know that we will pay for years to come if we drive these countries into—

MR. HOLTON: There were 104 people who wrote you a letter as a result of which we recommended that you see Fraser and some of the signers of that letter. You approved the concept.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: But not for November 12.

MR. HOLTON: I don’t remember whether you approved the date or not. I think you authorized us to work that out with your staff.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Could somebody explain to me what can come out of that meeting that is not going to lead them into the lobby of the State Department, making declarations that they were shocked by my lack of concern for humanitarian principles?

MR. INGERSOLL: I think you have a chance to explain your position.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: If I explain what I believe, it is that there are certain national interests of the [Page 7] United States which transcend the domestic structure of the countries concerned, but which is something we knew—

MR. INGERSOLL: I think if you explain this, this would help a great deal.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: You believe that Don Fraser will leave my office and go into the lobby of the State Department and say—I have explained to the Greeks until I am blue in the face that they will be the first victims of what they have done to Turkey, not to speak of the Israelis, that they will be the first victims in their great Syrian-Israeli war, when they want us to hold the ring against the Russians. I haven’t noticed that it makes a great deal of difference.

MR. INGERSOLL: You mean in their public statements?

SECRETARY KISSINGER: I do not believe that Ben Rosenthal cannot be controlled by the Israeli Embassy. Do you?

MR. SISCO: He has been on the Cyprus issue. And I think any fear that he might have with respect to the Arab-Israeli issue can’t be very serious because he certainly has —

SECRETARY KISSINGER: If the Israeli Ambassador calls Ben Rosenthal and tells him this is vitally against [Page 8] Israel’s interest, he shuts up. I have seen him enough at the Israel Embassy.

So I have explained it at great detail to the Israelis. But they want to build a Greek-Jewish Lobby, so that they can kill us if we want to move on an Egyptian settlement. That is what the Israelis are doing. And that is what this humanitarian thing is partly about.

MR. BUFFUM: Mr. Secretary, the stories on Chile in the press triggered the Fraser request, not the Korean thing.

MR. INGERSOLL: Yes, that is what it was mostly about. Fraser has brought up Korea, but the others are on Chile.

MR. HOLTON: I think you are exactly right on that congregation of forces, and you better get hold of Fraser and keep him out of it, and get him on your side.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Fraser testified against my confirmation. What is the chance of getting Don Fraser on my side? Let’s not be childish on this. Don Fraser

MR. HOLTON: Bob Ingersoll has had good luck with him in a meeting.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Don Fraser is going to come out of my office, into the lobby of the State Department, or on Capitol Hill, and say he was shocked by the lack [Page 9] of regard for human values, and by the subordinating of human values to power politics. That is what he is going to say. What am I going to tell him on Chile—that I can defend in good conscience? What precisely do I say?

MR. BUFFUM: Our voting record at the UN on Chile has been pretty good from his point of view, Mr. Secretary, together with the record of Chile now accepting investigative bodies there at our instigation. I think the record is better than the press knows.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: It is a more fundamental point than that. The more fundamental point is what the proper exercise of American foreign policy is.

MR. HABIB: Well, there is also the question which I think a lot of people are asking, and that is what does the United States stand for in respect to these matters of human rights, even though there may be overriding considerations which we than take into account and set those concerns aside. But the fact that we consider them, that we stand for something with respect to these concerns, is not something we should hide under a bushel. Because very fundamentally we do. Whether you do anything about it is another question, in a particular circumstance.

Now, I could see that kind of a discussion. You don’t [Page 10] have to get Fraser at loggerheads with you, and you can still stick to your principles.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: I don’t intend to get Fraser at loggerheads with me.

MR. HABIB: That is what they are looking to see.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: He has every incentive to get at loggerheads with me. I don’t have to have an incentive to be at loggerheads with him.

MR. BUFFUM: I think the policy paper that Win Lord’s shop has worked up on this is perfectly defensive with Fraser and not vulnerable to public attack.

MR. LORD: If these guys get a sophisticated explanation from you—

MR. HABIB: Some of them think we don’t consider these things, that they are not part of our rational, which is not true. We are just as sensitive as they are, but we may be more practical about certain things, because we have to assume the responsibilities.

MR. HOLTON: We can put it out to the press ourselves, what we said to them—get the jump on them.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Let me look at the paper.

MR. HABIB: Get that short paper that they ended up with.

MR. INGERSOLL: We will have it for the Secretary [Page 11] to take on the trip. And Win is going along, so he can talk to you about it.

MR. HABIB: I wouldn’t duck it without a very careful —I mean we have got to grasp this nettle now.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: The nettle, I will tell you, from the point of view of the national interest—the nettle we have to grasp is a totally different one. The nettle we have to grasp is if this goes on another two years, we are going to see a precipitant slide of the American position in the world that is totally unprecedented. That is what we are going to see. And all the other stuff is sentimental nonsense.

MR. INGERSOLL: That is why it is important that you explain that, I think, to these people.

MR. HABIB: They will listen to you.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: When Echeverria tells the President that he thinks we are committing national suicide by the way we treat our public figures—and you cannot call Echeverria a right-wing kook—then you know what the impression is that we are making on other people. That is what is important right now. The rest is totally secondary.

MR. HOLTON: Fraser is the kind of guy that needs to [Page 12] hear that from you.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Yes—and then he will go downstairs and do his stint, I will guarantee, you. Because these guys don’t want to stand for human rights—they want grandstand plays. They want public humiliation of other countries.

MR. HOLTON: We will have some there who want to know the facts. You may be right about Fraser. But we will have some who are sensible.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: I know. Fraser very well.

Do you think it is a proper position for the State Department to pretend that it is sort of a reform school for allies? It is one thing to say we stand for human values.

MR. HABIB: You have said it. The Pacem in Terris speech was very useful.

MR. INGERSOLL: This paper doesn’t change that at all. That is why I think it is important that you look at it.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: One of two things will happen I will either say the truth, in which case Fraser is going to blow his stack, or I will say things—what do they want? They want us to cut off aid, use military aid as a pressure on these countries. My saying I am concerned [Page 13] doesn’t impress them in the slightest. They want us to be anti-Philippine, anti-Korean, anti-Chilean—pro what? Castro? I don’t know what they us to be pro. Nor do they explain how other countries can in any way deal with us. What is the constituency which we are trying to mobilize on this basis?

MR. HABIB: These people are going to get out of hand if they are not talked to.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: The Congress is going to get out of hand. We have to fight it. That I agree with.

MR. HABIB: I think we have to talk to them. I don’t know of any way to deal with this pressure in Congress on this human rights issue, except by talking to them. And you are our biggest gun. And this is the subcommittee which has been holding the whole series of hearings.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: And when you elevate it to my level, then you have national attention for it.

MR. SISCO: On the other hand, if you stay out of it completely, Mr. Secretary, then you are open to the charge of disinterest. I think it is a very practical problem. The practical problem is, is it better for you at least to explain this view, that you have explained, to them and hopefully make some impact, or disregard them?

[Page 14]

And I think the view here is—and I would agree—it would be better for you to try to get across the view you have expressed here. I think it is a very practical problem.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: In between a three-week trip and a two-week trip?

MR. SISCO: We didn’t get into the question of timing. If you think it is better afterwards, that is another matter.

MR. BROWN: Has the date been given to them?

SECRETARY KISSINGER: If I know this place, not only the date, but the talking points have been given to them.

MR. HOLTON: I haven’t learned how to do that yet.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: You all certainly panicked Symington. He got four different phone calls, telling him that he was going to be called by me, plus what I was going to say. So he finally called me. (Laughter)

MR. SISCO: He still made his speech.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: That’s right. So I told him that if I wanted to call him, I would have long since done it.

[Omitted here is material not related to human rights.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P870036–2253. Secret. The paper Kissinger asked to see is published as Document 246.
  2. Kissinger discussed with key Department of State personnel the relationship of human rights issues to larger U.S. foreign policy goals.