30. Memorandum of Conversation1 2


  • Secretary Kissinger’s Meeting with Members of the Congressional Black Caucus


    • Secretary Kissinger
    • Deputy Under Secretary Eagleburger
    • Assistant Secretary Buffum
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary Kempton Jenkins
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary Ed Mulcahy
    • Howard T. Robinson (Notetaker)
    • Congressman Charles B. Rangel
    • Congressman Charles C. Diggs
    • Congressman Louis Stokes
    • Congressman Parren Mitchell
    • Congressman Walter Fauntroy
    • Congressman Ronald Dellums
    • Barbara Williams, Staff Director, Congressional Black Caucus
    • Herschelle Challenor (Consultant HIRC)
    • Golar Butcher (Consultant, Congressman Diggs)
[Page 2]

KISSINGER: It is nice to have you here. Gentlemen, I appreciate this chance to talk with you. And while we may not agree on all things, I consider it important that we have a dialogue. Therefore, I think the best way to conduct this meeting is for you to take the lead. The hiring of minorities was poor when I came to this building. We have begun a program to bring in at the middle level, 20 minorities and women each year. This is in addition to the number of minorities and women we are able to bring in at the junior level. Why don’t you tell us what you came here to tell us?

RANGEL: Mr. Secretary, I speak for the entire Caucus. I know your busy schedule and we appreciate your taking time to meet with us at this time. Blacks in the Foreign Service are hard to find. We need to make progress in bringing more Blacks into foreign affairs. Many of us have opportunities to visit many countries and develop personal relations with various leaders. We do not wish to attempt to make foreign policy. But as Black Americans, like Jewish and Greek Americans, we want to have a participating role in foreign affairs. In New York and on Capitol Hill, we are asked questions about foreign policy. Because we are not included in the consultation on foreign affairs, we find ourselves helpless to be of assistance to you and to our country. We read that our Ambassador to the UN is going to take a hard line, tough position in dealing with developing nations.

What part can Black America play to have our friends in Africa and the third world better understand our country? You can help us in this, Mr. Secretary—we want you to give us credibility so we can as Black Americans be of some assistance. We come to you as Americans, to have you tell us how we can be of assistance.

KISSINGER: I appreciate very much what you said and the spirit in which it was said. This group can make a contribution. I think a good way to do this is to meet every few months to exchange views on a variety of subjects. We do not have to be confined to any part of the world or any specific subject.

RANGEL: Congressman Diggs has spent a large part of his life in dealing with international affairs and he will speak to specifics which we wish your reaction. Our staff has pulled together a paper covering these which we will leave with you.

[Page 3]

KISSINGER: Could I have a copy? (Copy passed to Secretary from Congressman Diggs.) Can I say a few words before Chairman Diggs begins. I don’t think the weak nations have the right to block action simply because they don’t like it. Likewise, strong nations should not suppress the weak. Ambassador Moynihan, I can assure you, is not there to engage in confrontation politics. On the other hand, I do not believe this government should permit its policies to be misinterpreted without responding for the record.

My attitude toward the 7th Special Session of the UNGA is to create a very special atmosphere for negotiating understanding and achieving progress. I may part company with those like Algeria. I want to avoid confrontation on ideology. We will be specific: greater participation of LDC’s in international economic decision making; commodity agreements; indexation; agricultural development; science and technology; rapid industrialization, etc. We need to develop some rationale, one which can be understood here at home, by the Congress. I want the developing countries to be heard and we want to be able to have these discussions in an unemotional atmosphere. Rhetoric will not be helpful: neither of us can meet our objective through confrontation. The second half of my Milwaukee speech concerned the attitudes we want to adopt during the 7th Special Session. It provided an example of our desire to have a positive and constructive approach.

In my speech in Montreal, I said I felt it was important that American businesses overseas must face up to some of the new limitations they will have to operate under. I mentioned that in my Minneapolis speech, too, but the press never carried more than half of it. It did not get much coverage then but I think they will get around to it. I can assure you that Ambassador Moynihan is there for dialogue.

DELLUMS: I want to make a point that when Congress was debating the military budget we were told that the level of our relations was described as isolationist and interventionist. How do you justify the conflicting roles in dialogue?

KISSINGER: I did not take an active role in the debate. If I had, I would not have placed our relations between isolationism and interventionist. When one gets into this kind of debate, it sounds as if there is virtue in one over the other. What is interventionism if the debate is between interventionism and isolationism? This is not a good way to discuss this issue. East-West relations are not maintained without military strength. But on the other hand, what good is military relations with Algeria.

[Page 4]

KISSINGER: At the 7th Special Session our program will be to make a half step. We will be looking for a breakthrough in dialogue and results.

DIGGS: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Chairman Rangel reflects all our views. I also want to thank you for this opportunity to discuss our concerns. We have provided you a paper which covers many of our concerns and would like your response to that paper in writing.

KISSINGER: Yes, we can do that.

DIGGS: I appreciate this opportunity to participate in opening up a dialogue with the Secretary of State on foreign policy and, specifically, on Africa. This is a historic occasion. This is the first time the Caucus as a Caucus has met with the Secretary of State. Some of us as individuals have met.

I recall going to the independence celebration in Ghana and shortly thereafter the Governor of my state was appointed as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. President Kennedy, through Governor Williams, let Africa and Africans know how we felt about them. President Johnson started out the same way but became preoccupied with Viet-Nam. It was during this period that Blacks reached a level of participating in foreign policy. Under the next two presidents there did not appear to be a definitive African policy. Your reputation for effectiveness is greater than that achieved by any other Secretary of State. Because of your reputation we tend to expect more from you. If after the next election you leave this position and go on to something else, we would hope that you would have left your mark on Africa as will be the case with Asia, the Middle East and Europe. You have said that after the year of Europe, you would turn your attention to the Western Hemisphere, Cuba, etc. We want to know where will Africa stand. I anticipate that Ambassador Mulcahy and Assistant Secretary Davis have provided you background details; we don’t want to go into this. We are concerned, as stated in our paper, with a few specifics: a definitive African policy; the UN Special Session as it relates to Africa; political aspects of U.S. policy toward Africa; and Black input into foreign policy decision making. We want to know where you stand vis-a-vis Africa.

Congress just noticed that the Commercial Credit Cooperation set aside $ 1 Million in export credits for exporting beef and cattle to South Africa. I have written other government departments about their involvements, etc.

[Page 5]

DIGGS: There are three new nations coming into the UN this year, bringing to 46 the number of African nations in the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the UN. Looking at the question of interdependence which you have spoken of so many times, there has been no definitive association with African countries. You have put it into broad terms. Thus, this tangential approach has left us unsure.

I call your attention to the MIT special report on the Sahel. This report underscores the point of interdependence you have made so many times. In general, what we hear gives the impression that African policy is made on a day-to-day basis. There is insensitivity toward Africa in the Department. We do not want to go into personalities. But, I have reference to Ambassador Davis, Carter, Sam Adams and Todman.

KISSINGER: I don’t know anything about the Sam Adams situation. I can comment on the others.

DIGGS: I don’t think it is normal procedure for a Career-Minister to be assigned to a class four Embassy. (Terrance Todman, Ambassador to Costa Rica.) Another exceptional case is that of Mr. Baltimore. He requested an assignment to South Africa and now is going somewhere else.

KISSINGER: I’ll look into it. I have never heard of the person. I’ll look into it.

RANGEL: As Black Americans, Todman.

KISSINGER: Todman, I know. Baltimore, I don’t know.

DIGGS: These are just a few of the incidents.

KISSINGER: You have raised a number of issues, interrelated. I admit there are not enough Blacks in the Department. You raised this issue of symbolism—we will get into that but let me look into this. I have done some things here in the Department. I appointed the first Black Assistant Secretary of State.

RANGEL: What about Barbara Watson?

KISSINGER: She was not an Assistant Secretary. I take Reinhardt with me everywhere. He was with me in Birmingham—I thought he was the best man to be Assistant Secretary for Africa. He had done an outstanding job in all his assignments. He was persuasive that a Black should not be assigned to the African job at this time. Todman—I thought I was giving him a promotion. He impressed me very much. I met with him in association with the Black group—what was that group?

[Page 6]

EAGLEBURGER: The Thursday Luncheon Group.

KISSINGER: There were several who wanted that post. I thought that was a promotion for Todman. Bev Carter should not be treated as a black case. Carter was on the top of my list. He did get four people released but at the risk of getting the U.S. involved in negotiating with terrorists. I would like to reserve him but if he persists in confrontation publicity, I must impose discipline. He permitted a member of that group to stay in the Embassy and to negotiate with them. The Zairian Government told us that a member of the revolutionary group was there. I was about to issue a denial. I asked that we check with the Embassy and was told it was true. They were there and they had had discussions. This was clearly beyond the letter and spirit of the instruction.

If we permit ourselves to be pressured by this group, we find ourselves without a policy. I have no choice but to discipline. Ambassador Carter did not keep us informed. As to his status, he will be offered a good job in the Department. The position in Denmark is out—that’s been filled.

MITCHELL: Mr. Secretary, we want clarity on this. Are you saying that Ambassador Carter will not be assigned to Denmark; that he will be punished; that he acted on his own initiative; that he will be given a lower level position? Was he on a frolic, on his own? Do you mean he will be penalized for policy violation?

KISSINGER: This is really not a Black issue. I am not going—Carter is one of the top twenty (20) people in the Department. He was entirely on his own—calling it a frolic goes too far, but it really should not be handled as a Black issue. In the payment of ransom he was on his own. In negotiation of the issue, it needs to be sorted out. He clearly went beyond the spirit of his instructions.

STOKES: In speaking to this issue, I understand your view, but you must understand that since there are so few blacks in high positions, the press and our constituents will play this up and demand that we speak about it.

KISSINGER: I have thought from the very beginning that Bev Carter was an excellent officer. we have not selected a post for him. I will be glad to—to answer your concerns and take another look.

[Page 7]

MITCHELL: Former Ambassador Knox taught me in college and persuaded me to take the Foreign Service examination. I passed it. When I went for an interview, I was talked to by some low level clerk and was told that my score did not matter. If I wanted a job, the best available for me was that of a messenger. I hope you will reach your objective and bring in twenty (20) at the mid-level. I know Howard Robinson is interested in this. But I don’t think you will make it. In too many cases top management’s words do not always get through.

EAGLEBURGER: We have over 400 applications for the 20 positions.

KISSINGER: There is no question about what you have said—the “in” group that has been running it for some time still resists. I don’t think this is racial prejudice. My speech to the junior officers class stressed that we must do something to improve the hiring of minorities and women. I hope you will keep in touch with Eagleburger on this question.

With respect to policy you raised two issues. The general questions of developing countries and the specific question of Africa. When it comes to the price of raw materials, we approach it slightly differently. What we want to emphasize is revenue stabilization for the producing countries and not get into price fixing. The LDC’s should have a greater share of decision making. I support that. Let me deal with Southern African policy. You are quite right. I have made no policy statement about Africa. I have about Europe and Asia. Very frankly, I don’t know what to say—what policy statement will serve all the various African countries. There are such vast differences as to a particular country, or, say individual countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, I can—but what do we have to offer all countries. The Number 1 problem is that I have not yet found the common denominator. You say I should become personally involved. I have thought of making a trip there before I left office. I will do something about our African policy.

RANGEL: You have been candid. What you have said would make a lot of impact. To endorse freedom, majority rule, and America’s stand on traditional liberty would be important, if said by you.

KISSINGER: I have met with African Ambassadors at the UN. I have met with several African Heads of State.

DELLUMS: You said last year that you would go to Africa within three months.

[Page 8]

KISSINGER: I cannot go this year. I cannot go this fall. Maybe I can during the first four months of next year. We do have a study on African policy underway in Policy Planning. I read it two months ago and I read it again last night. I have not been satisfied with what we have produced so far. It’s not as good as it should be. This demonstrates my desire to have a definitive African policy.

RANGEL: I can appreciate the problem but all you have to talk about is freedom, majority rule and development.

KISSINGER: Maybe I can make a speech about our policy with regards to Africa in the near future. You can give me some ideas—keep me informed about your views. Let’s meet again in early October.

FAUNTROY: Just as you have asked us to keep you informed, I would like to request you to do likewise, as you move toward your policy. Congressman Mitchell and myself are on the House Banking Committee and have jointly sponsored a bill to provide 150 million bilateral aid for the African Development Fund. We do not think the 15 Million which the Administration is supporting is enough.

KISSINGER: I have studied the problem. I will support a higher figure. You get together with Ed Mulcahy on this.

DIGGS: To conclude I would like to get your views on Southern Africa.

KISSINGER: We have attempted to keep up constant pressure. There seems to be good movement in Rhodesia. We hope to keep South Africa moving toward freedom for Namibia. You have in your paper several issues which I agree with. My own feeling is that South Africa will soon release Namibia. As to the Byrd Amendment—

DIGGS: Your other colleagues in Commerce, Treasury and Defense have taken different views on this. I, along with a few of my colleagues in the Congress, including Biester, Buchanan and Fraser, have urged the President to meet with us.

KISSINGER: We have run approximately thirty minutes over.

RANGEL: Mr. Secretary, you have said that Ambassador Moynihan will take a positive-nonconfrontation posture toward the third world countries. We appreciate your assurances. I promise you we can have a positive—

[Page 9]

KISSINGER: I promise you Ambassador Moynihan will not be looking for confrontation, but if they become abusive toward us, we will respond with the facts.

RANGEL: I think the meeting has been positive enough that we could see the press. Could you join us?

KISSINGER: Yes, I’ll go down with you; that is, if you are not going to lacerate me. I don’t mind if you do -I just don’t want to be present when you do it.

RANGEL: That’s all right with me. We have had a positive meeting. Do all the members agree? (All agreed with one exception).

DIGGS: I don’t think so. Let’s save this for another time. Maybe following our October Meeting after we have a response from the paper—

DELLUMS: I am neutral. I don’t think it matters. This Meeting was just exploratory. Why not wait until next time when we have something to tell them.

KISSINGER: I want to thank you for coming.

RANGEL: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 274, Memoranda of Conversations, Chronological File. Limited Official Use; Nodis. Drafted by Howard T. Robinson (H), cleared by Ambassador Charles James (AF). The paper referred to by Congressman Rangel can be found in Howard University, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Manuscript Department, Charles Diggs Papers, Box 345, Folder 49.
  2. Secretary of State Kissinger and members of the Congressional Black Caucus discussed U.S. policy toward Africa. Caucus members asked for more U.S. attention to the region.