42. Memorandum of Conversation1 2


  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Kissinger : On the Africa trip, if I could just give you the strategy. After Angola, the pace of events accelerated, with the radicals predominating. The pro-Western states were in a panic, because they thought a fate like Angola’s awaited them. The radicals were starting a crusade against Rhodesia and all of Africa was being pushed into radicalism.

Our need was to prevent the further radicalization of Africa and prevent it all from becoming a black-white issue where even the moderates would have to be against us. I was uneasy about going, because I felt I had no mastery of the area. That is why I started in Kenya. I said we would oppose Cuba and the Soviet Union wherever they intervened. I said we were for majority rule, but we couldn’t support violence. I told them we would support them under the following conditions: There would be no arms except through them, and there could be no Cuban and Soviet interference. We couldn’t turn them off violence, but it should be peacefully if possible. I said there had to be support for minority rights. I did support majority rule, but no more so than we previously have. I don’t know if they will keep their bargain, but if they don’t, at least we have established ourselves in a position where we can’t be accused of racism.

[Page 2]

There were some dumb things that happened. Like the $7.5 billion fund—the Sahel development idea. What I said was: why put our money into relief rather than into long-term development? We could begin rolling back the desert. Someone—a newsman—asked how much that would cost. I said I had heard the figure that it could amount to $7.5 billion over twenty years.

Why do we need this? We need to rally the moderates around us. I kept saying Africa is for the Africans. I told Nyerere we wouldn’t support particular liberation movements, but in return he would have to keep out Communist support too. I think we succeeded more than I ever thought possible. If we pursue it, we will have the Soviets on the run within a year.

Giscard will speak on Tuesday in support of the moderate African states and form a consortium. Houphouet-Boigny will reply.

President: That is good, so we can not just be alone on it.

Kissinger : A statement by you in support of the French initiative would be good.

On Southern Africa I spoke to Nkomo, a leader of the Rhodesian resistance There are only two choices: Rhodesia will go like Angola and Mozambique. If it goes within the next year or two, he will be in charge; if after that, the men with the guns will be.

If we pursue this policy, we can make South Africa legitimate. We have established our bona fides with the blacks and that gives us some room with South Africa. Now I can meet with them on the next trip to Europe.

President: How about Smith? Is there any flexibility?

Kissinger : We should work with South Africa to see if they can’t increase the pressure on Rhodesia. We don’t have to pressure Rhodesia, but we should try to repeal the Byrd Amendment. But we do have to make a major effort in Zaire. Mobutu says he has to have tanks psychologically because Angola has them.

If we could send Clements and a general to Mobutu. And then if Giscard could train them….

President: Did Brent tell you about Dobrynin?

[Page 3]

Kissinger : Yes. I think the Cubans will get out of Angola. I said we would recognize Angola if the Cuban troops were removed.

President: Some movement would really help.

Kissinger : I will tell Dobrynin if they want detente, they have got to get the Cubans out.

President: I think your trip was successful. As far as Texas went, I made the points on majority rule, minority rights, and no outside intervention.

Kissinger : If it comes up again, I would say that after Angola, the continent was sliding toward Communism, that we have given the whites more time to work things out. Don’t make it look like I went out to push majority rule. This was the only way we could stop the radicalization process.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 19, Ford Administration. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Oval Office of the White House.
  2. Secretary of State Kissinger briefed President Ford on the strategy and results of his Africa trip, and his goal of preventing the further radicalization of the continent. He also explained the need for a large development fund for Africa.