131. Memorandum From K. Wayne Smith of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2

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  • Brazil Study

Arnold Nachmanoff has forwarded you a memo which criticizes the Brazil study for being too narrowly focused. As I noted in my memorandum to you of November 3, the study still has some defects. Certainly no one would claim that such a study can provide definitive answers on every aspect of our relations with an important country such as Brazil. I strongly believe, however, that the substantive points raised by Mr. Nachmanoff are not well taken.

To begin with, he maintains that the study focuses on our long-term interest in Brazilian development virtually as our only real interest in Brazil while in fact we have a more fundamental interest in the kind of relationship we have with Brazil in both the long and the short term. In fact, the study analyzed the whole range of U.S. interests in detail. (There are three annexes, covering 90 single-spaced pages, on strategic, foreign policy, and commercial interests. Moreover, Mr. Nachmanoff earlier thought the section on security interests particularly good.) The study then came to the conclusion that:

“Analysis of our military, diplomatic and commercial interests in Brazil indicates that our trade and investment position is preeminent among these traditional concrete concerns. Our short-term military and diplomatic interests, while certainly worth protecting, appear to be of secondary importance. Within this framework, our policies and programs in Brazil should be shaped largely by our concern for the kind of relationship we want to see develop in the long-run between [Page 2] the societies of the U.S. and Brazil. This relationship will be determined principally by the way in which Brazilian society develops and therefore implies an interest in all aspects of Brazilian development.”

While the options developed by the study group emphasize variables with resource allocation implications (quite properly in my view), they give balanced consideration to other aspects of our relations with Brazil, including protection of traditional interests, the U.S. stance toward the Brazilian military government, and political reaction by the Brazilian government and groups in the U.S. To satisfy yourself on this point, you might glance at the chart summarizing the options which is appended to the analytical summary I forwarded to you.

A second and related point made in the Nachmanoff memo is that a number of operational problems will have as much impact on our relations with Brazil as our posture toward Brazilian development. While the study goes into all these issues, it considers them in the contexts of a long-term planning problem and deals with them as subsidiary issues. I believe this is a sound approach since:

—New operational problems are arising all the time, as Mr. Nachmanoff notes in discussing the impact of Allende’s election on our relations with Brazil. (By the way, while not claiming any particular expertise on the question, it seems to me a mistake to gear our approach toward the Brazilian military government to our desire to frustrate achievement of the Allende Government’s objectives.)

—The dimensions of operational problems are changing all the time.

—Our approach to short-run problems should be based on a clear understanding of our overall approach to a country such as Brazil.

—Many of these questions can only be dealt with in the context of our overall approach to Latin America.

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In any case, the issue of the weight to be given to such operational issues is raised on pages 10 and 11 of the talking points we prepared for the SRG meeting (now scheduled for December 1). The talking points note that “once a policy has been approved, it will be very important that such operational questions be handled politically so as not to compromise the policy selected by the President.” In the NSDM transmitting the President’s decisions on Brazil, we should probably ask the bureaucracy to report on how they plan to handle outstanding operational questions in a manner consistent with the overall policy approved. This is a proper part of the implementation part of the exercise but it would have been a mistake to try to do it earlier.

Finally, aside from these substantive considerations, I would note that Messrs Vaky and Nachmanoff were given a copy of our package for the SRG meeting several months ago and asked for any suggestions they might have. In fact, none were made until this late date. An appropriate question to ask, I believe, is “why”?

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–49, Senior Review Group, Brazil Program Analysis, 12/1/70. Secret. Sent for information. Smith’s November 3 memorandum to Kissinger is ibid. The talking points prepared for the SRG are ibid. Nachmanoff’s memorandum to Kissinger is Document 130. The introduction to the Brazil study is Document 125.
  2. Smith stated that the NSSM 67 study analyzed all of the important aspects of United States-Brazilian relations and related them to the importance of Brazilian economic development. Smith noted that the study did not go into great detail regarding operational issues, because it was necessary to await approval from the President for his decision on the overall policy towards Brazil.