22. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, April 12, 1975, 10:45 a.m.1 2

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President Ford
Amb. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
Dr. Henry A. Kissinger , Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

DATE AND TIME: Saturday, April 12, 1975, 10:45 a.m.
PLACE: The Oval Office
The White House

SUBJECT: American Strategy at the UN

President: I almost reconsidered asking you. I read in Human Events something very complimentary about you. [Laughter].

Kissinger: That Commentary article is one of the most important articles in a long time. That is why it is essential to have him at the UN.

President: I am delighted you will do it.

Moynihan: I will. I have no illusions about it. The Commentary article makes two points: we are still acting in the same posture we had in the past when we had a majority -- so we still seek a consensus. The only consensus now is screw the United States. The reputation of the US keeps eroding and that reputation is important to us.

Kissinger: We even cooperate in resolutions directed through codewords against us. This erodes our image further.

President: Your new posture will delight the Congress. The UN is not the most popular institution in the world here now.

Kissinger: The public will be delighted. We have to rally the American public and show the world we are strong and determined. If we appear at the UN with Pat’s wisdom, strength and toughness. How we are going to behave is important.

Moynihan: Right. Are we going to give up a fight?

President: This is our campaign now.

Moynihan: In the UN we are like the Republicans in Congress. But in doing this we will make some mistakes. But we will make some, as against the total mistake we’re making now. But we can’t aim only at the Third World. The Soviet Union and China make devastating charges against the US and we never respond.

President: I want strong statements and the guts to veto and vote against.

Kissinger: If you think you are under Soviet and Chinese usages -- you shouldn’t initiate, but respond. With China, let’s consult on a case-by-case basis.

Moynihan: I have one specific proposal. One mistake we make is acting like the General Assembly has semi-legislative powers. The Soviet Union believed it when we had a majority. Now it is being used against us. We have to go back to the Charter.

Kissinger: We need a strategy. In principle, I think we should move things from the General Assembly to the Security Council. It is important to see that we have our confidence and nerve. The Tanzanian, if he attacks the Soviet Union, is in trouble; if he attacks the US, he must know he is in equal trouble. Also we must get hold of the Specialized Agencies.

Moynihan: Should we have staff changes?

President: Do our people stay there in perpetuity?

Kissinger: The personnel is ready to rotate anyway. You can clean out both in the Mission and the delegation. We can’t do much about the Congressional members. We should pick the other public members for other than pure political reasons.

Moynihan: For 25 years there have been high politics and low politics in State. High politics was security and that was where reputations work. The UN, etc., was low politics; where Mrs. Roosevelt and those who weren’t up to the struggle went. If word went out that words matter, we could turn this around.

President: This coincides with what I said Thursday. What we said, we meant. That is what I hope you will do.

Moynihan: But in a conciliatory not belligerent way. We are too dangerous to be pushed around.

Kissinger: I will staff State to back you up.

Moynihan: Would this carry on the tradition of my nominally being in the Cabinet?

President: I plan to see Scali Monday. Is that okay?

Moynihan: There aren’t six people in State who understand a Leninist argument. We have to retrain people. One thing: They will move to oust Israel. They had the chutzpah to meet in Cuba.

Kissinger: This one thing we have to hit -- for the non-aligned to meet in Cuba and claim non-alignment. They can’t throw them out but they can refuse them a seat in the General Assembly. Bouteflika will still be chairman for the Special Session but for the regular session we will have a European. In 1976 it will be someone from the Middle East, though, and we would have a massive problem.

Moynihan: If we can head it off we can avoid a debacle in ’76. It won’t hurt Israel much but it will reduce American support.

Kissinger: But it is no different from South Africa. That was an outrage. We have to keep fighting that, or the Group of 77 will be deciding UN membership.

Moynihan: We should say we are not sympathetic to the regime, but it is a matter of principle.

President: I hope you can get out around the country to speak.

Moynihan: Yes. And the Congress. UNESCO is something a lot of people care about. Israel was expelled. I would like to be firm and say you can’t expel Israel and expect us to participate -- because we are getting pressure to get back in and forget the Israeli expulsion.

Kissinger: That should be considered as part of a general strategy.

President: I am delighted, Pat. We are on the same wave length.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 10, April 12, 1975—Ford, Kissinger, Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan (UN). Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office. For Ford’s Thursday, April 10 address on foreign policy to a joint session of Congress see Public Papers: Ford, 1975, volume I, pp. 459–473. Moynihan’s article, entitled “The United States in Opposition,” is published in Commentary, March 1975, pp. 31–44.
  2. Ford, Kissinger, and Scowcroft met with Ambassador-designate Moynihan to discuss general U.S. strategy at the United Nations.