134. Telegram 163339/Tosec 56 From the Department of State to the White House1
White House please pass San Clemente for Mr. Eagleburger for the Secretary. Following sent SecState from Lisbon July 26, 1974: Quote Lisbon 3182. Subj: Call on President Spinola. From Ambassador for Secretary.
1. At your request, I saw Spinola, again alone without interpreter, for about twenty minutes this afternoon. I said we had an extraordinary coincidence, for which we had an English saying, that great minds think alike. When I saw the Secretary on Wednesday I discovered that his reason for calling me to Washington for consultation was precisely the same preoccupation which Spinola expressed to me the day after I had been called home for consultation—namely his worries about Communist influence in Spinola government and in Portugal. I said Secretary, as he frequently does, considered problem not merely in relation to Portugal but in relation to other Mediterranean countries, particularly Italy, Spain, France and possibly Greece. Spinola asked me to repeat the names of the countries and when I did showed puzzlement only with respect to France. When I reminded him of recent very close election in which Socialist-Communist common front only narrowly defeated, he said he understood perfectly.
2. I then finished my statement by saying that, while we recognized complex political problems which confronted him, and certainly did not want him to think we were interfering in Portuguese domestic affairs, I wanted it clearly understood that USG was opposed to Communist representation in any Mediterranean government including Portugal. I said that any such public statement would clearly do more harm than good, with which he emphatically agreed, but said that USG was disposed to try to give him any nonpublicized assistance in that direction that he might need.[Typeset Page 468]
3. He clearly understood me, but at no time reacted either positively or negatively to my clearly implied suggestion that we were not happy with present Communist representation in his government. He simply reacted immediately to the offer of help and said that the following two matters were of the utmost importance and urgency:
A) [less than 1 line not declassified] He said that I undoubtedly knew that DGS completely disbanded and nothing as yet had been formed to take its place. I said I knew something about it and understood that members of my staff had had conversations with Galvao de Melo on the subject, as I assumed he knew. He indicated that he did and said that all contacts on this subject were to be solely with himself or Galvao de Melo—no one else in his government. I asked if it would be desirable for DCM to pursue the matter with Galvao de Melo. He said it was not only desirable but preferable since he was already getting nervous about my being seen so often at Belem Palace.
B) Second equally urgent requirement is tanks to arm cavalry in Metropolitan Portugal. At this point his French broke down pretty badly. I gathered that this subject had been taken up in a general way with the Pentagon, but when I pressed him as to whether or not the Pentagon knew his detailed requirements, he said they did not. He said if USG were disposed to give this kind of help, which he thought could be given as part of building up Portugal’s NATO forces, we would immediately be given the specifics. I again asked if DCM could and should discuss this further with Galvao de Melo and he said by all means.
4. He expressed great gratitude for Secretary’s message and appreciation of my part in acting as messenger, but obviously wanted no further discussion at this time.
5. Comment: It is clear to me that Spinola would dearly like to move against Communist participation in government and indeed he attempted to do so during recent cabinet crisis with the result that the Communist Labor Minister was replaced by an army officer. However military here, especially the army, is the ultimate power center. Military is controlled by the young officers of the Armed Forces Movement. In part, the genesis of the movement is due to professional military concerns, such as need for respectable modern army in Portugal capable of fulfilling NATO requirements. Spinola in order to keep the movement officers on his side in preparation for a show-down with the Communists needs to be able to respond concretely to the military’s desire for a role that will be both satisfying professionally and will allow the army to hold its head up again in Europe. I feel it would be of great political assistance to Spinola and also enhance US influence with military if we could respond quickly and positively to Spinola’s request for armor. A NATO requirement for an armored brigade already exists and would [Typeset Page 469] provide the natural framework to respond to Spinola’s request. End comment.
6. I will be leaving Lisbon Monday, ETA New York 1325 hours (telephone NY 288–4952) and plan to be in Washington Thursday and Friday but can be available earlier if needed. Alan Lukens is arranging for me to go to Langley. In view your suggestion, assume I should see Colby.
7. Guidance to DCM requested re pursuing these subjects further with Galvao de Melo.
Summary: The Department forwarded a message from Scott reporting his July 26 meeting with Spinola.
Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1314, NSC Secretariat—Richard M. Nixon Cables/Contingency Plans 1974, Portuguese Contingency Plans. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. On July 16, Kissinger discussed with his staff the Portuguese political situation and whether Spinola understood “that we wouldn’t be too happy with a Communist Government.” Kissinger decided that Scott should return to Washington for early consultations. (Minutes of Secretary’s Principals’ and Regionals’ Staff Meeting, July 16; ibid., RG 59, Transcripts of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–1977, Entry 5177, Box 4, Secretary’s Staff Meeting, July 16, 1974) In telegram 169650 to Lisbon, August 3, the Department directed the Embassy not to approach Galvao de Melo, pending further instructions. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 701, Country Files, Europe, Portugal, Vol. II (1972–1974) (2 of 2))↩