356. Memorandum of Conversation1


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

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Italy.]

Kissinger: The Italian elections were a disaster. The Kennedy Administration started most of our foreign policy disasters. He wanted an opening to the left to wean the Socialists from the Communists—and also thought the Embassy was on the right. I told him then that it was a disaster. It undercut the Social Democrats, because it then became a centralist party and people voting left had to go to the Socialists. It also pushed the Liberals out to the right. Kennedy also took the missiles out of Italy after the right-wing Christian Democrats had waged a bitter fight with the Communists and Socialists over their installation.

[The Secretary read out the election results.] The Liberals were practically wiped out. We will have a complicated situation in Italy. This government will not survive into the fall.

President: What about new elections?

Kissinger: Well . . . The Socialists will demand more to form a government and the Socialist Democrats may not go along.

President: It will hurt Fanfani.

Kissinger: Yes. And Rumor. It won’t hurt Moro because he supports going to the left. It will have a terrible effect.

President: Won’t this scare the other leaders—Schmidt, etc.?

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Kissinger: Yes. If the Communists do this well in the general elections, the Communists will have to be admitted to the government. The Christian Democratic party is not a single party. Some of the left wing is not Communist only because they are Catholic. Kennedy was responsible for this—and basically set up the legitimacy of the SPD in Germany. And we are now doing the same thing in Chile.

The election is a disaster. It was all started by Kennedy who forced the Socialists into the government.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Italy.]

  1. Summary: Kissinger and Ford discussed the June 15 to 16 regional and local elections in Italy.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 12. Secret; Nodis. All brackets, except those noting omitted text, are in the original. The meeting took place in the Oval Office. In telegram 8480 from Rome, June 13, the Embassy discussed the importance of the June 15 to 16 regional and local elections, reporting that Italians regarded them “as a vote of confidence in the center-left coalition that has governed Italy since 1962 and on the balance of power (Socialists versus Christian Democrats) within that coalition.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1975) On June 3, Ford visited Rome; a memorandum of conversation of his talk with Leone on the Italian political and economic situation, the Western Alliance, détente, the Middle East, Cyprus, and the EC, is ibid.