19. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Foreign Policy and National Security Issues for the 95th Congress


  • President Carter
  • Secretary of State Vance
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Senator Edward Brooke, Massachusetts
  • Senator Frank Church, Idaho
  • Senator Clifford Case, New Jersey
  • Senator John Sparkman, Alabama
  • Representative Clement Zablocki, Wisconsin
  • Representative Clarence Long, Maryland
  • Representative Dante Fascell, Florida
  • Representative Lee Hamilton, Indiana
  • Representative William Broomfield, Michigan
  • Representative C.W. “Bill” Young, Florida
  • Douglas Bennett, Congressional Relations, State Department
  • Jerrold Schecter, Associate Press Secretary, National Security Council/Congressional Liaison

The PRESIDENT opened the meeting by saying he needed the advice of the Congressmen, and “I want to work closely with you.” Over the past few months the President said he has been an active student of foreign policy and he wants to conduct “an aggressive foreign policy.” The President noted the unique quality of Dr. Kissinger who did a lot of things on his own. However, the President said his administration will have a different “team” style. He mentioned Secretary Vance, Vice President Mondale, Dr. Brzezinski and others as team members. The President told the Congressmen that Paul Warnke would be the head of ACDA and chief SALT negotiator because “he is the best man to do this.”2

Reporting on Vice President Mondale’s trip, PRESIDENT CARTER said the meetings were “substantive” and the “agenda was iden[Page 79]tical as if I had been there myself.”3 He noted that FRG Chancellor Schmidt at first felt it was a token visit, but after spending four hours with his Cabinet and the Mondale mission, Schmidt was impressed with the substance of the discussions.

“I’ve enjoyed being President so far, and I hope to maintain that status,” said President Carter, “but I know a mistake can get immediately magnified. You have been here a long time and I reserve the right to come to you with special problems. I have a genuine desire to work closely with you. Cy Vance has my permanent authorization to tell you my plans on foreign policy.” Then the President ran down a list of issues under consideration, including SALT, Rhodesia, Panama, Middle East, Cyprus and NATO.

SECRETARY VANCE spoke to the Congressmen about an immediate problem in Egypt growing out of President Sadat’s removal of subsidy for basic commodities. This resulted in price increases which caused riots in the country. President Sadat did not handle the situation forcefully and had to lower the prices again to prevent rioting. He was damaged by the way he handled the situation. Egyptian Foreign Minister Fahmy asked our Ambassador in Egypt for additional economic aid. Secretary Vance explained that the Administration proposes to shift funds from long-term development to short-term commodity assistance in order to help Egypt. The total would be $190 million. President Sadat is the key to the Middle East situation, explained Secretary Vance.

The PRESIDENT said that everybody knows that Sadat has demonstrated a good attitude and that strengthening him would pay dividends.

REPRESENTATIVE HAMILTON noted that while there are political reasons to support Sadat, we are making a mistake for the long-range. The commodity import program is difficult to administer and has been “very slippery.” He said that such long-range economic projects as power plants, irrigation projects and industrial credit should not be knocked out because they will be the basis for a sound Egyptian economy. “If the political situation requires it, then reluctantly I guess we must make the move for short-term commodity aid.”

SENATOR CASE said there is no disagreement with Secretary Vance’s request in the short-term, but we should reconsider our long-term goals.

REPRESENTATIVE FASCELL said $190 million is not a lot of money and the political pay-off is obvious, but where we go is important. “Egypt is the biggest sinkhole in the Middle East and this is short-[Page 80]term Band-aid money.” We must look at long-term goals. How much money for an international consortium? How much program money? How far do we go into the short-term economic program? “We got to $900 million before cut off and we didn’t make a dent,” said Fascell.

REPRESENTATIVE LONG said when somebody throws himself on your doorstep, do something. It is surprising they survive at all. Egypt is the most harem scarem country I know. We are inviting the Egyptians to eat up the seed corn. Then Representative Long said that the two nuclear reactors for Egypt ought to be cancelled.

PRESIDENT CARTER said that the request for nuclear reactors for Egypt and Israel had been left over from the previous Administration and were being reviewed but he gave no indication of how he would act as a result of the review. Rather, the President stressed the current situation in Egypt in terms of the need for food commodities and aid, “I consider it to be a crisis.” The President said that Dr. Kissinger’s achievement was to break Egypt away from the Soviets, and more and more Saudi Arabia is taking a tremendous interest in the Middle East. The President said he is asking Dr. Brzezinski to evolve a comprehensive four-year goal for our foreign policy.4 “I want to know where we will be in the Middle East, China, Cyprus and all the major issues.” He told the Congressmen he will make them aware of these goals and the preparation of these goals. He said such a compilation would “help me to express our common purposes and what we want to achieve.”

DR. BRZEZINSKI explained that the four-year goals in the past have always been statements of broad generalities but “we are trying to make these goals more specific with a little more deliberation and specificity.”

REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAM YOUNG asked Secretary Vance if Foreign Minister Fahmy asked for additional funds. VANCE said yes, but that to reply rapidly it would have to come from the aid program that had already been approved.

SENATOR BROOKE said that President Sadat has his priorities and that granting of immediate commodity aid would be a symbolic move.

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REPRESENTATIVE HAMILTON said that along with granting emergency aid the Egyptians be committed to capital projects in the Suez Canal area.

PRESIDENT CARTER then discussed the need to cut back on spending on weapons. He said he hoped, with the aid of Congress, to achieve an overall world-wide reduction in arms transfers. “We are the only nation that can take the lead on arms transfers,” the President said.

SECRETARY VANCE said we are in the process of reviewing our own policies on how to proceed on arms transfers. The principle he wants to see carried out, said Secretary Vance, is for arms transfers to be designed to carry out our foreign policy, not to be used as an economic tool. We are putting our thoughts together to get a handle on arms sales problems in the world.

SECRETARY VANCE said he discussed this problem with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin in reference to the Middle East. Dobrynin did not express opposition but coupled reduction of arms sales with a political solution in the Middle East.

REPRESENTATIVE LONG said, “We have a tremendous responsibility to make a start on this. If we say, “Let’s have a treaty to limit arms transfers, a rough translation would be, ‘let’s not do anything’”. He then raised the question of Egypt’s purchase of $1.6 billion worth of jets from France. “They make no contribution to peace in the Middle East. Why do we give day-to-day aid to Egypt while they buy expensive jets,” asked Long.

SECRETARY VANCE. “I have not talked to the heads of state about arms purchases but I will on my trip.”5

There was a general discussion of developing a pause in arms sales and SECRETARY VANCE pointed out that President Ford had approved the sale of weapons to Israel which include the CBU (cluster bombs) and the FLIR (forward looking infrared), along with tanks and artillery, and a decision will have to be made on whether to go forward with this commitment.6

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SENATOR BROOKE noted that the President’s proposal to limit arms transfers is a laudatory one, but he warned that we appear to be inferior in megatonnage and delivery vehicles to the Soviet Union.7

PRESIDENT CARTER said there had been some response in Germany and France during Vice President Mondale’s trip on limiting arms sales. “They were not effusive but they responded well,” said the President, “and we must see that France and Germany do not rush in to fill the gap when we limit sales. We are so far ahead that we have a great range of possibilities to moderate our arms sales.”

SECRETARY VANCE. The simple step would be to change the procedures so that arms manufacturers must get advance permission from the Department before they proceed. Now they get people overseas steamed up in an early stage and then come back here and sell their systems.

SENATOR CHURCH. Arms sales are out of real proportion to the needs of the countries that are buying them. Sometimes it seems that we are exporting only arms and wheat but there is a serious problem with the internal forces in our own country. We have to recognize that aircraft companies have spent millions under the table to stimulate sales.

PRESIDENT CARTER stressed that consistency and frankness with Congress and the American people and a multinational approach are vital. THE PRESIDENT said he favored the idea of prior approval of American companies before they offer arms development to foreign countries. The PRESIDENT also made these points: (1) he wants to hold down the volume of nuclear weapons and the volume of nuclear capability. He said this goal was pursued with France and Germany and he was meeting with Ambassador Dobrynin later in the morning to discuss this problem.8 (2) “The African situation is explosive and we will follow the British lead in Rhodesia. Ambassador Young will be at two different conferences in Africa.9 He is not going to negotiate but he will let them know about our sincerity for majority rule. I want to see the Byrd amendment10 repealed and I will give my backing for the re[Page 83]peal. It will have great psychological impact. I would like to restore our position in Southern Africa. Dr. Kissinger was making good progress until the election took away his authority.”

REPRESENTATIVE LONG said, half of the House has supported a resolution on a nuclear test ban treaty.11 He asked how good a friend of ours President Sadat is. “I think that Sadat launched the most bloody war in the history of the Middle East, and we are building up a man who will start another war in the Middle East.”

SECRETARY VANCE. There is no question Sadat is still a major figure and the man we should deal with in Egypt. I talked with Henry Kissinger and he told me Sadat was helpful and he considered him useful. I will have a better chance to answer your question after I talk with him.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI. The question is how trustworthy is Sadat compared to others. We are dealing with a political reality, for the first time in 22 years Egypt’s foreign policy is not based on playing the Russians off against us. Egypt is susceptible to an accommodation with Israel and has moved away from Arab socialism. The long range problem is radicalization of the country and it is a perilous race. A weak economy can produce political instability and bring a radical regime to power that will take a more extreme view.

REPRESENTATIVE HAMILTON talked of the need to deny and delay arms sales to Israel and the Middle East in general including F–18’s to Iran and F–16’s to Saudi Arabia.

SECRETARY VANCE said, “we will sink the peninsula if we keep selling arms.”

REPRESENTATIVE ZABLOCKI discussed his bill dealing with nuclear non-proliferation and the Arab boycott. He talked about dividing the package to deal with the boycott earlier and then nuclear non-proliferation.

SECRETARY VANCE said work on the boycott provision will have been completed when he returns from the Middle East and then I will testify.

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SECRETARY VANCE is scheduled to appear before Senator Proxmire’s committee February 2812 to discuss the Export Administration Act.13

SENATOR CHURCH asked if a resolution limiting the sale of reactors would be helpful.

SECRETARY VANCE replied, “yes, it would be.”

SENATOR SPARKMAN said that the pronouncement of President Carter on limiting nuclear weapons was one of the most heartening things to the American people.14

REPRESENTATIVE YOUNG asked what kind of timetable was necessary on the aid for Egypt.

SECRETARY VANCE said he wanted to proceed as soon as possible.

REPRESENTATIVE LONG said he was sympathetic and we would not lie down. But he added, “the Committee would ask some awfully tough questions as to why we were giving day-to-day aid to Egypt when Egyptians were buying jets from France for $1.6 billion.

SECRETARY VANCE briefed the group on his meeting with Foreign Minister Aquilino Boyd of Panama which did not get into substantive negotiations.15 He gave Boyd his views with respect to the treaty and told him it would be unhelpful if there were attacks on the United States. “We are anxious to move promptly to protect legitimate interests of the U.S. and Panama and to work out an agreement that is just and fair to both parties. The Tack-Kissinger principles16 were the basis for negotiations. Negotiations will resume on February 10. Ambassador Sol Linowitz will be the negotiator along with Ambassador Bunker. We have a strong negotiating team,” said Secretary Vance.

REPRESENTATIVE YOUNG asked how much the U.S. will give up in Panama.

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SECRETARY VANCE said, “it would be harmful if this got out but let me explain our position. (1) We want to assure access of all nations to a neutral Canal, guaranteed by the U.S. and Panama in peace or war. (2) We want to retain the right in the event the Canal is threatened in terms of operation, to take such steps as necessary to defend it with the Panamanians. (3) Then there’s the question of the termination date.

SENATOR BROOKE asked if South Africa would pull away from Rhodesia.

SECRETARY VANCE said there is some hope but not a great deal of hope.

REPRESENTATIVE FASCELL (referring to Panama) talked about the possibility of transferring facilities versus the title on the land in the year 2000 as a possible approach to solving the problem. He also urged Secretary Vance to remove Venezuela and Ecuador from the countries currently affected by tariff preferences as a result of the OPEC oil boycott. Venezuela and Ecuador no longer have preferential tariffs because they are OPEC members but Representative Fascell noted they did not take part in the boycott and there is a great deal of aggravation because they do not have preferential tariffs.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 50, Presidential Memos for the Record: 2–6/77. Secret. The meeting took place in the Cabinet Room at the White House. Drafted on February 2, presumably by Schecter.
  2. Carter formally submitted Warnke’s nomination to the Senate on February 4. The Senate confirmed Warnke as chief U.S delegate to the SALT II talks and as Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency on March 9. (Congress and the Nation, vol. V, 1977–1980, p. 137)
  3. See Document 16.
  4. During the transition period, Brzezinski had suggested that it would be useful for him to assemble for Carter “a briefing book containing the four-year goals of his Administration in the area of foreign policy.” (Brzezinski, Power and Principle, p. 52) Carter approved this suggestion and announced at a January 12 meeting with members of Congress that Brzezinski and the NSC Staff would undertake the preparation of such a document. According to the minutes of the January 31 Cabinet meeting, Brzezinski indicated that the NSC Staff members were currently “working on a four-year foreign policy statement of goals, with recommended sequences and timing of US action in pursuit of those goals.” (Carter Library, Plains File, Subject File, Box 18, Cabinet Minutes, 1–5/77) For the statement, see Document 36.
  5. Reference is to Vance’s scheduled trip to Israel (February 15–17), Egypt (February 17–18), Lebanon (February 18), Jordan (February 18–19), Saudi Arabia (February 19–20), and Syria (February 20–21). Documentation on Vance’s trip is printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VIII, Arab-Israeli Dispute, January 1977–August 1978.
  6. During Allon’s October 11, 1976, visit to Washington, Ford indicated that he would lift the ban on the sale of CBU and FLIR to Israel. (Bernard Gwertzman, “U.S. Decides to Sell Some Arms to Israel That it Blocked in Past,” The New York Times, October 12, 1976, pp. 1, 12)
  7. An unknown hand underlined this sentence and placed a question mark in the right-hand margin next to it.
  8. The CarterDobrynin memorandum of conversation is printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VI, Soviet Union, Document 3.
  9. Reference is to Young’s 10-day visit to Nigeria and Tanzania. He departed the United States on February 1. (Kathleen Teltsch, “Young, Taking Over U.N. Duties, Prepares to Leave for Africa Today,” The New York Times, February 1, 1977, p. 2)
  10. The Byrd Amendment, Section 503 of the 1971 Military Procurement Authorization Act (H.R. 8687; P.L. 92–156; 85 Stat. 423–430), prohibited the President from refusing to import strategic materials from non-Communist countries when there were no such bans against buying similar items from a Communist state. The Amendment thus permitted the United States to import Rhodesian chrome and other strategic materials, thus circumventing UN trade sanctions instituted in 1966 against Southern Rhodesia. (Congress and the Nation, vol. V, 1977–1980, p. 47)
  11. Presumable reference to House Resolution 209, introduced by Representative Hamilton Fish, Jr. (R-New York) in the House of Representatives on January 31, which supported the President’s intentions to pursue a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, seek ratification of SALT II, and pursue an agreement with the Soviet Union for major reductions in atomic weapons. Representative Richard Ottinger (D-New York) introduced 10 identical versions of House Resolution 209, with different cosponsors, on January 31 and February 1. All resolutions were referred to the House International Relations Committee.
  12. Reference is to the Subcommittee on International Finance of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Vance testified before the subcommittee on February 28 and before the House International Relations Committee on March 1. Vance’s statement before the House International Relations Committee is printed in Department of State Bulletin, March 21, 1977, pp. 267–271.
  13. Public Law 91–184; 83 Stat. 841; signed into law by Nixon on December 30, 1969.
  14. Presumable reference to the President’s inaugural address; see Document 15.
  15. Vance met with Boyd on January 31. In his January 31 report to the President, Vance indicated that, among other points, he had informed Boyd that “we will not sacrifice U.S. interests or ignore the opinion of the Congress or the U.S. people.” (Carter Library, Plains File, Subject File, Box 37, State Department Evening Reports, 1–2/77) (declass)
  16. On February 7, 1974, in Panama City, Kissinger and Tack initialed a joint statement of principles for the negotiation of a new Panama Canal treaty. For Kissinger’s address and the text of the joint statement, see Department of State Bulletin, February 25, 1974, pp. 181–185.