21. Memorandum From the White House Press Secretary (Powell) to President Carter 1


  • Soviet Dissidents

It seems to me that the Soviets should understand your feeling that it is necessary to build domestic political support for initiatives in arms control and for detente in general.2 One of the reasons Ford-Kissinger failed in this effort and had to back away from detente was because the American people would not support a policy which seemed to abandon our position in support of basic human rights.

Surely the Soviets are sophisticated enough to understand that the domestic political flexibility we need to make progress in other areas is enhanced by your position on human rights.

Perhaps this could be conveyed to Dobrynin by you on an informal basis—by phone, for example. An even less formal way would be through Brzezinski. I could even do it through their Embassy Press Counselor Kamenev, whom I know.

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This probably should be done before you see Bukovsky on Tuesday3 to try to prevent another public reaction on their part which will only put us in a position of having to avoid the appearance of backing down.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Office of the Staff Secretary, Handwriting File, Presidential File, Box 9, 2/22/77. No classification marking. A stamped notation indicates that the President saw it. The President wrote “cc Zbig. J” in the top right-hand corner of the memorandum. Hutcheson sent a copy of the memorandum to Brzezinski under a February 22 note, indicating that it was forwarded to Brzezinski for information. (Ibid.)
  2. The President underlined the portion of the sentence beginning with the word “domestic.”
  3. Bukovsky met with Carter, Mondale, and Brzezinski in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on March 1 from 3:30 until 3:37 p.m. Clift, Eisele, Levitsky, and Krimer also attended this meeting. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary) No record of this conversation has been found. See also Bernard Gwertzman, “Carter and Mondale See Bukovsky, a Soviet Dissident,” The New York Times, March 2, 1977, p. A–1.