36. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1
- Four-Year Goals: Preliminary Statement
Purpose and Scope
The memorandum which follows is an attempt to define your four-year foreign policy goals. It is not meant to be a public statement—and its publication or revelation would be counterproductive. It would provide your critics with ammunition (both now and four years hence) and public disclosure would also make it more difficult to attain many of your goals. Moreover, in some ways any such statement is bound to be arbitrary and even simplistic—but otherwise it would have to be a book, with all the explanations, elaborations, and nuances included.
The document is not an interagency consensus statement. It was prepared, on the basis of the conceptual framework which you and I have often discussed, by Sam Huntington and myself, with NSC staff inputs. (Sam is also coordinating the PRM 102 effort.)
As of now, you are the first consumer of this statement. It has not been cleared with the Secretary of State nor with any other members of the Cabinet. At this stage, the document is meant only for your personal consumption. Once revised on the basis of your instructions and following a discussion with your principal advisers, it should become a [Page 148] decision paper from the top down, rather than a consensual statement filtered upwards through the bureaucracy.
This statement sets out ten central objectives for the next four years. It does not prescribe specific tactics but it does propose steps for the attainment of these ten central objectives, in addition to some others as well.
I believe the four year objectives—though ambitious—are realistic. In any event, they provide both stimulus and discipline for the development of specific policy choices for your decision. I should note that the second of these central objectives—that we cultivate the new “regional influentials”—is likely to be both controversial and possibly even occasionally in conflict with some of the other goals. Yet I believe that American interests and global stability require that we nourish a better relationship with these key states. Not to do so is to deprive ourselves of potentially very constructive relationships. Given the importance and sensitivity of this proposal, I attach a special annex (Tab IV),3 pertaining to these states.
These ten central objectives are derived from a basic concept of what U.S. foreign policy should be at this historical stage. I want to stress to you the importance of that concept. A foreign policy to be effective must rest on a reasonably accurate assessment of the basic historical need. The Soviets periodically undertake a very deliberate reappraisal of their foreign policy based on the question: what is the nature of our historical phase? Has that phase changed, and—if so—what are the implications for the Soviet foreign policy? We should be similarly alert to the meaning of historical change. U.S. foreign policy in the past was relatively successful because the notions of Atlanticism and containment did correspond to the major needs of the late 40’s and early 50’s. Accordingly, this document is based on a unifying theme and you have to decide whether the definition of that theme—in the section called “Overall Concept”—is congenial to you.
Accordingly, I would recommend: (1) that you review the document, make whatever changes you deem necessary, and give me further guidance; (2) that following further revisions in the light of your directives, the document be used as the basis for discussion with your principal advisers (such as the Secretary of State), and possibly even with top Congressional leaders (though perhaps without actual distribution); (3) that you give a comprehensive speech, maybe after the [Page 149] summit, using largely the conceptual part in order to educate the public and to convey to all concerned that your various actions are part of an overall scheme (contrary to some criticisms that are now being voiced).
Even then, the document should not be distributed except perhaps at a restricted NSC meeting itself.
Please indicate whether this approach meets with your approval.4
Let me also raise here the possibility that you consider using your Notre Dame University Address5 to develop the above approach. You might remember that I proposed a few days ago that you give a conceptual speech, attempting to integrate your overall policy, and follow it shortly thereafter by a town hall meeting specifically on foreign policy. The Notre Dame date comes roughly two weeks after the summit, and it might be a good place to summarize your basic conclusions, and then go on to deliver a more far-reaching and essentially conceptual statement on your foreign policy.6
- Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office File, Outside the System File, Box 63, Goals: Four Year: 4–7/77. Secret. Brzezinski sent the memorandum and the attached “Four-Year Foreign Policy Objectives” paper to the President under an April 29 covering memorandum, suggesting that Carter review the “objectives” paper prior to the upcoming London summit meeting. Although there is no indication that Carter saw the memorandum, in his diary entry for April 29, the President wrote: “The National Security Council staff has prepared for me what we call our international goals. This is a good framework around which to build our day-to-day decisions. I think a growing consciousness of these tangible goals will be good to bind us all together in a common effort.” (White House Diary, p. 45) For additional information about the preparation of the “objectives” paper, see footnote 4, Document 19. Earlier versions of the April 29 memorandum are in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 27, Goals/Initiatives: 4–5/77. Mondale’s May 12 response to the memorandum is printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. II, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Document 43.↩
- In PRM/NSC–10, issued on February 18, the President called for a comprehensive review of overall U.S. national strategy and capabilities. Documentation on the PRM–10 process is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. IV, National Security Policy.↩
- Not printed.↩
- The President neither approved nor disapproved this option.↩
- See Document 40.↩
- The President neither approved nor disapproved this option.↩