42. Paper Prepared by the President’s Assistant (Jordan)1

[Omitted here are the title page and the table of contents.]


Because you have chosen to be active in many areas of foreign policy during your first year in office, there will evolve in the near future a number of critical decisions that will have to be made. And each of these decisions will be difficult politically and will have domestic implications that will require the support and understanding of the American people and the Congress.

The most significant of these decisions relate to specific countries and/or areas of the world. As best I can determine, those decisions which will require action on our part and/or the political support of the people and Congress are:

—The Middle East



—Normalization of relations with Cuba and Vietnam

—Treaty with Panama

—Withdrawal of troops from Korea2

[Page 180]

It is my own contention that this confluence of foreign policy initiatives and decisions will require a comprehensive and well coordinated domestic political strategy if our policies are to gain the understanding and support of the American people and the Congress.

It is important that we understand the political dimensions of the challenges we face on these specific issues:

1. There is a limited public understanding of most foreign policy issues. This is certainly the case with SALT II and the Middle East. This is not altogether bad as it provides us an opportunity to present these issues to the public in a politically advantageous way. At the same time, most of these issues assume a simplistic political coloration. If you favor normalization of relations with Cuba or Vietnam, you are a “liberal”; if you oppose normalization with these same countries, you are “conservative”.

2. To the extent that the issues we are dealing with have a “liberal” or “conservative” connotation, our position on these particular issues is consistently “liberal”. We must do what we can to present these issues to the public in a non-ideological way and not allow them to undermine your own image as a moderate-conservative.3

3. Congressional support in some form is needed to accomplish most of your foreign policy objectives. A modest amount of time invested in consultation with key members of Congress will go a long way toward winning the support of Congress on many issues. Whereas members of Congress do not mind—and sometimes relish—a confrontation with the President on some local project or matter of obvious direct benefit to their district or state, very few wish to differ publicly with the President on a foreign policy matter.

4. We have very little control over the schedule and time-frame in which most of these foreign policy issues will be resolved. Consequently, a continuing problem and challenge will be to attempt to separate out the key foreign policy issues from domestic programs so the two will not become politically entwined in the Congress. This dictates a continuing focus on the historical bipartisan nature of U.S. foreign policy so the Republican members of Congress will be less tempted to demagogue these issues during the 1978 elections.

5. Conservatives are much better organized than liberals and will generally oppose our foreign policy initiatives. To effectively counter conservative opposition, we will have to take the initiative in providing coordination of our resources and political leadership. Our resources at present are considerable, but they are scattered among a variety of [Page 181] groups and institutions. To the extent our policy goals are being pursued, they are being pursued unilaterally by groups and people and without coordination. The very fact that your administration is active simultaneously in many areas of foreign policy dictates a comprehensive, long-range political strategy for winning the support of the American people and the Congress. To accomplish this goal, I would recommend a three step process:

I. CONSULTATION. Early consultation with Congress and interested/affected constituent groups is critical to the political success of these policies. In almost every instance, Senate ratification of a treaty and/or military and economic support which requires the support of Congress will be required to accomplish these foreign policy objectives. Consequently, it is important that we invest a small amount of time on a continuing basis in consultation with members of Congress and groups/organizations.4

II. PUBLIC EDUCATION. Public understanding of most of these issues is very limited. To the extent these issues are understood and/or perceived by the general public, they are viewed in very simplistic terms. This is a mixed blessing. On one hand, it becomes necessary to explain complex issues to the American people. On the other hand, because these issues are not well understood, a tremendous opportunity exists to educate the public to a certain point of view. In the final analysis, I suspect that we could demonstrate a direct correlation between the trust the American people have for their President and the degree to which they are willing to trust that President’s judgement on complex issues of foreign policy.

In terms of public education, we have a tremendous number of resources. They include:

—Fireside chats

—Town meetings

—Speaking opportunities for President, Vice-President, First Family, Cabinet, etc.

—Public service media opportunities

—Groups outside government who support particular policies

—Democratic National Committee

—Mailing lists


III. POLITICAL PLANNING AND COORDINATION. Once foreign policy goals are established, it is critical that political strategies in support of those goals be developed and implemented. And it is important that the resources available to the Administration—both inside and [Page 182] outside of government—be coordinated and used in a way that is supportive of these objectives.

I have attempted in this memorandum to outline the first step in this process—consultation—as relates to foreign policy generally and the Middle East specifically. Steps II and III—public education and political planning and coordination—are the subject of a separate memorandum.

[Omitted here are Section A: “Consultation with Congress on Foreign Policy Initiatives,” Section B: “The Role of the American Jewish Community in the Middle East,” and the Summary of Recommendations.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, Office of the Chief of Staff, Jordan’s Confidential Files, Container 34, Foreign Policy—Domestic Politics Memo—Hamilton Jordan Memo, 6/77. Confidential; Eyes Only. Jordan sent the paper to the President under an undated cover memorandum in which he explained that he attempted “to measure the domestic political implications of your foreign policy and outline a comprehensive approach for winning public and Congressional support for specific foreign policy initiatives.”
  2. The President underlined the topics in each point.
  3. Immediately following this point, the President wrote: “To challenge Soviets for influence is ‘conservative.’”
  4. Following this paragraph, the President wrote: “Meeting this week.” The meeting is not further identified.