Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important issues in the foreign policy of the administration of James E. Carter. The subseries will present a documentary record of major foreign policy decisions and actions of President Carter’s administration. This volume documents the intellectual assumptions and themes underlying the foreign policy decisions made by the administration.

Sources for Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume I

Much of the documentation included in this volume was drawn from public sources. Speeches and policy statements were garnered from a number of published sources, the most important of which were the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States and the Department of State Bulletin. A very useful source of information on the intellectual assumptions underlying foreign policy proved to be the briefings that President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Zbiginew Brzezinski periodically provided to the press. The background briefings can be found in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Schecter/Friendly (Press) File, Subject File, Box 1.

Among the classified sources consulted, the most useful were found in the Presidential papers and other White House records maintained by the Carter Library. A number of collections from the National Security Affairs (NSA) files are relevant to research in this area. Within the NSA file, the Brzezinski Material and Staff Material collections yield important documentation. Within the Brzezinski Material, the Subject File, Schecter/Friendly (Press) File, and Brzezinski Office File are especially useful; the Subject Chron File within the Brzezinski Office File contains copies of Brzezinski’s Weekly National Security reports to the President.

Of the lot files of the Department of State, the most useful for the purposes of this compilation were the Policy Planning Staff (S/P) Director’s Files. Anthony Lake’s records, which are available at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), contain copies of Vance’s and Muskie’s speeches, Policy Planning Staff-authored studies on a variety of topics, background materials related to the Department’s development of goals and objectives statements, and documentation on issues such as human rights and foreign assistance policy. The files of Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance include important documen[Page X]tation on the 1976 transition period. Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher’s files, also available at NARA, yield important documentation on human rights, North–South issues, foreign assistance policy, and the Department’s goals and objectives statements. The Department of State’s Central Foreign Policy File, consisting of D, P, and N reels, replaced the pre-1973 paper subject-numeric file. The P (Paper) reels consist of microfilmed versions of memoranda of conversation, letters, briefing papers, airgrams, and memoranda to principals.

The Mondale Papers housed at the Minnesota Historical Society include Walter F. Mondale’s Senatorial and Vice Presidential Papers. The most useful collection in the Senatorial Papers is the Press Relations/Media Activities Records. Within the Vice Presidential Papers, essential documentation is located within the Foreign Policy Material From the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library files.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume I

The purpose of this volume is to document the intellectual foundations of the foreign policy of the Carter administration. This volume explores the collective mindset of Carter administration officials on foreign policy issues rather than documenting significant foreign policy decisions or diplomatic exchanges. The compilation takes as its canvas the entire record of the Carter administration. Therefore, the documents selected are necessarily a sampling chosen to illustrate policy perspectives and themes rather than a thorough record of a bilateral relationship or of a major issue. Similar to Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, 1969–1972 and Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXVIII, Part I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, 1973–1976, this volume draws upon the published record of speeches, press releases, press conferences and briefings, interviews, and testimony before Congressional committees to document policy positions and the assumptions of administration officials on the foreign policy process. The documentation in this volume chronicles the perspectives of not only Carter but also Vice President Walter Mondale, President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Zbigniew Brzezinski, Secretaries of State Cyrus Vance and Edmund Muskie, Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and others.


The editor wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Ceri McCarron, Brittany Parris, and Keith Shuler of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, David Langbart and Don McIlwain of the National Archives and Records Administration, and Deborah Miller of the Minnesota Historical Society. The editor would also like to express gratitude [Page XI] to Vice President Walter F. Mondale for granting permission to use documentation from his senatorial and vice presidential files at the Minnesota Historical Society, which are open to researchers.

The editor wishes to thank Paul J. Hibbeln, Adam M. Howard, Michael McCoyer, David P. Nickles, Paul M. Pitman, Kathleen B. Rasmussen, Nathaniel L. Smith, Melissa Jane Taylor, Christopher J. Tudda, and Alexander R. Wieland of the Office of the Historian for recommending documents for inclusion in the volume.

The editor conducted the research for this volume and selected and annotated the documentation under the direction of Stephen P. Randolph, Director of the Office of the Historian. Kerry Hite coordinated the declassification review under the supervision of the Chief of the Declassification Division Carl E. Ashley. Erin F. Cozens did the copy and technical editing. Do Mi Stauber prepared the index.

Kristin L. Ahlberg, Ph.D.