18. Memorandum From Jessica Tuchman of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1

The President’s recent actions in the field of human rights, in particular the letter to Andrei Sakharov,2 have to be seen in the broader context of President Carter’s well-known intention to try to make foreign policy reflect this nation’s commitment to the personal freedoms that are the lifebeat of our form of government.

It should be clear that our purpose in making these statements is not to embarrass any particular government or to espouse any indi [Page 54] vidual cause, but to do what we can to advance the cause of human rights everywhere.3

We cannot do everything and we will not try to. We obviously cannot speak out at every abuse, but these public statements will not be our only tool. We will use quiet diplomacy in those cases where that would seem to work best. As the President said in his Inaugural Address,4 we will show a clear-cut preference in our bilateral relations for those nations which share our respect for human rights. We will in time make clear to those to whom we provide assistance, what we expect from them in return. And of course we will do what we can to encourage respect for international treaties and commitments.

In closing let me say that all our actions in this field are based on the conviction that human rights is never purely a domestic matter. There are human ties and concerns that transcend national boundaries, and bind individuals together whatever their form of government. The President believes that every responsible member of the global community bears certain obligations to the rest, and a decent respect for human rights is one of these.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Global Issues—Mathews Subject File, Box 7, Human Rights: 2–3/77. No classification marking. Brzezinski initialed and placed a check mark at the top of the page, indicating that he had seen the memorandum.
  2. Reference is to an exchange of letters between Sakharov and Carter. Sakharov’s January 21 letter to the President and Carter’s February 5 response are scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, volume VI, Soviet Union. They were published in The New York Times on January 29 and February 18, 1977, respectively.
  3. Presumable reference to two statements released by the Department of State in late January; see footnote 4, Document 7. During the course of his January 31 news conference, Vance also discussed the administration’s decision to publicly address cases like the Sakharov one; see Document 8 and footnote 3 thereto. In recounting the substance of a February 1 meeting with Dobrynin, the President informed Mondale that the United States would not “back down” on support for human rights in the Soviet Union. (Murrey Marder, “Carter Firm on Human Rights Stance,” The Washington Post, February 2, 1977, p. A–9) The memorandum of conversation of the CarterDobrynin meeting is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, volume VI, Soviet Union.
  4. See footnote 3, Document 8.