25. Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency1

Human Rights

1. Your recent and continuing initiatives on Human Rights have basically dispelled most initial skepticism about the seriousness of your commitment.2 The uncertainty that exists now is mainly over what your real motivation is and what lengths we will go to, particularly in straining relations with the USSR.

2. Our survey around the world shows differing but not unexpected reactions in various areas:

a. In the Soviet Union, over and above the obvious reactions you have had, they are perturbed at the lack of similar criticism of China and they are worried about how hard we will come down on Basket 3 in the CSCE Conference in Belgrade this June.3 Still, the Soviets are basically playing a defensive game, trying to counter our human rights moves without irrevocably damaging our bilateral relations.

b. They are particularly anxious to disabuse us of any notion that our emphasis on this question will help the Soviet dissidents.

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c. East Europe: There is considerable puzzlement in Eastern Europe as to what we4 are about—perhaps because many of these countries are very interested in the forthcoming Belgrade Conference. They tend to worry as to what the impact of this U.S. emphasis on human rights is going to be on that forum. They clearly also are concerned as to whether we will move the Soviets away from détente and perhaps put more pressure on them.

d. China: The Chinese are generally pleased with our stand because they read it as a toughening of our position toward Moscow. They seem blithely unconcerned about any vulnerability of their own position on human rights.

e. West Europe and Japan: There is generally broad approval for taking this stand with the general inclination to favor tempering our position with considerations of practicality. Basically they also tend to look at the issue more in their own parochial and regional terms than they do in vocal [local?] ones. Specifically the impact on East/West/Central relations. They are very worried at a deterioration of those relations since they normally prefer flat behind-the-scenes diplomacy.

f. Latin America: They are nearly unanimous in denouncing these new pressures. Clearly this is the strongest in the countries that feel most challenged, like Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador and Chile. They think and complain, as usual, that we aren’t making allowances for their special problems nor giving them the special attention that we should to a neighbor. It particularly galls some of them that we appear not to be willing to make exceptions for them as we are doing for South Korea, in their view.

g. There is a developing cohesiveness of support for each other in their defiance of Washington on this issue.

h. In the rest of Asia,5 other than Japan, there is a general lack of enthusiasm one would expect in totalitarian states like South Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan.

i. In Africa, reactions have been varied. The Ethiopians feel they are being singled out unjustly. The Black African States applaud the effort as long as they don’t look past its implicit support for Black majority rule.

j. Much the same in the Middle East where again the Arabs applaud our position as long as it is discussed primarily in terms of the rights of the Palestinians. Iran is sensitive, vulnerable and worried about the long-term impact on their relations with the United States.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, Job 80B01554R: DCI Misc Files, Box 33, Folder 11: (U//AIUO) Reminder Memos/Memos for Record, March 1977. Secret; Noforn. No drafting information appears on the memorandum. The date is hand-stamped.
  2. The “you” is a presumable reference to the President.
  3. A preparatory meeting for the October CSCE Review Conference was held June 15–August 5.
  4. An unknown hand inserted the word “we” before “are.”
  5. An unknown hand crossed out “the area” and wrote “Asia,” above it.