210. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Flap with Muskie Over PD–592

I do not know if the flap will continue and why Muskie has chosen to carry it on in the media. For your information, here is the background:

I have enclosed the text of the memorandum3 which was sent to you with PD–59. One of the alternatives was a NSC meeting which Muskie would have attended.
Brown was instructed by you to brief Muskie, and on August 5 I reminded him to do so. He did, but the following day before Brown could show the actual directive to Muskie, both the New York Times and the Washington Post broke the story that precipitated Muskie’s ire.4
The development of PD–59 was ordered by you in PD–185 in August 1977. During the next two years, at least three formal SCC meetings were held, and Vance was involved in two and Christopher in one. In addition, at least two internal DOD studies on the subject were initiated in 1977 and circulated to State and the NSC. Moreover, the Secretary of Defense’s annual reports to Congress for FY ’79, ’80 and ’81 contained explicit descriptions of the targeting flexibility—the countervailing strategy—embodied in PD–59. These documents were previewed by State. In addition, Brown made a statement to the NATO Nuclear Planning Group on June 4, 1980, on the countervailing doctrine.6 Muskie’s State Department subordinates should have briefed him on its contents prior to the NATO ministerial in Ankara. This was apparently not done.
The SCCs in the spring of 1979 took note of Defense’s progress in implementing the results of the targeting study. This past winter, I suggested in a memo to Harold Brown7 that we complete the process initiated by PD–18 in a directive which codified what had been done within Defense and the general direction for future development which his countervailing strategy implies. He agreed and suggested that he and I work out a final product prior to any additional interagency review. To my initial draft of a PD, he added considerable detail on the present SIOP, giving it a far more sensitive substance than it originally had.
State officials did not participate in the translation of the doctrine into specific SIOP instructions and for very good reasons. These adjustments are extraordinarily sensitive. The tradition of keeping military contingency planning away from our diplomatists except in its general outline is an old and valid one. (S)

The whole thing seems to me more a matter of personal sensitivity than substance, even though Brown was somewhat slow in briefing Muskie after you initiated that approach; however, both of them were on the move and it was not easy for them to get together. Nevertheless, the central point remains valid: the SIOP should not be reviewed or discussed by those not authorized or required to deal with it; only the broad doctrine should be—and Harold’s statements of broad doctrine are—on the public record. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Subject File, Box 35, PD 59: (5/80–1/81). Secret; Sensitive. An unknown hand initialed the memorandum on Brzezinski’s behalf.
  2. See Document 208.
  3. Printed as Document 185.
  4. Reference is to Michael Getler, “Carter Directive Modifies Strategy for a Nuclear War,” Washington Post, August 6, 1980, p. A10; and Richard Burt, “Carter Said to Back a Plan for Limiting Any Nuclear War,” New York Times, August 6, 1980, p. A1.
  5. See Document 31.
  6. Documentation on the NATO Nuclear Planning Group is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. V, European Security, 1977–1983.
  7. Not found.