98. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Turner to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Soviet Criticism of US Foreign Policy and Leadership

1. [1 paragraph (6 lines) not declassified]

2. [1 line not declassified] characterized his wide-ranging conversation with Kirilenko as one in which the latter was extremely critical and deprecatory of US foreign policy, including Washington’s approach to the SALT negotiations. The initial target of Kirilenko’s criticism was Dr. [Page 316] Brzezinski whom he described as viscerally anti-Soviet and particularly dangerous because of his high level of intelligence. Kirilenko charged that Brzezinski was a “dangerous influence” over President Carter and that this influence would lead to some serious US-Soviet crises.

3. Kirilenko insisted that the Soviet Government does not trust any of the statements or declarations made to them privately or publicly by President Carter, largely because of the influence of Brzezinski. The Kremlin simply does not believe anything Carter says and has no confidence in whatever negotiations the US might enter into vis-a-vis the USSR.

4. Kirilenko stated that the Soviet Government does not feel the need to deal with the Carter Government because Moscow assumes it will disappear in 1980. He commented that there is a world of difference between visits to Moscow of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and those of Secretary Cyrus Vance. The latter, according to Kirilenko, simply carries out instructions. Kirilenko reminisced that Kissinger and former President Richard Nixon had real credibility with the Kremlin because they had demonstrated their willingness to engage the US militarily, rather than merely moralizing.

5. Kirilenko pointed to the US Government’s willingness to compromise even its moralizing principles during the session of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) then underway in Belgrade as an example of the lack of credibility which the Kremlin attributes to Washington.

6. Otherwise in the conversation, Kirilenko also discussed Africa. The Soviet Government was using the Somali-Ethiopian situation to prove its hypothesis that the US has now become a “paper tiger”. The USSR would continue testing the US in Africa, next in the Moroccan-Algerian context, picking up whatever gains it could until it meets effective US-backed resistance, after which it would reconsider its hypothesis.

7. Comment: [1 paragraph (5 lines) not declassified]

8. The above memorandum is being made available to the Acting Secretary of State as well as to Secretary Vance in Moscow.2

Stansfield Turner3
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 79, USSR: 2–4/78. Secret; Sensitive. Brzezinski underlined numerous passages, including the portion of paragraph 6 that described the United States as a “paper tiger.” An unknown hand made checkmarks in the margin next to the passages.
  2. Beneath Turner’s signature Brzezinski wrote, “Kirilenko may not like me but he sure as hell agrees with me! ZB.”
  3. Turner signed “Stan” above this typed signature.