103. Summary of Conclusions of a Presidential Review Committee Meeting1


  • Southwest Asia



    • Secretary Cyrus Vance
    • Deputy Secretary Warren Christopher
    • Mr. David Newsom, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
    • Mr. Harold Saunders, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
  • OSD

    • Secretary Harold Brown
    • Deputy Secretary W. Graham Claytor, Jr.
  • JCS

    • Admiral Thomas Hayward
    • Lt. General John Pustay
  • DCI

    • Admiral Stansfield Turner
    • Deputy Director Frank Carlucci

    • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
    • Mr. David Aaron, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • NSC

    • Mr. Thomas Thornton, Staff Member
    • Mr. Marshall Brement, Staff Member


The PRC met to discuss the situation in Southern Asia, especially in light of recent events in Afghanistan. Admiral Turner briefed on the fast-moving situation in Kabul, noting that the Soviet military presence in the country was as high as perhaps 10,000. (S)

[Omitted here is discussion related to India and Pakistan.]

With regard to Afghanistan:

[Page 292]

—The PRC was briefed by CIA on certain covert action programs and discussed these. Official action was postponed until a later SCC meeting. (S)

—Dr. Brzezinski noted that OMB was causing difficulties in implementing a more aggressive broadcasting program to cover the Afghan and related situations. The Vice President asked for additional information so that he could talk to OMB. It was also noted that a recent comment made in the course of a PRC meeting, on the need not to take propaganda initiatives that might cause problems for SALT ratification, did not constitute guidance for the operating agencies. (S)

—Secretary Vance urged strongly that the Afghan situation not be raised in the UN at this moment, lest it distract attention from our efforts to free the hostages in Iran. There was general support. (S)

It was agreed that the possibility of a dialogue with Iraq be explored, based on security factors in order to avoid the sterility of political discussions. It was noted that an American emissary was already scheduled to visit Iraq. (S)

The meeting concluded with a discussion of how we should deal with the Soviets concerning Afghanistan. There was widespread concern that the Soviets may not appreciate the impact that their actions in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and perhaps Angola, are having on American opinion. A further demarche by Ambassador Watson was authorized on the basis of revisions made in the draft instructions tabled by State.2 Beyond that, however, it was felt that the Soviets had to be dealt with more forcefully. The Vice President suggested that Majority Leader Byrd might be asked to read the riot act to the Soviet Chargé; the possibility of a hotline message to Brezhnev was also discussed.3 No decisions were made, pending the outcome of the NSC meeting on December 28. (S)4

Secretary Brown will include all of these subjects in his discussions with the Chinese.5 It will be announced following his trip that security issues of Southwest Asia had been discussed between the two sides. (S)

Secretary Vance emphasized the danger of any leaks from this meeting and said no backgrounding should be done without the highest level authorization. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Thornton, Country File, Box 102, Policy Review Committee (PRC): Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Their Neighbors, 12/27/79: 11/79–1/80. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. For the minutes of the meeting, see Document 102.
  2. For Watson’s first démarche, see Document 101. No record of a second was found.
  3. No record of a discussion between Byrd and the Soviet Chargé was found. For the hotline message from Carter to Brezhnev, see Document 113.
  4. See Document 107.
  5. See Documents 149 and 150.