20. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter 1

SUBJECT

  • Further Comment on the Nixon and Kissinger Memcons with Mao and Chou

With reference to my memorandum of March 8 (attached),2 it seems to me, on further reflection and following a conversation with Cy Vance, that it would be wrong to consider the points of view expressed by Nixon and/or Kissinger as “secret pledges.”

A more appropriate definition of their statements would be “the Nixon Administration’s point of view.”

Though the distinction may strike you as formal, and though we might very well continue to abide by the points of view expressed to the Chinese, it might be a mistake to consider them as “secret pledges,” a wording that implies a much more formal commitment.

I think it is important to introduce this qualification for the record, especially since the previous memorandum bears your initials. Accord[Page 56]ingly, if you approve, you might wish to initial this memorandum as well and I will make certain that it is attached in the official records to my earlier memorandum of March 8.3

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 42, Meetings: 1–3/77. Top Secret; Eyes Only; Nodis.
  2. Printed as Document 16.
  3. An initialed copy of this memorandum was not found.