89. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter 1
- U.S. Policy to Nicaragua
After our discussion on Nicaragua this morning, David Aaron held a meeting with Newsom, Pete Vaky, Tony Lake and Bob Pastor to discuss developments in Nicaragua and options for U.S. policy.2 They worked off of a paper that had been prepared over the weekend by State and NSC.3 We all believe that the situation in Nicaragua is deteriorating rapidly and that Somoza has decided to take steps to suppress the moderate opposition, thus trying to force us to choose between him and the Sandinistas.
In response to your message last week,4 Costa Rican President Carazo suggested the idea of a joint Central American approach to mediate the transfer of power in Nicaragua. We believe this path offers the most promise, and Cy recommends (Tab A), and I concur, that you authorize the dispatch of the cable at Tab B to our Ambassador in [Page 242] Costa Rica instructing him to express U.S. Government support for the proposal.5
As the cable indicates, we believe it is more appropriate for the Central Americans to take the initiative on an issue of special concern to their security, and for us to support them, rather than the other way around. I should point out that the policy which we suggest represents a departure from our current policy of strict and passive non-intervention. But we believe that a multilateral effort at mediation, which is initiated by the Central Americans themselves, and the deteriorating situation in Nicaragua require us to adopt this new approach.
That you approve the dispatch of the cable at Tab B.6
- Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 56, Nicaragua: 1/77–11/78. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action.↩
- Brzezinski met with Carter on September 4 from 8:30 to 8:48 a.m. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary) No substantive record of the meeting has been found. For the memorandum of Aaron’s meeting, see Document 88.↩
- Not further identified.↩
- See footnote 2, Document 88.↩
- Ibid. Tab B is not attached.↩
- Following the recommendation, Brzezinski added: “subject to one minor change that I made on Vance’s draft; his memo to you represents a joint position. A page or two on the internal political alternatives will be ready in a day. ZB.” Carter approved the recommendation and wrote “see note” beneath it. Pastor sent an undated memorandum entitled “Politics in Nicaragua: Opposition to Somoza,” under a September 5 memorandum to Brzezinski. According to a handwritten notation, Brzezinski opted to “hold till after SCC or PRC meeting on this.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 35, Nicaragua, 2/77–9/78)↩
- Secret; Sensitive. Carter initialed the top of the first page of the memorandum.↩
- See footnote 2, Document 88.↩
- In a September 3 draft memorandum to Vance, Vaky and Lake presented five options regarding Somoza: 1) detached neutrality; 2) disassociation; 3) support; 4) mediation; or 5) arbitration. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor Files, Country Files, Box 33, Nicaragua: 9/1–12/78)↩
- Not attached. Carter approved this recommendation and added the following notation: “Para 5. Add requirement of early move to democracy. J.” See Document 90.↩