209. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to Secretary of State Vance and Secretary of Defense Brown 1


  • U.S.-Saudi Military Supply Relationship

I would like to draw your attention to the recent cable by Ambassador West 2 in which he states that Saudi Arabia’s recent security assistance requests represent a “litmus test” of the special bilateral relationship that exists between our two countries. He believes that responsiveness to the Saudi effort to obtain their military supply needs is no longer an option; it has become an imperative. To successive recent high-level U.S. visitors, such as the President,3 Duncan 4 and Christopher,5 the Saudi leadership has made it unmistakable—satisfaction of their arms transfer requests is a paramount policy issue of overriding importance. West adds that the option available to the U.S. is not whether, but how to meet Saudi security needs. He emphasizes that our response therefore must be constructive, comprehensive and for the long term since it involves the most vital objectives of U.S. foreign policy and the “privileged relationship” with Saudi Arabia. (S)

I tend to agree with him and this is why I feel we should accelerate our response to the Saudis, striving to accommodate them as much as possible, and on an urgent basis. Let us review this situation at the next V–B–B. (S)

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 68, Saudi Arabia: 3/80. Secret.
  2. Reference is to West’s discussion of the U.S.-Saudi military supply program in telegram 1674 from Jidda, March 12. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800130–0237)
  3. See Document 164.
  4. Duncan visited Saudi Arabia March 1–4. He reported to the SCC on his trip on March 21. See Document 210.
  5. See Document 207.