80. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • NSC Weekly Report #141

1. Status Report on the Security Framework for the Persian Gulf.

I have chaired eleven SCC meetings on security framework issues for the Persian Gulf. Getting results is like pulling teeth. The complicated interests and issues make progress difficult; bureaucratic resist-ance makes it more so. State is fearful of military power projected into the region. Defense is unable to act expeditiously, lacks funds, especially for operations and exercises, and cannot break through service rivalries to build a command structure for the region. Nonetheless, progress has been made. You should get more political and international credit for it. This memorandum, therefore, is a status report. (S)

The Strategic and Political Context

In your State of the Union Address,2 you declared the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia to be the third strategic zone for western security, interrelated to Europe and Asia because our allies have vital interests there. At the same time, you set three goals for us for the year:

  • 1. To make the Soviets pay a price for invading Afghanistan.
  • 2. To get the allies to help us make the Soviets pay a price.
  • 3. To build a security framework to protect our vital interests in the Persian Gulf region. (S)

It is frequently asserted that we have no concept or strategy for the Persian Gulf security framework. Although we have not publicly spelled it out, I have been developing one in the course of the SCCs. It is truly cross-cutting in its implications, but its four basic components and their sub-categories make a solid analytical structure and also tend to fit the division of bureaucratic responsibilities in the interagency arena. They are:

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I. Military Issues—Defense Leading: This includes U.S. force capabilities; local defense capabilities, interrelation between U.S. force projection and local defense; and NATO force implications. (S)

II. Foreign Policy Issues—State Leading: This includes the Middle East peace process; the northern Tier—Pakistan and Turkey; the Arabian Peninsula; the Horn of Africa. (S)

III. Economic Issues—State, Energy, and Treasury sharing: This includes oil; Western economic assistance; Saudi financing; Western energy policy; international monetary policy. (S)

IV. Intelligence Issues—The DCI leads: We have a number of programs under way which you are aware of. CIA is developing a regional approach to integrate the several pieces. (S)

Status Report

To provide you with as succinct a summary of progress as possible, I have arrayed the SCC results for each of the security framework components in chart form at Tab A.3 You will find things very compact there. If you desire more detail, you can review the tabular forms at Tab B. For a dynamic sense of where we would like to go, you should review the charts at Tab C. They show timing for various issues, both past and future. The future projections are for planning guidance. Meeting the schedule for each, of course, is highly problematical. (S)

Further Goals

In order to provide concrete and compelling answers to the questions about a security framework for the Persian Gulf which flow from your State of the Union Address, I have set the following to be attained by fall. Some of them will not be easy, but I want to put them before you to help give you a sense of direction related to possible concrete actions:

I. Military Issues.

—A unified command structure for the region.

—Ground forces exercises in the region, demonstrating the viability of the RDF.

—More basing access (rear basing in Egypt, forward basing in the Persian Gulf).

—Institutionalized military and internal stability ties with Saudi Arabia. (S)

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II. Foreign Policy Issues.

—Progress in the autonomy talks.

—Improved relations with Pakistan to the point that a Pakistani deal with Moscow is out of the question.

—Firmer relations with Oman and Somalia.

—Diffusion or elimination of the hostage problem. (S)

III. Economic Issues.

—A larger economic and security assistance commitment by both the U.S. and our allies to key states in the region. Pakistan is most critical.

—More influence over Saudi aid within the region.

—Progress on the energy conservation front and stability in the oil market. (S)

IV. Intelligence Issues.

—Viable programs in Afghanistan, Iran, PDRY, and the Horn. (S)

Possible Next Steps

There are a number of ways which might gain you more credit for these security framework activities. First, you might let Defense and State know that you are following their performance. Second, you could issue a Presidential Directive based on the concept. It could give a sense of direction and policy perseverance to our allies in Europe, to friendly states in the Persian Gulf region, and to foreign policy pundits in the U.S. (S)

2. National Security Affairs Calendar (attached at Tab D)

  1. Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Subject File, Box 42, Weekly Reports [To the President] 136–150: [4/80–8/80]. Secret. Carter wrote in the upper right-hand margin of the page: “Zbig—This is good. I would like brief State, DoD & OMB comments— J.”
  2. See Document 45.
  3. None of the tabs was found.