66. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to the Director of the International Communication Agency (Reinhardt)1


  • Broadcasts to USSR and Eastern Europe (U)

In my view, one of the most important themes that we should be conveying to VOA audiences in the USSR and Eastern Europe, particularly at this time when there is considerable focus on Soviet/Cuban activities throughout the world, is the fact that the resources spent by the Soviets in Cuba, Vietnam and elsewhere are coming right out of the pockets of consumers in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. [Page 205] For example, Moscow provides petroleum to Havana at a substantial discount and pays the Cubans five times the world price for sugar. The net effect is a direct lowering of the standard of living of Soviet citizens.2 (C)

I believe that for foreign policy reasons it is very important to get this message across to your many VOA listeners, and would therefore appreciate receiving, by c.o.b. October 5, assurances from ICA that this theme is being given the attention it deserves in your broadcasts. (U)

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 112, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Voice of America: 10–12/79. Confidential. In a September 25 Evening Report to Brzezinski, Brement reported that Ambassador Dick Davis, who was running a task force looking at overseas reporting, told him that the U.S. Government was “not doing nearly enough to get across to our VOA audiences in the USSR and Eastern Europe that the dollars spent by the Soviets in Cuba, Vietnam, and elsewhere are coming out of the pockets of Soviet and Eastern European consumers.” Brzezinski marked the paragraph and wrote in the margin “Give me a clear tasking memo to ICA.” (Ibid.) Brement forwarded a draft to Brzezinski on September 29. (Ibid.)
  2. On October 12, Brement notified Brzezinski that Reinhardt had not yet responded to his October 1 memorandum and suggested a follow-up reminder. In an October 15 memorandum to Reinhardt, Aaron added that the NSC had received “a reliable intelligence report stating that many Soviet citizens in high positions within the Party were ‘griping about Soviet foreign aid and foreign involvement’” and “resent it for what they see as its negative impact on the quality of life in the USSR.” (Ibid.)