1. Letter From Senator Thomas Eagleton to Professor Zbigniew Brzezinski 1

Dear Zbig:

While we touched on the national security issue at our lunch the other day, we failed to discuss a challenge Ford can present in debate which best exposes the mutually exclusive goals we recommend for Governor Carter, i.e., win over the Greek-Americans while guarding against alienating the Turks. This challenge would come in the form of a question designed to elicit the Governor’s specific position on the Defense Cooperation Agreement with Turkey. The question might be phrased as follows:

Governor Carter has acknowledged the great importance of Turkey to the security of the United States. My Administration, after months of negotiation, has concluded an agreement with that NATO ally that will enable the United States to reopen our vital intelligence bases, and to assure the integrity of NATO’s southern flank. The Democratic Congress has refused even to consider this agreement thereby further damaging our relations with Turkey and setting back our efforts to gain a Cyprus settlement. I think it is vitally important to know whether Governor Carter will support the implementation of this agreement if he becomes President, or whether he is willing to precipitate a crisis with Turkey that could leave our country badly weakened in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Demirel government, which has steadfastly maintained its pro-West outlook, has banked its prestige on its agreement with the [Page 2]United States. The four-year agreement was designed to satisfy the Turkish demand for a “Congress-proof” pact. It has significantly alleviated political pressure on Demirel, though the State Department argues that he is becoming increasingly nervous over congressional inaction as his government approaches an election year.

Therefore, although the signing of a new arms agreement with Turkey at this time ignores the will of Congress and seems a poor prescription for a tense situation, the failure to implement the agreement will undoubtedly elicit a strong Turkish reaction. Turkey could close our bases permanently and/or drop out of the military arm of NATO (though, like Greece, maintaining its membership in the political council).

Governor Carter’s outright rejection of the agreement will significantly compromise his ability to deal with Turkey later. And, if he embraces it in any way, Greek-Americans will be offended.

My recommendation is that Governor Carter use the opening to recount the failure of the Ford/Kissinger policy on Cyprus and the Administration’s inability to work with Congress in designing a foreign policy that deserves public support. The Governor should stress that his Administration will provide an opportunity for a fresh look at the Cyprus problem—a complex problem involving both humanitarian and security considerations.2

He should state that his Administration will be guided by a concern for the rule of law and by a strong desire to bring relief to the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities through a just settlement along lines prescribed by U.N. Resolution 365.3 The pragmatics of our defense relationship with Greece and Turkey will not be ignored, but the new policy will be grounded on high principle, reflecting the American people’s basic sense of fairness.

With respect to the agreement with Turkey negotiated by Secretary Kissinger,4 it should be noted that Congress was understandably [Page 3]reluctant to act on an agreement which, if implemented in the absence of a similar agreement for Greece, would have badly distorted the balance of military power in the eastern Mediterranean. (If the agreement with Greece is submitted before the end of this session of Congress, the same argument can be used but with the added point that there was no time to carefully consider the implications of both agreements.)

The Governor should then assert that it would be improper for a prospective President to comment on whether any particular international agreement—particularly one not yet approved by Congress—would comport with whatever policy a future Administration might adopt.

Finally, Zbig, let me say this: I recognize that the foregoing may be a bit too detailed insofar as setting forth the essence of a sound position for Governor Carter to have in his mind in a national debate. Frankly, this position was devised as a response to a specific question which may not be forthcoming. As a general proposition, I think Carter might be better off sticking to the following fundamentals on Cyprus:

1.) The Kissinger/Ford Cyprus policy has been an unmitigated disaster, alienating Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey simultaneously!

2.) As President he will instruct his new Secretary of State to give priority attention to the matter and to use the influence and good offices of the United States to work with all the interested parties.

3.) That a solution on Cyprus, like it or not, is intertwined (avoiding the code word “linked”) with other disputes between Greece and Turkey (e.g. Aegean oil).

4.) A fresh approach by a fresh Administration might work. The old approach by the old Administration will be simply more of the same and is doomed to failure.5

I am saying in essence that, politically, the best defense on Cyprus is a good offense. To the extent that you dwell on past failures of U.S. policy, Carter’s ability to deal with the problem later will be preserved.

I hope this is of some help.

Best regards,

Thomas F. Eagleton 6
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, 1976–77 Transition File (Anthony Lake), Box 103, Cyprus/Turkey: 5–10/76. No classification marking. The letter was sent from Brzezinski to Governor Carter’s advisers Stuart Eizenstat and Robert Hunter under a September 7 covering memorandum alerting them to the likelihood that the Cyprus issue would come up during Carter’s Presidential campaign. Brzezinski, a professor at Columbia University, advised Carter on foreign affairs during the campaign. Also attached but not printed is an August 30 status report on congressional hearings on the Defense Cooperation Agreement between the United States and Turkey.
  2. An unknown hand, most likely Brzezinski’s, drew a vertical line in the left margin adjacent to this and the next two paragraphs.
  3. UN Security Council Resolution 365, adopted on December 13, 1974, endorsed General Assembly Resolution 3212 of November 1, 1974. Following the Greek-supported coup of Greek Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios in July 1974 and subsequent Turkish invasion of the northern portion of Cyprus, Resolution 3212 called for the ongoing “sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and non-alignment of the Republic of Cyprus” and for the “speedy withdrawal of all foreign armed forces and foreign military presence and personnel from Cyprus, and the cessation of all foreign interference in its affairs.” (Yearbook of the United Nations, 1974, p. 285) A discussion of UN Resolution 365 is ibid., pp. 288–290.
  4. For background on the Ford administration’s attempts to restore military aid to Turkey, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXX, Greece; Cyprus; Turkey, 1973–1976, Documents 228230. On October 2, 1974, the House voted to lift partially the arms embargo against Turkey. (Congress and the Nation, vol. IV, 1973–1976, pp. 866–867)
  5. In the margin, an unknown hand, most likely Brzezinski’s, drew a vertical line highlighting points 1 through 4 and an arrow pointing to the line for emphasis.
  6. Eagleton signed “Tom” above this typed signature.