28. Memorandum From Rick Inderfurth of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) and the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Aaron)1


  • Cuba and Africa: Next Steps

As you know, today’s SCC meeting on the Horn will include a discussion on Cuban credits and the possibility of resuming Cuban reconnaissance overflights.2

For what it is worth, I believe it would be a mistake to rely on these tactics to influence Castro. The embargo has probably had a positive impact on the development of Cuba, certainly not a negative one. Past reconnaissance flights were an irritant, nothing more. I believe one of the greatest assets we have today with Castro is that he perceives the Carter Administration to be different than past Administrations. The initial turnoff of reconnaissance flights was a signal in this respect. I believe Castro understood it. Obviously, our decision to establish an interest section was a step in bettering relations, and I think Castro [Page 68] appreciated this, although his actions in Africa have not been influenced by it.

If we begin now to resort to old and ineffective tactics, I believe we will lose whatever chance we have for influencing Castro in a positive direction. He will say the same old crowd is in charge in Washington, nothing has changed, and he will go about his business accordingly.

What we must do, therefore, is to find positive ways to influence Castro, rather than negative ones. The Administration’s more cooperative approach to Latin America and Asia is one step in this direction, although a long term one. Our commitment to majority rule in Southern Africa and our pursuit of the Anglo-American plan will help to undercut Soviet and Cuban support among the front line states and the Patriotic Front.

I regret to say that I have no immediate answer to the question of how to induce Castro—in a positive way—to reduce his presence in Africa. I believe the SCC should ask for immediate recommendations on this. Perhaps actions toward the non-aligned nations would be one possibility. I am sure others could be conceived.

To reiterate, my basic point is that our best hope for influencing Castro is based on his perception that he is dealing with a new political team in Washington, one that is ready and able to challenge his “leadership” of the Third World.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 13, Cuba, 3–9/78. Secret.
  2. The meeting was rescheduled for March 27. See Document 29.