175. Memorandum From Robert Pastor of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • U.S.-Brazil Military Relations

As I mentioned to you last week, Secretary of Defense Harold Brown followed up a conversation he had with the President on U.S.-Brazil military relations with a letter to Secretary Vance which suggests a great number of initiatives for establishing a special U.S.-Brazil military relationship.2 I have great doubts that the President envisaged such a relationship when he spoke to Brown, or that he understood the political consequences in Brazil, in Latin America, and in the United States of trying to restore such a special military relationship at this time. I have also learned from our new Ambassador to Brazil, Bob Sayre, that DOD officials have, on their own, floated these initiatives to their Brazilian counterparts, and elicited no response.3 I therefore believe it is necessary and important to get some more guidance from the President on what he had in mind when he asked Brown to explore this issue.

I should caution you that an attempt to elicit more guidance on this subject from the President at this time could conceivably be interpreted as trying to preempt DOD’s study. Christopher’s Special Assistant alerted me to Brown’s letter, which I attach at Tab A for your information, but DOD has not.4 I think a memo along the lines which I suggest at Tab I for you to send to the President would be useful in limiting DOD’s study to subjects which would yield something useful.5 It could also put DOD on guard not to talk to Brazilians about these proposals without instructions. I fear that DOD is currently pursuing a path which can only embarrass the President.

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Therefore, I would recommend that you send the memo at Tab I and that we suggest to DOD more productive lines of inquiry.

Alternatively, you may want to just mention to Harold Brown the problems inherent in the questions he’s asking and the approach he’s recommending and suggest a more specific focus for his study. Also, you may want to suggest that he submit his study to the President through the NSC.6

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 6, Brazil, 4/78-1/81. Confidential. In the top right-hand corner of the memorandum, Aaron wrote: “BP Let State handle this. If there is a problem then we will take it up with the President. DA 5/25” Inderfurth also initialed the top right-hand corner of the memorandum.
  2. See Document 174.
  3. Inderfurth drew a line to the left-hand margin and wrote, “DOD should not be doing this. RI
  4. Attached; printed as Document 174. Comments by Oxman and Schneider on draft responses to Brown are in the National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Deputy Secretary: Records of Warren Christopher, 1977–1980, Lot 81D113, Box 25, Brazil.
  5. Tab I is attached but not printed.
  6. Inderfurth highlighted this paragraph and wrote in the left-hand margin, “Why not raise this at a V-B-B lunch? Rick.” He also drew a line to the bottom of the memorandum and wrote “absolutely RI” beneath the recommendations. There is no indication of approval or disapproval of either recommendation.