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


  • Meeting with Chaves

Attached at Tab I is a memorandum from you to the Vice President.2 It suggests that the Vice President use the opportunity of his meeting3 with Chaves to try to set a new tone for our relationship with the new administration in Brazil. I suspect the visit with the Vice President will be primarily protocolary in nature, and so I suggest that you use your half-hour before to try to get to know something more about what the new administration in Brazil wants to do, and how they view the US.4 I suspect that the new administration really wants to improve its overall relationship with the US, and there is some evidence to suggest that they may be reviewing their nuclear policies. While I don’t believe that the reason for this review is to accommodate us, I feel reasonably certain that they are aware that will be the consequence, and I don’t believe they are displeased by that fact. I also believe the new administration is committed to political liberalization, and while I am not so certain about how much a democrat Figueiredo is, I suspect that Chaves is personally and deeply committed to liberalization. I think we want to be encouraging of this process, without being condescending.

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Knowing your views about the importance of strong relationships with key regional powers, it might be helpful to remember Kissinger’s problem with trying to develop a “special relationship” with Brazil. Nixon and Kissinger both singled out in their statements Brazil as a special partner of the US. (Nixon said, “As Brazil goes, so goes Latin America.”) The strategy backfired, generating just as much suspicion about US motives among the Brazilians, many of whom are suspicious to start with, as among Latin Americans.

In fact, I would argue that it is more in our interest for Brazil to play the role of a Third World leader, independent of the US, than as an emerging power which has a special relationship with the US. The North-South Dialogue is not going to go away, and frankly, I would prefer to have Brazil on the other side of the table, moderating the G–77, than in limbo in-between. Moreover, Brazil is still a military dictatorship, and while we want to encourage a public perception of Brazil as a society which is undergoing rapid political liberalization, still, we should not ignore the very strong public perception of Brazil as being ruled by generals, which, of course, it is.

But Chaves is a civilian, an engineer, and a well respected politician. I recommend that you ask him what conclusion he draws from the recent campaign and election, and how that will affect the new administration. I think it will be extremely useful for you also to give him a briefing of US global policies. Ambassador Sayre also suggests that you or the Vice President also ask him about how he envisages the relationship between the new Congress and the new Administration in the light of the repeal of the emergency powers of Institutional Act no. 5.5

Chaves has said that he personally admires you, and is known to even quote from you in impromptu speeches, which is something that you don’t even do, though I always do.6


That you forward the memorandum at Tab I, with the biography at Tab A, and State’s talking points at Tab B, to the Vice President.7

  1. Source: Carter Library, White House Central File, Subject File, Confidential, Box CO-13, Folder CO 22 1/20/77-1/20/81. Confidential. Sent for action.
  2. Not attached. The memorandum, dated December 4, is ibid.
  3. Pastor wrote in the right-hand margin, “(Dec 5).”
  4. An unknown hand underlined the phrases “I suggest” and “you use your half-hour before to try to get to know.”
  5. Telegram 9308 from Brasilia, November 29. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780492-1040)
  6. Brzezinski underlined the phrase “that you don’t even do” and wrote in the left-hand margin, “I don’t quote myself!”
  7. Brzezinski checked the approve option. At the bottom of the memorandum, an unknown hand wrote, “original of Tab I given to Denis Clift for V.P.” Tabs A and B were not found attached.