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


  • U.S. Policy to Argentina

This memorandum responds to your questions and comments on my memo of August 9 on Argentina.2

You asked how we can get hold of the policy and also asked me for a memo on the fact that State did not consult with NSC in selecting its policy towards Argentina. I don’t think it would be productive to send a memorandum to the Secretary expressing displeasure for not being consulted on a previous decision.3

On Friday, I spoke to Vaky about Argentina. I asked him as well as Christopher’s office, to keep me fully informed, and I expected that [Page 287] I would be asked to attend the meeting to discuss it.4 I wasn’t, but Vaky brought me up-to-date. He said that he and Newsom had agreed to send Vaky to Argentina at the end of the month to make one last attempt at breaking the impasse in U.S.-Argentine relations. In order to improve the prospects of a successful meeting between Vaky and Videla, they hope to obtain State-NSC5 approval of several items in the munitions control list. This could then be presented as a positive gesture of our interest in good relations. In addition, it is vitally important that we make an attempt at mediating between an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Argentine Government in a way which permits the latter to save face and the former to preserve its institutional integrity. Vaky also thinks that a Presidential letter reiterating the President’s interest in good relations with Argentina would be useful, and while I think it is also a good idea, I think we should wait until we have looked at the whole range of decisions that need to be made before we consider a letter.6

I had originally planned to recommend that you send a memo to Vance which, in effect, requested that the next round of decisions on U.S. policy to Argentina would be made with full NSC involvement and consultation by the NSC, but after speaking with Vaky, and repeating your interest that we stay very much involved, he assured me that he would keep me involved. I am not so certain that Dave Newsom, who made the previous decisions without the NSC’s involvement, is as interested as Vaky is. Perhaps a brief mention of this to the Secretary would be helpful. To the extent that I am involved, I will, of course, keep you fully informed.7

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Country Files, Box 1, Argentina, 1–8/78. Confidential. Sent for action. Inderfurth initialed the top right-hand corner of the memorandum. Brzezinski wrote in the top right-hand corner of the memorandum: “RI DR item for the P.”
  2. See Document 84.
  3. Brzezinski highlighted this sentence and wrote in the left-hand margin, “why not?”
  4. “Friday” refers to August 11. In an August 7 memorandum to Brzezinski, Christopher wrote, “We have been probing for ways to take a more forthcoming stance on Argentina.” He further noted, “After Vaky returns from Colombia on Wednesday, he, Newsom, and I will meet to review the situation again.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Country Files, Box 1, Argentina, 1–8/78) “Wednesday” refers to August 9. No record of this meeting has been found.
  5. Brzezinski underlined the phrase “State-NSC.”
  6. Brzezinski highlighted this sentence.
  7. In a memorandum to Pastor, August 16, Inderfurth wrote, “ZB has informed the President that Vaky will go to Argentina, several items on the munitions control list may be approved, we will make an attempt to mediate between the Human Rights Commission and the Argentine Government, and a letter to Videla from the President may be necessary.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 4, Argentina, 1/77–12/78)