13. Memorandum From the Counselor-Designate of the Department of State (McFarlane) to the Director-Designate of Policy Planning (Wolfowitz)1


  • Study of East-West Relations

I believe your draft includes all of the regional and functional components essential to a comprehensive study of East-West relations.2 My only reservation concerns what I believe to be a need to establish the philosophical contextual setting in which the study will take place. [Page 32] As you know, military studies always begin by defining “the threat.” I believe we should use another term but that (the threat) is what I’m trying to get at in calling for a contextual setting.

Specifically, what is our assessment of the Soviet Union’s goals—its geopolitical objectives and long-term game plan? In other words, what do we believe are the dimensions of the problem we must deal with in the near-midterm period? This section need not be terribly long but I believe that in some study at the outset of this Administration we must say what we believe about the enduring purposes and objectives of the Soviet Union. I recall Sam Huntington’s piece in connection with PRM–103 which did (whether one agrees with it or not) provide one man’s contextual setting.

From that broad overview, each of your component pieces flows logically; that is, after we state our fundamental beliefs about their long-term intentions, we can consider how their ability to carry out those intentions are affected by the “Soviet internal scene” today, “US-Soviet bilateral relations” and other dimensions of our relationship world-wide.

Again, with apologies for my military methodology, I would tend to follow this threat section with an overview of our present resources for coping with it in a very broad sense. For example, what is the state of our alliances? Do we all hold a common perception of the threat? What is the state of the military balance across the force spectrum? What is the state of the economic balance? This amounts to a “net assessment.” Once you have done that, you will have identified political, economic, and military shortfalls (or surpluses). This leads to an identification of your vulnerabilities. For example, I believe we would both focus on our vulnerability to economic disruption arising from Soviet capabilities to exercise prevailing influence over Persian Gulf resources. If that is true, the study would need to treat—as you propose in paragraph 3—how we restore effective deterrence in the Persian Gulf area. Related analysis would also focus on how we restore free world political strength in that area.

All of the above need not alter your fundamental approach. I express it only to confirm that we both view the scope of the study along the same lines, generally.

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Draft Study Prepared by the Policy Planning Staff 4

East-West Relations Terms of Reference

1—Soviet Internal Scene. Examine current Soviet political dynamics, prospects for Brezhnev succession and impact on US/Soviet relations. Assess state of Soviet economy, including dependencies that could be exploited or could lead Moscow toward foreign adventures. Discuss Soviet nationalities problem and dissident movement.

2—US/Soviet Bilateral Relations. How can we exploit Soviet belief that they will be able “to do business” with tougher but more consistent US Administration. How do questions of style and rhetoric play into substance of our relations? Discuss the status of established bilateral cooperative arrangements and describe those that are advantageous to us and of real interest to Moscow. What policies can we follow now that will lead to more moderate Soviet foreign/security policy in the future.

3—Priority Problems.

(a)—Military Security/Arms Control. Identify US conventional and theatre nuclear force posture weaknesses which undercut our capacity to compete effectively with the USSR in Europe and in other parts of the world. Suggest what in broad terms needs to be done to correct conventional and TNF deficiencies, and, taking account of general Administration budgetary projections, assess regional priorities. Identify potential new deployments (eg—ERW, CW) which require allied assent. This section also should discuss how arms control could, in tandem with force posture adjustments, serve the goals described above. In this connection identify current broad US/allied negotiating goals for MBFR, CDE and LRTNF talks, assess prospects for their achievement and discuss possible alternative objectives. (Strategic forces and SALT will be considered in separate studies.)

(b)—Poland. Summarize present internal political situation in Poland, likely developments through June 1, potential effects on Polish political structure and fall-out effect in other East European states. Consider possible Soviet reactions, identify potential “trigger points” and indicate interaction of Soviet Polish policy with broader US/Soviet [Page 34] relationship. Review possible US reprisals for Soviet invasion, likely allied reactions and Soviet responses. Analyze Polish economic prospects and broad US/Western options, including possible multilateral (or multiple-bilateral) debt rescheduling.

(c)—Afghanistan/Southwest Asia. Discuss state of Soviet control in Afghanistan, internal political equation and prospects for negotiated solution. Assess effectiveness of current sanctions, their viability and how they could be made more effective. Review options for supporting Afghan rebels, in cooperation with other countries, and steps needed to strengthen Pakistan and deter further Soviet intervention in Southwest Asia.

4—Economic Issues. Summarize the state of US/Soviet trade, joint ventures and technology transfers and the effects of Afghanistan related sanctions. Assess merits of tightening up/easing off on sanctions and what could be achieved in short and medium terms. On the East-West economic front, review Soviet/European gas pipeline, CSCE energy conference, COCOM rules and allied cooperation on common export credit policies toward USSR. Assess in broad terms how we can use economic and security assistance to support US competition with USSR.

5—US/Soviet Competition in Developing World. Discuss how we can counter the political-military influence of Moscow and Soviet client regimes (including Cuba, Libya, PDRY, Ethiopia, Angola and Syria) and how we can exploit their vulnerabilities. Identify potential Soviet “targets of opportunity” in next year and how to cope with such dangers. Consider what can be done to undercut Vietnamese control of Kampuchea and support Thailand and ASEAN states. Identify possible US surrogates with which we can cooperate in Third Countries (eg, Morocco in Africa). This analysis should take account of indigenous forces of nationalism.

6—Core Alliance Partners. Discuss how we can generate European and Japanese cooperation in containing Soviet expansionism in developing world. Identify particular problems/vulnerability of key allies (eg—FRG) and how to gain their support. In this connection, analyze the “division of labor” concept and how it might be applied to political, economic and security areas, taking account of distinctive roles of Europeans and Japan. How can we ensure that allies blame USSR rather than US if East-West relations turn colder.

7—China. Analyze US interests in the Sino-Soviet-American triangular relationship and how to manage these relationships to our advantage. Discuss how Sino-American cooperation can limit Soviet expansion, including diplomatic and military consultations, intelligence sharing and parallel approaches toward Kampuchea and other international issues. How does arms supply issue fit into this picture. Indicate how Chinese relationships with Japan and Europeans might serve these goals.

[Page 35]

8—Eastern Europe. Review the degrees of internal liberalization and external independence of the East European states and discuss options for promoting the gradual development of those two trends in cooperation with our key allies. Analyze how we can exploit endemic East European economic problems to enhance our influence and their freedom of action vis-a-vis Moscow, especially as the USSR is increasingly unable to bail them out. Discuss how these goals can be furthered in the short-term and longer-term without provoking internal political convulsions and Soviet interventions.

9—Political Competition. Discuss strategy for combating Soviet subversive activities, in Europe and Japan, as well as in developing world. Describe options for public affairs diplomacy (including ICA/VOA), ways to counter Soviet “peace offensive” in allied countries and methods for highlighting Soviet interventions and the weak Soviet foreign assistance record in LDCs. Discuss possibilities for cooperation with allied and friendly countries.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S–I Records: Official Papers of Counselor McFarlane, Lot 82D128, McFarlane’s Chron—January/February 1981. Secret.
  2. Printed as an attachment.
  3. Reference is to the comprehensive net assessment led by Samuel Huntington, a consultant to the National Security Council, during the first several months of the Carter administration. Documentation pertaining to PRM–10 is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. IV, National Security Policy.
  4. Secret. A handwritten note in the upper right-hand corner reads: “Wolfowitz 2/6 memo.”