248. Editorial Note

On December 5, 1982, President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs William Clark chaired an informal meeting at the White House—as he had proposed to President Ronald Reagan the previous day (see Document 247)—to consider the prospects for improvement in Soviet-American relations. No formal record of the substance of this meeting was found. Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Dam dictated a personal note that evening in which he reported: “I accompanied the Secretary to a meeting in the Situation Room chaired by Bill Clark. This was a Cabinet-level group with Ed Meese and Jim Baker included. The purpose was to discuss where we go from here with the Soviet Union. The outcome of the meeting was to designate me to chair a working-level group on the subject.” (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S–I Records: Deputy Secretary Dam’s Official Files, Lot 85D308, Personal Notes of Deputy Secretary—Kenneth W. Dam—Oct. 1982–Sept. 1983)

On December 6, Dam dictated a personal note: “At 4:30 in the afternoon I met with the working group that had been set up at the meeting yesterday. This meeting in the Situation Room involved Eagleburger, Ikle, McFarlane, General Gorman, Admiral Murphy, and Casey, who was there because McMahon was unable to come. We discussed a series of studies to be done to help determine where we should be going in our relationship with the Soviet Union over the next two years, with special reference to the next six months. The midpoint in the Reagan first term happens to coincide with the succession of Andropov to the leadership in the Soviet Union. Beyond that, we discussed how we could get in a position to decide how to respond to any sudden Soviet initiatives, either substantive or propaganda, in the near term. It was recognized that such an initiative was likely in the INF area; therefore particular attention needs to be paid to the substance of the issues in that area.” (Ibid.)

Dam chaired another meeting of his working group on December 8. In a memorandum to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs Robert McFarlane later that day, Major General Richard Boverie reported: “I attended DepSecState Dam’s meeting today on arms control. (This was the second such meeting.) Other attendees included Larry Eagleburger, Fred Ikle, Richard Perle, and Lt. Gen. Paul Gorman. The bulk of the meeting was devoted to a general discussion of the pros and cons of arms control. In brief, the highlights were: —Richard Perle noted that a case could be made that the past dozen years of arms control has been harmful to our national security (the military balance has shifted adversely, etc.). He also said that we must engage in negotiations, but that we have to determine what our objec[Page 820]tives and interests really are in such negotiations. —General Gorman said that in the past few years the Chiefs have turned 180 degrees on the issue. They now believe that arms control can be useful in capping the Soviet buildup. —Fred Ikle said that we will be facing some very difficult—perhaps insurmountable—verification problems in the future. Secretary Dam concluded the meeting by indicating that the subject for the next meeting will be cruise missiles (including verification of cruise missiles) and that the subject for the meeting following that will be verification control.” (Reagan Library, McFarlane Files, McFarlane Chron—December 1982)