33. Minutes of the Principals of the Department of State Staff Meeting1

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Soviet Union.]

Grain Embargo: AMH spoke to Sen. Baker yesterday on the embargo issue. Baker’s comments (according to AMH came from Nunn) is that there are issues that come up to politicians from the people, and there are those that go down from the politicians. The embargo reflects the type of issue that needs to go down to the people from the political leadership. AMH is concerned that the President will not take the tough line on this. Last time this was discussed at the Cabinet level, the President listened for awhile, and then walked out with no decision. AMH will “staunchly resist” removing the embargo. Cites “incredible consequences” on the Soviet side. Will need to coordinate this with the allies and will also discuss with Dobrynin tomorrow at lunch.2

[Page 89]

White House: AMH said that there is a “no hold barred” effort against State and AMH coming from the White House. The Allen speech on Saturday3 was a disaster coming on the heels of the Pipes mess last week. AMH said that there is an attitude in the White House that we have to take the Europeans to the top of the mountain and watch them bleed. The “better red than dead” attitudes of European pacifists were a function of flawed US leadership, and instead of carping at Europe, we should correct that leadership. This bitching and bullshitting in Europe is killing us (and mobilizing the Left), and the Social Democrats are really gunning for us now. We have to realize that there are West-West tensions too, not just East-West problems. AMH will speak “very frankly” to the President about this today.

Bush to Geneva: AMH chastised the group for having him do the “bullshit” work. He had made the original call to the VP to get the ball rolling, and now it was time for staff work. The point is that when issues get more involved beyond the original high-level contact the new matters should be taken care of at the Exec. Assistant level, and not at the top.

Nicaragua: AMH is quite concerned that the President will not take the tough road here. Noted that if he goes soft, the polls will rise, and that is a great temptation.

Poland: Stoessel reviewed the Polish situation, and AMH said “we all know where that is going.”

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Soviet Union.]

Dobrynin lunch: AMH told Dyess he could respond on the lunch, and also asked that we inform Doby of the goings on. AMH did not know from last time that Doby did know in advance, and that he simply chose to ignore clear instructions to go to C Street. Apparently AMH did not even know that Doby was coming in the front.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Haig Papers, Day File, Box CL 31, March 23, 1981. Confidential.
  2. See Document 35.
  3. Reference is to a March 21 speech Allen delivered to the Conservative Political Action Committee. (“Reagan Aide Assails Pacifism in Europe,” New York Times, March 22, 1981, p. 1)