45. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Haig Breakfast, 23 April 1981


  • State

    • Secretary Haig
    • Deputy Secretary Clark
    • Bud McFarlane 2
    • Rick Burt
  • Defense

    • Secretary Weinberger
    • Deputy Secretary Carlucci
    • Fred Ikle
    • Jay Rixse
    • Carl Smith

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

4. (C/NF) The Secretary [Weinberger] then raised a short item having to do with licenses for pipelaying in the Soviet Union. He mentioned he had received a letter recently from Congressman Michel 3 requesting assistance in expediting licenses for a company in his constituency so that they could continue their business with the Soviets. The Secretary noted that there was an IG currently on-going on the issue of export controls and he indicated that his opinion was that we should not permit such licenses to go forward and sought the support of Secretary Haig. Haig indicated that he, too, agreed that we should work to cut back on such export licenses but indicated that he felt there would be a lot of problems domestically.

5. (S/NF) This discussion on export controls and domestic problems led to the issue of the Soviet grain embargo. Haig said the embargo was going to be lifted. Mr. Carlucci asked whether it could not be done in phases. Haig then described the following sequence of events which had led up to the decision to cancel the grain embargo: (1) There was a Lou Cannon story in the paper the preceding Friday which indicated that the grain embargo was likely to be lifted4 (Haig understood that this story derived from Ed Meese); (2) Upon reading this story, Haig [Page 113] called Meese and registered a complaint; (3) Malcolm Baldrige, the next day, was en route to a Cable News Network interview when he read the story in the paper—believing this to be true (when questioned on the subject during the Cable News interview), he said we were going to be lifting the grain embargo; (4) Upon hearing the interview, Haig called Baldrige and asked him why he had made the statement and learned that it was simply because he had assumed that what he had read in the paper had been the decision; (5) On the preceding Tuesday,5 Haig had met with Meese and Baker and a decision was arrived at that the embargo would in fact be lifted; (6) Haig then met with Ambassador Dobrynin and advised him that the grain embargo would be lifted since it was no longer in the U.S. interest to maintain it and that Dobrynin should advise him by tomorrow at noon if the Soviets were going to want more grain during the coming year—he also informed Dobrynin that the next time any situation arose wherein Soviet behavior was outside acceptable norms, the U.S. would hit them with everything we had.6

Secretary Weinberger indicated that it was his impression the embargo was just really beginning to hurt the USSR. He said it was unfortunate that there had been a campaign promise made to lift the embargo and suggested that it was even more unfortunate that there was an office devoted to ensure that all campaign promises were kept. He then asked whether Dobrynin appeared grateful for lifting the embargo to which Haig responded in the affirmative. Mr. Carlucci then asked whether the decision was in fact a fait accompli. Haig responded that it was and that it would be announced on Friday but the timing would be such so as not to affect the commodity markets.

All agreed that it was too bad the decision had progressed the way it did on the grain embargo. Mr. Carlucci indicated that it was going to be sending a bad signal to everyone around the world and the fact that the DCI had indicated the Soviets were no longer being hurt by the grain embargo did not help the situation at all.

6. (S/NF) The Secretary then asked how the meeting with Dobrynin went in general. Haig responded that Dobrynin really wants to sit and talk a lot, especially on arms control. He further noted that Dobrynin was very anxious in two areas: he is interested in seeking ways that he can get us to reverse our defense spending efforts; and he is interested in splitting us from our European allies, especially on the arms control issues.

[Page 114]

The discussion then turned to a general elaboration of how things stood regarding the TNF issue. Haig indicated that while Dobrynin was very anxious to get the talks going, he was less so than our European allies. With regard to the allies, Haig felt that he had to go ahead and set some sort of a schedule. His (Haig’s) scenario was to talk all summer regarding the data (presumably with the Soviets). The Secretary indicated that we ought to take as much time as necessary in order to talk with our allies. (At this point Mr. Carlucci asked if the Schmidt visit was still on and Haig replied that it was.)7

Haig indicated that, with regard to the Schmidt visit, his pipeline was the German political leader Nau8 who was here on a visit. Mr. Carlucci responded that he had just seen Nau, who had attempted to claim that we (i.e., Secretary Weinberger) had said that the Germans could not have their social programs. The Secretary indicated what he had told Schmidt was that the United States had made some rather significant sacrifices in order to beef up its defenses and he hoped the allies would be able to do the same. Mr. Carlucci indicated he attempted to explain this to Nau, but in many cases the Germans chose to interpret things differently.

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

The Secretary indicated his basic concurrence with this division of labor and then asked whether the SIG was making good progress.9 Haig indicated that Rick Burt and Larry Eagleburger were working on this with our people. Burt indicated that he was working closely with Richard Perle and that Richard had participated in the SIG which had met yesterday on this issue and that there would be an IG meeting on Friday10 which was going to develop a paper for NSC consideration next week.

Burt went on to explain that the basic position of the SIG was that arms control talks might begin by late this year if there was Alliance agreement or consensus on two matters: (1) TNF and linkage (both to SALT and with respect to Soviet behavior); and (2) the nature and extent of the Soviet threat. The Secretary indicated he hoped our position would include some sort of a termination clause if the Soviets [Page 115] went into Poland or undertook some other form of unacceptable behavior. Burt said that this was their intent in developing a consensus on the linkage.

Haig indicated that we had to work together on this arms control problem. The Secretary concurred but indicated his concern about being hit by the allies for a specific date when these things were going to be undertaken. He was additionally concerned that the allies might continue to postpone actions or deployments if they got too wrapped up in arms control—when it would start, etc. Haig indicated he wanted to have things pretty well set up so that during his normal meeting with Gromyko next fall, coincident with the opening of the UNGA, he would be able to discuss when such talks might begin.

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

Haig then commented that Dick Allen (derived from Richard Pipes) was putting out a line that the Soviets had changed the Brezhnev doctrine to include Cuba. He said that he had talked to Dobrynin about this and Dobrynin had indicated that the ’62 understandings were still valid and there was no change to the Brezhnev doctrine. (He further indicated that the Brezhnev doctrine was a U.S.-manufactured idea and the only protection that extended to Cuba was in the event of an invasion by the U.S.)

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

J.H. Rixse
The Special Assistant
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: Official Records of the Secretary of Defense, 1981–1987, FRC 330–90–0033, Box 3, Meetings, Conversations, Foreign Trips, Visits. Secret; Sensitive; Noforn. A typewritten note on the memorandum reads: “SecDef Eyes Only File.” The meeting was held at the Pentagon.
  2. (Bud McFarlane arrived late and was present for approximately the final ten minutes of the meeting.) [Footnote is in the original.]
  3. Reference is to House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Illinois). The letter was not found.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 43.
  5. April 14.
  6. See Document 44.
  7. Schmidt made an official visit to Washington from May 20 to 23 and was hosted by Reagan at a state dinner at the White House on May 21. A memorandum of their conversation on May 22 is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. VII, Western Europe, 1981–1984.
  8. Presumably a reference to Johannes Rau, Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia and a prominent figure in the SPD.
  9. Reference is to Haig’s proposal that he would stress the importance of arms control, in conversations with U.S. allies, while Weinberger should accentuate strategic modernization.
  10. April 24.