21. Information Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Burt) to Secretary of State Shultz1


  • Increasing the Pressure on Moscow

This memorandum discusses a number of things we will or could be doing to step up pressure on the Soviets in the critical period ahead.

The Setting

US objectives over the period between now and 1984 are described in the memorandum which you recently sent to the President.2 We see building pressure on the Soviets within that context—providing additional pressures/incentives for moderation and serious negotiations.

We will be pursuing a new and sounder basis for US-Soviet relations through domestic and international economic recovery, through rearmament, through sustaining and strengthening of our alliances and international friendships, and through direct diplomacy—recognizing that success in direct diplomatic dealings depends in large part on success in these first three fields (economic, rearmament, Allies and friends). In terms of timing, however, the next year or so breaks down prospectively into two phases.

Until late summer and early fall, we and the Soviets will be engaged in the battle over INF deployments in Western Europe. The shape of the second phase depends on who wins or loses that battle. If we have demonstrated that we cannot be isolated, if INF moves forward in the framework of the NATO dual decision, and if economic recovery and rearmament are proceeding apace, the Soviets can be expected to take rearguard actions to mask and compensate for their defeat. Indeed, the harder line they have adopted following the West German elections and toward Nakasone may be groundwork, intended to prepare for work on a losing wicket. Some of these Soviet actions may be quite nasty.

[Page 74]

In addition, we should be aware that inadvertence, neglect, the dynamic of events—or all three together—could produce a further deterioration of relations which neither country desires as a matter of policy. Simple continuity in the Soviet approach to El Salvador, for instance, could have this result under certain circumstances. The Bulgarian connection to the Papal assassination attempt is another potential source of new strain in our relations with Moscow.3

Prospects, nevertheless, are not necessarily discouraging. At present, the Soviets have an interest in avoiding a major political crisis in Europe or the Third World which could distract European publics from the INF issue, or even make deployments easier by casting Moscow in the role of “aggressor.” New Soviet diplomatic activism in Asia—with Sino-Soviet “normalization” as its centerpiece—serves the same end. Any risk of confrontation with the U.S. would have to be commensurate in importance with the INF issue. There are only a few issues—Poland, the Middle East, and possibly Iran—on which Moscow would envisage such a tradeoff in 1983. Even in these areas, moreover, Moscow will have an important incentive for restraint—at least until the fate of INF is clear.

And if we are successful as this year proceeds, there will be a growing prospect of the Soviets dealing with this Administration on the basis of the comprehensive agenda we have established these last two years. We could face a situation which potentially parallels the 1953–1956 transition period. During that “thaw,” there were significant changes in both domestic and international Soviet conduct.

—On the one hand, the parallel is sobering: the USSR made important moves on human rights and in Eastern Europe, Austria and Korea, but it continued its military buildup, eventually cracked down again in Eastern Europe and renewed its expansionism elsewhere.

—On the other hand, the parallel is encouraging: internally, millions of prisoners left the camps never to return, and the terror regime has never been the same; Eastern Europe has never reverted to the pure colonial status of the pre-1953 period; and the Korean armistice and the Austrian State Treaty were substantial accomplishments.

Our task, then, is to maintain our overall framework of realism, strength and negotiations for dealing with the Soviets whatever they do. We should test the Soviets, along the lines you have recommended to the President; we should step up the pressure, as I recommend below; and we must insist on deeds rather than merely words. In the period immediately ahead we should be alert to the possibility of genuine openings, but we should above all be firm in our direct dealings [Page 75] with the Soviets and imaginative in our approach to our Allies and friends. That is the context for the program of pressures described below.

A U.S. Pressures Program

You are aware of efforts underway to put our political action programs into high gear, and the Counterintelligence SIG is actively considering more stringent controls on Soviet diplomats in the U.S. This memorandum does not address these issues or our START/INF positions, though they will be critical to our success in dealings with the Soviets. Rather, I begin with two ideas for further thought in the military programs area.

1. Defense. These ideas are put forward as possibilities only, and will require further elaboration.

—Rapid agreement with Congress on the MX study recommendations (put the MX into Minuteman silos and develop a small, genuine mobile) would give us additional leverage with Moscow. Announcing soon that we are moving ahead to put the MX into Minuteman silos quickly (possibly in 1985) would have the distinct advantage of confronting the Soviets in the near term with a deployed system they would have to reckon with in both arms control and defense planning. Announcing the small mobile would demonstrate that we have a longer-term challenge as well.

—We could submit a major security assistance supplemental if the Soviets themselves undertake a new, dramatic aggressive act. This would give us more practical leverage in key countries and areas across the spectrum than practically any other other step we could take.

2. High-Level Diplomatic Activity

We can offset Andropov’s own greater activism (meetings with foreign leaders, etc.), and put pressure on the Soviets, by effective use of visible U.S. high-level activity. In particular we want President Reagan himself to outshine and outrun Andropov. We should task a thorough review for 1983–1984 to ensure that we are making the best use of this tool. The President should be identified with some drama and movement in foreign affairs to continue the momentum created by the Middle East initiative and his letter to the peoples of Europe.4 The Vice President and you can also play important roles—as demonstrated by your recent trips. In this connection, we suggest that you publicly announce a meeting with Gromyko following this round of INF and START talks if he has agreed.

[Page 76]

Another idea which interweaves political action and Presidential drama would be a private and then public invitation to Andropov to appear on American television in return for a Presidential appearance on Soviet television. If the proposal were rejected (or simply not answered, as when the President made the offer to Brezhnev in his London speech last year),5 Andropov’s “sophisticated,” “liberal” image would suffer. If it were accepted, we would be the net winner, since Andropov is unlikely to overwhelm the American public, while the President’s appearance on Soviet TV would be a major event in the USSR.

3. Diplomatic Action. We suggest a program to increase pressures (or at least maintain our present positions) in two areas directly adjacent to the USSR—the Far East and Eastern Europe.

—In the Far East, and throughout Asia, we should demonstrate our continuing involvement and relevance to area problems. Specifically:

(a) With China, we should follow up on your trip with continuing efforts to maintain and advance our relationship, recognizing the limits to what we can accomplish in the short term and the need to sustain the realistic tone you have set. To this end, we could move forward with a summit later this year and concentrate on being responsive to some of China’s needs in the technology area, as well as meeting our commitments under the August 17 communique.6

(b) We could seek to build up incrementally toward trilateral US-PRC-Japan talks. We could suggest to a private American institute (e.g. CSIS, AEI) that it approach a Japanese counterpart to take the lead in organizing “private” trilateral exchanges with PRC counterparts, who could include some officials. In a parallel effort, we could also move in the official track. We have responded to Chinese interest in bilateral talks on Soviet issues by inviting a small delegation of their Soviet experts to Washington this spring for consultations with our Soviet experts, along lines similar to those we use with the Japanese. We are also suggesting that we add a stop in Beijing to the itinerary of the experts going to Tokyo for talks later this year. The Chinese have responded informally but positively, and we are firming this up. Once these steps have been taken, and if the result warrants it, we could consider how to build up or enhance such consultations further.

(c) EUR and EA have been considering yet another run at trying to establish a diplomatic presence in Mongolia. Both Art Hartman and Art Hummel favor an approach. But neither we nor EA think the time is ripe as there is a “Mongolian element” in the second round of Sino-Soviet normalization talks now underway in Moscow—it could appear [Page 77] that we are rather fecklessly trying to interfere. Once this round is over, however, we will want to take another look at the pros and cons of what would in any case be a small step, and will be sending you a paper on the topic.

(d) We should sustain our support for ASEAN’s approach to Kampuchea and take further steps, like your meeting with Sihanouk in Beijing, to strengthen the anti-Vietnamese coalition.

(e) Further west, we should supplement Pakistani efforts to use the UN process to keep diplomatic pressure on the Soviets over Afghanistan with pressure of our own in bilateral and other channels. We will be instructing Art Hartman to meet with Soviet MFA officials to reiterate our basic position on Afghanistan before UNSYG Perez de Cuellar visits Moscow March 27–28. Following the next round of UN-sponsored talks in Geneva in April, we will reassess whether there is more we can do, together with the Chinese and the Pakistanis, to keep diplomatic pressure on the Soviets.

—In Eastern Europe, greater U.S. activism would serve to counteract Soviet attempts to enforce greater unity and discipline, and to supplement the dwindling economic resources we can commit to East-West competition in the area. We want to heighten Andropov’s uncertainty about his own backyard, and undercut the widespread impression that we have written off Eastern Europe from Yalta onwards. Specifically:

(a) In Poland, this strategy argues for our going ahead with the Allies to develop a package indicating Western willingness to reciprocate concrete human rights progress. Specifically, we should make our willingness to consider rescheduling of Polish debt dependent on release of political prisoners and cessation of regime harassment of prisoners already released. We could make our approach to the Poles themselves in the wake of the Pope’s visit in June—assuming it goes well.

(b) In Hungary, we should place a high priority on ensuring that the Vice President visits Budapest this year, and indicate the possibility of seeking Congressional approval for multi-year MFN for Hungary at an appropriate time. We should also move forward with the visit by their Foreign Minister this fall.

(c) In Czechoslovakia, we should consider expanding our ideological penetration and presence by negotiating an exchanges agreement—this would parallel the same step we will be taking with the Soviets.

(d) In Romania, while lifting MFN, we should manage our post-MFN relationship to encourage continued Romanian independence from Moscow.

(e) In Yugoslavia, we should keep moving on economic support and with the Vice President’s visit.7 There could be no better signal of [Page 78] our vitality and relevance to the area than major movement toward sale of the F20 to Yugoslavia—and it may justify use of countertrade financing.

(f) In Albania, we should encourage the Italians, Greeks, West Germans and French to respond to Hoxha’s opening to the West with modest reciprocal gestures and discreet appeals to Hoxha to get off his anti-Yugoslav campaign.8 The only bilateral step we might consider would involve a settlement of Albania’s pending gold claims against the U.S. This careful building of a Western connection would take account of both Yugoslav sensitivities and Andropov’s recent signals to the Albanians, and would be designed to keep the Soviets from moving into a vacuum either now or post-Hoxha.

(g) With selected Soviet allies, we should make occasional bilateral demarches explaining our current START and INF positions and criticizing those of the Soviets, and making clear our concern about their programs in areas of tension in the Third World. This would match what the Soviets do with our Allies and make the point that we consider these countries to be potentially autonomous in foreign policy.

4. Covert Action

A separate memo has been sent to you on this subject. It should be read in tandem with this memorandum.9

Under prudent management, steps in these four categories—plus movement to put our political action and counter-intelligence/reciprocity programs in place—would enhance the effectiveness of the diplomatic testing I have recommended, and serve to keep our overall framework of realism and strength in place as the Soviets test us. Together, this combined program of direct tests and indirect pressures would also lay the groundwork for more productive direct dealings if and as the Soviets realize that their current diplomatic offensive has failed.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Special Handling Restrictions Memos, 1979–1983, Lot 96D262, ES Sensitive, March 16–23 1983. Secret; Sensitive. Forwarded through Eagleburger. Drafted by Simons and Napper on March 8; cleared by Palmer. Napper initialed for Simons. Hill’s handwritten initials appear on the memorandum, indicating he saw it on March 21.
  2. See Document 19.
  3. Documentation on Bulgarian involvement in the 1981 Papal assassination attempt is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. X, Eastern Europe.
  4. In a letter read by Bush in West Berlin on January 31, Reagan offered to meet with Andropov to sign an agreement to ban intermediate-range land-based nuclear missiles. See Public Papers: Reagan, 1983, Book I, p.155.
  5. Reference is to Reagan’s speech to Parliament at Westminster, June 8, 1982. See Public Papers: Reagan, 1982, Book I, pp. 742–748. See also Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. III, Soviet Union, January 1981–January 1983, Document 177 and Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, Document 104.
  6. Documentation on the Taiwan communiqué on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XXVIII, China, 1981–1983.
  7. Vice President and Mrs. Bush visited Yugoslavia from September 16 to 18. In telegram 7776 from Belgrade, September 21, the Embassy reported: “The Vice President was, I believe, fully satisfied and indeed impressed by his talks with the Yugoslav leadership. He held over seven hours of substantive talks with the top-most officials.” The Embassy continued that the Yugoslavs “expressed their sincere appreciation for the Vice President’s warmth, directness and measured approach to internal and bilateral affairs. They especially value his comments on continued U.S. support for Yugoslav independence and for its non-aligned position.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D830546–0875)
  8. The Embassy reported in telegram 449 from Belgrade, January 19: “Albanian foreign policy has undergone a major and dangerous change over the last several months. Albania no longer sees its security linked with that of Yugoslavia; indeed Tirana now appears to be seeking to destabilize Yugoslavia. Although for the moment, the main thrust of Albania’s foreign policy seems to be [to] expand carefully relations with selected Western European states, the Yugoslav officials did not rule out an Albanian turn back to the east.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D830033–0073)
  9. A tandem memorandum on covert action was not found.