354. Telegram From Secretary of State Shultz to the Department of State1

Secto 1010. For S/S only. Subject: Message for SecDef Weinberger From Richard Perle.

1. S—(Entire text).

[Page 1283]

2. Richard Perle delivered the message in para 3 to us for transmission to Weinberger.2

3. Begin text: To the Secretary of Defense From Richard Perle

Eyes Only for the Secretary.

Much of the time since departure, on the aircraft and since arrival, has been spent reviewing draft talking points.3 A meeting with Secretary Shultz and the delegation has just concluded. I would summarize developments thus far as follows:

—Tone of draft talking points struck me and some others as unduly defensive—too many claims to “seriousness” when it must be assumed that the United States is always serious. We protested too much. With revisions now adopted I believe that we have diminished that sense.

—Change to NSDD relieved the principal concern of the JCS.4 As I think we must have all sensed, it would have been easy to mistake an “example” for a proposal; and, indeed, in one place in the State-drafted talking points the “example” on INF equal percentage reductions was characterized as an “offer.”

—In my view the talking points were breezy, almost casual, in laying out a cascade of fall-backs; and while all fall-backs were drawn from the NSDD,5 the drafting of the talking points conveyed a sense of skipping lightly from one to the next at the slightest resistance from Gromyko. In strategy session with SecState I urged that we try hard to achieve our preferred option and move only reluctantly to fallbacks in the face of motion on the other side. I understand Secretary Shultz believes that we ought to “get all our points out early,” which can, [Page 1284] unless handled very carefully, mean virtual simultaneous setting out of our preference and our fallbacks. I did what I could to urge that

A the Soviets seldom make concessions except at the last minute hoping all the while that we will obviate their concessions by making ours first and

B if he insisted on laying out “all our points” at once we should at least indicate that Gromyko could not expect further U.S. proposals on structure and fora and would not agree to any others. The handling of this is now in Shultz’ hands and, having heard all views, I am confident that he will exercise all his skill in presenting our preferences.

—In meeting with Shultz I raised the point that some of the talking points appeared to imply that we were willing to volunteer restraints on the deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems based on new physical phenomena that go beyond our treaty obligations. I will be checking further into our obligation, under the ABM Treaty, to consult and amend the treaty before deploying new “exotic” systems. Meanwhile I urged caution. Soviets may well seek to elicit rather more than is in the treaty—for example a pledge to consult that would appear to vitiate our right to withdraw under the supreme national interests provision.

—Finally, I believe there was a sense in the talking points now somewhat diminished, and in the delegation discussions, that we have somehow to entice the Soviets back by holding out the prospect of proposals more to their liking when the talks resume. The now deleted examples would have accomplished that; and groping by Shultz for a way of elaborating what the President has meant when he has said that we would be prepared to “consider” interim restraints in the context of formal negotiations is of the same nature. I believe that State tends to underestimate the Soviet interest in resuming negotiations. I hope that we do not appear so eager that they are tempted to press for substantive concessions in the belief that we would suffer unacceptably and they would not from a failure now in Geneva to reach agreement on a resumption of formal talks.

End text.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, N850001–0117. Secret; Niact Immediate; Nodis. Shultz arrived in Geneva on January 6.
  2. Richard Perle was chosen by Weinberger to represent DOD in the Geneva delegation. In his memoir, Shultz wrote: “With the large delegation accompanying me to Geneva, pressure mounted over the question of who would actually sit in on the meeting for our side. Rowny wanted in and muttered threats. Adelman was in an uproar because he wanted a seat. Cap wanted Richard Perle. If Perle was in, Burt had to be in. I talked it over with the president. I told him that if we had ten or so people at the table, the message to the Soviets would be that we did not have our act together and that extras were there as ‘political commissars.’ The president and I decided that I would be joined at the table by Bud McFarlane, Paul Nitze, and Art Hartman and that Jack Matlock, fluent in Russian, would be there to take notes.” Shultz continued: “Over the Atlantic, Richard Perle spent a long, long time visibly talking with Washington Post correspondent Don Oberdorfer in the back of the plane. This created a palpable tension all around, as everyone knew my instructions were that no one was to talk to the press except Bernie Kalb. After we arrived in Geneva, I called Perle to my room and told him he had violated my instructions and if he didn’t like them, he could get on a plane and go home. He said he had not talked to Oberdorfer about arms control. I told him the rule is ‘no contact’ about anything. He said okay. That cleared the air. He turned out to be one of the most helpful members of the delegation.” (Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph pp. 511–513)
  3. See footnote 1, Document 352.
  4. See Document 353.
  5. See Document 348.