57. Letter From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Clark) to Secretary of State Shultz1

Dear George:

I am very conscious of frustration over the US-Soviet dialogue—indeed, I share it. It is because I—and I know, the President—share your interest in getting results that I have wanted to assure that we—and I include all those with a legitimate interest—are all supporting you based upon a clear understanding of strategy and tactics. We hope through this letter to utilize an expeditious and existing process through which we can create this solid base of support so that you can proceed on an overall plan that holds promise of success.

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Let me be more specific. It seems to us that the policy enunciated by the President in NSDD 75 is clear. Based upon its objectives, it seems worthwhile for us to translate it into specific priorities—what we are trying to achieve in their rank order—and then to forge a negotiating strategy which is based upon the judicious use of our several elements of leverage so that at the end of the day a year from now we will have achieved one or two extremely important goals en route to our objectives.

Regarding your negotiating strategy, there are no prejudgments against concluding these kinds of agreements, e.g., cultural or consulates; we only ask whether, as a matter of strategy, these ought not be put together with a comprehensive list of others which are bargained for with an overall sense of priorities so that they take on a strategic, and not merely a tactical and perhaps illusory quality.

As a separate but related matter, it is clear that some of the areas you will wish to negotiate involve by necessity the interests of other agencies. [2 lines not declassified] We know you are conscious of this, but believe it is useful for you to have discussed the important considerations [2 lines not declassified]. There are other examples but the point is clear. Other advisors to the President in the national security area need to understand our strategy.

In order to put us in a position for you to be able to step off with the full support of all (and as a corollary, not to have to worry about having your agreements undermined later by disaffected bureaucrats), we believe it would be worthwhile for you, me, Bill and Cap to get away (from phones) together for a period so that you could lay out your proposal on how we should proceed. Your presentation could include: what should we try to achieve in the way of solving problems in the next year and in what order (START, human rights, cultural, MBFR, regional security, etc.); what is our leverage, again in descending order of value; what are we willing to give up in exchange for our high-value goals and increased security.

I believe we could emerge from such a meeting with a consensus. Given the President’s endorsement, you could move out with great latitude in implementation. It seems worth a try to me. Indeed, I find it difficult to imagine another way. What do you think?


William P. Clark2
  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Executive Secretariat Special Caption Documents, 1979–1989, Lot 92D630, Not for the System Documents, May 1983. Sensitive; Eyes Only. Not for the System.
  2. Clark signed “Bill” above his typed signature.