16. Briefing Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Burt) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Armacost)1


  • Your Next Meeting with Foreign Minister Gromyko

I. Gromyko and US-Soviet Relations

• Nature of man:

—He’s a commie. Also, suspected Trilateralist.

—To watch: has lied to nine Secretaries of State.

—Wife: short, lovely; high boots.

—Young by old Sov standards, old by new Sov standards.

—Avocations: dissembling, repressing Eastern Europe, punk rock (CIA imagery at Tab A),2 reading Meister Eckhart.

Points to Make

—Now is moment of opportunity for US-Soviet relations.

—Let’s not blow it this time.

—Scotch, Bourbon or the whip?

II. What To Expect From Moscow Under Gorbachev

He’s young, he’s smooth, he’s got razor blades on his elbows.

—Major changes in context of bureaucratic stagnation.

—Gorby not a liberal despite opposition to MX missile.

—Only went into politics because he failed Soviet Bar Examination.

—First moves will be to revitalize Soviet economy, end the arms race, and get Mrs. G a charge account at Neiman Marcus.

[Page 50]

Watch out for

—Ugly purple birthmark across his forehead making him look like Luca Brazzi.3 Don’t be unnerved.

II. Arms Control

—Sovs like big nukes.

—Sovs have lots of gas.

Points to Make

—If Soviets dismantle all SS–20s, we are willing to airbrush out Gorbachev’s birthmark in US photographs.

—If Sovs reduce to zero, we might consider talking about SDI.

—Eliminate nucs, make the world safe for conventional warfare, but: if they withdraw Red Army to Urals, we will reduce General Officers in EUCOM.

—If Sovs agree to on-site inspection, particularly at Plesetsk and Sary Shagan, we will give an IBM PC to each decision-maker.

III. Soviet Economy and Bilateral Economic Issues

—Fishing—whale of a problem.

Point to Make

—Don’t blubber. You’re guilty as hell of violating whales. American people do not understand.

IV. Regional Issues

—Continue to be ready for regional discussions, maybe.

—No negotiations, just talks, if not too substantive and provided they don’t make anybody angry.

—Recognize that real men don’t talk to Soviets about individual regional problems.

Point to Make

—Avoid strategic miscalculation: want to talk about Antarctica, Fiji, and Burkina Faso.

V. Bilateral Problems

• VE Day

—Sovs tough on FRG, but want big US-Sov VE Day bash. We have counterproposal—they drop anti-revanchism line, indicate willingness to stress coop approach with FRG.

—In that context we prepared offer big 50th Anniversary Celeb for Hitler-Stalin pact; Les Gelb will represent US.

[Page 51]

• O’Neill Codel to travel to Soviet Union in April; out of town for Congressional discussion of Nicaragua proposal.

Points to Make

—President wishes success and small hangovers.

—Advice to Gromyko: O’Neill likes to bluff.

VI. Cultural Exchanges

—Ready for big expansion in people-to-people contacts, live and dead.

Point to Make

—We have new proposal: why don’t you send Lenin’s body to US on tour. Just like King Tut exhibit.

—We are prepared to respond by sending Jane Fonda workout group on tour of Soviet cities.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Executive Secretariat Special Caption Documents, 1979–1989, Lot 92D630, Not for the System Documents, April 1985 (44). Secret; Sensitive. Not for the System. Drafted in EUR/SOV; cleared by Senator Jesse Helms. Obviously the clearance line is meant to be tongue-in-cheek to go along with the humorous tone of the memorandum.
  2. Attached but not printed is a photograph with the spoof title “Top Soviet Pop Group.” The caption below the photograph reads: “Russia’s hottest rock group, whose name translates as ‘the Enjoyable Popular Music Boys,’ cut up at a press conference in Minsk following the release of their latest LP, Never Mind the Manganese Ore Export Quotas, Here’re the Enjoyable Popular Music Boys. According to Soviet News agency Tass, the record was ‘shipped iron,’ signifying that it had already sold more than half a thousand copies.” Although grainy, Brezhnev and Gromyko are clearly identifiable as the first two of four figures in the photograph.
  3. Luca Brasi, fictional character in Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather and the 1972 film adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola.