112. Editorial Note

On August 8, 1985, President Ronald Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 183, in advance of his November 19–20 summit with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, establishing a White House Coordinating Group for the Geneva Meeting, chaired by Jack Matlock of the National Security Council Staff, charged with the following mandate: “1. To monitor and ensure consistency of substantive preparations for the meeting in Geneva, except for those which come under the aegis of the Senior Arms Control Group.”; “2. To coordinate policy guidance for public handling of issues related to the meeting in Geneva”; and “3. To provide guidance to the White House Advance Office and other units responsible for arrangements and logistics in respect to substantive implications of arrangements for the meeting.” (Reagan Library, Matlock File, Matlock Chron August 1985 (3/6) NSDD–183 is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. V, Soviet Union, March 1985–October 1986, Document 73.

In August, Ronald Lehman and Robert Linhard of the National Security Council Staff prepared a package to send to President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Robert “Bud” McFarlane that included an August 27 memorandum, a draft memorandum from McFarlane to Reagan, and an NSDD that would create a White House Arms Control Coordinating Group, chaired by NSC staff, in preparation for the Geneva Summit. (Reagan Library, Matlock Files, Geneva Mtg: Arms Control Negotiations Nov. 18–20, 1985)(S) Before sending it to McFarlane, Linhard sent the package to Matlock, who responded: “Bob—As I mentioned to Ron orally, I’m not sure an NSDD is the best vehicle for this. It could result in some confusion and also some unwelcome attention to the mechanism. I agree that a group is needed, but feel that a less formal tasking (perhaps by Bud in the SACG) would be a preferable way to proceed.” (Note from Matlock to Lehmand and Linhard, undated; ibid)

Lehman subsequently sent McFarlane an undated memorandum entitled “Strawman Arms Control Management Plan,” in which he expanded on an idea he and Linhard had discussed in the August 27 cover memorandum noted above. Lehman recommended that McFarlane approve a proposal for a “baseline concept as to how we might play out arms control events through November,” while recognizing “that many decisions are yet to be made by the President and the decisions and circumstances may go in directions different than the concept presented here.” McFarlane approved the attached plan, which was dated August 29 and listed key questions and contingencies for the summit, and wrote “Maybe don’t waste time on engaging the community in building a plan; instead begin tasking them to implement [Page 423] our (your) plan.” (Reagan Library, Lehman Files, NSTGorbachev Disarmament Plan, 1/27/86–1/30/86)

McFarlane convened the Strategic Arms Control Group (SACG) on September 20 and September 27 to discuss preparations for the Geneva Summit as well as Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze’s meetings with Secretary of State George Shultz and Reagan in advance of the President’s first encounter with Gorbachev. Memoranda and handwritten notes are in the Reagan Library, Lehman Files, SACG—09/20/85/Shevardnadze, MBFR Debrief, ETC., and the Reagan Library, Linhard Files, SACG Meeting Sept 20, 1985, Reagan Library, Linhard Files, SACG Meeting Sept 27, 1985, and Reagan Library, Kraemer Files, Geneva SACG—September 27, 1985.