Foreign relations of the united states 1969–1976 volume XXXVII energy crisis, 1974–1980 department of state washington
Ryan 228. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in
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- Vance 229. Telegram From the Department of State to Selected Diplomatic Posts
- 230. Memorandum From Secretary of Energy Schlesinger to President Carter
228. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in
Washington, August 7, 1979, 1532Z.
205196. Subject: Energy: Tokyo Summit Discussions. Reftel: (A)
Bonn 13525; (B) State 188623.
For Ambassador from Secretary
1. (Entire text Confidential)
2. Please clarify for Count Lambsdorff the position taken by both
the US Government and me in regard to the targets established at the
Tokyo Summit. You should make clear that I certainly did not and
would not acquiesce, let alone “advocate to the Europeans”, that North
Sea oil be treated as a private playpen for the individual members of
the European Community. To the contrary, the US Government’s posi-
tion was steadfastly that national targets had to be adopted which
would fairly restrain imports into each industrial nation. With US and
possibly Canadian production falling and the Japanese having no pro-
duction, the main point was that North Sea oil should not create a privi-
leged sanctuary that would permit European consumption to grow as
oil consumption elsewhere was constrained.
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790358–0253.
Confidential; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by D. Hickey (DOE/IA); cleared by Bergold, Schle-
singer, Poats, and Rosen and in EUR/CE; and approved by Cooper. Repeated to Brussels
for USEEC and to Paris for USOECD.
Telegram 188623 to Bonn, July 20, informed the Embassy: “We are concerned that
the FRG may not take the commitment to oil import targets made at Tokyo with sufficient
seriousness. It is the clear understanding of the President and his advisors that it was de-
cided at Tokyo that exports from the UK would be considered as imports for purposes of
meeting the national 1985 targets set by the FRG, France, and possibly Italy. Further, the
agreement by the four EC Summit countries to recommend to their non-Summit EC part-
ners that each country specify its contribution to annual EC import levels is to reflect the
Tokyo results.” (Ibid., D790331–1164) In telegram 13525 from Bonn, August 1, the Em-
bassy reported: “Lambsdorff states that FRG understanding of Tokyo goals is that UK oil
to be treated as Community oil, a view which he states was advocated to Europeans at
Tokyo by Secretary Schlesinger.” (Ibid., D790348–0440)
January 1979–January 1981 727
3. These points were made in conversations with representatives of
the EC (Jenkins and Williams) as well as with representatives of the
4. I said imports from the North Sea should be counted in indi-
vidual 1985 oil import targets for the Federal Republic of Germany and
other EC member countries who participated in the Summit. Some con-
fusion may have resulted in reconciling individual oil import targets
with the overall EC target. Naturally, UK oil production is included in
any overall EC target but oil imports from the UK into Germany or
France must be included in their import account and therefore counted
against their oil import target.
Washington, August 11, 1979, 1935Z.
209699. Subject: EC–9 Gulf-Arab Dialogue. Ref: Paris 25428; Jidda
5824 and previous.
1. In discussions with both EC–9 and Gulf governments, address-
ees should understand that, despite the problems which could flow
from proposed dialogue, it is not US policy to oppose it. EC countries
have long felt frustration at their perceived inability to maintain effec-
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, [no film number].
Confidential; Immediate. Drafted by Twinam; cleared by Hormats, Vest, and Deputy As-
sistant Secretary of Energy for International Resources Peter Borre; and approved by
Cooper. Sent to all the OECD capitals, Kuwait, Jidda, Abu Dhabi, Manama, and Muscat,
and repeated to Tokyo and Tehran.
Telegram 25428 from Paris, August 9, reported: “The EC 9–Gulf oil dialogue is
now being handled as a joint Kuwaiti-French proposal. According to a Quai source, the
most probable format involves an informal meeting during October in Europe of Energy
Ministers from the Nine, including EC Commission, and all Gulf Arab states including
Iraq and Oman. The French and Kuwaitis agree the primary focus of the meeting should
be how to finance European oil imports.” (Ibid., D790361–0661) Telegram 5824 from
Jidda, August 9, reported that the foreign press and diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia
had begun to conclude that an effort to form an EC–Arab economic and security relation-
ship was underway. The Embassy concluded, however, that Saudi Arabia’s “reliance” on
its special relationship with the United States made “any dramatic turn toward Europe”
by the former “unlikely.” (Ibid., D790360–0930) Belgium, West Germany, France, Italy,
Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom comprised
728 Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXVII
tive bilateral dialogue with producer governments on energy issues
and we believe it is important that we not appear to be seeking to dis-
courage in any way their present effort toward a collective discussion.
2. What is important is that EC governments remain in close con-
tact with us and that they understand the problems in permitting the
agenda for such a dialogue to include political questions related to
Middle East peace negotiations. Paris reftel is encouraging in this
3. US posture described above in no way reflects change in our op-
position to tied oil agreements between OECD governments and OPEC
producers. In this connection it would be useful to understand what
French have in mind (Paris reftel) by focus on European oil supply and
how to pay for it.
On August 28, Cooper met with Yamani and told him that, regarding the “EC–9/
Gulf producers exercise,” the United States was not opposed to the “development of a
constructive dialogue between producers and consumers,” but that it was “not in the
lead in calling for such discussions.” He added that the United States was “satisfied”
with its “bilateral dialogue on energy questions with a number of important producers
including Saudi Arabia.” (Telegram 228972 to all OECD capitals, August 30; ibid.,
230. Memorandum From Secretary of Energy Schlesinger to
Washington, August 23, 1979.
Protecting Our Vital Interests in the Persian Gulf
In view of my impending departure,
I believe it appropriate to
leave with you an expression of my views regarding the military bal-
Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East File,
Box 68, Subject Files, Middle East: Security, 7–8/79. Top Secret. Brzezinski forwarded this
memorandum to Vance and Brown on September 11 and wrote: “Attached for your infor-
mation is a memorandum written by Jim Schlesinger just prior to his departure. The Pres-
ident has seen it. This copy is for your personal information and should be very closely
Jr. succeeded him on August 24.
January 1979–January 1981 729
ance in the region of the Persian Gulf and the military protection
needed for Free World oil supplies. You will recall our discussion in
January regarding my proposal for a Save-the-Gulf Task Force.
sequent months the PRC has examined various options. Since I shall no
longer be a participant in those deliberations, and since my views per-
haps reflect a higher sense of urgency (or alarm) than some of my col-
leagues, I had better present them again to you directly.
Briefly stated, it is necessary to provide adequate military deter-
rence in the region. That will require a visible and continuing American
military presence. If the nations of the region feel a continuing, nearby,
and formidable Soviet military presence and the general absence of
American military power, it will lead to a steady erosion of our influ-
ence with potentially catastrophic results. A stable American military
presence should be built up as rapidly as political conditions, and a re-
vived recognition of American will and capacity, permit. This will take
time, but the ultimate objective should be clear. Only such a presence
has the potential, long term, of dispelling the current mixture of fear
Thus, I believe, in providing greater long-term insurance for re-
gional stability and protection of Free World energy supplies, the time
is long overdue for a substantial increase of the U.S. military presence
in the Middle East. The dangers that warrant such an increase can be
The United States and, more important, the entire Free World have
now developed a heavy and alarming dependence on Middle East oil.
We can no longer depend on the automatic growth in the supply of
Middle East oil as Free World demand grows. Nor can we even count
automatically on the continued production and delivery of oil at the ex-
isting level of supply.
We face three major dangers. One of them is in the future. The
other two are already here.
Until recently, the producing countries were willing to let the oil
market and technical considerations bring supply into equilibrium
with demand. Increasingly, however, the producing countries are de-
termining the level of supply in response to other considerations: con-
siderations such as fear of excessively rapid rates of growth and social
change; the desire to extend the life of their oil reserves; the determina-
tion to resolve the Palestinian issue on a basis acceptable to all the Arab
states. Previously, there had been an excess in production capacity of
about 4 million barrels a day which could be used to respond to normal
730 Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXVII
fluctuations in world demand. That margin now has virtually disap-
peared. Short of a major and prolonged recession, demand is likely to
exceed supply in the near future even if there is no interruption in the
production and distribution of oil.
Unfortunately, there is an increasing danger that production or
distribution will be interrupted. Despite American hopes, the
Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty
has not yet brought increased stability to
the region. We have already seen the effects of a temporary halt in and
then a lower level of production in Iran. That troubled country is likely
to undergo still further internal convulsions and another interruption
in its production of oil. The danger of conflict between Iran and Iraq has
not ceased. Nor has the danger from Iraq, now perhaps the most dy-
namic state in the region, to the states of the lower Gulf been
The leaders of the smaller Gulf states face at least three threats to
their regimes: domestic upheavals growing out of socio-religious and,
in some cases, economic issues; radical or Palestinian subversion exter-
nally supported but using local sympathizers; Soviet-Cuban aggres-
sion, either direct through local client states or through Soviet-
sponsored insurgencies. Because of its public support for the Middle
East peace process, Oman already occupies an exposed position in the
Arab world. Attacks on it from South Yemen could be renewed. Quite
modest programs of sabotage could knock out vital production and
transportation facilities, or seed the Strait of Hormuz with mines and
thus disrupt tanker schedules.
Libya may still execute its threat to curtail production of oil for for-
eign sale. Worst of all, Saudi Arabia could be buffeted with subversion,
revolution, and a catastrophic decline in its output. To minimize these
risks, and because the Saudis wonder increasingly about capacity or
the willingness of the United States to protect its own interests, they
may seek to appease the Soviets—through oil or other means—at our
Perhaps none of these dangers to the supply of oil will materialize.
But the Middle East remains an unstable region. The probability of a
particular disrupting event in the region may be low. The probability of
at least one disrupting event in the years ahead is high.
Perhaps the most significant danger comes from the specter of
growing Soviet power in and near the Middle East. Soviet activities in
the Horn of Africa, Yemen, Syria and Iraq give the impression that the
Reference is to the Camp David Accords, which were signed in Washington on
September 17, 1978.
January 1979–January 1981 731
USSR is moving into positions from which it can strangle the entire re-
Not only could such a stranglehold prove devastating to the
West, it would enable the Soviets to exert near irresistible pressure for a
sizable share or even control of Middle East oil, as they themselves en-
counter shortages in the 1980s.
The specter of Soviet power looms so large, in part, because the na-
tions in the region are losing confidence in the willingness and ability
of the United States to counterbalance Soviet power in the region. Be-
cause of this, along with the dangers of revolution, subversion, and
sabotage from the Soviet-supported left, these countries are increas-
ingly willing to make deals with the Soviets. Even Saudi Arabia ap-
pears to be losing its immunity to this temptation.
Over the long run, efficiency, conservation, and new sources of en-
ergy could reduce the Free World’s dependence on Middle East oil.
Over the short run, we must try to reduce the chances of disruption or
try to minimize its effects. We must also restore the confidence of the
region that its future lies with the United States and the Free World
rather than the Soviet Union.
An increased U.S. military presence in the Middle East cannot deal
with all these dangers. But an increase can strengthen regional stability
and help to reverse the growing impression of Soviet omnipotence.
What remains at issue is the size and character of the increase. One op-
tion is to increase by a few surface combatants our permanent naval
presence in the Persian Gulf, to make somewhat more frequent naval
deployments to the Indian Ocean, and perhaps to improve our ability
to surge forces from the CONUS to the region. A more ambitious
course is not only to increase our permanent naval presence and our
surge capability—as indicated—but also to maintain, if possible, a con-
tinuous deployment of at least one attack carrier battle group and sev-
eral Marine battalion landing teams accompanied by aircraft in the In-
dian Ocean. On several grounds, I strongly urge you to adopt this more
The forces we program for a minor non-nuclear contingency are
probably adequate in size and composition for many foreseeable emer-
gencies in the Middle East. However, unless we have significant capa-
bilities in or near the region, I question whether we could respond to a
crisis there in a timely fashion. We already have the equivalent of six
Carter underlined “Syria” and “Iraq” and wrote a question mark in the margin.
He also wrote “US/Egypt, US/Israel, US/Saudi Arabia, etc.,” apparently indicating dis-
agreement with Schlesinger’s assessment.
732 Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXVII
divisions and supporting aircraft more or less locked into Europe;
another two divisions in the Far East and one in Hawaii would be dif-
ficult to move elsewhere. In any major emergency, the remaining nine
active divisions in the CONUS would be seen as the reserve for Eu-
rope and are being, for the most part, trained and equipped for that
That problem aside, the ground forces in the CONUS are sluggish.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff estimate that presently it would take 10 to 11
days to move the first brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division to the Per-
sian Gulf even if there were no other demands on our airlift. Moreover,
we lack the enroute and overseas base structure and logistics assets to
support a major movement of forces from the CONUS to the Persian
Gulf. It will take time and resources to repair these weaknesses.
Pending action, any quick response to a crisis will require the sta-
tioning of significant forces in the theater.
These technical factors are only one consideration. We also have to
face the fact that we have drawn heavily (perhaps even overdrawn) on
the deterrent account we accumulated during World War II, Korea, and
Cuba. It is no longer enough to depend on the awe of American power
alone to ensure respect for our interests. We must once again demon-
strate the will and capability to protect our interests with military
This is particularly the case in the Middle East. For many years a
presupposition of American strength—an image of determination as
well as capability—pervaded the area. It made unnecessary the visible
presence of U.S. power in the Middle East. However, with the over-
throw of the Shah and the revolution in Iran, the perception of U.S. will
and capability has dimmed; while an important barrier to direct and
oblique Soviet penetration of the region is seen to have fallen. If U.S.
power remains largely absent from the area, the hovering, nearby pres-
ence of Soviet power will continue to change the regional appreciation
of the military balance—and not to our advantage. Indeed, the ultimate
outcome would almost inevitably be that the region would pass into
the Soviet domain of influence or control.
I realize that an increased U.S. presence in or near the Middle East
will attract attention and comment in the region. Most such public com-
ment would be adverse, though that should not be taken as repre-
senting the underlying desires of those in the region—whose interest in
American strength would not out of fear be overtly expressed. None-
theless, we cannot allow actions to protect the vital interests of the Free
World to be decided by transient waves of approval or disapproval em-
anating from countries in the region. These countries are not up to nor
do they want the responsibility for those decisions determining Free
January 1979–January 1981 733
World security. That, in their view, is the responsibility of the United
States. In these circumstances, they want unilateral decisions for which
they need not bear the onus. We ourselves must decide what constitute
the essential additions to our military posture in the region and take the
necessary steps unilaterally to put them in place. What the times call for
and what we need now is the clear demonstration of U.S. fidelity and
It makes sense to increase our ability to surge military forces into
the Middle East. It would also be desirable to encourage improvements
in the indigenous military infrastructure—in local ports and airfields—
that we could exploit for military buildup during a crisis. Stockpiles of
war reserve material in strategic locations would contribute to the
speed and power of our response as well.
But a surge capability is not enough. We must also have a signifi-
cant military presence in or near the region. And that presence must be
considered normal rather than simply a temporary and fluctuating re-
sponse to a crisis. We already bear all the political onus in having a
fleeting or transitory and minor presence. We obtain none of the stra-
tegic benefits from having a significant and permanent force in the
Surge capabilities by themselves, and responses induced by a
crisis, have other drawbacks as well. In a crisis, not only would we have
to worry about the availability of those forces and their ability to react
rapidly, we would also have to calculate the consequences of sudden
and large-scale movements—whether from the CONUS, Europe, or the
Far East—in a time of relatively high international tension. Domestic
and allied pressures for caution and military restraint would be heavy,
and the Soviets would undoubtedly seek to exploit them. We can both
deter crises more effectively or handle crises more effectively, with
greater freedom of action but with the necessary degree of control, if
we have forces already deployed in or near the region and taken for
This is not to recommend that we suddenly and dramatically aug-
ment our current Middle East deployments with large additional
forces. To plunge into the region all at once would indeed incur large
political risks and create major logistical problems. A strategy of se-
quencing is what we need to follow. But we need to get on with it now.
If we time our buildup carefully, the regional states will become
used to it, and their confidence in us will increase. We could, for ex-
ample, begin the buildup with a continuous or near-continuous de-
ployment of naval air and Marine forces in the Indian Ocean—readily
at hand but discreetly over the horizon—staging out of Diego Garcia.
Later, as circumstances permit, we would be able to move land-based
734 Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXVII
fighter-attack units into Oman. From that point only future circum-
stances can determine further steps.
In sum, we must look to the long-term threat and recognize that
the military balance is seen as tilting against us in the region. Key coun-
tries in the Middle East have seen us as their protector; that has been
the great leverage we have had in the area. Unless we take steps now to
redress the balance, the area will slip increasingly into the Soviet orbit.
We cannot risk that eventuality.
Our primary objective must be to eliminate the image of weakness
and establish the fact of significant U.S. military power in the Middle
East—just as we have done in Western Europe and Northeast Asia. To
do so may strain our resources, but an increased military presence in
the area is essential if we are to repair our image and contribute to the
stability of the region. Without such an increase, the military balance
will be seen as eroding still further, and the oil reserves of the region
will begin to go elsewhere than to the Free World. Without access to
Middle East oil the Free World, as we have known it since 1945, will
In an undated covering memorandum to the President, Brzezinski wrote: “I share
Jim’s analysis of the dangers we face in this vitally important region, and I fully concur
that we need to begin now to establish a credible U.S. deterrent capability in the region.
However, all member of the PRC agree with Jim’s evaluation on page six that we cannot
suddenly and dramatically augment our Middle East military presence with large addi-
tional forces without paying an unacceptable price politically and in terms of other de-
fense requirements.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Brzezinski
Material, Middle East File, Box 77, Persian Gulf, 9/77–12/79)
January 1979–January 1981 735
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