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white chairman and two white ministers. Our thought was that if that were the opening negotiating position, we could then fall back to a black Council of State.
I then returned to Washington through London, and then a strange thing happened. The British totally disavowed their own paper. Crosland told me it had not been submitted to the Cabinet and therefore it had no standing. Now I must tell you, Cy, that in my own discussions I never asked an ambassador whether his papers were cleared within his own government. I simply assume it. Anyway, there in the Cabinet room they disavowed their own paper. Frankly, I must tell you, Cy, I will believe to my dying day that if Smith had gone off to the conference and had proposed the essence of Annex C with a Council of State with five ministers, a white chairman, and whites in the Law and Order and Defense ministries, and independence in two years, that the blacks would have accepted it on the spot. Mark Chona as much as told us so here in Washington last week.
But what happened next was that the British wasted an incredible three weeks in Geneva on the most trivial of issues—in fact, one which was not an issue when Geneva began—the timing of independence. No African had ever objected to two years. Then we saw further internal haggling among the Rhodesians which made the Patriotic Front look positively organized. But it was Ivor Richard's show. When Richard collapsed on the independence issue, which
one non-controversial point, everyone having agreed on two years, that simply made everyone think that he'd collapse on anything. And it came apart from there.
On Namibia you've seen the seven-point proposal. We have letters from both Kaunda and Nyerere saying that it's okay. We never surfaced the seven points, however, because we didn't want two conferences going at the same time. But the second reason was that if we ever put out the seven points, then you'd simply end up in the same sort of situation that we've had over Rhodesia. There would be a Front-Line Presidents' meeting and they would have to reject it. It is a proposal on which everyone agrees. But the minute it is surfaced, each side will take it as the maximum demand from the other side, and they would have to reject it or haggle endlessly over it.
But frankly, I've never accepted that Namibia was a difficult problem. The South Africans want rid of it. Vorster won't talk directly to SWAPO, but beyond that, there are no real substantive problems.
Frankly, Richard's odyssey through Africa baffles me. He has absolutely no one lined up on anything. He is selling bits and pieces of paper to people, but nothing concrete, and nothing that everyone can agree on. Your problem is going to be to try to reestablish coherency. You have some things going for you. No one wants war to start up
again. The Front Line Presidents are united in their desire for a negotiated solution. On Namibia, I think Nujoma will probably come around. What I would recommend would be to organize another conference and find a solution to this problem. Once you have a solution to this problem, the implication will be that you can resolve the other problem.
Mr. Vance: I talked to Chona and the Tanzanian ambassador earlier this week. They were eager of course for some word about what our policies would be. I told them first that the policy was under review. Second, that we placed the highest priority on a negotiated settlement. Third, that we strongly support the British effort to find a solution to the problems, and fourth, that we will maintain the closest possible contact with the Presidents (of the Front-Line states). Regarding Namibia I told them we would maintain our role as an interested observer. Secondly, that we attach highest priority to a peaceful settlement. And third, that we would be in touch with Kaunda as soon as we finished our policy review. My own feeling, very strongly, Andy, is that we should say nothing more until the review is finished. I don't think anything could possibly be worse than to give the impression of lack of confidence in the British efforts or of some change in our own policy. I talked to Peter Ramsbotham at lunch and he said that they had just put Richard's proposals into writing. He (Richard) is going to try to get Vorster on board. Regarding Namibia, the Tanzanian ambassador said Nyerere still thinks it's the easier of the two problems to resolve.
Secretary Kissinger: Me, too. The fact that the South Africans said they'd send someone to the conference gives Vorster a fig leaf, which is important since Vorster said he would never meet with SWAPO. And SWAPO says the Windhoek people have to be part of the South African delegation, which is also probably acceptable.
Mr. Vance: Chona said that today. I asked him whether it was realistic. He said yes, he thought it was.
Secretary Kissinger: Yes. I'd firm up the seven points. They're so close together now, there should be no problem at all. The basic essentials are independence by 1978; the points introduce SWAPO into the conference; since SWAPO is recognized by the OAU, there should be no further problem there; it gets the South Africans into the conference; and it binds the South Africans to the results of the conference. If we can bridge these relatively small differences, the South Africans tell us that there should be no further problem from their standpoint. All we're talking about are minor semantic differences. I've told the Africans I think the South Africans will release the prisoners that SWAPO wants.
Mr. Vance: Yes, SWAPO wants some of those people on their delegation, don't they?
Secretary Kissinger: Yes. There is one, of course, the South Africans say they'll never release. But what you have to do is define the frame of reference adequately.
I have to tell you I think the UK has mishandled the whole thing. By giving up right away to the Africans in their insistence on raising the timeframe for independence—which was a non-contentious pointthey wasted time and they created the impression that nothing was sacrosanct. Now no one is prepared to believe that the British will hold to anything. The British position is too close to that of the Patriotic Front. In every decision that they have had to make, they have come down on the side of the blacks. That could hardly have been calculated to inspire confidence in either Vorster or Smith that the British can be counted upon to be fair and objective.
Richard is now running around like a travelling salesman. As I see it, you have two options. You can either get the whites to agree to your proposals and then go to the blacks and say "the whites have agreed to this—will you sign?" Or you can get the Africans to agree to a set of proposals, and then you go to the whites to say "here is what the blacks agree to—is this acceptable?" What Vorster's nightmare is, is that he will agree to a set of proposals and then the Africans will reject it. Is that a fair description, Jack (to Reinhardt)?
Ambassador Reinhardt: Yes, it is. I personally just don't think it (referring to the Geneva conference) will work. There is now too little confidence on both sides.
Secretary Kissinger: I agree. (Turning to Mr. Vance) But please tell Vorster that whatever he would like me to do, I will agree.
Mr. Vance: The one thing I don't want to do is pull the rug out from under Richard. I don't think we can do anything else (except support him).
Secretary Kissinger: No, and the most important thing is, you can't let it be said that Richard's effort failed because you did not give him support.
Mr. Vance: Should we say anything to Smith?
Secretary Kissinger: I never said anything to him. My tactic was to be active all around him to increase his nervousness, to get everyone else signed up, and then to tell him what I wanted.
Mr. Vance: I saw in the paper that he said the incoming Administration didn't support the United Kingdom proposals.
Secretary Kissinger: We never told him what we would do or what we would not. We told him we didn't think he would be pushed beyond Annex C, and I think if you tell him now that you're fully behind Richard's proposals, you'll get an explosion. Why not just wait to see what Richard gets. Why should the new Administration rush to get itself into a bind. I think it's a waste of time to talk to Smith right now.
a Get Vorster's agreement to a set of proposals, then get the Africans behind it. Then tell Smith what you've got. If you go to Smith now, he can only reject it. He will claim-I can see exactly what he will say. I can give you a perfect script. If you go to Smith now, he will be forced to reject it. He will claim betrayal. He will quote you Annex C and he's absolutely right.
Congressman Young: Smith has some sort of private communications channel through Andrews of Allegheny Ludlum Steel, doesn't he?
Mr. Habib: He's been in.
Secretary Kissinger: Well, I personally believe there is no sense in talking to Smith now until you have a concrete program which you want him to agree to—to which you want a yes or no. If you go in now, Vorster will simply say in Pretoria that he will study it and he will study it to death. In my view, Richard should say to Vorster, look, I'm not asking you to approve this. This is what I'm thinking of. If I get black approval, will you accept it?
Mr. Vance: I think I understand. He should give the proposals to all of them and then he goes home.
Secretary Kissinger: It is mathematically certain that Smith will reject it if Richard goes to Salisbury now. He has no other choice. My advice is to stay out of it.
Mr. Vance: Okay. First we'll go to Vorster through Botha and say that we understand that these are the proposals and we're studying them.
Secretary Kissinger: Richard can say to Smith, “I don't have a consensus yet.”
Mr. Vance: We could say this through Peter (Ramsbotham).
Secretary Kissinger: Especially since he hasn't seen Nkomo and Mugabe yet.
Ambassador Schaufele: If he's insistent on going to Salisbury, we could of course ask the South Africans to advise Smith not to say anything, publicly at least.
Secretary Kissinger: Basically, I fundamentally do not believe in diplomatic trips where you believe failure is certain. After I got Vorster signed up, I gave him two weeks to work on Smith. I said I wouldn't agree to meet with Smith unless Vorster could guarantee that Smith would agree. Even if Vorster agreed to Richard's proposals tomorrow, he's still got to work on Smith. Vorster isn't going to agree to Richard's proposals right away. What kind of position does that leave him in vis-à-vis Smith?
Congressman Young: One thing that could be pointed out to Vorster is that there has been some progress in putting together a coherent black leadership group. Up until this time, it seemed as though the Front Line nations had no control over the nationalists and there was no unified leadership. As of the most recent Lusaka conference,' at least they have now agreed to deal through the Patriotic Front, and the Patriotic Front appears to be in control of the military situation. They simply couldn't back Muzorewa. Now, at least, Vorster would be agreeing to someone who had some military control. As I understand it, they're not committed to the Patriotic Front as the ultimate government, but only to the Front as a negotiating instrument. Muzorewa can always, of course, participate or even recover power through elections. But at last there is some organization in the black ranks. This is the first time this has been the case in 15 years, so if Vorster wants some element of control, this may well be better.
Ambassador Schaufele: Mugabe?
Secretary Kissinger: He's out of control. He's absolutely untrustworthy. Even though Mugabe has some authority over guerrillas outside Rhodesia, Mugabe has no power inside Rhodesia. That, at least, is the perception of the South Africans, and probably of Smith.
Ambassador Schaufele: It certainly is.
Secretary Kissinger: If I could have picked someone from the beginning, it would have been Nkomo. Muzorewa has been all over the map. First he was on the side of the guerrillas, now he's on the side of the peacemakers. He's certainly no great hero. Nkomo is the best. What I don't understand is, is he just a figurehead for Mugabe or does he have power of his own?
Congressman Young: Chona at least seems to feel that once agreement is reached, the guerrillas can be dealt with by sending one battalion to Tanzania, one to Zambia, and so on and so you can get rid of them.
Secretary Kissinger: Look, if Chona can deliver and you can hold elections without a guerrilla threat, that's the ideal script. But the trouble is, as soon as you get the Africans to agree, then they raise the ante.
Congressman Young: I believe Kaunda and Nyerere and even Machel believe they can keep the Patriotic Front supported and under control.
The Front Line Presidents, meeting in Lusaka January 8–9, issued a communiqué supporting the Patriotic Front headed by Mugabe and Nkomo. ("Five Black African Countries Back Patriotic Front in Rhodesia Dispute," The New York Times, January 10, 1977, p. 3)