Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Robert E. Barbour
BARBOUR: ...the Assistant Secretary. Those transactions which were extensive, were rather intimate. Not necessarily warmly cordial, but they were very candid, they were very frank, and they were conducted on the basis between colleagues. As I recall, Jabore, was the Foreign Minister when I started. Jabore was a very prickly person, rather to the left of the French establishment—well, no, I take that back. He was paradoxical, not at all fond of the United States. Whether he was a left Gaullist or just a pure Gaullist, I'm not sure, I don't recall, but he was always difficult for us to deal with. Always seemed to go out of his way to have something uncomplimentary to say. So relations with France were extensive, intensive, and sometimes problematical. But I don't remember any specific issues that came up in the way of crisis at that time. I remember much more in dealing with the Dutch.
Q: At a certain point you became the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western and Southern Europe, basically just more responsibility but within the same framework that you'd been dealing with before?
BARBOUR: In the meantime the Office of Western European Affairs had undergone a change. With the revolution in Portugal in the spring of 1975...
Q: Was this within your province?
BARBOUR: No, it was not, but two things were going on in the Office of Liberian Affairs. One was we were renegotiating a base agreement, another was that Portugal underwent a dramatic, if bloodless, revolution in the hands of people who wanted to move it very far left. People who were, as it turned out, much more harmless than they seemed, but they seemed at the time to be almost fuzzy Maoist in the things they said, and the things they said they wanted to do. Anyhow, it was a major crisis for us, that Portugal was a major crisis for us. That office was overwhelmed. At the same time we were negotiating a base agreement in Spain that was not going extremely well, and there were an awful lot of leaks coming out of the American delegation and being printed in the American newspapers. The result was, they decided to incorporate Spain and Portugal into the Office of Western European Affairs, and I gave up Benelux. So Spain and Portugal came onto my particular scene, and demanded far more time in those days than France and Italy had.
Q: From interviews, and almost corridor talk, but one of the great stories of the Foreign Service of this period, was this whole Portuguese thing, where you had the Secretary of State and a very active ambassador, Frank Carlucci was sent out there, who were quite in disagreement on how to go. Could you talk about what you saw, both when you dealing actively with it, and also from the sidelines about this.