001-150

Date: 
Sunday, April 18, 1971 - 1:28pm - 1:36pm
Participants: 
Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger
Location: 
White House Telephone
Listen: 


 

President Nixon: Yeah?

Operator: [National Security Adviser] Dr. [Henry A.] Kissinger

Henry Kissinger: Mr. President?

President Nixon: Yeah, hello, Henry?

Kissinger: Yes, Mr. President—

President Nixon: Any further developments today, or—

Kissinger: Well I talked to [Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Thomas H.] Moorer and to—

President Nixon: Got everything quieted down?

Kissinger: I think, no, no press inquiries. Uh . . .

President Nixon: Well, it's just one of those, one of those damned—

Kissinger: Yeah, he was injudicious, but I think this is going to blow over.

President Nixon: Yeah, yeah, particulary if nothing happens but we must not continue to let it be stirred up, I mean, but the South Vietnamese, on the other hand, they should right move through that valley and clean them out if they want to, huh?

Kissinger: That's right. And that's really, there's only 2,500 men involved. This is a relatively minor operation—

President Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: —which is to forestall the Northern offensive later on.

President Nixon: Twenty-five hundred? See that's the whole point that in, and they try to blow it up as if there is going to be a major U.S. attack on Laos again, you know, and that, uh, the problem is that you get, Senators will squeal ‘What are we going to do?' and they try to get a resolution passed.

Kissinger: Yeah.

President Nixon: And, you see, we, we want to avoid a situation where they pass a resolution saying we cannot participate in another attack on Laos. See my point, Henry? It's no longer relevant. Because they will pass such a resolution just as sure as hell.

Kissinger: I was absolutely outraged, Mr. President, and really, you know, [Gen. Creighton W.] Abrams, I think, has outlived his usefulness out there to be quite candid. He just hasn't been aware of our problems at any stage of this operation.

President Nixon: Right. Well the point is right now—

Kissinger: Probably not worthwhile recalling—

President Nixon: No, no we can't do it—

Kissinger: [Unclear] because that would stir the pot even more.

President Nixon: No, no, no, no we won't do it. My point is, right now we just want to tell them all to shut up. Now the war is being wound down and just shut up about what they're going to be doing.

Kissinger: Exactly.

President Nixon: We'll make all the statements. Just, and don't have any more press conferences. See?

Kissinger: But, the worst thing is that this wasn't a press conference, Mr. President. He was on a reviewing stand, he walked up, he was already past the newsmen then he decided to go back and start bantering with them.

President Nixon: Yeah, I know.

Kissinger: It was, he was there for the celebration that the South Vietnamese put on to celebrate their victory.

President Nixon: Yeah, [laughs] well.

Kissinger: And had that had been all that had happened then it would have been on page 32.

President Nixon: That's right . . . that's right.

Kissinger: But I think it's a one-day story.

President Nixon: Yeah, true, true, true. Well if the Senators, though, call and say ‘Oh, well, we're going to pass a resolution,' well, look, it's like Cambodia. It's moot, boys. We're not going to—

Kissinger: Yeah.

President Nixon: You see, I don't want to be, look as if the Senate forced us to do something that we were going to do anyway. That's what I'm concerned about.

Kissinger: Exactly.

President Nixon: See?

Kissinger: But, I, I think, uh, if nothing more happens now, we can have, we have it under control.

President Nixon: Well …

Kissinger: And, uh, at any rate, it hasn't made any waves yet.

President Nixon: Fine, fine, fine.

Kissinger: And otherwise—

President Nixon: OK, well—

Kissinger: There's a curious thing going on in Europe, and we haven't figured it out yet. There are, 320 Soviet helicopters have moved from East Germany into Poland and …

President Nixon: Hmm.

Kissinger: And, uh … we think it's an exercise, but it, still, it's a funny exercise.

President Nixon: Hmm.

Kissinger: That they should be moving east and into Poland. We don't know of any upheavals that are going on there that would justify it.

President Nixon: I'll tell you one thing. I think all of Eastern Europe is seething. I really think it is. I think it's more that meets the eye, and I think that everybody is sitting on a powderkeg. Just, good God, that reception we had in Romania proved it.

Kissinger: Well, that's why I think, Mr. President—

President Nixon: They're worried.

Kissinger: That we are going to, uh, the Soviets have to break out forward or into a concilatory stance. They can't do, they cannot stand pat … and my guess would be that they are not going to go into a tough one [unclear]. You see, I interpret also the Chinese moves, they must have read the [Soviet Communist Party Secretary General Leonid I.] Brezhnev speech the way we do, and they must have read it as a beginning of a thaw in U.S.-Soviet relations, and they want not to be the victims of that.

President Nixon: In other words, they're afraid of a condominium.

Kissinger: Exactly. And so they want to get in on that before.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: Because otherwise they could have waited a few months.

President Nixon: Yeah. You're right.

Kissinger: I think their reading of the Brezhnev speech is like ours.

President Nixon: Mmm-hmm. Yeah, in that world they read all those things and read things into them.

Kissinger: Oh, God, they read them in a way that we don't even know how to begin.

President Nixon: Yeah. Well anyway, we had an interesting singing group today, the Singing Cadets from Texas A&M, 60 of them, you know, because they're traveling through.

Kissinger: Oh, really.

President Nixon: And uh, I shook hands with them afterwards. And, boy, it's rather heartening. These boys, some of them, several of them, of course, a few of them had served in Vietnam. But boy, I'd say about half of them said, “Boy, we're behind you in your policy, we're all with you” and all that sort of thing. And uh, and then David1 made an interesting observation. He said,'You know that Texas A&M has a student body of 14,000, which is bigger than Harvard, Yale, and the three, uh, Ivy League smaller schools combined.

Kissinger: That's right.

President Nixon: And he says, just, and they're a hell of a bunch of guys, and we've got to remember, that when, just as the East spews out these revolutionaries and radicals and bastards, that some of those school in the West are spewing out bright guys that are pretty good.

Kissinger: I think those bastards are also impressed by a man who's willing to stand alone.

President Nixon: Well, sure, and also they spew out some good ones, too, you know there are an awful lot of good kids in the eastern schools. But when you go out to places like [Texas] A&M, by golly, there's a lot of guts out in those places.

Kissinger: Oh, that's, those, those schools in the southwest are really marvelous.

President Nixon: Right, right. But we need them, we need to, we need to keep that, that sort of thing alive in this country. We must not disappoint them.

Kissinger: Absolutely, and that's what your policy has been all about.

President Nixon: All right. I try to have at it. Well, this Abrams thing, of course, it isn't all that serious, except that I can, I can always see what goes through the minds of these ‘doves,' and they will, they always try to seize on this, and you watch, they'll have a speech tomorrow about it, and how the administrationis doing this or that and are we doing this or that. How, Laird's2 going to cool it with some sort of a statement. That's the best thing so [White House Press Secretary Ronald L.] Ziegler doesn't, I think the best thing is for Ziegler to say nothing.

Kissinger: But Ziegler—

President Nixon: But really, it's really. Well, I don't care whether Ziegler or Warren3 say nothing. Just simply refer it to defense. Why don't we do it that way? Let's keep it out of the White House, Henry.

Kissinger: OK.

President Nixon: I think that's better, because I tell you, if we have it at the White House level, you have to have it much bigger. Just refer it, well, I'll have to refer you to the Defense Department. And then have [Pentagon spokesman Daniel Z.] Henkin say whatever it was you were going to have Ziegler say. How's that sound?

Kissinger: I think that's even better.

President Nixon: I think it's really better.

Kissinger: Because that way, we should just act as if this isn't important—

President Nixon: Yeah, that's right.--

Kissinger: —for White House attention. It's not important enough—

President Nixon: Just say ‘This is a very tactical move and you'll have to go to the Defense Department for any statement'. Fair enough?

Kissinger: Good, I'll get that done immediately, Mr. President.

President Nixon: How did the casualties look this week?

Kissinger: I think they're around again to what they were last week.

President Nixon: Even with the ten?

Kissinger: Yeah. We don't get the good count until Sunday night, but—

President Nixon: Well, if with the ten we can keep them in that ballpark, that's pretty good, because they'll drop next week, in my opinion.

Kissinger: Oh, yes. I think they'll be down around 30 within two weeks.

President Nixon: Yeah, they may drop. Remember, we dropped down to 16 once, didn't we?

Kissinger: That's right.

President Nixon: There's a … these people are going to have trouble keeping them up. All right, thanks.

Kissinger: Right, Mr. President.

 

1 Dwight David Eisenhower II married Nixon's younger daughter, Julie. (↑)

2 Melvin. R. Laird was the secretary of defense. (↑)

3 Gerald L. Warren was deputy White House press secretary. (↑)

Original tape courtesy of the Nixon Library. This transcript is a working draft. Please let us know if you find important errors.