Friday, June 4, 1971 - 9:03pm - 9:08pm
Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger
White House Telephone

President Nixon: Yeah.
White House Operator: [National Security Adviser] Dr. [Henry A.] Kissinger, sir.
Henry A. Kissinger: Mr. President.
President Nixon: Yeah. Henry, I was thinking on that manner of the conversation you had with [AFL-CIO International Affairs Director Jay] Lovestone--”
Kissinger: Yes.
President Nixon: --”that the real emphasis should be that the idea that well, we're not really changing the thing, we're just putting this in the general thing. You know what I mean? That . . . you see what I mean? If we could . . . if you put it in terms of specifics, you know, a specific waving of the thing for this or that. I don't know, but I . . . when you talk to him again you might . . . the thing you mentioned to me earlier that the . . .1
Kissinger: I, frankly, unfortunately, didn't discover that formula until after I had talked to Lovestone.
President Nixon: Yeah.
Kissinger: But I will explain to him how that will operate.
President Nixon: Explain to him in the morning that what we are thinking about is not changing it with regard to specific items or anything of that sort of thing, but just including . . . just making this part of the--”which we have in other areas, don't we?
Kissinger: Oh, yes.
President Nixon: Yeah.
Kissinger: And in fact it can be enforced only, as I said, if one has specific licenses for each case.
President Nixon: Yeah. I see.
Kissinger: And we can just avoid that.
President Nixon: Yeah. In other words, announce it, and then give the licenses or not, you mean? Is that what you mean?
Kissinger: No, if you . . .
President Nixon: Yeah.
Kissinger: . . . if you make a general license--”
President Nixon: Yeah.
Kissinger: --”then the individual items of shipping can't be controlled.
President Nixon: Yeah. I get your point. Well, that's what we want to do. A general license for grains only.
Kissinger: Exactly.
President Nixon: And I'd point that out, that that's what we have in mind to avoid congressional pressures to do more than that, see?
Kissinger: Right.
President Nixon: And to attack the whole thing.
Kissinger: Right.
President Nixon: I think if you tell him that--”
Kissinger: Well, he understood it anyway, Mr. President. He's a tough pro.
President Nixon: Well, you could tell him that in the morning, that that's what we have in mind.
Kissinger: And his intention is to be helpful.
President Nixon: Sure. Sure, sure. OK, fine Henry. Thank you.
Kissinger: And--”well, I'll talk to you in the morning about it.
President Nixon: Yeah.
Kissinger: I've gotten more reports from Cambodia. And unfortunately the press was telling the truth and [General Creighton] Abrams wasn't--”again.
President Nixon: Is that right?
Kissinger: Yeah.
President Nixon: You mean they--”we took a banging, huh?
Kissinger: Yeah.
President Nixon: How bad is it?
Kissinger: Well, it's pretty bad. It was a lousy outfit. They obviously ran.
President Nixon: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Kissinger: And the worst of it is for three months [Deputy National Security Adviser Alexander M.] Haig and I have been sending telegrams out there. We can't bother you with every division.
President Nixon: Mm-hmm . . . yeah. Well, is it bad in terms of the long range, or the short range, or what?
Kissinger: No, not in terms of the long range, but we may . . . we ought to look at this whole Abrams problem again.
President Nixon: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Well, I think the story is virtually over now, don't you?
Kissinger: The story is over. I mean--”and actually--”
President Nixon: And it's confused.
Kissinger: In a confused way.
President Nixon: Mm-hmm. But . . . well, what about this . . . the reports about casualties inflicted and so forth? Did we inflict a lot or not? You don't know.
Kissinger: I don't know.
President Nixon: You never can tell.
Kissinger: I--”let me put it this way: They are out of proportion to the number of weapons we captured.
President Nixon: Yep. Mm-hmm.
Kissinger: And . . .
President Nixon: Well, I think most of it is bombing. That's what they're really talking about.
Kissinger: [with Nixon acknowledging] So it's hard to know. They did inflict some heavy casualties and the other side hadn't pursued, so this suggests that they too take heavy losses.
President Nixon: Right. OK. Well, that's . . .
Kissinger: But I'll take care of this other matter.
President Nixon: You'll have to take care of--”the Abrams thing is a problem, though, isn't it, though? He's . . .
Kissinger: It's a problem.
President Nixon: He and his staff too must be giving us as much jazz.
Kissinger: Yeah, they're pretty lousy.
President Nixon: Mm-hmm. OK.
Kissinger: Haig--”
President Nixon: Haig, what did you say?
Kissinger: But Haig tells me he has a tendency always to have second-raters around him.
President Nixon: Hmm. Well, I don't know how we can shake it up much now, can we?
Kissinger: No.
President Nixon: Can't change him now, can I?
Kissinger: Not at the lower levels.
President Nixon: No. I don't know whether you can shake him up, that's the point.
Kissinger: That's the thing that one might take a look at.
President Nixon: Mm-hmm. I don't know. That'd be pretty drastic, wouldn't it, at this point?
Kissinger: It'd be pretty drastic.
President Nixon: I mean the psychological effect of that could be . . . unless he did it for health reasons.
Kissinger: [with Nixon acknowledging] Yeah . . . yeah. But that's not anything that needs--”that requires an immediate decision. That can depend on some of the other things.
President Nixon: But you did not see a follow-up on their part at least.
Kissinger: No. Absolutely not.
President Nixon: They saw it was just one of those things, right?
Kissinger: Yeah.
President Nixon: Mm-hmm. OK.
Kissinger: Right, Mr. President.

1Nixon was referring to the International Wheat Agreement he'd sent the Senate earlier that week. ↑

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