207. Editorial Note

The impending visit of Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin to New York in order to attend meetings at the United Nations presented the Johnson administration with an opportunity to engage the Soviet leader in talks on a number of important issues, including the war in Vietnam. On June 19, 1967, President Johnson discussed on the telephone with Senator J. William Fulbright the chances for successful talks during Kosygin’s impending visit. As to Kosygin’s willingness to be forthcoming on Vietnam, Johnson commented: “He has just been to London, Bill, and got the hell clobbered out of him because all you doves said he worked out a deal to sell them out, and it didn’t work. Now, he didn’t have a deal to sell them out, and they don’t put it that bluntly. But that’s the way they put it in their circles. When they read—when China reads—that he and Wilson had a deal that could bring this war to an end, they think he was over there acting as a broker. Now he didn’t do that at all, and they misinterpreted. But their desire to stop the war and to really blame me got the best of them. The Wilson-Kosygin deal was a pure phony. It had no—it was just about as much as U Thant’s deal back there in Burma. It was just as much a phony. They sent a message to North Vietnam asking them if they wouldn’t go along here and try to work this thing out. North Vietnam immediately took it up with the Chinese and subsequently sent a delegation there. And they just got reamed out good and said if you keep playing with these damned Russian traitors you’re going to find yourself alone. So, a burnt child dreads a fire. He’s not going to get back in this unless he can deliver something, and I don’t think he’s quite ready to deliver it now because I don’t think he has that horsepower with North Vietnam. I think we got as good a reading on it as anybody.” (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Fulbright, June 19, 1967, 10:57 p.m., Tape F67.12, PNO 1 & 2)