102. Memorandum for the President’s File by the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • The President’s Private Meeting with British Prime Minister Edward Heath


  • The President
  • Prime Minister Heath
  • Henry A. Kissinger
  • Sir Burke Trend, Secretary to the Cabinet

[Omitted here is discussion of bilateral and European political issues.]

The President then made an eloquent statement of his personal world view: “The Establishment has a guilt complex. They can’t stand the fact that I, their political opponent, am rectifying their mistakes. In addition, the Establishment has this growing obsession with domestic problems. The intellectual establishment is confused and frustrated by their own role, and by the United States’ role. They have never believed that there was any real danger from the Left. They are turning inward. They have made it a problem whether we are going to continue our involvement in the world. The point of this too-long discourse is this: I know the issue; I’ll see it through; we will have a world role. You’ll wake up day after day wondering what’s happening to us. Our initiatives are necessary to give our people hope. A political leader must constantly feed hope—but he must constantly know what he is doing, without illusion. One reason these present visits are so helpful is because the Right has become worried about our actions’ impact on our [Page 353] friends. Our answer is that we will not sacrifice our friends to détente. We must do it to keep our negotiating partners.”

After some remarks on China policy by Dr. Kissinger, the President emphasized to Prime Minister Heath that “We feel that you should take an active role in world affairs. We must have better communications. We should reach some sort of agreement on general objectives. As for China, when you have two enemies, we want to tilt towards the weaker, not towards the stronger—though not in a way that we can be caught at it.” The President went on to discuss why we had to keep the bureaucracy in the dark as we went about setting up the first Kissinger trip. “We’d like to keep you informed on a personal basis,” he stressed to the Prime Minister. Dr. Kissinger explained why it was not possible to inform allied governments any sooner before the July 15 announcement. The ROC had a better claim to advance notice than the Japanese had, but they would have leaked it. The Japanese themselves have the leakiest government in the world, so we couldn’t afford to give them advance word.

The President said, “The Japanese are all over Asia like a bunch of lice. Let’s look at Japan and Germany: Both have a sense of frustration and a memory of defeat. What must be done is to make sure we have a home for them. Maybe NATO is no longer relevant. Japan is today denied a nuclear capability; in terms of security, if our nuclear umbrella should become less credible, the effect on Japan would be a catastrophe. The biggest reason for our holding on in Vietnam is Japan. (An example of that is the impact the end of the bombing had on the Japanese.) We have to reassure the Asians that the Nixon Doctrine is not a way for us to get out of Asia but a way for us to stay in. They must see that the China trip is not taken at their expense. The August 15 thing was agony to me; I’m very glad that Connally and Barber worked things out, because it was vital also for Japan. Sato, you know, wanted to come to Hawaii.”

[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] the Prime Minister noted. “We ought to tie them in.” The President agreed: “We mustn’t leave Japan completely isolated. We give aid stupidly; the Japanese give aid too selfishly. We shouldn’t resent that if the Japanese play a constructive role ultimately; it won’t necessarily be the same kind of role as ours.”

[Omitted here is brief discussion of South Asia.]

The Prime Minister then posed a philosophical question. “We are moving more and more into a state of world affairs in which effective action is no longer possible. How much can you do?” The President replied, “The Soviets have tested us to see if they could control events. Of course you have to consider the much bigger stakes in the Middle [Page 354] East and Europe. Part of the reason for conducting our Vietnam withdrawal so slowly is to give some message that we are not prepared to pay any price for ending a war; we must now ask ourselves what we are willing to pay to avert war. If we are not, we have tough days ahead.” [Omitted here are very brief comments on South Asia.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, B Series Documents, Box 58, Folder 39. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the Sitting Room of Government House.