347. Editorial Note

On the day of his re-election as President, November 7, 1972, Nixon had a long discussion with his Assistant H.R. Haldeman about changes in administration personnel for the second term. “His feeling is that he’s ambivalent—to a degree at least—about Rogers, whether he will keep him or not, although he realizes that he shouldn’t,” Haldeman noted in his diary entry for November 7. “Doesn’t really know what he wants to do at State, if he does let Rogers go.” (The Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition) Two days later Haldeman had dinner with John Ehrlichman and Henry Kissinger and, according to Haldeman’s diary entry for November 9, “we went through the whole question of State and Defense and foreign policy with Henry. It comes down to his general agreement that we should go ahead with [Kenneth] Rush at the State Department, because you have to get a man who basically functions according to the orders he gets, as the P’s man, rather than an independent Secretary of State.” (Ibid.) Speaking of Rush during an Oval Office meeting with Kissinger on November 13, the President said: “I am going to tell him: I am going to take the responsibility for cleaning up that State Department and I want him to be my man.” Just prior to that comment Nixon had asserted that his “one legacy is to ruin the foreign service. I mean ruin it—the old foreign service—and to build a new one. I’m going to do it.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, [Page 769] Conversation between Nixon and Kissinger, November 13, 1972, Oval Office Conversation No. 814–3) The editor transcribed the portion of the conversation printed here specifically for this volume.

In a November 14 meeting, the President told Haldeman that he wanted him to “talk to Rogers, make the point that the P is closest to him, but feels that anyone who’s been in for four years should go like [Secretary of Housing and Urban Development] Romney, [Secretary of Transportation] Volpe and [Secretary of Defense] Laird.” Haldeman was to tell Rogers that “it would be bad if you stayed and they didn’t. It’s best for you to finish in a blaze of glory with the Vietnam peace signing, and then you take the lead and move out. That we’d have problems with Romney and Volpe and we need your lead to do this.” (The Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition) Haldeman met with Rogers on November 16 and recorded in his diary that “Rogers obviously was shocked to be told that he was to leave, and he didn’t say much more than that to me, except that he thought it was a bad way to handle it.” Later that day Rogers met the President and Haldeman and “made a brief pitch about his concern on the appearance of his being fired, that it creates bad and unnecessary public opinion” and that “the P should have consulted him first and then decided.” The three men then “discussed the organization of State if Rogers were to stay, and he basically made a pitch to stay on to June 1, so that he can clean up things that he was doing and not look like K[issinger] had forced him out.”

Upon being told by Haldeman the next day, November 17, that Rogers “was going to stay on for a short time,” Kissinger responded that it was “a disaster for the P and the country and unworkable for the Administration and our foreign policy. Our problem is not the foreign service, it’s the Secretary and he operates independently of the White House, won’t carry out orders and won’t do the work, the preparation of his own materials. The Department is torn between their loyalty to the Secretary versus the White House.” On the other hand, “if we had a Secretary we could work with, we could tell him what we want and it would get done.” The President informed Haldeman later that day that he “should have a clear understanding [with Rogers] that he’s to leave on June 1, but will say nothing prior to that.” Furthermore, he should tell Rogers that “there will be a reorganization in the Department as in all others. The P will make the decisions regarding all appointments. The line of working control must be through the system.” Regarding the foreign service, “we’ll have to see what promotions we want to put through. The most important thing is loyalty” and “everybody has to work within the system.” Haldeman noted in his diary that regarding Rogers’ successor, Nixon “hasn’t decided (but it will be Rush, of course.)” (Ibid.)

Haldeman met with Rogers at the latter’s home on November 18 to pass along the President’s message. “We need a clear understanding that [Page 770] if you stay on, first, we have to go with the new organization now without delay,” Haldeman told Rogers, “second, the President will make the appointments on his decision”; and “third, the Foreign Service promotions have got to be based first on loyalty, then on competence.” Rogers “argued that the Foreign Service are very loyal to the P, especially now. They agree with his policies and his approach and he can win them over if he just takes a basically reasonable attitude toward them and not cut them off. Says he gives lip service to agreeing completely to the other conditions and says he feels he can work with them, even the staffing thing for a few months, but he definitely will leave, probably by June 1, maybe even by May 1.” (Ibid.)

On November 21 the President met with Deputy Secretary of Defense Kenneth Rush to discuss his prospective appointment as Deputy Secretary of State. According to Haldeman’s diary, Nixon “reviewed the State Department situation, made the point that Rush may or may not move up to Secretary, and that would remain to be seen after Rogers leaves.” Referring to William J. Casey, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission who was slated to become Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, the President “explained the Casey role as the guy to tear up the Department. Rush’s role is to back him and handle substantive matters. He said basically there’d be two purposes for Rush: one is substantive, that he should work on preparations for the European Security Conference, SALT, Vietnam, and so on; and second, is a cover for the beginning of the reorganization.” Rush replied that he “recognized very much the P’s views as to the problems at State, and totally agreed with the need to move in and clean it out. He expressed his view of Rogers as being a complete captive of the Foreign Service. That the problem with the Foreign Service is that what they want is to control foreign policy, and they aren’t, and that makes them unhappy. The way they react reflects that unhappiness, which is what poses the problem for the P with them. The thing that they don’t recognize is that it’s not the business of the Foreign Service or the State Department to control foreign policy or to make the decisions, but rather to provide the P with the input and information so that he can do that. And then to insure that his policy decisions are carried out precisely.” Haldeman noted that it was clear that Rush was “very pleased to take on this role and understands that if he goes at it right, he’s got a chance to move up to Secretary.” (Ibid.)

Rush entered on duty as Deputy Secretary of State on February 2, 1973, a day after Casey entered on duty as Under Secretary for Economic Affairs and William J. Porter succeeded U. Alexis Johnson as Under Secretary for Political Affairs. Rogers served until September 3, 1973, and was succeeded by Kissinger.