96. Memorandum From the President’s Military Assistant (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


Per your instructions, I have prepared a memorandum for you including talking points for your use in your meeting with the President tomorrow.2 I have pondered this most difficult of problems at great length this weekend and have concluded that you should not raise this issue in either the terms I have outlined or in any other terms unless you have in your own mind definitely decided to leave Government without any qualms or reservations. In my view, there is no way to pose a set of alternatives to the President along the lines outlined which will not ultimately result in your departure. As I told you earlier, I believe the President will pay any price to keep you happy and on board, but only at the expense of a bill which he will collect on later and probably to your disadvantage.

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I am confident that the President has been completely aware of your problems with Rogers, perhaps to a greater degree than you realize. If you are to hit him with the hard alternative now, it should not be with the view toward achieving a temporary victory which will ultimately deteriorate, but rather with the view toward providing him with notice that you intend to leave as soon as it can be conveniently managed.

I recognize the risks that your continuation in this job will pose for you personally and even for the country in the long run; however, I also believe that the overriding consideration is our country’s current need for the kind of counsel and advice that only you have been able to provide in the present structure of things. Thus, after careful thought, I am against your taking this course of action now.



Memorandum From the President’s Military Assistant (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs(Kissinger)


  • Your Discussion with the President on Relationships with Secretary Rogers and the Department of State


Attached is a brief talking paper which represents my best judgment on the tack and rationale you should employ in your discussion with the President on Sunday, February 22, dealing with your relationships with Secretary Rogers. As you know, I do not believe that you will want to permit the discussion to deteriorate into a bleeding litany of the almost incredible record of poor cooperation, intentional violations of Presidential instructions and, on occasion, deliberate deceit. Nor do I think you will wish to press too strongly on the difficulties you have experienced because of what appears to be a direct confrontation between you and Secretary Rogers with the parallel and increasing efforts by the Secretary and his staff to manipulate an anti-Kissinger press campaign. Rather, I believe you will wish to present to the President a calm, deliberate but unshakeable decision on your part to leave the Administration if the President, for whatever reasons, is unwilling to provide you with the kind of direct support essential to a clear-cut and effective working relationship between you, the Secretary of State and his Department.

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The history of Secretary Rogers’ uncooperative attitude with respect to the office of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs is lengthy and tragic and includes documented accounts of poor faith in the following major areas:

State’s uncoordinated and unauthorized policy actions with regard to SALT talks and the preparations therefor.
State’s abrogations of the Colorado Springs directive of September 1, 1969.3
State’s unresponsive and frequently hostile performance with regard to such major policy issues as the Middle East, Latin America and Africa.
State’s systematic efforts to erode Presidential policy decisions on the concept of linkage and, in the early days, Presidential efforts to hold the line on Vietnam issues.
The recent imbroglios with State involving the visit of Prime Minister Palme, the handling of the Symington Subcommittee Hearings (which, incidentally, can best be attested to by John Ehrlichman who was the President’s principal staff agent and who witnessed firsthand Secretary Rogers’ direct refusal to comply with instructions from the White House), the policy study on France, the issue of Nigerian relief, and finally and perhaps most importantly, the near fiasco resulting from State’s lack of coordination in the preparation of the President’s Annual Review of U.S. Foreign Policy.4


The bill of particulars concerning our problems with the Department of State in general, and Secretary Rogers in particular, is awesome, detailed and thoroughly documented by you. It would be naive to believe that the President is not thoroughly familiar with the problems you have been having with Secretary Rogers and, while I believe he has been uniformly in your corner, there have been continuing manifestations of an unwillingness on his part to draw the line in a direct and unequivocal fashion with the Secretary himself. The result of this has only contributed to Rogers’ inclination and perhaps growing determination to do you in with a jugular fight. His disappointment over the public setback associated with the Annual Review cannot but, in my opinion, add to this determination and raise the risks of even more serious confrontations in the near future. For this reason, I believe it is essential that you measuredly lay the situation before the President while avoiding the bill of particulars which is available to him at any time if he feels it necessary to review it, and that you do so in a fashion which would leave absolutely no uncertainty in the President’s [Page 216] mind as to your determination to leave Government rather than to continue with a situation which cannot but pose the most serious risks to the national interest, if not to the future effectiveness of the President’s authority within the bureaucracy.


That you draw from the attached talking points in a discussion with the President on your relationships with the Secretary of State, the discussion to be held prior to the return of the Secretary on February 23.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 148, State/WH Relationship, Vol. 3. Secret; Nodis; Exclusively Eyes Only. Haig wrote in hand at the top of the first page: “my file only; get all other copies Laura has.”
  2. The attached memorandum is printed but not the talking points.
  3. Document 70.
  4. See Document 95.
  5. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Kissinger had lunch and met with Nixon at Camp David from noon to 3:15 p.m. on Sunday, February 22. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files) Haldeman recorded in his diary entry for February 23: “K back from his journey Saturday night. Reported to P Sunday at Camp David. Is pretty pleased, feels made a start towards some real progress. Long talks and he was (he says) very tough.” (The Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition)