231. Memorandum From Marshall Wright of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • New UN Secretary General

We are at the point of decision on a successor for U Thant. His latest illness has put an end to the talk about an extension for him. We have told the Latinos that we are not going to accept Herrera. The consultations between the Permanent Security Council members have, in fact, already begun—and will formally begin within the next few days.

Finland’s Jakobson is State’s candidate. Unless they are instructed otherwise, everything they do from here on in will be directed toward his selection. Is that what we want?

I know privately that George Bush is not enamored of Jakobson. Nor am I. In view of his rock hard attitude on Chirep and the fact that he is, to a considerable extent, presenting himself as the PRC candidate, I wonder if he really deserves our unalloyed support.

I am not suggesting that we should try to sink him, or even that we stall if the other Permanent Security Council members reach a consensus upon him. But why should we be cooperating so faithfully? So far I know, Waldheim would be at least as acceptable to us as Jakobson. And if neither of them made it, Sadruddin Aga Khan might emerge as a compromise, and I should think that would be altogether to our liking. Finally, if the Latinos do come up (as they might) with a good man, ought we not to at least be in the posture of being able to give him serious consideration?

It seems clear that the Soviets don’t want Jakobson, but also don’t want to be forced to say so. There may, in that situation, be the makings of an agreement on some other candidate.

In short, it is my instinct that we ought to pull back on this one and play it very cool until we have at least had the first round of consultations. I am, however, deterred from pushing this view because I have a suspicion that you want Jakobson. If that suspicion is correct, so be it. If it is incorrect we should have a conversation right away [Page 413]about the U.S. approach to the problem of finding a successor for U Thant.

Let State take the lead.

Come see me.2

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 302, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. VIII. Confidential. Sent for action.
  2. Neither option is checked. Kissinger’s handwritten note at the end of the memorandum reads: “I have no interest in Jakobson. I am against Herrera. I would prefer Sadruddin Khan.”