265. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State 1

12. Ref: USUN 007.2

At lunch today Guyer and Urquhart told Bush and Schaufele that they had impression, which generally shared in Secretariat, that new SYG does not plan make many high-level UN staff changes. Specifically they almost unequivocal in stating Narasimhan would remain as SYG Chef de Cabinet even though US, UK, USSR and others, as well as Secretariat members would be glad to see him leave.
Guyer, specifically, and Urquhart, somewhat less so, in effect counseled against us replacing Bunche. They pointed out that his special position was achieved over twenty-year period and that no other American could expect to fill his role. In advising SYG Office of Special [Page 470]Political Affairs has unique role and influence which carry over to most member states. Installation of American other than Bunche at high level would make its advice and influence questionable in eyes of others. Soviets would be suspicious and unreceptive in any case but this would extend to Arabs and other third world countries regardless of abilities and sensitivities of person involved. Success of office now—Guyer specifically mentioned Jerusalem affair and SYG’s July 20 report on East Pakistan—would be compromised because of presence of US Under Secretary General even if proposals and initiatives were same.
Both men also expressed concern over SYG’s sensitivity to press criticism which will probably become all the more evident as he continues his press, radio and TV interviews. Guyer would prefer his adopting lower profile but if Waldheim is going to get involved with media he should be more thick-skinned.
Comment: As Dept. aware we have always assumed that US replacement for Bunche could not expect to step into same position of influence and would have to carve out his own niche in UN structure. Certainly Guyer, as reported reftel and as he repeated in this conversation, believes there is no real job for two men in Special Political Affairs and is probably expressing personal considerations in his remarks.
Urquhart can be taken more seriously in view his long experience and his closeness to Bunche, although he too may have aspirations nurtured by UK. What emerges from this conversation is that Bunche replacement, in addition to high competence and acceptability to SYG, will require agility, toughness and nerve to surmount obstacles which may be placed in his path by Secretariat personnel. At same time we do not underestimate difficulties which Guyer and Urquhart mentioned and which will arise for him and office in view suspicions of others that he representative of US rather than SYG.
We disturbed about impression that Waldheim not expected make necessary staff changes. We will discreetly suggest to other Perm Reps of similar mind to weigh in on this subject. If Dept. believes it feasible it may wish draw attention of Amb. Gruber to this matter in hope he will pass it on to Waldheim.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 303, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. X. Confidential; Exdis.
  2. Telegram 7 from USUN, January 4, discussed Bush’s courtesy call on Secretary-General Waldheim on January 3, during which Bush said that this government was interested in seeing an American succeed Bunche and that he wanted to be sure that the nominee would be someone with whom Waldheim could work closely. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 8–3)