41. Letter From the Representative to the United Nations (Bush) to President Nixon 1
Dear Mr. President:
- An Evaluation—The Nixon Administration and the United Nations
If most of the foreign ambassadors accredited to the UN and the UN Secretariat were polled, a UN critique of our work would go something like this:
- President has great grasp of world affairs.
- President, through peace offer plus withdrawals, has clearly demonstrated he wants peace. This has turned sentiment around at the UN on the Vietnam question to some degree.
- President has high marks for new China policy, Peking trip, Moscow summit.
- President generally gets credit for trying to use UN on India–Pakistan war and for massive support in response to Secretary General’s plea on Bangladesh relief.
- General feeling that U.S. Government is becoming less supportive of UN.
- 25 percent ceiling very unpopular.
- Breaking of chrome sanctions on Rhodesia unpopular. Observers don’t separate out congressional action from administrative action.
- Middle East-Arab discontent with U.S. Government’s inability to “deliver Israel”; an unhappy view of “Nothing can happen until after the election.”
- Standard complaints about lack of support on African issues etc.
Assessment by Ambassador Bush
The White House should be prepared to take the offense on the charge that we don’t support the UN.
- We have tried to use the UN on many
- India–Pakistan—frustrated by Soviet veto
- Vietnam—many initiatives in past—frustrated by Russian and now Chinese all-out opposition
- We have shown major support for the UN in the area of refugees ($119 million to date through the UN).
- We recognize that things won’t happen at the UN if the big powers don’t agree, therefore let’s not wring our hands about what it can’t do. Let’s support what it can do. The U.S. is doing this in the economic and social end.
- With regard to finances, the fact that we want our contribution to be ceilinged at 25 percent is not a downgrading of the UN. We will continue to support old UN activities as they do the job and new ones that have promise such as the Environmental Fund. We feel we are right in supporting Waldheim in his plea for streamlining and efficiency. We know, and all others at the UN know too, that there are some programs that simply don’t work. They must be improved or eliminated. The UN will not survive unless its supporters are constructively critical.
- We should refer critics to Moscow communiqué language on support for the UN plus several helpful presidential foreign policy statements.
Action Recommendation—Presidential Action
Given the growing sentiment of “The U.S. is not willing to fully support the UN”, I think one or a combination of the following ideas make sense.
- Personal letter to Secretary General Waldheim (suggested in Bush letter to President dated June 19, 1972).2
- Presidential call on Secretary General when in New York plus visit to U.S. Mission across the street.
- Possible presidential appearance at some U.N. Day function in October.
- Invitation to Secretary General and UN permanent representatives to White House reception. President Johnson sent plane to New York and brought the Secretary-General and permanent representatives to the White House for such an affair. The best time would be just before the General Assembly in September.
- Invitation to Secretary General, key Secretariat personnel, and members of the Security Council (15 nations) for visit with President on Sequoia.
- Personal swearing-in of General Assembly delegation by President.
- Presidential address to the 27th General Assembly in October
- Summit meetings help reduce tensions which facilitates work at UN.
- Summit meetings not at expense of our concern for developing countries—none care more about “third world” than the U.S.
- Reference to Moscow communiqué—“strengthen the UN”.
I would be pleased to discuss this evaluation with any member of your staff.3
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 303, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. X. Confidential. A copy was sent to Secretary Rogers. An attached memorandum to Kissinger, also dated June 27, indicated that a copy was also sent to H. R. Haldeman.↩
- In Bush’s letter to the President, he appraised Waldheim as being “basically pro-West, and basically inclined towards friendship with the United States of America.” The draft letter read: “Dear Mr. Secretary General: Things have quieted down a bit since my Moscow trip and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your helpful comments issued at the conclusion of my visit there. I hope you share my views that the trip might make our common goal of world peace more attainable. Ambassador Bush has kept me informed of the consultations he has had with you on Vietnam as well as on other matters. I note that you, too, have been travelling extensively around the world to further the goals of the United Nations. We are most appreciative for all of this.” (Ibid.) There is no record that such a letter was sent.↩
- On August 30 Kissinger replied to Bush: “You can be sure that we will give careful attention to your recommendations although I am not optimistic that we will be able to fit UN appearances into the President’s busy fall schedule. On the more positive side, however, we will look for a suitable occasion to send a friendly Presidential letter to Secretary General Waldheim.” Kissinger added a handwritten note reading: “I usually answer letters faster than that. HK.” (Ibid.)↩