149. Notes of Telephone Conversation Between Senator J. William Fulbright and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

K wanted Fulbright to know that the President had approved the idea of K meeting with members of the committee. Fulbright and K decided that 4:30 on December 4 would be convenient for both of them and it would take place at the Senator’s Office in the New Senate Office Building. One point that the President wanted K to make was that we have been prepared to discuss political matters with the North Vietnamese since May and every private meeting we have had has been at our initiative—there hasn’t been a single one called by them. Secondly, we have been prepared to discuss political matters (repeated this). We have told them we would discuss their 10 points if they would discuss ours and said they don’t have to accept them, just discuss it. They have refused. Fulbright said they were very difficult people. K felt that if serious negotiations ever start, it will be fairly rapid. If we can only get over the hurdle and then put our big offers on the table. Fulbright said it was difficult for him to bring himself to believe that the Government has decided to get completely out. K said our problem is that we have to make Vietnamization look worse than negotiating or they won’t negotiate seriously. We have to try to handle this to avoid any additional rifts in society. K added that we wouldn’t have been doing things we have been doing if we didn’t want to get out. K said he worked with LBJ on getting the negotiations started. LBJ handled all of the negotiations just to have alibi for continuing. K said we have to handle it in way that enables us to get greatest degree of consensus of getting things done. K was not saying that the other side doesn’t have its problems. It is an enormously concerned situation. In terms of objectives, K said he didn’t feel Fulbright and the WH were that far apart. K said if we have learned anything from 1956 [1954] it is that we can’t afford a settlement that they won’t maintain. The only sort of settlement is one which they feel is fair. Otherwise we are just buying a year or two, if that much. Fulbright said he certainly felt the urgency of it. He had never seen such concern about all sorts of things which Fulbright thinks [Page 490] are related to Vietnam. K thought there was no question that this society is facing a profound psychological crisis.2

K told Fulbright that he could determine who would be present at their meeting and that he looked forward to it.3

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 361, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. The President and Kissinger discussed on November 14 Fulbright’s request for Kissinger to meet with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Nixon was inclined to have Kissinger do it so long as it was on “an informal” and “trade off basis.” They also discussed anti-war protests—both the October 15 moratorium and the November 15 mobilization. Nixon stated that “You cannot do it on the basis Rogers and Laird have suggested—that we buy time by troop withdrawals. K said it was a reasonable idea originally. I [Kissinger] thought it would buy us some time. As far as the organizers [of the anti-war movement] work, they would be at us just as hard. P said I think there is a much deeper conspiracy than any of us realize.” Nixon continued: “I will have to nail these people. I am going to say the protestors will delay the [end of?] war. K said I think you have no choice.” The conversation concluded with Kissinger and the President agreeing that Hanoi made a tactical mistake in overestimating the impact of the anti-war movement. (Notes of a telephone conversation, November 14; ibid.)
  3. No substantive record of this meeting has been found.