237. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

P: On two things that are quite clear on briefings here. The line of our enemies and many of our people here are playing that Lon Nol may not make it and Sihanouk is our best bet.

K: Right.

P: The Japanese think so. Contact somebody—this is an order— can you contact your opposite number? Call in the Ambassador and tell him that we consider Lon Nol’s prospects excellent and we would find it difficult in our relations with them if they supported the other [Page 827] side. And convey to Sato that we would be upset if Japan doesn’t support him. Get the CIA jerks working on Cambodia—I don’t see this about two sides. Are we getting across the story that this is a fictious thing?

K: Helms said yesterday after my conversation with you that they would throw it into high gear.2

P: Lon Nol is it and I would urge wide-spread demonstrations against Sihanouk.

K: They have already.

P: Get Helms’ radio to broadcast in there that Sihanouk is coming in with NVN liberators. I want a report on my desk today at 4:00 with his ideas. I don’t want—I want everyone in this government to know we are supporting the government in power. They are to [omission in the source text] up that hill and anyone who does not follow this will be fired. Tell Marshall Green that if anyone disagrees I want his resignation on my desk by noon.

K: I have to get Laird to do what you said. They must follow your strategy.

P: Do it with Green or on the Johnson level. Tell him that you may have other views but the President feels this way and we are going to do that. There is no possibility of our supporting Sihanouk and we are supporting Lon Nol. Tell Helms to have printed one million leaflets with NVN and a picture of Sihanouk, saying “liberate Cambodia.” Get my point?

K: Absolutely.

P: Get a program and have a report on my desk at 4:00 on how they carried it out.3

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 362, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. Helms and Kissinger talked on the telephone at 12:15 p.m. on April 16 about sending a CIA communicator and one officer to Phnom Penh. Helms stated that Green and Rogers had not yet agreed to the move, explaining it was a “problem of real estate and room.” Kissinger asked Helms to write him a brief formal status report on the problem and assured the DCI there would be “no further negotiation” on the issue. (Transcript of telephone conversation between Kissinger and Helms, April 16; ibid.) Kissinger discusses this problem in White House Years, pp. 466–467.
  3. Kissinger was not able to contact Rogers or Green because both were out of town, so he talked with Jonathan Moore on April 18 informing him of the President’s insistence that CIA send a communicator to Phnom Penh. Moore replied that he would consider the telephone call a Presidential directive. (Transcript of telephone conversation between Kissinger and Moore, April 18; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 862, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)