247. Memorandum From President Nixon to his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

I want you to call on the Soviet Chargé after our Security Council meeting and give him a flat warning that in the event the Communists do move on Phnom Penh we shall react—that we do not want this to [Page 849] impair our relations on SALT and in other areas, but that the President has made a command decision that this involves our interest in Vietnam and that we shall not stand by.2

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Personal File, Box 2, Memorandum for the President, January– December 1970, April 1970. Confidential. The memorandum is unsigned. The classification was changed by hand to Top Secret. Confidential. Kissinger summarizes this message in White House Years, p. 490.
  2. In his memoirs, Kissinger recalls: “The pace of events gave me no opportunity to carry out these instructions [this memorandum and the previous three from Nixon]. In a meeting later in the morning of April 22 I advised against sending Murphy (or Dean Rusk, his [Nixon’s] later suggestion) to Cambodia because it would just trigger an enormous debate and would probably be overtaken by events at the NSC. The President said: ‘Well, whatever, I want to make sure that Cambodia does not go down the drain without doing something.’ He went on: ‘Everybody always comes into my office with suggestions on how to lose. No one comes in with suggestions on how to win.’ The President ordered a replacement for our chargé, Lloyd Rives, in Phnom Penh, and US support for shallow cross-border operations. As with many Nixon orders to fire people, it was intended to show his displeasure; it was not meant to be carried out; it never was at lower levels.” (White House Years, p. 490)