63. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • History of Vietnam Negotiations

We have now completed a history of the Vietnam negotiations leading to the bombing halt (attached at Tab A).2 We have also completed a special study on U.S.-Soviet negotiations relating to the bombing halt (attached at Tab B). We have underway a history of U.S.-North Vietnamese negotiations after November 1, 1968. These studies are not really what you are after since motives do not show up. However, this is the best we can do after an exhaustive review of all of the documents available.

Another possible study would deal with the internal U.S. Government consideration of the bombing halt decision. Such an internal history raises serious problems since it would probably require interviewing the key personalities involved and reopening the serious differences within the bureaucracy on the bombing halt decision. There is also a good chance that one or more of the personalities involved would leak to the press that your Administration was conducting this study.

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That we not undertake an internal history of U.S. Government views.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 98, Vietnam Subject Files, Vietnam/U.S. Bombing Halt Understanding. Secret. Sent for action. A stamped note indicates the President saw the memorandum. Sneider sent this history to Kissinger on April 10, with two covering memoranda. In the first Sneider states: “Dean Moor has done an exhaustive history of the Vietnam negotiations leading to the bombing halt.… You requested an internal history of U.S. dealings after November 1, 1968.… I think you ought to seriously reconsider the request for the internal history.… It would raise immediate questions within the bureaucracy, which would get quickly to the press that the Administration is preparing a critical attack on LBJ’s Vietnam policies. My judgment is that we have enough problems without this additional one.” Kissinger indicated his desire for this internal history of U.S. and NVN dealings after November 1, 1968, by signing his initials next to the “approve” option. In the second covering memorandum, Sneider informed Kissinger that the attached draft narrative history covered “the bilateral talks between Washington and Hanoi, the US discussions with the GVN on the bombing halt, and the US discussions with the Soviet Union.… The draft makes use of all material presently available to the National Security Council staff.” (Ibid.)
  2. Tabs A and B are attached but not printed.
  3. Nixon initialed the approve option and wrote: “But I want all we trust who have recollections—(Wheeler, Goodpaster, Kissinger, etc.) to give me a memo (e.g., the anatomy of Clifford’s turn around would be interesting—Frank Lenida’s plus Wheeler’s memos.) Also, Haldeman and Harlane should provide a memo of all we heard during campaign about bombing halt plans.” Butterfield added the following note: “Henry: I have taken action on this request. Alex.”