80. Editorial Note

On June 7, 1969, President Nixon arrived in Honolulu in preparation for his meeting with President Thieu on Midway Island the next day. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon met with Secretary of State Rogers, Secretary of Defense Laird, Assistant to the President Kissinger, Generals Wheeler and Abrams, Admiral McCain, and Ambassador Bunker. The meeting was held in the conference room of the Kuala Hilton Hotel in Honolulu from approximately 2:15 to 6:15 p.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) Although not listed as a participant in the diary, Ambassador Lodge also attended. Kissinger’s recollection of this meeting stresses that the military participants accepted the decision to withdraw 25,000 U.S. troops “with a heavy heart,” but with resignation. (White House Years, pages 272–273) When Laird described this Hawaii gathering at his staff meeting on June 16, he called it a “really significant meeting,” but provided no details. (Washington National Records Center, OSD Files, FRC 330 76–0028, Laird Chronological File, June–August 1969) Laird prepared a June 7 briefing for the President on Vietnamization. (Ibid., ISA Task Force Files, FRC 75–0013, Chron Action, Ltc Williams, June 6) Lodge was asked to brief the group on events in Paris. According to notes he made, Lodge gave an account of the May 31 private meeting with Le Duc Tho as follows:

  • “1. I was asked to report on the situation in Paris.
  • “2. I said that Le Duc Tho, on May 31, had made this proposal:
    • “a) The DRV would talk with us on all matters and on behalf of the NLF. In essence, he also advanced these ideas:
    • “b) Remove the present personnel of the GVN and destroy them;
    • “c) Seek a USDRV agreement within the framework of the 10 points of the NLF, and another agreement on a cease-fire. In other words, the cease-fire was put at the very bottom of the list.
    • “3. I said that I did not think we could refuse to talk with the DRV. If political questions were brought up, we should be authorized to refer them to Thieu. I suggested that the President should seek to achieve such an understanding with Thieu at the Midway conference the next day.” (Notes on the Midway Meetings by Lodge, Massachusetts Historical Society, Henry Cabot Lodge II Papers, Reel 25)

On June 8 Nixon and the same group flew from Honolulu to Midway, from 7 to 10 a.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) According to H.R. Haldeman there were “Meetings all the way.” No record of these discussions on the aircraft have been found. ( Haldeman Diaries, page 64)