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


  • Your Meeting with Sir Robert Thompson

You are meeting with Sir Robert Thompson at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 13.

Sir Robert has just returned from another visit to Vietnam, undertaken at our request. He has also taken a side trip to Cambodia.

Sir Robert’s report to you is attached (Tab A).2

[Page 128]

Sir Robert’s Position. Sir Robert will probably want to make the following points:

  • —He is very encouraged by the situation in the countryside in South Vietnam. Progress is now slower than before because so much has already been achieved, but it is nonetheless striking in comparison with even two years ago.3
  • —The main force war is virtually over.
  • —The operations in Cambodia have materially reduced the enemy threat in the southern portions of South Vietnam, and have gained nine months to a year of time.
  • —Vietnamization can proceed as planned.
  • —Next year we should begin de-emphasizing the war and begin emphasizing programs which deal with reconstruction and development and with a return to normalcy.
  • —The Cambodian Government is working hard and is apparently successful in rallying the population to oppose the Viet Cong.
  • —Despite the progress, some important problems remain:
  • —The remaining Viet Cong infrastructure will take a long time to root out.
  • —We might be hard put if Hanoi turned down our cease-fire proposal and then next year simply announced an unsupervised stand-down in place.
  • —It is not certain whether the Cambodian Government will be able to conduct the kind of rural programs essential to defeating the Viet Cong in Cambodia.
  • —The greatest remaining problem will be to convince the South Vietnamese people that the Viet Cong are really beaten and cannot come back.

Your Position. I recommend you do the following:

  • —Thank Sir Robert for his second visit to Vietnam.
  • —Ask Sir Robert for his estimate of the situation.
  • —Ask Sir Robert for his estimate of the impact of our proposals in South Vietnam.
  • —Ask Sir Robert what he thinks we should do next to overcome the infrastructure problem and continue to make progress.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 92, Vietnam Subject Files, Sir Robert Thompson 1970. Secret. A stamped notation on the memorandum reads, “The President has seen.” According to the President’s Daily Diary, Kissinger, Nixon, and Thompson met in the Oval Office from 5:46 to 6:17 p.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files) No other record of the meeting has been found.
  2. Attached but not printed is Tab A, an undated “Report to the President on South Vietnam” by Robert Thompson.
  3. In a meeting with Laird and his key advisers on Vietnam, October 14, Thompson was equally sanguine about the pacification program, but indicated that there was more work to do in the traditional base areas. (Memorandum for the record by Odeen, October 14; Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–76–67, Box 88, Viet 092, Sep–Dec 1970)