134. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

K: Mr. President.

P: The one thing I was wondering about which I assume has been covered is that the peace offer has been cleared with Thieu.

[Page 510]

K: Not really. He’ll have a few hours warning but there’s nothing in that peace offer that we haven’t in some way offered before. It’s just . . .

P: I meant the ceasefire could be interpreted as one in place, I suppose.

K: But we are just leaving that vague. There are some parts of it he won’t immediately like but we’ve just got to do this.

P: I know; I know. Oh, I agree. I’m all for it, and if he doesn’t like it, that’s too bad, huh.

K: That’s right. We had no choice.

P: What other part wouldn’t he like?

K: That’s the only part. The four-months withdrawal he won’t like.

P: But hell, that’s after they . . .

K: But, Mr. President, if the North Vietnamese stop their offensive under these circumstances, it is a smashing victory for us.

P: Hell, yes. And it’s the only thing that matters.

K: Today he’s got to worry about Kontum and Hue.

P: Yeah; well, that’s the way it is, and frankly, if under these circumstances, he takes this wrong, then . . .

K: He can’t take it wrong. We are saving his neck.

P: Yeah. If it can be saved. The other thing is—have you got Helms going on a massive leaflets and all that stuff.2

K: Oh, yes. That’s being done.

P: Right. Good. Covering both their forces and their troops in the field, as well as . . .

K: Absolutely.

P: I don’t know how well we do that, Henry, but I hope in this case we do it well.

K: Well, we will have that on the way tomorrow.

P: Good. Okay.

K: Right, Mr. President.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 14, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. At 6:58 p.m. Kissinger called Rush and directed him to start a massive leaflet campaign the next day against North Vietnamese troops in the South and North Vietnam generally. The troops in the South were the higher priority. (Ibid.) At 7:09 p.m. he called Sullivan and told him to do the same thing. (Ibid.) At Sullivan’s behest, the Department sent message 80376 to Saigon, May 8, directing Bunker to immediately initiate the leaflet campaign. (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 1086, Jon Howe, Vietnam Chronology Files, May 8, 1972) In telegram 7459, May 9, 0328Z, Moorer sent similar instructions to McCain. (Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–77–0095, 400 Viet (South))