159. Memorandum From President Nixon to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
As I told Al on the phone last night, I am still totally unsatisfied with the efforts we are making on the propaganda front on Vietnam.2 What I am referring to here is not so much to what is said in Washington by White House spokesmen or in Paris by Porter, but statements that are made by Mac V and, even more important, the propaganda directed to the people of North Vietnam and North Vietnam’s military forces in South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
What concerns me is that my study of every war in this century indicates that a propaganda chief was an almost indispensable adjunct to the military and political leaders. This was true in World War I and World War II particularly. In Korea, of course, we forgot everything we learned in previous wars and did most things pretty poorly.
It is too late perhaps to do anything except on a patchwork basis as far as this present operation is concerned. At least, however, we can push Helms and the intelligence community to come up with some fresh ideas with regard to how we deal with propaganda directed to the North Vietnamese wherever they may be.
But looking to the future I think we have to have a topflight man probably on the White House staff and of course as a direct deputy to you at the NSC to advise on and to direct where necessary the propaganda offenses which are always needed to complement our military and political actions. Of course at the present time we rely on a number of people around the White House to give us advice in these fields—Ziegler, Scali, Klein, and even sometimes Haldeman.
But we must realize that not one of these that I have mentioned has the all-round qualifications to assume the responsibilities that I have in mind. I want someone full time who will direct his attentions to how we handle things in a propaganda way, both covertly and overtly. I do not have in mind that this individual should ever directly or indirectly talk to the Press. He should be an inside man advising us and also carrying out the ideas that we may have on the propaganda front. This is a very specialized field and we need someone who will bring us a broader gauged understanding of the situation so that we do not make mistakes with the best of intentions in the PR area, and [Page 584] also so that we take better advantage of some of our positive actions than has previously been the case. Immediately upon our return from Moscow I want to talk to you about this and see if we can’t work out some way to tackle the problem.