118. Message From Richard T. Kennedy of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) in Paris1

Tohak 49/WHP 124. Haldeman called me at the President’s request. After reading Mr. Kissinger’s report last night,2 the President felt that he should arm him with a strong statement. Haldeman emphasized that this is not repeat not a directive. It is provided for Mr. Kissinger’s use on a wholly discretionary basis to be introduced when and if [Page 431] he believes it would be helpful to do so in an effort to move the negotiations forward. It should not be misunderstood as the President giving an order to Mr. Kissinger. He simply believed that on the basis of Mr. Kissinger’s report yesterday he should arm him with this now.3

The message is as follows:

“The President is very disappointed in the lack of progress in the negotiations to date. Under the circumstances, unless the other side shows the same willingness to be reasonable that we are showing, I am directing you to discontinue the talks and we shall then have to resume military activity until the other side is ready to negotiate. They must be disabused of the idea they seem to have that we have no other choice but to settle on their terms. You should inform them directly without equivocation that we do have another choice and if they were surprised that the President would take the strong action he did prior to the Moscow Summit and prior to the election, they will find now, with the election behind us, he will take whatever action he considers necessary to protect the United States’ interest.”

End message.

Warm regards.

End of message.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 857, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Sensitive Camp David, Vol. XXI (2). Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent via Guay.
  2. Document 117.
  3. Haldeman recorded in his diary on November 23 that, despite assurance to the contrary, Kennedy was “a little concerned about the cable, because it—in effect—tells Henry to make a settlement regardless of what the South Vietnamese think, and that had Kennedy somewhat worried, but he’s going ahead with it.” ( Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition)