121. Message From President Nixon to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) in Paris1

Tohak 71/WHP 141. To be delivered to General Haig when he gets up.

The President dictated the following message for Dr. Kissinger after studying Hakto 23:2 Quote: Because of expectations that have been built up in this country that a settlement will be reached, we face a very difficult situation if the talks collapse. Consequently you should inform the Saigon representatives that all military and economic aid will be cut off by the Congress if an agreement is not reached. Inform them also that, under these circumstances, I will be unable to get the Congressional support that is needed.

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You should proceed therefore on option two,3 playing your hand just as hard as you can recognizing that we have now reached the point where resumption of heavy bombing of the North is probably not a viable option for us. Obviously you must play out the hand as though it were still a viable option, but we have now reached the point, by reason among other things of my statement just before the election that we would soon reach agreement,4 that we must reach the best agreement that we can.

In my view the October 8 agreement was one which certainly would have been in our interest. You should try to improve it to take account of Saigon’s conditions as much as possible. But most important we must recognize the fundamental reality that we have no choice but to reach agreement along the lines of the October 8 principles. Unquote.

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; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent via Kennedy and Haig. Kennedy sent a subsequent message to Haig, Tohak 72/WHP 142, 0510Z, elaborating on this one. According to Kennedy, Haldeman “said that you and Dr. Kissinger would understand that this is meant in context of a reasonable position on Hanoi’s part not in a situation of intransigence on their part. But we could not forgo a good agreement if they were willing to settle for one. He indicated that if in light of the circumstances there Dr. Kissinger and you were not comfortable with this position you would come back.” (Ibid.)
  2. Document 120.
  3. In Hakto 23.
  4. The President spoke on nationwide television from San Clemente on November 6, the evening before the election; for text of his remarks, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1972, pp. 1138–1139.