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

HK: … got themselves into another hole in which—they could have presented as a victory. They have now turned into a major setback—I don’t bother you with a lot of this stuff, but for example on the two-party military commission. The communists are now trying to use this to spread communist cadres into every village—it doesn’t make any difference how it will come out, once it hits our press it will be a big issue. If this idiot in Saigon had signed the agreement early in November you’d never had heard of the two-party commission and no American would have given a damn how it was set up and he would [Page 723] have had a total veto over it. So he’s setting himself marginal word changes and paying for it with tremendous difficulties later on.

RN: Yeh …

HK: And he of course doesn’t understand how he is undermining your confidence.

RN: Well he’s done that, it’s finished with him. As you know—After the Duc meeting I—

HK: Well, here you invite him to meet you at Midway, which was after all was a great imposition for you then he doesn’t even have the courtesy to reply—not even the courtesy to turn him [you]down.

RN: That’s right. That’s why this letter—I am going to take a hard look, it may be tougher than you think.

HK: Well, it’s pretty tough now.

RN: In the meantime what we have to do Henry as I said is to strike forward now, we know it’s tough, we are going to take some heat, we don’t give a damn how they characterize it—they’re going to take some heat because of the bomb, some people are going to say we are doing this and that, but as far as we are concerned, this is all, let’s take all the heat that we need to take, remembering that it’s never going to be easier later, it’s going to be harder—5, 6 months from now, if we had to do these things, I mean if this thing were still going on we would have been voted out of the war—now we may still be, but at least we will have given them a hell of a whack.

HK: Well Mr. President you are making the peace enforceable, you are soaring up the courage of the other countries in that area, it’s courageous and strong action and it’s after all what the people voted for you—they didn’t vote for you as a bleeding heart.

[Omitted here is additional discussion of the guest list for dinner.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 17, Chronological File. No classification marking. Although filed as separate document, this transcript is a continuation of the conversation between Nixon and Kissinger in Document 187.