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

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Indochina.]

P: Nothing new on the international front? Nobody’s shot anybody yet?

K: No, nothing of any consequence. The, oh, Sihanouk sent a telegram to Mansfield in which he said that if we stop sending military aid to Cambodia, then he will make peace with us. You know, that’s exactly the ploy they used to pull in South Vietnam.

P: Well, now, how can he make these when he doesn’t control the Khmer Rouge?

K: Well, but what does it mean? What does peace mean if . . .

P: That means his peace, well . . .

K: If we’ve got to stop military aid. But of course it’s the inevitable thing. You stop bombing and they go to the next thing.

P: (laughs) Yeah.

K: And once you stop military aid to Phnom Penh, it’s gonna collapse. But he said he would then establish diplomatic relations with us.

P: Well, hell, how can he? He’s not there.

K: Well, they’ll bring him back for that purpose. And I suspect that this is what the Democrats are now going to try to do when the Congress comes back.

[Page 421]

P: Stop all military aid to Cambodia?

K: Yeah.

P: Then have Sihanouk come back as the head of a Communist government. Is that it?

K: That’s right. That’s what it would amount to.

P: What do we say to the Chinese?

K: Well, I don’t think we should—I think, Mr. President, we should say nothing. What can we say? We have no bargaining chips left.

P: No, I know. But my point is, if they ask us what we think of such a proposal.

K: We say, this is a surrender. This is a unilateral . . . uh, we will promote a negotiation. I mean, if they drive us too far we will publish our proposal that we offered Sihanouk to come back as head of a coalition government, and then we proposed that . . .

P: I’m not sure he’s got that strength in Cambodia, anyway.

K: Well, he doesn’t have any strength in Cambodia, but I think the Khmer Rouge will use him for this purpose as a . . .

P: As a way to get the aid, that’s right.

K: . . . as a way to get the aid stuff. That’s the only thing of any significance.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Indochina.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry A. Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 21, Chronological File. No classification marking. Nixon was at Camp David; Kissinger was in Washington.