31. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the White House Chief of Staff (Haig)1

K: Hello.

H: Hi, Henry.

K: Al, do you suppose you could get those idiots you’ve got over there, Weyand and Woodward, are taking a sort of cavalier attitude about this Agreement and they’re giving us all that bullshit that if the two-party commission never comes into being so much the better.

H: Yeh.

K: Now I don’t know why these fools cannot get it through their heads that they are working for the U.S. We know the goddamned agreement will probably not work, but we’ve got to be in a position where if it doesn’t work, it will be the result of the other side.

H: Yeh. Exactly. Well, I’ll uh—we’d better get a little something off to Weyand then.

K: Oh, excuse me for a minute. (Pause) Hello.

H: Yes, Henry. Do you want me to . . .

K: Could you get it across to these guys that we have to have meticulous observance if we’re ever going to do a tough thing.

H: Yes, absolutely.

K: And they cannot egg on the South Vietnamese to do these silly little moves when we are playing a major league game.

H: Right.

K: We’ve got to have a record so that we can clobber them for big stakes.

H: Well, that’s right.

K: Not harass them for stupid little ones.

H: Right. Right.

K: Do you think you can get to Woodward and Weyand?

H: Yes, easily. Sure, I’ll just send them a service message which they’ll get right away. Nobody else will see it.

K: Now what is your view on the Laos bombing?

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H: Well, I think we’re getting very close to where we’re going to have to do something dramatic, Henry, with this thing.

K: Now the question is do we do it still while there are prisoners there or right after?

H: I’d be inclined to do it before. I feel your logic is not the softest logic. If you do it before you’ve really conveyed the impression that god damn it you mean business.

K: Yeh.

H: Although it’ll get more criticism, I don’t think a helluva lot more.

K: Well, that’s my instinct. They might hold the prisoners but then we’ll just have to bomb them in the north.

H: That’s right. If they’re going to do that, they’re not going to do it based on Laos bombing. Your being tough and promptly tough is invariably what is needed.

K: Yeh.

H: Now I don’t know what you’ve been conveying through the other channel but I assume that you brought that about to the point where it’s counter-productive anymore.

K: I don’t think the others can intervene in day-to-day tactics.

H: Yeh, no I mean even with our customer—the Hanoi people. You’re still using that other Paris channel?

K: Oh yeh.

H: But you’ve used that to the point where it’s counter-productive.

K: Well, I mean we’ve warned them and warned them and we can give them a few more days.

H: Well, I think I’d give them a few more days but I think I’d be at the point where you just have to do it.

K: Yeh.

H: And the longer—you know if it drags out too long then it becomes increasingly dangerous. And you see the same argument now that people use—don’t do it until you get them all out—will then be turned immediately to now you’ve got them all out, you can’t risk getting any more in and that’ll even be tougher.

K: OK, fine.

H: All right, Henry.

K: Good, many thanks. Let me know when you’ve sent that message.

H: Yes, I will.

K: Good, thank you.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry A. Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 19, Chronological File. No classification marking.