74. Backchannel Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Acting Ambassador to Vietnam (Whitehouse)1

WH31685. I have read your assessment2 and discussed it with the President.3 We would like you to call on Lam at his earliest convenience (but, in any event, before the NSC meeting) to make the following points as coming from the President (you should not repeat not leave any paper with Lam):

1.
We understand GVN dissatisfaction with many of the events that have taken place in SVN since the ceasefire went into effect. Regretfully, circumstances beyond our immediate control have limited our freedom of action to respond to those events.
2.
Should the GVN refuse to sign the communiqué as it now stands, we foresee the following consequences: [Page 317]
  • —The USG will not be in a position to give meaningful diplomatic support to the maintenance of the ceasefire agreed last January.
  • —The USG will be forced to explain publicly its view of the position taken by the GVN. Since we believe that position to be unreasonable, we will have to say so, and to detail our reasons for that view.
  • —The USG will have to cease its efforts to draw other countries into efforts to enforce the ceasefire.
  • —Our Congress will be virtually unmanageable on issues relating to Vietnam, both with respect to aid to the GVN and U.S. military operations in Indo-China. There is now before the Congress a series of votes pending on legislation that would make it impossible to conduct any U.S. military operations in Indo-China. If Saigon refuses to accept the communiqué, these votes will certainly go against us. In contrast, if Saigon accepts the communiqué, we can almost certainly defeat the worst of the pending legislation.
3.
On the other hand, should the GVN see its way clear to agree to sign the communiqué in its present form, we see the following results:
  • —No damage to the GVN deriving from the communiqué, and no imposition of inhibitions not already present in the January 27 Agreement.
  • —The USG will be able to remain diplomatically engaged in efforts to develop international support for observance of the ceasefire. We will do our utmost in this regard.
  • —The legal basis for maintaining pressure on Hanoi to observe the articles of the January 27 Agreement will be substantially strengthened.
4.
In short, we would see failure to sign the communiqué as a catastrophe—a catastrophe for which we will assume no responsibility.

FYI only: While I personally agree with many of the criticisms levied against Hanoi’s failure to carry out the January Agreement, I cannot go into an explanation by cable. End FYI .

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 415, Backchannel Messages, Bunker/Whitehouse, April–July 18, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only; Flash. Sent with the instruction: “Deliver immediately.” Kissinger returned to Washington late in the evening of June 9.
  2. Document 73.
  3. Kissinger spoke to the President, who was in Key Biscayne, on the telephone from 10:14 to 10:36 a.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)