229. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and His Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

K: Mr. President.

P: Hello. I have here—it just came in—a call from Rogers with regard to the Security Council meeting, he wants to talk before 2 oʼclock. Now, what is the guidance on that? I thought that it was pretty well settled but what is the situation?

[Page 641]

K: Oh, the situation in the Security Council?

P: No, what he wants—he wants to talk to me to see what guidance I want to give before the Security Council meeting.

K: Thatʼs right, thatʼs what Iʼm—

P: So I am going to call him. My point is what do we want to say?

K: Well, here is the issue. There is going to be a ceasefire and withdrawal resolution that the Argentines are putting forward.2 That one we can support. Then, that will be vetoed by the Russians. Then, it will probably move towards a ceasefire resolution alone and on that one I think we should be very leery. The Chinese will be violently opposed, the Pakistanis are probably going to be opposed but we could conceivably abstain from that.

P: A ceasefire alone.

K: The trouble with a ceasefire alone is that it would leave half of East Pakistan in Indian hands.

P: Um-humm. Well, has that been discussed with Rogers and so forth as to what these issues are?

K: It has been discussed with Bush and itʼs been—Rogers has been—Iʼve discussed it with Sisco, Rogers has been dancing around with me and has not been going into that much detail.

P: Um-humm.

K: I must underline, Mr. President, if we collapse now in New York, the impact on this international situation, weʼre going to do away with most of the gains of the last two years. The way Rogers keeps putting the issue—the Russians are playing for big stakes here. When all the baloney—all the New York Times editorials are said and done if the Soviets and Indians get away with this, the Chinese and the United States will be standing there with eggs on our face. And they will have made us back down and if we have ordered watered down our own Resolution3 from yesterday that had an 11 to 2 majority so that it becomes a pretty insipid thing, our only hope in my judgment, weʼll never get it through State, is to become very threatening to the Russians and tell them that if they are going to participate in the dismemberment of another country, that will affect their whole relationship to us.

P: Um-humm.

K: Right now they still want the Middle East from us.

P: Um-humm.

[Page 642]

K: And other things. If we just play this in this nice insipid way, we are going to get through this week all right then but we are going to pay for it—this will then be the Suez ʼ56 episode of our Administration.

P: Um-humm.

K: That is what in my view is at stake here now and thatʼs why the Russians are playing it so toughly and if we have made any mistake in the last two weeks itʼs this—if we had over-reacted in the first two or three days as we wanted to in the White House, it might at least have scared the Russians off, not the Indians, but it might have scared the Russians off. We are pretty well committed anyway, we canʼt take the curse off it now. The problem—I know it will always be put on the ground that we want to save the China trip but these people donʼt recognize that without a China trip, we wouldnʼt have had a Moscow trip.

P: No, thatʼs just small stuff. I know what they have put in on that—thatʼs just sour grapes crap.

K: If the Chinese come out of this despising us, we lose that option. If the Russians think they backed us down, we will be back to where we were in May and June.

P: Well, Iʼm going to call him [Rogers] right now. The main thing is all I have to know is is he pushing for us to back down from our Resolution, thatʼs what I need to know, Henry.

K: Probably. The best would be that we should stick with our Resolution and go back no further than withdrawal and ceasefire.

P: Withdrawal and ceasefire.

K: That any ceasefire should be coupled with a withdrawal.

P: Um-humm. And they have to decide that at 2 oʼclock today, huh?

K: Right.

P: Does Rogers have any regrets that he didnʼt go to New York to make the presentation himself?

K: I donʼt know; I donʼt think so.

P: Probably saw the point of that, huh?

K: Right.

P: Yeah. Well, we will—

K: If someone could give me some word what was decided because it is going to be hard for me to monitor Bush.

P: Oh, donʼt worry, Iʼll call you back as soon as I find out what the hell heʼs—what the point is, I donʼt know what it is even.

K: Right.

P: I just assume that they were all set in the UN thing tomorrow— I mean, today, you know. Incidentally, that wasnʼt discussed at your meeting, huh?

[Page 643]

K: It wasnʼt—well, no. I discussed it with Bush and Sisco but he is apparently trying to run around me.

P: I see. Thatʼs all right, Iʼll have to find out what the score is and Iʼll find out.

K: Right.

P: And Iʼll call you back.

K: Right, Mr. President.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 397, Telephone Conversations, Home File, Dec 1971. No classification marking. The President was in Key Biscayne, Florida; Kissinger was in Washington. The conversation was tape-recorded at Kissingerʼs residence and subsequently transcribed at the White House.
  2. Reference is to the draft resolution sponsored in the UN Security Council on December 4 by Argentina, Burundi, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, and Somalia. The operative portion of the resolution called for a cease-fire and mutual withdrawal of forces. (UN doc. S/10419)
  3. See footnote 5, Document 224.