244. Editorial Note

On December 7, 1971, Secretary of Commerce Maurice Stans reported to President Nixon at the White House on his 11-day trip to the Soviet Union. He was upbeat about the prospects for improved relations. Premier Kosygin had told him: “Mr. Secretary, we have high hopes for your mission.” Stans and his party had been feted in such a way as to reinforce that impression. Stans left after 20 minutes.

After Stans left the conversation turned to the situation on the subcontinent. Nixon and Kissinger began by discussing the backgrounder Kissinger intended to provide for the press on the crisis. Framed in general statements about United States concern for the success of Indiaʼs democracy and Nixonʼs long-standing interest in the country, Kissinger said he could “make in a very low key way an enormously damning case against the Indians.” In sketching his indictment of India, Kissinger said: “I can show a real pattern of Indian deceit. For example on November 19 I saw the Indian Ambassador. On November 15 I saw the Pakistan Foreign Secretary. And I told him we needed a maximum program because it would be very difficult to prevent hostilities from breaking out. He said he would let me know after he came back on the 22nd. And on the 19th I told this to the Indian Ambassador. He said let me know as soon as you know when that will be. I said around the 28th. On the 22nd they attacked.”

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Nixon outlined the case he wanted to see made to the press: “The purpose is to show that weʼve done the best we can. And incidentally, I would also—I think you should also get across [that] we have no influence, we have no responsibility for either. Itʼs not our job. The Russians have an interest in India. The Chinese have a hell of an interest in Pakistan. We only have an interest in peace. Weʼre not anti-Indian, weʼre not anti-Pakistan. We are anti-aggression.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of conversation among President Nixon, Secretary Stans, Kissinger, Haig, and Ziegler, December 7, 1971, 3:55–4:29 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 631–4) The editors transcribed the portions of the tape recording printed here specifically for this volume. A transcript of this conversation is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 163.