258. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • Your Meeting with the Senior Members of the WSAG at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, December 9, 1971

You are scheduled to meet with the following senior members of the WSAG at 4:30 p.m. this afternoon to discuss your policy and actions you expect from the bureaucracy on the South Asia problem. In attendance will be the Acting Secretary of State Irwin, Deputy Secretary of Defense Packard, Director of Central Intelligence Helms, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Moorer, and myself.

Purpose of the Meeting

The purpose of this meeting is to instill the necessary discipline within the bureaucracy and the forum of the Washington Special Actions Group to insure compliance with your policies on South Asia. This policy must include prompt steps designed to prevent the dismemberment of Pakistan as a result of Indian military actions supported and abetted by the Soviet Union. While it is obvious that events have already progressed to a point where there must be inevitable damage to U.S. interests, a careful and disciplined gameplan can salvage a great deal from the present situation.

Talking Points

Inform the group that you have convened them on short notice to insure that your policies are clearly understood with respect to the situation in South Asia. Therefore, you wish each of the senior members of the Washington Special Actions Group to hear from you personally where you stand on this difficult issue:

  • —Your policy and the policy of the United States Government is to undertake those practical steps which are necessary to prevent the dismemberment and defeat of Pakistan as a result of Indian military [Page 727] action supported and abetted by the Soviet Union. There should be no mistake that Pakistanʼs collapse and dismemberment would result in a major setback for U.S. interests worldwide and, in this context, the United States is indeed involved in the situation in South Asia.
  • —The first step which you wish taken without further delay is to have the Acting Secretary of State call in the Indian Ambassador and to inform him that the United States Government is gravely concerned about recent developments on the subcontinent.
  • —In the meeting with the Indian Ambassador, the Acting Secretary of State should ask whether India will attempt, as a result of military operations in West Pakistan, to annex or in any other way to occupy and permanently hold territories which are now under Pakistani sovereignty. Any attempt to do so would be taken most seriously in Washington.
  • —Inform the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that you wish him to undertake immediate actions under the pretext of prudent contingency measures to move a carrier task force including an amphibious ship with helicopters to the Indian Ocean with movement to commence immediately. (Admiral Moorer recommends the movement of a carrier with four destroyers to be followed by an amphibious helicopter ship and two destroyers. The elements of the task force are currently in the Western Pacific in the vicinity of Taiwan, Subic in the Philippines and the Yankee Station. Admiral Moorer anticipates that the movements can get under way now without surfacing publicly until such time as they pass through the Straits of Singapore which we can control. The shortest time for them to reach the Straits would be two days.)
  • —Inform the group that in the event the démarche to the Indian Government does not receive a satisfactory response, you wish the Department of Defense to prepare by 9:00 a.m. in the morning specific recommendations for additional military actions which might be undertaken to convey U.S. determination.
  • —In view of the great sensitivity of the matters being discussed, you want each Department and Agency involved to handle this affair with the greatest sense of security and will tolerate no leaks of any kind, and prompt disciplinary action is to be taken against any violators.2
  • —For the present, you are ordering no additional measures. However, Dr. Kissinger will convey to the Washington Special Actions Group tomorrow morning whatever additional instructions you deem appropriate.
  • —Thank the Group for their cooperation and loyalty during this difficult period and emphasize again the importance of utmost security.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 643, Country Files, Middle East, India/Pakistan, December 1–10. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. A stamp on the memorandum indicates the President saw it. The Presidentʼs Daily Diary indicates that the meeting was held as scheduled in the Cabinet Room. (Ibid., White House Central Files) A tape recording of the meeting was made, but the tape is essentially unintelligible. (Ibid., White House Tapes, Recording of a conversation among Nixon, Irwin, Packard, Helms, Moorer, and Kissinger, December 9, 1971, 4:41–4:54 p.m., Cabinet Room, Conversation No. 86–1)
  2. Kissinger called U. Alexis Johnson after the meeting and told him that the President had “raised hell” during the meeting. According to Kissinger, Nixon said “he didnʼt want the State Department to be loyal to the President but to the U.S.” He was concerned about leaks by the Department of State to the press, and he felt that his decisions were not being properly implemented by the Department. Johnson objected that there was no intention to challenge policy, but added: “We do think we have an obligation to give him our views.” Kissinger responded: “After he has ruled then it has to be done. You have given your views—yesterday he wanted a cable to Keating. That thing takes forever. Yelling at Yahya takes two hours.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 370, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)