61. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Diplomatic Exploitation of the Sino-Soviet Schism—Comment on Pat Buchanan’s Suggestions

Pat Buchanan has relayed a suggestion that the US recognize Albania and promote West German contact with Communist China, as a means of making the Soviets nervous over a possible US/Chinese deal. He suggests that this might lead the Soviets to offer us something in return for our agreement to continue to cooperate in isolating China. (Tab A)2

I basically agree with attempts to play off the Chinese Communists against the Soviets in an effort to extract concessions from or influence actions by the Soviets. Any effort of this kind, however, is replete with complexities.

The specific moves Pat suggested pose such problems:

Recognition of Albania—Our problem here is that the Albanians could well react to any US initiative with loud and public vituperation. When we took the small step two years ago of allowing Americans to travel to Albania, the Albanian Government reacted with shrill hostility and announced that they would not allow Americans in. Since then, Czechoslovakia and the Brezhnev doctrine may have made them somewhat less inclined to slam doors in the face of contacts, but Chinese pressure and their own desire to maintain the pose of anti-imperialist purity might serve to make them turn down any US initiative. The proposed initiative would risk a scolding from the Albanians, and would make our friends nervous, without creating the appearance of a Sino-US deal.
Increased West German trade and diplomatic contact with China—The FedRep already competes with Japan as the biggest exporter to China. It has reasons of its own (the East German question) for not wanting diplomatic contact. To have the desired effect on the Russians [Page 190] we would openly have to urge the Germans to take this action. This would be inconsistent with our current UN policy and could trigger a general swing toward recognition of Communist China.

It would in turn prejudice our relations with the Republic of China and with serious repercussions throughout Asia.

There may well be opportunities to profit from rising Sino-Soviet tensions. We are looking seriously at the possibilities. The problems cited above make clear how delicate an operation it would have to be. We should need to be very clear as to precisely what we want from the Soviets—or the Chinese—and how our course of action would relate to them and to the other countries which would be affected.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 392, Subject Files, Soviet Affairs. Confidential. Sent for information. The memorandum indicates the President saw it. Nixon wrote “I agree” in the upper righthand corner of the first page.
  2. Tab A, a June 13 memorandum from Buchanan to the President passing on these suggestions from “a George Washington University professor in the Sino-Soviet Department,” is attached but not printed.