222. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig)1

K: Where are you, in the office?

H: No I just walked in the door here.

K: Well, I see. The leader of the Western world has had me on the phone.2 He wants me to call Dobrynin again. I think it is insane.

H: I think it would be too.

K: I won’t do it. I don’t see what I can add to it, now do you?

H: No, I just think it would look so damn goosey, that it would be unproductive.

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K: Can you conceive what would go wrong? I just don’t know what they would tell us.

H: I don’t either. I don’t think that there would be anything that could go wrong. I just don’t believe it.

K: The only other mistake I could have made was to ask for that other word.

H: No that’s easy for you to worry about now, but in the long run, that will be exactly what you want. Probably since you have such a goosey matter there. This can’t be any problem.

K: Look, Brezhnev was in Tifflis [Tbilisi]. He probably just came back today. Don’t you think—

H: I think there is a good chance of that—there is also a good chance that they are just taking their sweet time. If he has to slip the priority, that is no calamity.

K: That is what I think.

H: I would wait until tomorrow at about maybe 10:00 and then I would tell him that because of timing, that we are going to slip it to Friday.3

K: To Dobrynin?

H: Yes.

K: Hell, that’s another exchange—I will wait until 5:00 in the evening. We can handle it with—if we get it as late as Wednesday morning.

H: That’s right, but that is an excuse for a little more squeeze.

K: If I don’t hear from them by 4:00. I will call and tell him that we will slip it until Friday. But if we don’t hear from him by 9:30 the next morning, we have to slip it.

H: Yes, that is what I would do and then that’s coordination—that is all that is.

K: Okay, fine.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 29, Home File. No classification marking.
  2. See Document 221.
  3. May 21.
  4. During a meeting with the President in the Oval Office the next morning, Kissinger adopted a different approach: “I thought of a way of calling Dobrynin later today. I am going to tell him that you had planned to go away on Friday and that that’s the reason that we need to know the time.” “I just can’t imagine what could go wrong now,” Kissinger added. “It’s that word. It’s—I’m sure it’s the word we won’t change. They—you know, when we say it’s difficult, they shouldn’t do it, Gromyko cannot refuse a request by you on his own by saying it’s difficult. I’m sure he’s taking it up with Brezhnev. And I’m sure it takes a day.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation 500–6)