227. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and David Kraslow of the Los Angeles Times1
K: Did David2 give you my message?
HK: That we may be starting a new era of foreign policy? I agree. I am serious. That depends if both sides have enough vision to do it. At this point we are in a period where you are seeing a lot of developments—the Chinese thing, the Soviet thing. Obviously no government would put out a statement like this if we didn’t think we could bring about an agreement. We think that this may be the beginning of a new attitude towards relations with states with different ideals.
K: By this you mean the SALT thing?
HK: Yes, and reduction of forces.
K: Brezhnev’s speech on reduction of forces, you mean?
HK: SALT, Brezhnev’s speech on reduction of forces, China, new approach in Asia in general.
K: How about the Middle East? No shooting in ten months.
HK: Berlin negotiations which so far are stalemated—but so was SALT.
K: But no regression.
HK: No, but some slight progress.
K: If you were in the position outside looking in, what would you do about Vietnam at this stage?
HK: Vietnam is a phenomenon.
K: What does that mean?
HK: It was something that was inherited—it in itself is not a new concept of foreign policy. The fact that we are improving relations with the Soviet Union may turn Vietnam into just a [omission in transcript] issue. It may make it easier to settle with negotiations.
K: What sort of time-frame should we talk about? How much time would you give Nixon Administration?
HK: By 1976 we will have brought off …
K: You would wait that long?[Page 677]
HK: I’m just kidding. I think if things break out right you will see significant progress in the next two years. You will not quote me—this is just a backgrounder.3 I have to go the President is calling.4
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 10, Chronological File. No classification marking.↩
- Reference is presumably to David Young, Kissinger’s administrative assistant.↩
- On May 24, the Los Angeles Times published Kraslow’s article (p. 14) on how a SALT agreement might usher in a “bright new era” in triangular relations. After citing several unnamed critics, Kraslow quoted one of Nixon’s “close advisers,” who stated that “an agreement of such significance must lead to agreements in other areas. If we can improve relations with China and the Soviet Union on the larger questions, the war in Vietnam may become a local issue and it may become easier to settle.” “If all that happens before November 1972,” Kraslow commented, “Richard M. Nixon may have assured himself a place of first rank in history—as well as another four years in the White House.”↩
- During his telephone call with Nixon, Kissinger reported that Kraslow was “writing an article not just about this but about your being a hero for foreign policy.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 10, Chronological File) Kraslow called Kissinger back at 8:18 p.m. to continue his line of questioning. Kraslow: “Would you regard the SALT thing as the most momentous thing or advent of them all of the Nixon administration?” Kissinger: “If the Soviets want to be bloody-minded and get just one ride, it is just one blurb. If you assume they deal with the President directly or even personally and make a serious statement with serious consequences, then your statement would be correct.” “If we can get agreement on something of this significance,” Kissinger added, “then there could be other breakthroughs.” (Ibid.)↩