282. Backchannel Message From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) in New Delhi1

Sitto 52. Leader agrees completely with your analysis2 concerning better psychological circumstance resulting from messenger’s response. On the other hand, does not appear to share view concerning Congressional and domestic situation but prefers to view response in context of messenger’s overall assessment that additional squeezing will accomplish more than enterprise in question. I made point strongly that we must play cool deliberate game to insure proper outcome and to avoid succumbing to pique. Leader agreed but phenomenon can be expected to persist.

Concerning other visit, leader recognizes initiative not completely in our hands but prefers following scenario for domestic reasons and because he believes a “sooner rather than later” approach will have greatest psychological impact on messenger:

September first preference.
November or December second preference, with no intermediate in either of first two.
Third preference would be adopted only if final act not feasible this year, under this course, essential that we have intermediate as planned earlier, with final round, hopefully, in the spring.

Re Kirschman channel,3 leader understands problem but as you are aware harbors residual skepticism on overall value of exercise.

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Concerning visit on subject in which Helms was involved, we had a lengthy and at times starchy discussion enroute.4 Proponent was adamant and Helms most helpful in terms of futility of exercise based on his recent visit. Nevertheless, proponent remained adamant and it was necessary for me to pose hard questions. My stand was obviously resented strongly by proponent especially since decision was not made at the meeting. Nevertheless, and despite best efforts, I am confident that proponent’s activities are proceeding apace without our knowledge and may soon bring us to point of no return. Note Hakto–32 forwarded to you separately.5 I had call this morning from agent of prospective host6 and he stated that he will be able to delay at least until week of nineteenth in giving go-ahead. He plans to give such a response on Friday, July 9. He added, however, that it would be impossible to reject outright and hopes that we will be able manage the problem at our end. As you might have expected, proponent has made the rosiest of predictions with respect to the other party involved and his good will. I expect today or tomorrow this will be further reenforced by reports from the field emanating from the exercise which was launched without our clearance. I wanted you to be fully abreast of the difficulties we are facing on this proposition and to be aware that I lost considerable virginity in yesterday’s meeting in an effort to prevent precipitous action.

We hope that you did not run into too much flak at most recent stop. Overall portrayal of your trip thus far has been superb and leader noted this morning that it is being conducted with the greatest skill and sensitivity. I will send message later today with respect to venue problem on which I will bite bullet this morning.7

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 432, Backchannel Files, Very Sensitive Trip Cables. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The copy printed here is the draft as approved for transmission. The message number is handwritten. According to a handwritten note on another copy, it was sent at 2:35 p.m. (Ibid.) Haig used the following pseudonyms in the text: the “leader” is Nixon, the “messenger” is Dobrynin, and the “proponent” is Rogers.
  2. See Document 281.
  3. See footnote 5, Document 280.
  4. According to Haldeman, Nixon met Helms, Rogers, and Haig on July 6 on board Air Force One en route to San Clemente to discuss Rogers’s proposal for a new Suez Canal initiative. (Haldeman, Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition) In a July 2 memorandum to Nixon, Haig summarized the proposal but argued that “considerable thought” was required before taking any action. “I believe we should, above all,” Haig concluded, “consider our future initiatives with respect to the Middle East in the light of the event which will occur during and just after Dr. Kissinger’s trip when our longer term prospects with respect to the Soviets and Asia will come into sharper focus.” Nixon approved Haig’s recommendation to reserve judgment and “approach this important decision in an orderly manner.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 657, Country Files, Middle East, Nodis/Cedar Plus, Vol. III [1 of 2])
  5. Not found.
  6. Rabin.
  7. Not found.