294. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

    • Analysis of the China initiative

Attached is a brief analysis written by a friend of mine who prefers to remain anonymous and in whose strategic judgment I have the greatest confidence.2 I thought you would be interested in his analysis of the implications of the Peking initiative on the strategic scene.


Theoretically one can make a first-class case for our “playing with China” having very salutary effect on Moscow, and might lead to a kind of triangular “stability” among the Giant Three.
The inherent assumption underlying the above argument is, however, that we are being taken seriously and appear, to some extent, awe-inspiring. If Moscow were to see in our move toward rapprochement with Peking the decision of a strong power—losing patience with USSR intransigence and demonstrating our resolve to use the “China option,” if need be—then, the Kremlin leaders might very well be deeply impressed.
The ungainsayable worldwide reality of U.S. policy and strategy is such, however, that the men in the Kremlin would have to be blind in order actually to be so impressed.
We are obviously—to formulate it with British understatement—not on our “way in” either in Southeast Asia or Northeast Asia, but on the way out. We are reducing our forces in S. Vietnam and Thailand, as well as in Korea, the Ryukyus and Japan. In Europe we are gradually but irreversibly yielding on Berlin. West Germany—originally encouraged by us in its policy of reconciliation with the East—is on the [Page 871] road toward Finlandization.3 (This may not yet be very visible to the naked eye but is very clear to a careful observer and inventory-taker of daily Bonn speeches, actions and omissions.) In Italy we have, except for the shell of a headquarters, withdrawn our whole Southern European Task Force (SETAF). It is impossible to meet any Western European who is not convinced that under U.S. internal pressures (Mansfield Resolution and Amendment) we will within the foreseeable future withdraw a very considerable part of our troops from Germany leaving there perhaps no more than token units. And now tiny Malta, as well as tiny Iceland, under newly installed Leftist governments, are inviting the U.S. and NATO out of their countries without even the shadow of a fear that we “mighty” U.S. would react with any kind of reprisals or even diplomatic “unfriendliness.” In the Eastern Mediterranean the Soviet military position has been enormously strengthened and Turkey, once a very reliable Ally, and very jealous of its sovereignty already half a year ago opened 260 miles of its easternmost road system to Soviet truck convoys bringing military supplies and material directly from the USSR to Syria. In the mid-East, as a result of our policy of Negotiation instead of Confrontation, we are leaving a strategic vacuum with neither friend nor foe believing that we would intervene militarily, which will lead to the outbreak of Arab-Israeli hostilities within perhaps 8 months. In Latin America we step very softly vis-à-vis Ecuador and Chile answering their unfriendly actions with a most deliberately cautious diplomacy.4
In addition, we are reducing our military establishment, work for 11 Division Volunteer Army, which will permit even an unsophisticated lieutenant colonel in Luxembourg to conclude that we are not preparing either for any protracted fighting somewhere in the world, or for a military, simultaneous, commitment of forces in widely separated parts of the world.
Under these circumstances Moscow simply cannot help gaining the conviction that our new China policy is but a symptom of our overwhelming desire to seek reconciliation and disengagement anyway and everywhere.5 For this reason they will not feel impelled to make any concession to us in order to wean us away from Red China!6
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 499, President’s Trip Files, Reaction to China Initiative Memos, Letters, etc., July 1971. Secret. A notation and attached correspondence profile indicate that the President saw and noted the memorandum on July 29. On July 26, however, he discussed the attached paper with Kissinger; see Document 295.
  2. The anonymous author was Fritz Kraemer. The text of the analysis was extracted verbatim from a paper that Haig had forwarded in a July 21 memorandum to Kissinger (Document 292).
  3. Nixon underlined the previous two sentences and wrote in the margin: “K, True?”
  4. Nixon underlined this sentence and wrote in the margin: “K, This should be reversed immediately.”
  5. Nixon underlined the phrase “new China policy is but a symptom of our overwhelming desire to seek reconciliation and disengagement anyway and everywhere.”
  6. Nixon wrote the following message for Kissinger at the bottom of the last page: “K—this memo brilliantly points up the dangers of our move—e.g. Mansfield et al applaud it for the wrong reasons. Our task is to play a hard game with the Soviet and to see that wherever possible—including Non Communist Asia—our friends are reassured.”