313. Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), and the White House Chief of Staff (Haldeman)1

[Omitted here is discussion of the President’s schedule, Vietnam, and China.]

Kissinger: Well, they’ve [the Chinese] been absolutely meticulous. And we’ve been meticulous. For example, I keep—every time we send a note to the Russians that concerns them—

Nixon: I know that. That’s great.

Kissinger: —I send a note to them about the content of this. And next Monday,2 when I’m going to Paris, I will now ask for a meeting with them, and I’m going to tell them about our India policy.

Nixon: Sure.

Kissinger: Just as the Soviets are making a deal, I thought if I just give them five minutes of what you’re doing on India—

Nixon: Oh, I was—I just made a note this morning of that. I saw that Gromyko was down there talking to that damned Indian Foreign Minister.3 That little son-of-a-bitch is insufferable.

Kissinger: Well, they’ve now signed—

Haldeman: Well, they announced a deal [unclear].

Kissinger: They’ve signed a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.4

Haldeman: Just announced that this morning.

Nixon: Oh, but I didn’t see that.

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: I didn’t see it.

Kissinger: —in which they will consult—

Haldeman: It’s not in there. It’s not in there. It was just on the radio.

[Page 925]

Kissinger: Yes. That’s that.

Nixon: [unclear]

Kissinger: They’ll consult with each other in case of aggression—of aggression of other countries against one of the parties. And then, it’s not clear—

Nixon: Consult?

Kissinger: Well, it’s not clear whether they promised—

Nixon: I don’t think it means a hell of a lot.

Kissinger: No, it doesn’t mean a hell of a lot, Mr. President.

[Omitted here is further discussion of India.]

Kissinger: I’m going to give that Indian Ambassador unshirted hell today.5

Nixon: You want me to get him in?

Kissinger: Well, let me get the text of the—maybe one more turn of the wheel.

Nixon: I know. But the thing is, though, they used to—well, they understand, if they’re going to choose to go with the Russians, they’re choosing not to go with us. Now, goddamnit, they’ve got to know this.

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: Goddamnit, who’s given them a billion dollars a year?

Kissinger: But—

Nixon: Shit, the Russians aren’t giving them a billion dollars a year, Henry.

Kissinger: No. The Russians—really, one has to say, when you compare how Chou En-lai has behaved towards us—now, ideologically, they’re as hostile. And we’ve understood, they’ve done some things with North Vietnam, but they’ve always—

Nixon: Hmm.

Kissinger: —stayed well short of inflaming the situation.

[Omitted here is discussion of Pakistan, Vietnam, and China.]

Nixon: All the damn Democrat candidates think the Russians are nice guys.

Kissinger: And the Indians are—what helps us with the Chinese, vis-à-vis the Democrats, is that the Democrats are pro-Indian and pro-Russian.

[Page 926]

Haldeman: Yeah.

Kissinger: And we are pro-Pakistani and—

Nixon: In fact, could I suggest one thing? Is there any way that you could, in your conversation [with the Chinese], or otherwise, get it across—is there some way you could plant, some way where Democrats are, Democratic people are? That kind of a story? Or do you think they obviously are going to see it anyway?

Kissinger: No, that’s why I want to see them next week. I want to tell them—

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: —that the Democratic Congress is putting the squeeze on Pakistan.

Nixon: Now, on the Pakistan—but I also want them to know that—

Kissinger: On Russia.

Nixon: —the Democratic candidates are pushing us on the Soviet side. I’d like to get that point: that we are—

Kissinger: I’ll get that put in.

Nixon: And also the point that I resisted great pressure to go to the Soviet first.

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: I think let’s get a little—let’s make a little mileage out of that. You know we’ve covered that point. We might as well get the benefit out of it, right?

Kissinger: Absolutely.

Nixon: Don’t you think so?

Kissinger: Absolutely.

Nixon: We were just—that the President was pressed. The Democratic—say some of his Democratic opponents are putting a lot of heat on the ground. And that’s true.

[Omitted here is discussion of U.S. domestic politics and Japan.]

Kissinger: And the Chinese are more worried about the Japs almost than about the Russians.

Nixon: They should be.

Kissinger: And—

Nixon: You know, the interesting thing is here: what can we do though? What are you going to tell the Pakistan Ambassador? What the hell can you tell that son-of-a-gun? I mean, excuse me, the Indian Ambassador.

Kissinger: I’m going to tell him, “I just want you to understand one thing. If you—if there is a war in the Subcontinent, we are going to move against you, one way or the other.”

[Page 927]

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: “And you—your development program is down the drain. And if you want—if you think you can afford domestically to throw yourself completely into the Soviet arms, go ahead and do it.”

Nixon: That’s right. “You’re making a conscious choice.” Put it—I wanted to say this: “The President wants you to know”—tell him this, use it like this—”the President wants you to know he doesn’t want this to happen. The President is a friend of India. He wants India to succeed. He has said that and he means it. But as far as he’s concerned, however, the President wants, feels it’s his—that it’s your obligation”—tell him the President wants him to know that in the event that they decide that they go to war in the Subcontinent, and side with the Soviet, that then they have chosen. And that we have—that is their choice. But that we shall have, then have to look in other, in another direction.

Kissinger: We’ve—

Nixon: And that we shall look in the other direction. And under the circumstances, much as I will regret it, we will have to take another position—and will. And they have a fit. “The President is”—”Now, Mr. Ambassador”—you can sort of play this—you say, “Now, Mr. Ambassador, you know how I personally feel.” Give him a little bullshit about how you much love the Indians. Then say, “Now—”

Haldeman: [laughs]

Nixon: “—but I just want you to know that—”

Kissinger: If there’s a God, he’ll punish me.

Nixon: Well, then, you go on to say that, “I just want you to know that this President is—you must not underestimate him. You know, I had to—” Tell him how hard it was to restrain me on Cambodia. “You know, I tried to restrain him on Laos and China, but he will not—he is—I cannot tell you how strongly he feels on this.” Tell him, “I cannot possibly tell you, Mr. Ambassador, how far—strong he feels about the war issue. As far as helping, as far as using our influence to get a political settlement, as far as the refugees, as far as helping India, he’s totally generous. But war, no.” I’d just lay the goddamn wood to him.

[Omitted here is discussion of the National Security Council system, the Department of State, and China.]

Kissinger: And we’re giving them [the Chinese] a lot of incentives by being so meticulous.

Nixon: Actually—well, by being meticulous and also by letting them know that we’re—the best thing you’re doing is letting them know everything the Soviet tell you. I mean that’s—

Kissinger: That’s right.

Nixon: —that we’re going to deal with them against the Soviet, which is just fine.

[Page 928]

Kissinger: That’s right. And also now what the Indians are doing.

Nixon: Yeah. Do they really hate the Indians? They must really—

Haldeman: They hate the Indians?

Kissinger: No, they despise the Indians.

Nixon: Hmm?

Kissinger: They despise the Indians.

Nixon: Do they?

Kissinger: Oh, God.

Nixon: What are we going to do about—what about the Soviet? What’s the next move there?

Kissinger: They’re coming in to us within the next 10 days with something. Actually, we’re not in a great hurry about it now.

Nixon: Yeah. But my point is: do you think there is any, that there is a reasonable chance that they may want to have some sort of a meeting?

Kissinger: I think it’s 80 percent right now.

Nixon: Even after the Chinese meeting?

Kissinger: Yeah. I told them—

Nixon: That’s when it has to come, of course.

Kissinger: I’ve told them nothing else could even be considered.

Nixon: Why would they do it then, Henry? They don’t—they, as distinguished from the Chinese. The Chinese may have mixed emotions about who will be elected. But they damn well want to beat the shit out of us, Henry.

Kissinger: Except on the Middle East.

Nixon: Yeah and that’s their hubris.

Kissinger: So—

Nixon: Do they realize on the Middle East—?

Kissinger: But also—

Nixon: Besides the public sentiment—

Kissinger: No, I’ll tell you why I think—

Nixon: —they can take Israel any day that they want to take an hors d’oeuvre.

Kissinger: Yeah, but except they’re afraid we’ll protect Israel.

Nixon: Good. And they know with Democrats in, they have to and I might not. Is that it?

Kissinger: That’s right.

Nixon: Okay.

Kissinger: Well—but their major reason is they’re afraid of what you will do in Peking if they’re in a posture of hostility to you. So they [Page 929] would like to have the visit hanging over Peking—they would like to have—that you have the visit in the pocket—

Nixon: I see.

Kissinger: —so that you will not, so that you will be restrained in Peking. We, in turn, want it because it’s helpful to us to have Moscow hanging over Peking. It reinsures—

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: —the Peking visit. And, after all, when I handed your letter to Dobrynin,6 I didn’t even mention the summit. He said, “Does the fact that there’s no summit in there mean the President has lost interest?” He said, “Because I can tell you, unofficially, they’re considering it now at the highest level in Moscow and there’ll be an answer.” And he said, “The reason, I’m not”—speaking of himself—”they’re not letting me go on vacation is because they want me to transmit that answer, that proposal to you.”

Nixon: Hm-hmm. Well, either way, we shall see.

Kissinger: But—no, I think it’s going to come. And for us that would have—then we’d be in great shape. Because if the summit is coming up, say, in the middle of May in Moscow, we know there won’t be a Middle East blowup before then, because they’ll sit on the Egyptians.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: That and India are the two big problems.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: And that means we’ll be through the better part of next year, and they can’t start something up right after the summit either.

Nixon: Hm-hmm.

Kissinger: And we can keep the two to control each other.

Nixon: That’s right.

[Omitted here is discussion of the President’s upcoming meeting with Japanese Emperor Hirohito.]

Nixon: Getting back to the Russians—I mean, on the Indians, yeah, they’re really trying to punish the Paks, but they sure as hell don’t want a war down there.

Kissinger: No, but they are such a petty bunch of shits, if you’ll forgive me, that they—everything the Chinese have done has been in big style. And they make a deal with you and then they try to make you look good. And look at how they [the Soviets] handled the SALT thing.

[Page 930]

Nixon: Yeah, the Russians.

Kissinger: Grudging, mean, petty.

Nixon: I know.

Kissinger: And they’re just putting—what they’re doing in India is putting enough oil on the fire to kick everybody and praying that it won’t blow up into a conflagration.

Nixon: It’s the same way they did the Middle East.

Kissinger: Exactly the way they did it in the Middle East.

Nixon: Well, I was—the June War was brought on by [the] Russians.

Kissinger: And by Russian stupidity.

Nixon: The Russians brought it on. They did.

Kissinger: Absolutely.

Nixon: They gave the Egyptians—and before the war, and until the final kind of a thing broke loose. Then, after it began, they said, “Let’s all get together and try to settle it.” But only after they knew the Egyptians were licked. Now, they played a very miserable role in that war.

Kissinger: That’s right. Absolutely. Absolutely. And what they’re doing now is, they’re getting back at the Pakistanis.

Nixon: Do you really think that’s what it’s all about?

Kissinger: Oh, yeah. Well, and at the Chinese.

Nixon: Okay.

Kissinger: And they’re getting to themselves some cheap shots in. And I’ll bet that when one reads the treaty—we haven’t got the text yet—that it has no formal legal obligation that means anything.

Nixon: Hmm.

Kissinger: But it’s enough to make it psychologically tough.

Nixon: We’ve got to fight like hell against—well, the Congress, thank God, is gone. So we’ve got at least three to four weeks when we don’t have to bother about India/Pakistan and that.

[Omitted here is discussion of China, U.S. domestic politics, and the Middle East.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation 557–1. No classification marking. The editors transcribed the portions of the tape recording printed here specifically for this volume. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon met Kissinger in the Oval Office from 8:55 to 10:30 a.m.; Haldeman was also in attendance. (Ibid., White House Central Files)
  2. August 16.
  3. Swaran Singh.
  4. Gromyko and Singh signed the treaty in New Delhi on August 9. For an English translation of the text, see Jain, ed., Soviet-South Asian Relations, 1947–1978, Vol. 1, pp. 113–116.
  5. According to his Record of Schedule, Kissinger met the Indian Ambassador, Lakshmi Kant Jha, on August 9 from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Miscellany, 1968–76) A memorandum of conversation is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XI, South Asia Crisis, 1971, Document 117.
  6. See Document 311.