131. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and his Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig)1

P: I got your memo from Henry.2 I suppose now it is the middle of the night there. So he begins his conversations tomorrow—is that correct.

H: Yes, sir.

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P: Do you gather that he is completely on salvo—from my memo3—it seems he is about as tough as I want him to be.

H: Yes, sir.

P: I think the fact they are slobbering around—let me say this—now he will be watching for their flattery—they are masters at it. But he is not going to sell out cheap.

H: It is inconceivable!

P: Let me suggest this—don’t you have a WSAG tomorrow?4

H: I was going to postpone it.

P: Why don’t we suggest—what were you going to do tomorrow?

H: I have a staff briefing at 8:45.

P: Rogers wanted you to do State.

H: Yes, sir, at noon.

P: Be sure you praise what he did on Monday.5

H: Oh, yes, sir.

P: You will have a report from Henry at noon. Could I suggest you drop up here and talk to me about it.6

H: Fine.

P: Have you had any report on the strikes?7

H: Have not had a report yet.

P: We don’t know if we lost any planes yet. You don’t think you will hear until late tonight.

H: Right, sir.

P: Let me suggest after you have the staff meeting you call me and give me a report on what went on last night there.8 But I think in view of the fact that Henry is having this meeting is good.

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H: I think it is just ideal.

P: Is there anything to add—let’s do it—maybe those naval ships could do something.

H: They have had a real tough fight in An Loc—knocked 10–15 tanks. That’s a hairy one.

P: Yes, that’s a second surge. Let’s don’t make An Loc a symbol that losing it will demoralize the South Vietnamese. But we may not lose it. What is your feeling?

H: I think they will hold it.

P: Abrams is certainly not going to think this strike in the north will stop him from hitting An Loc?

H: No. There were 18 strikes earlier and the total today was 30. They get these guys in close and you can’t hit them with 52’s you have to use outside stuff.

P: It’s going to work, Al.

H: Right and we are going to have another carrier by Wednesday9—69 sorties. They should be in there now.

P: You come up tomorrow at noon and give me a report. We have to watch it. We can’t leave it to chance. Having taken this great risk and putting it on the line—disappoint our friends—don’t you agree.

H: Absolutely. Henry understands that. I hit it very hard and your memo was just too clear. He is in full accord.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 999, Haig Chronological Files, Haig Telcons [–] 1972 [2 of 2]. No classification marking. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon placed the call from Camp David to Haig in Washington. (Ibid., White House Central Files)
  2. See footnote 1, Document 130.
  3. Document 127.
  4. The WSAG did not meet again until April 24. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–116, WSAG Minutes, Originals)
  5. April 17. Reference is to the Secretary’s testimony that day before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. In his statement supporting security assistance for South Vietnam, Rogers argued that the North Vietnamese attacks in the South “dropped the pretense that this war is in any sense a ‘popular uprising’ and have exposed it as a naked aggression of the most flagrant type.” (Department of State Bulletin, May 8, 1972, pp. 668–671)
  6. See Document 136 and footnote 2 thereto.
  7. Reference is to tactical air strikes against targets near Vinh, including petroleum storage, barracks, and railroad facilities.
  8. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon talked with Haig by telephone on April 21 from 10:47–10:59 a.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files) No substantive record of the discussion has been found.
  9. April 26.