138. Message From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

Sitto 22. We have just received your 0072 and 006.3 007 is readable. 006 was garbled but I believe we got bulk of it. Reference 007, Thanh Hoa target was struck on schedule by B–52s but with sharply reduced number of fighter bombers due to weather. All evidence indicates B–52 strike on target and effective.

There has been little change in military situation from morning of April 21 report.4 Situation in An Loc remains serious and there is evidence of deterioration within perimeter which is now under direct enemy fire. Thieu has ordered reinforcements: one airborne brigade from II Corps and Ranger Group from I Corps to the area. Intelligence indicates enemy will pay any price to take An Loc and situation there must be considered serious.

Situation in MR–1 remains stable with initiative still on friendly side. Situation in II Corps is still dicey with enemy attacks against fire bases in Dac Tho area.

I am sending more detailed report following this message.5 You should be aware that President is increasingly concerned by lack of communication from your aircraft. If situation continues any longer, it may be necessary for you to use General Scowcroft who is scheduled to leave today, or the backchannel [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] with cognizance of Ambassador Beam. Dangers here are obvious but this may become necessary.

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When I gave the President substance of your 006, he was very strong that you should return Sunday night.6 He also insists that no substance on summit be discussed until Vietnam situation has been fully explored. He states that from his perspective the settlement of Vietnam is in order of magnitude ten times more important than the Soviet summit and he is fully prepared to sacrifice summit if need be.

President has also ordered another 52 strike against North Vietnam hopefully to be executed before Sunday night. I have told Laird to prepare targets which can not be farther north than Thanh Hoa. Laird will clear with me and I will re-raise with President when target is selected tomorrow morning Washington time. Need your guidance on how to play this with President in the morning (eight hours from now).

Finally, President has ordered preparation of three-day strike in Hanoi–Haiphong area which he insists he will order if your talks prove to be unfruitful.

You should be aware that President has just received results of Sindlinger poll7 which indicates his popularity has risen sharply since escalation of fighting in Vietnam. Same poll indicated George Wallace’s rating doubled in the same period and that Humphrey and Muskie slipped so badly that they are all but out of it. McGovern was rated as having appeal with about 20 per cent of electorate. More specifics are contained in Evening Notes.8 As you can see, President’s starchy mood since this afternoon has increased immeasurably. Please keep this in mind in your reporting and in your most difficult tasks there. I will stay at this end around the clock. Please be sure that Win or Hal keep me fully abreast of your thinking even at expense of absence of one or other in your substantive sessions.

Also please be sure that aircraft is instructed and is adequately manned to guarantee immediate delivery of my communications to you and of yours to me.

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 21, HAK’s Secret Moscow Trip Apr 72, TOHAK/HAKTO File [2 of 2]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only; Flash. No time of transmission or receipt appears on the message.
  2. In message WTE 007 to Haig, April 21, Kissinger reported: “1. I must have a detailed update of the military situation before my next meeting with Brezhnev at 1000 Moscow Time 0200 Washington Time. I must be sure I will not sound absurd when I ask for withdrawal. 2. The Thanh Hoa operation should take place before we deliver the note to the North Vietnamese. Please advise.” (Ibid., [1 of 2])
  3. See footnote 2, Document 137.
  4. Sent as message Sitto 16 from Haig to Kissinger on April 21. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 21, HAK’s Secret Trip to Moscow Apr 72, TOHAK/HAKTO File [2 of 2])
  5. Reference is presumably to a memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon on the Indochina military situation, which Haig forwarded in message Sitto 26 to Kissinger in Moscow on April 22. (Ibid.)
  6. April 23.
  7. Albert E. Sindlinger, a national telephone pollster. The results of the poll were reported in a release by United Press International (UPI–151) on April 21. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 117, Vietnam Subject Files, Vietnam Offensive (2 Apr 72), Permanent File)
  8. Sent as message Sitto 19 from Haig to Kissinger on April 21. (Ibid., Kissinger Office Files, Box 21, HAK’s Secret Moscow Trip Apr 72, TOHAK/HAKTO File [2 of 2])