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

WTE 008. 1. I am astonished both by the tone and the substance of your communications. Please remember there is an eight-hour time differential. We have worked fifteen hours a day. The airport is one hour from our residence. We were unaware of communications failure and therefore lectures about how we should have acted are highly inappropriate. We need support, not constant strictures.

2. We have reported constantly. My 0062 is being retransmitted. But if the President does not trust me there is not much that can be done.

3. What is all the excitement about? There is no chance of my trading talks for an end to bombing. No one has suggested it. I would not accept it. My 006 which is being retransmitted leaves no doubt of that. [Page 545] I have been more brutal on Vietnam than in any talk with any leader of any country. Who after all has pushed the existing strategy against everybody?

4. The situation seems to me as follows: Brezhnev wants a summit at almost any cost. He has told me in effect that he would not cancel it under any circumstances. He swears that he knew nothing of the offensive. He told me they did not step up aid deliveries. Even though untrue, this gives us three opportunities:

We may get help in deescalating or ending the war.
If not, we can almost surely get his acquiescence in pushing NVN to the limit.
We can use the summit to control the uproar in the U.S.

We have got to this point by a judicious mixture of pressure and flexibility. But here we have shown no flexibility whatever. Why blow it now? And for what?

5. As for my staying till Monday,3 here is the situation: So far we have refused to discuss any summit subject including very favorable to us draft statement4 Brezhnev handed us at the end of the meeting yesterday. Today is again devoted to Vietnam. Brezhnev knows I was prepared to go to Paris on Monday and so do his colleagues. Refusal to stay is a slap in his face and it deprives us of opportunity to get reaction to tough presentation of first day which no doubt is in Hanoi now. However if I can finish today I will do so. Everything discussed here will be ad referendum. We get more out of their acquiescence in our bombing than out of a rupture which will throw the whole Communist world-wide propaganda apparatus against us and permits no possibility of a reply.

6. In sum I am not sure they are able to deliver on Vietnam. The tone of the message from Hanoi they read me was insolent to them in the extreme. But they will stand aside and they will have the summit. We can use this as cover for other actions. Why not play out the string?

7. I have demanded concrete progress at the May 2 meeting in the toughest possible terms. Today I shall give Brezhnev our program demanding the withdrawal across the DMZ, release of some prisoners, etc. They have all but promised to try to help.

It seems to me better to step up actions South of the 20th parallel this week, go to the private meeting, and then go all-out if it fails. The very people who are now screaming for blood will collapse when the going gets really tough. But you may assure the President that under no circumstances will I agree to an end of bombing here; nor have Soviets even asked for it. It is however essential that I play out the string and [Page 546] not be provocative. And above all he must trust me. I have not exactly let him down on other missions.

8. I am counting on you to help keep things in perspective. We are within sight of all our objectives. Let us keep steady on the homestretch. You may also show this to the President.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 21, HAK’s Secret Moscow Trip Apr 72, TOHAK/HAKTO File. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Received at 4:44 a.m.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 135.
  3. April 24.
  4. See the attachment to Document 134.
  5. Haig later read excerpts from the message in a telephone conversation with the President; see Document 142.