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

WTE 012. 1. I am reading your messages with mounting astonishment. I cannot share the theory on which Washington operates. I do not believe that Moscow is in direct collusion with Hanoi. At this time the leaders here seem extremely embarrassed and confused.2 Their summit objectives go far beyond Vietnam3 and would be much more easily achievable without it. They may want to disintegrate NATO, ruin our other alliances, and soften us up by an era of seeming good will. But they do not need Vietnam for that. Indeed right now Vietnam is an obstacle to it.

2. Moreover what in God’s name are they getting out of all this? They see me three days after we bomb Hanoi. Their agreeing to a public announcement must infuriate and discourage Hanoi. They are willing to see the President while he is bombing North Vietnam. For the first time in the war we have them engaged in trying to help in Vietnam.4 Sure their first offer is inadequate. What else do we expect? As you point out we can get the best of all worlds: (1) inflicting maximum [Page 589] punishment on Hanoi, (2) appealing to hawks, (3) appealing to doves, (4) making historic progress on SALT, (5) getting a highly acceptable communiqué.5 I do not see how we can even consider blowing it all by the kind of attitudes which you describe.

3. Does the President understand that all concessions have so far been made by Moscow6 and that we have given nothing, including on Vietnam? Two months ago we would have been jubilant.

4. I agree with game plan on plenaries.7 Please change messages accordingly.

5. I agree with Abrams that withdrawal is ill-timed though I suppose beyond control. Laird’s plan is totally unacceptable.8 Make sure it does not leak.

6. As for my return, 6:00 p.m. is out of the question. The Politburo is meeting today. Brezhnev will see me tomorrow at 10:00. There is no sense cutting the discussion off just when it is coming to a point. I shall leave right after the meeting—hopefully arriving in Washington by 2000. If earlier arrival seems possible I shall flash you.

7. Please keep everybody calm. We are approaching the successful culmination of our policies. Must we blow it in our eagerness to bomb targets which will not move and when the delay is only one week? You might remind doubters of who thought of last strike and pushed it through against everybody.9

  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 3:54 a.m. Haig transmitted the message to Camp David at 10:50 a.m. with instructions for Rose Mary Woods to deliver it in a sealed envelope to be opened only by the President. Nixon’s handwritten notations on that copy are cited below. (Ibid., White House Special Files, President’s Personal Files, Box 74, President’s Speech File, April 1972 Kissinger Trip to Moscow)
  2. The President underlined the preceding two sentences.
  3. The President underlined “summit objectives go far beyond Vietnam.”
  4. The President underlined “we have them engaged in trying to help Vietnam.”
  5. The President underlined the second, fourth, and fifth points in this sentence.
  6. The President underlined “repeat all concessions have so far been made by Moscow.”
  7. See Document 147.
  8. See footnotes 4 and 5, Document 147.
  9. Reference is presumably to the B–52 strike against fuel storage depots near Hanoi and Haiphong on April 15 and 16. Kissinger later wrote, however, that Nixon had approved his recommendation for the strike “over the opposition of Abrams but with the support of Laird.” (White House Years, p. 1121) See also Document 102.