18. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

[Omitted here is discussion between Nixon and Kissinger about guidance the President should give Secretary Rogers for the upcoming UN Security Council meeting on South Asia. Kissinger suggested that there would be a cease-fire and withdrawal resolution put forward that the Soviet Union would veto, and then the danger was the Council would move towards a cease-fire resolution alone “that would leave half of East Pakistan in Indian hands.”]

K: I must underline, Mr. President, if we collapse now in New York, the impact on this international situation, we’re going to do away with most of the gains of the last two years. The way Rogers keeps putting the issue—the Russians are playing for big stakes here. When all the baloney—all the New York Times editorials are said and done if the Soviets and Indians get away with this, the Chinese and the United States will be standing there with eggs on our faces. And they will have made us back down and if we have ordered [watered] down our own Resolution from yesterday that had an 11 to 2 majority so that it becomes a pretty insipid thing, our only hope in my judgment, we’ll never get it through State, is to become very threatening to the Russians and tell them that if they are going to participate in the dismemberment of another country, that will affect their whole relationship to us.

P: Um-hmum.

K: Right now they still want the Middle East from us.

P: Um-hmum.

K: And other things. If we just play this in this nice incipit way, we are going to get through this week all right then but we are going to pay for it—this will then be the Suez ′56 episode of our Administration.

P: Um-hmum.

K: That is what in my view is at stake here now and that’s why the Russians are playing it so toughly and if we have made any mistake in the last two weeks it’s this—if we had over-reacted in the first two or three days as we wanted to in the White House, it might at least have scared the Russians off, not the Indians, but it might have scared [Page 63]the Russians off. We are pretty well committed anyway, we can’t take the curse off it now. The problem—I know it will always be put on the ground that we want to save the China trip but these people don’t recognize that without a China trip, we wouldn’t have had a Moscow trip.

P: No, that’s just small stuff. I know what they have put in on that—that’s just sour grapes crap.

K: If the Chinese come out of this despising us, we lose that option. If the Russians think they backed us down, we will be back to where we were in May and June.

[Omitted here is discussion on Security Council resolutions on the South Asia crisis; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XI, South Asia Crisis, 1971, Document 229.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 396, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking.