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

RN: I had an idea that I think is very important—why not get Haig and Moorer and Rush together and tell them that I think that their priority assignment between now and the time we get back is to talk to the hawks.

HAK: Right, I have already talked to Haig about that—

RN: Why don’t you bring Rush in on that—he is a terrific salesman and he can do it and do it piece of [by] piece so we don’t have the blowups.

HAK: We have a few snags in that SALT agreement and I think that has to be on the first agenda item on Tuesday.2 So we have to wait till we get it.

RN: The point is, apart from the fact we are not going to—let’s just start preparing people of the fact that it is going to be a hell of an agreement however it turns out, you know. Because it is. You and I know—

HAK: I think Mr. President that Jackson is generally frustrated by his fate this year—I took him into the office and he lowered his opposition by 80% right there. And I got Stennis

RN: The main thing is we don’t have to wait for you to do it. Haig is very impressive in this sort of thing. Haig, Moorer and Rush

HAK: On the submarines we ought to get Zumwalt on it—

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RN: Yes, he is a good salesman. Tell [them] that is an order, they’re to carry it out.

HAK: I think that went well with the press.3

RN: They can’t complain, they got a nice little story and as you may have noticed, I limited it to a three-item—

HAK: One suggestion, Brezhnev isn’t that quite pre-eminent in that in the Soviet Union and he will get into trouble if we give him quite that much—as if he could decide things—he is the first but not the only one. It may weaken his position at home—that is the only—

RN: I wouldn’t worry about that because the main thing is that whoever is in charge if they want to throw him out, they can get somebody else.

HAK: Right, okay.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 372, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking. According to the President’s Daily Diary, President Nixon placed the call. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files)
  2. May 23.
  3. Nixon’s statement to the press on May 19. (Public Papers: Nixon, 1972, pp. 602–608)