294. Editorial Note

In his diary entry for May 28, 1972, White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman recorded that President Nixon “got into some discussion of plans during the day—of his plans for the TV tonight, seems to have that in pretty good shape. And then back again to the return statement. He’s still thinking, or he was still thinking about the two options of either the Congress or the White House lawn. Then it occurred to him that he could do the thing in the East Room, with the Congressional leaders, and invite the rest of Congressional, Cabinet, Joint Chiefs, and so on, and drum up all the advantages of Congress, without the attendant disadvantages, so that’s the basis on which we’re working at this point. He’s spending most of the day holed up in his own quarters, presumably working on the speech for tonight, it’s now 4:00 in the afternoon, and that’s it at this point…. At 6:30 [Nixon] had Henry and me in, and we went into the question of the schedule for tomorrow…. P went into a discussion of his reporting speech, he wants it to be a brief recitation of what was accomplished. Wants a paragraph on his long, frank talks with the Soviet leaders, shouldn’t mention Vietnam [Page 1199] directly, but make the point that we have the responsibility as great powers to avoid problems, and one of the long range results is, as great powers, we can use our influence more effectively to avoid crises. And on the point of where we go in the future, it’s easy to have a state of euphoria, these are significant steps, but only a beginning. We have to continue to maintain our strength. The Soviets left no doubt that they’ll continue to maintain theirs. Any reduction must not be done unilaterally. This whole Summit meeting demonstrates that it can be done mutually, and that’s the way it must be done for our interest and for everybody’s.

“He gave his speech this evening at 8:30 to the people of the Soviet Union, and it went very well, although we had a flap at the last minute because the Soviets wouldn’t let our 16mm camera in, so we have no film coverage of it, only the video tape. The reaction afterwards was that everybody thought it was great, even E[hrlichman] thought it was so good that we ought to try to get it replayed in prime time—thought the picture was great, great setting, another historic event, big build up, and so on. P especially was anxious to get the Tanya segment replayed, because he thinks that’s the most important part. He worked on some follow-up plans along that line. I think we’re in good shape.” (The Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition)

For text of Nixon’s May 28 television and radio broadcast to the people of the Soviet Union, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1972, pages 629–632. In his memoirs Nixon wrote: “As in 1959, I felt this would be a very important opportunity for me to present the American viewpoint to the Russian people without any editing or control by the Soviet Government.” He said that in the speech he “discussed the dangers of an unchecked arms race, and I underlined America’s sincere desire for peace.” At the end of his speech, he described his previous day’s experience at the Piskaryev Cemetery and museum in Leningrad and said:

“As we work toward a more peaceful world, let us think of Tanya and of the other Tanyas and their brothers and sisters everywhere. Let us do all that we can to ensure that no other children will have to endure what Tanya did and that your children and ours, all the children of the world, can live their full lives together in friendship and in peace.”

Nixon wrote that Brezhnev told him after the broadcast that his conclusion brought tears to his eyes. (RN: Memoirs, pages 616–617)