85. Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

Kissinger: Mr. President.

Nixon: Yeah?

Kissinger: We are having a problem with the Russians, which has been caused by a total lack of discipline in the State Department. On Wednesday, Dobrynin called me with a message from Brezhnev to you that they had heard that we were submitting a resolution at the Human Rights Commission in Geneva calling for free emigration of people all over the world.2

Nixon: Um-hmm.

Kissinger: I called Rush. Rush said he would stop it.

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: He would stop our doing something. I notified Gromyko that we were not proceeding. I offered it to Dobrynin on your be[Page 292]half, saying you had ordered it stopped. This morning Rush calls me in extreme agitation, saying a) they had never understood, had never realized, that we were in fact submitting a resolution; that the fellow had gone ahead and submitted the resolution anyway.

Nixon: [unclear]

Kissinger: That we were faced now with the problem of withdrawing it, which we can’t do because the Jewish people would scream their heads off if we withdrew a resolution on free emigration.

Nixon: Just say we won’t press it.

Kissinger: Oh, that I’ve already done.

Nixon: Hmm.

Kissinger: But we will say [unclear] to the Russians after having given them an assurance.

Nixon: Um-hmm.

Kissinger: I told them to call the guy back to give us an explanation of how he could proceed without instructions. He’s, unfortunately, the head of some Jewish organization on top of it.

Nixon: Who is it? [unclear]

Kissinger: The guy we got there.

Nixon: That’s not what I asked you. I know—

Kissinger: [unclear]

Nixon: I must say this: I know this is not Rogers. I know that he couldn’t, he [unclear]—

Kissinger: No, no, no it’s not Rogers

Nixon: I know this is not Rush.

Kissinger: It is certainly not Rush

Nixon: It’s somebody down the line and I—

Kissinger: It is some son-of-a-bitch—

Nixon: —I think he’s got to be disciplined.

Kissinger: And you know as well as I do—

Nixon: I—I’ll tell you what I think we ought to do. I think the bastard ought to be recalled. I really do. He did—he did this without—

Kissinger: You know, Mr. President, that these bastards don’t submit resolutions without somebody covering their tail in the Department. Now, a) I agree. Rogers had nothing to do with this. He, he—

Nixon: He [unclear].

Kissinger: Rush was trying to stop it, and he is even more burned up than I because they lied to him. But I told Dobrynin and he went through the roof, and he rarely loses his temper. He says it makes him look like a fool, makes us look very bad.

[Page 293]

Nixon: Send a message to Brezhnev right away with this [unclear]. See, he probably [unclear]. What are we going to say to him? Do we say [unclear]—?

Kissinger: I—I’ve asked Rush to—

Nixon: I’m almost thinking of this: I think what [unclear]. I thought we would write a letter to a Congressman or something stating my position as to Jewish emigration. I feel so strongly about it.

Kissinger: Well, I think it’s too dangerous for you, Mr. President.

Nixon: Oh, screw it. I’m not running for anything.

Kissinger: No, but you need some support. But—

Nixon: I’m not getting any.

Kissinger: Well, I’ve asked Rush to send us a written report, and I’m going to send that to Dobrynin.

Nixon: In the Senate, the Democratic Caucus endorsed a resolution urging the administration to substantially reduce the contingent of all the U.S. troops stationed overseas. Three Senators were against this. Scoop Jackson continued [unclear].

Kissinger: It’s a disgrace. It is a national disease. These people. [knocking noise] I mean, the pressures we’re under—

Nixon: [unclear]—

Kissinger: —from these people, from the Jewish community.

Nixon: Well, the Jewish community I understand. I—you know what I mean. I can disagree with them, but I understand. But I don’t understand the Congressmen and Senators joining with them.

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: You understand?

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: We all have pressures. Christ, if I were Jewish, I’d probably be kicking them in the ass, too. It’s stupid.

Kissinger: [unclear]

Nixon: My point is [unclear] I got [Max] Fisher to toe the line I want.

[unclear exchange]

Nixon: I told Fisher [unclear] because the door will slam shut. I want you to get one fact for me: how many Jewish people were allowed to emigrate in ’71 as compared to ’72, after we moved? I want to add that I think if we could show, without saying we did it, that the number that emigrated after our meeting with the Russians was greater. It was substantially increased in ’72, I think. Weren’t they? [unclear]—

Kissinger: Well, they were at the same level—

Nixon: Ok.

[Page 294]

Kissinger: —but I can get Dobrynin to give me those.

Nixon: Oh, on Dobrynin, just say that I was—that I called you on the carpet this morning, and I raised hell, and I am—that I have, I have demanded the man be brought back. And then, tell him that I had a meeting with Jewish leaders here in the office yesterday and laid down the law to them that I would totally oppose it, publicly, if they’d even insist. Well, why don’t you do that?

Kissinger: Right.

Nixon: And put a note from me, personally, to Brezhnev on it.3 I really think I should do it—

Kissinger: And I think I’ll ask Rush to call up Dobrynin and apologize.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Oval Office, Conversation No. 881–2. No classification marking. The editor transcribed the portion of the conversation printed here specifically for this volume.
  2. No record of Kissinger’s March 14 telephone conversation with Dobrynin was found. However, in two subsequent conversations on March 15, at 9:50 a.m. and 11:05 a.m., Dobrynin and Kissinger did discuss the resolution before the Human Rights Commission. (Ibid., NSC Files, Kissinger Telephone Conversations (Telcons), Box 19, Chronological File) The United States submitted a resolution in the Human Rights Commission on the right to leave any country and return to one’s own country. The resolution was withdrawn, and the United States supported a similar resolution that was adopted on March 23 as Human Rights Commission Resolution 12 (XXIX). (UN. Doc. E/CN.4/RES/12/(XXIX) None of the draft texts nor the final resolution mentioned Soviet Jews.
  3. No record of the note was found.