147. Memorandum From President Nixon to his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

One effective line you could use in your talks with the press is how RN is uniquely prepared for this meeting and how ironically in many ways he has similar character characteristics and background to Chou. I am just listing a few of the items that might be emphasized.2

Strong convictions.
Came up through adversity.
At his best in a crisis. Cool. Unflappable.
A tough bold strong leader. Willing to take chances where necessary.
A man who takes the long view, never being concerned about tomorrow’s headlines but about how the policy will look years from now.
A man with a philosophical turn of mind.
A man who works without notes—in meetings with 73 heads of state and heads of government RN has had hours of conversation without any notes. When he met with Khrushchev in 1959 in the seven hour luncheon at the dacha, neither he nor Khrushchev had a note and yet discussed matters of the greatest consequences in covering many areas.
A man who knows Asia and has made a particular point of traveling in Asia and studying Asia.
A man who in terms of his personal style is very strong and very tough where necessary—steely but who is subtle and appears almost gentle. The tougher his position usually, the lower his voice. You could point out that most of these attributes are ones that you also saw in Chou En-lai.

As a matter of fact, one of the ways that you could subtly get this across is to describe Chou En-lai and to go into how RN’s personal characteristics are somewhat similar.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 341, President/Kissinger Memos, HAK/President Memoranda, 1971. Confidential. Printed from an unsigned copy. A covering note, attached but not printed, from Haldeman to Kissinger reads: “P. suggests you cover these points with Scali also—but do not show him the memo.” Haldeman reiterated many of these points in a similar memorandum to Kissinger, March 14, 1972. (Ibid., Box 817, Name Files, Haldeman, H.R.)
  2. In a conversation on July 22, Nixon and Kissinger again discussed the President’s personality and views on relations with China. Nixon declared: “Let me say that on the China thing though, as I’m sure you realize Henry, there’s no one who has less illusions about this initiative than I have. I know exactly that all this euphoria [about] Chinese-American relations, I know everyone in China. We’re doing the China thing to screw the Russians and help US in Vietnam and to keep the Japanese in line, get another ball in play. And maybe way down the road to have some relations with China.” Kissinger responded: “I told them [a group of conservative congressmen], Mr. President, this group this morning, that I sat through 73 meetings with foreign leaders with the President. Both in terms of style and general approach, it so happens you have been, he is the best resource we have for dealing with these people.” He added: “I made the point, I said now, that tough, unemotional, precise, is precisely the President. I said most Americans come back from summit meetings with a sense of euphoria by social occasion. I said that can’t happen because he doesn’t have any social occasions, he works all the time.” (Ibid., White House Tapes, Recording of conversation between Nixon and Kissinger, July 22, 1971, 3:49–5:05 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 543–1)