72. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon1

[Omitted here is a discussion of U.S. force levels in Europe.]

With respect to Korea, I feel that the stresses and strains surrounding our decision to reduce by 20,000 this fiscal year are such that the traffic would not bear another substantial withdrawal for at least the next year or two. While I agree that we should work toward carrying out some further reduction in our forces in Korea, I am concerned that we do so in a way that does not give the wrong signal either to the other side or to our friends in the area. This will take time and careful handling. My concern in this regard is not only with respect to Korea, but perhaps even more importantly with respect to Japan. You well know what a volatile people the Japanese are. I have already noted concern [Page 185] on the part of some of them that we are perhaps moving too far and too fast in reducing our presence in the area. While some concern on the part of the Japanese is healthy, I feel that we should be careful not to cross over the line that would cause the Japanese to have such doubts about our deterrent capabilities and intentions with respect to Japan and the rest of the area [1½ lines not declassified]. Unless we handle ourselves properly, this could quickly become a very real danger.

I am sending a copy of this to Mel Laird.

William P. Rogers2
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 283, Dept of State, 1 Sep–Nov 1970, Vol. IX. Secret. An attached September 29 memorandum from Kennedy to Haig noted that Rogers’s memorandum “was passed directly to the President on Saturday, September 26. It was returned to us from the President without comment.”
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.