58. Conversation Among President Nixon, British Foreign Secretary Douglas-Home, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), and the White House Press Secretary (Ziegler)1

Douglas-Home: At present [unclear] this is only happening in Rhodesia.

Nixon: Oh, really?

Douglas-Home: I think so. And this will be within the five principles.2 [unclear]—

Nixon: Good.

Douglas-Home: —not giving a time scale at least helps to provide the blocking mechanism to, say, prevent the Africans from doing it. Where it’s been right now is through parity.

Nixon: Hmm.

[Page 146]

Douglas-Home: And we haven’t been able to provide Commonwealth seats beyond on the subject. Now, we may get some agreement—

Nixon: Great.

Douglas-Home: And if we do we’re going to have a hell of a time, [Harold] Wilson told [unclear]. He then said this is as rough as he can.

Nixon: Which way is he? Is he going to [unclear]?

Douglas-Home: No, they didn’t.

Nixon: Why are they against it?

[unclear exchange]

Douglas-Home: Well, because you could say it’s not been announced—

Nixon: We’re not going to have the blacks in [unclear].

Douglas-Home: [unclear]

Nixon: [unclear] Let me tell you that, I want to assure you what I think you heard me say, and I talked on the phone today with Heath [about] this, but we will not embarrass you on Rhodesia or South Africa. Now, the point that I think Henry heard me talk to these Africans when they were in here the other day, and he’s also seen what I had written on that—on those memos as they come through. We have to take positions because of our political situation, but I just feel so strongly on this issue that it’s—but look, who was this—who’s the head of that, who’s that head of the OAU? What country is he from—?

Kissinger: [unclear]

Nixon: Mauritania? Now, Mauritania’s got—Mauritania, they’ve got a million two hundred thousand people. They haven’t—they have to answer to the problems of a million two hundred thousand instead of worrying about worrying about what’s happened in Rhodesia or South Africa. So, he spent the whole time, you know, yelling about that thing. Not yelling, but you know? They’re talking about that. It reminded me of Sukarno. I—when I visited Sukarno in ’53, here’s this great country and the rest, here’s this man with this tremendous mystique, marvelously colorful. I was the Vice President then, and, of course, it meant quite a bit for me to get over to him, perhaps for him to receive me. But, on the other hand, I remember when I talked to him—I was there three days—three-fourths of the time he’s talking about West Irian.

Douglas-Home: Um-hmm.

Nixon: Now, the Indonesians couldn’t even digest Indonesia.

Douglas-Home: Right.

Nixon: They don’t even want to deal with a bunch of cannibals up there. You know what I mean? [unclear]That became the great issue. [Page 147] It’s always this. Now, in the case of Rhodesia, let me say whatever you work out—whatever you work out, I’ll have you remember this, I don’t be pushed on by that African group over there at State because I think that—what else with the chrome thing have we decided?

Kissinger: We have this Byrd Amendment—

Ziegler: Yeah.

Nixon: Well, if it’s—I’m for it.

Douglas-Home: [unclear] if we get this revenue [unclear] set up [unclear] completely, he may get back on it. But he’s, so far, after all the blocking mechanisms [unclear] tax credits [unclear] for proper franchise [unclear] declaration of rights. So, the whole thing looks very, so very [unclear]—

Nixon: I want to be—I want to be informed if you will on this, not [unclear]—

[unclear exchange]

Nixon: I just don’t want it to be, too over to the Hill. I want you to get it, get—

[unclear exchange]

Kissinger: [unclear] wide approach.

Nixon: I will make a policy statement about it.

Douglas-Home: It wouldn’t veto until the beginning of November.

Nixon: Fine. But if it’s something, if it’s anything in the ballpark, I’ll, I’ll be sure to say something about it—

Douglas-Home: It will come to the front of the U.N., too, that we have pushed—

Nixon: I understand—

Kissinger: If you could make sure that I get some advance warning, before it gets to that—

Nixon: This is one where we don’t want to cause you any trouble. We’ve got enough troubles of our own.

Douglas-Home: [laughs] [unclear]Horn of Africa where it could, it would be—

Nixon: Yeah.

Douglas-Home: —that you could get a multiracial state of some kind.

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: On the U.N., Mr. President, if, on some of these procedural points like the China issue, if you could give us a hand we know you can’t do much on the basic thing—

[Omitted here is conversation unrelated to Southern Africa.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Oval Office, Conversation 582–9. No classification marking. The editors transcribed the portions of the tape recording printed here specifically for this volume. The exchange is part of a larger conversation, 4:10–5:31 p.m. According to the President’s Daily Diary, British Ambassador Earl Cromer was also at the meeting; Nixon, Kissinger, Douglas-Home, and Cromer met from 4:10 until 5:13 p.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files)
  2. See footnote 2, Document 3.