62. Conversation Among President Nixon, the White House Chief of Staff (Haldeman), and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

[Omitted here is conversation unrelated to Rhodesia.]

Nixon: Let me ask you one thing, Henry: what in the name of God does that damn United Nations mean on that Rhodesian chrome thing?2 Are we going to do what they say? How do we deal with this thing? Do we have to follow it—?

Kissinger: Of course not.

[Page 156]

Nixon: How do the British feel about that?

Kissinger: They voted against it.

Nixon: With one of their two votes, huh?

Kissinger: But what I think, Mr. President, is the best—

Nixon: Because I don’t want to get into it—

Haldeman: The damned Congress is going to vote the other way.

Kissinger: But, it has already [unclear].

[unclear exchange]

Nixon: I just want to be sure. I want to stay out of it. What’s Ziegler going to say?

Kissinger: Well, yesterday, State sent over a statement they wanted you to make.

Nixon: Yeah, then stop saying we’ll support the United Nations.

Kissinger: Exactly.

Nixon: No, sir. Never.

Haldeman: [laughs]

Nixon: Never.

Kissinger: But Mr. President, I felt so confident about your views that I didn’t bring in to you—

Nixon: Yeah. You’re damn right.

Kissinger: I filled in. Then they wanted you, when you signed the procurement bill, whatever this chrome was attached to—

Nixon: That’s right.

Kissinger: —to say you are reluctantly going along with the chrome part—

Nixon: No, no. That’s good—

Kissinger: —but you’re not going to do with any other part. But what’s going to happen, Mr. President, is that Home is now in Rhodesia.

Nixon: They’re trying to make a deal again and we’re—I hope you got to Cromer the [idea], the thing I that I told Home—

Kissinger: I told him.

Nixon: —at the last of the meeting.

Kissinger: Because he wanted to—

Nixon: And I want him to—I wish he—could I suggest something? That you make a telephone call, and you say: “Now, look here,” and then let him in. Say: “Now, with Rhodesian chrome, the President’s taking a hard line. You know, with the U.N. wouldn’t want him to take the hard line. Second, he wants you to know that whatever deal you make in Rhodesia, we’ll back him.”

[Page 157]

Kissinger: Right.

Nixon: I think we ought to tell him that.

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: ’Cause, you know, this will be great if they can make a deal with them—

Kissinger: If they make—

Nixon: —then we can tell those goddamn Africans to go to hell—

Kissinger: If they make a deal with Rhodesia, the British will abolish their sanctions.

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: The British sanctions are about 80 percent of the total sanctions, so after that, there’ll be no sense for anyone else having any sanctions. So I think that we should just keep quiet about the U.N. thing because, it will become a moot issue if the British make a deal, and—

Nixon: Well, that’s the thing to tell State: that the British are leading here, and we don’t want to get into it now. But what would you tell them?

Kissinger: I just told them not to have the [unclear]. They’re probably saying [unclear] I didn’t want them to leak that [unclear] set up for the President, if he has anything to say [unclear]. I felt it was better that they would think that I screwed it up than it would [unclear]. It doesn’t do any good to have you, personally—

Nixon: Fighting the Africans.

Kissinger: Uh, on a crappy little thing like the U.N. vote [unclear].

[Omitted here is additional conversation unrelated to Rhodesia.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Executive Office Building, Conversation 294–11. 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, 10:55 a.m.–12:42 p.m.
  2. General Assembly Resolution 2765 adopted November 16 called on the United States to take all measures to prevent the importation of chrome from Southern Rhodesia. See Yearbook of the United Nations, 1971, p. 103.