248. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President of the World Bank (McNamara) and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

K: Hello.

M: Hello, Henry, how are you?

K: Bob, how are you?

M: Fine. Say, I hate to bother you with my business but I got a problem now that is close to being your business. Let me sketch it to you very quickly. The meeting of the Bank and Foreign Governors starts in Nairobi next Monday.2 On Sunday in Nairobi the Committee of 20 meets—the Finance Ministers in preparation for that Monday meeting as far as the monetary problems are concerned. On Saturday what are known as the Deputies of the Finance Ministers for the Renegotiation of the Fourth Replenishment of IDA meet. This matter was started last September and was supposed to have been settled in March of this year, it’s been dragging on and on because the U.S. hasn’t given an answer. All of the other countries have agreed on the formula at $1500 million of commitment authority per year for 3 years with the US percentage to be reduced from 40% to 33⅓%.

K: We’ve had a paper in to the President for weeks on this.

M: On Saturday of this week the whole thing was to be lined up with that. I just heard and I can’t even disclose my—in fact I don’t know the name of the guy in the government who gave us the information—but last night Shultz went over to talk to the President about this and the President said that Shultz said in effect that the Congressional support isn’t strong enough to put through such legislation without the President’s support, the President said “Well, he’s got too much to do on military and certain other things that he can’t support it.”3

K: I have told the god-damned Shultz not to do this a hundred times.

M: Honest to god, Henry, it’s the most inept thing I’ve ever seen. He told—I told the Treasury the other day I could deliver these Chairmen—look if they’ll let me do it.

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K: Bob, it drives me up a wall. Shultz all summer long has had a memo into the President asking the President for his abstract commitment to support the replenishment. I stopped it and pulled it out of the President’s office all summer long. Because you cannot ask a President to make an abstract commitment to do something.

M: Of course not. When you finally get down to the wire you want to say “Mr. President, would you just give Passman one call.”

K: What I had tried to explain to the bull-headed professor that what good does it do—supposing he gets a Presidential commitment, then he gets to a crunch and needs a phone call, what’s he going to do walk in with that paper and say you have a legal commitment to call Passman.

M: Henry, my information may be wrong but let me say one further word which is the real key to the thing. I’m out so god damn far on a limb with Vietnam I’m going to get my ass burned unless this goes through. I have a meeting tentatively scheduled with governments on the 17th of October in Paris to start organizing the financing of Vietnam.

K: Bob, it’s going to go through. It is one of these insane, pedantic, economic nuttinesses that he’s gotten into trouble with time and again because I told this stupid bastard not to raise it and when I stopped the memos he’s gone into the President now and done it personally.

M: One reason for my thinking what I heard this morning is correct is that also this morning Shultz called and wanted to see me today so I’m going to see him sometime—unspecified—this afternoon—my guess is that—

K: See him late in the afternoon so that I can get to him.

M: I’ll do that.

K: We will certainly be—this thing would be through now if it weren’t for this stupid—

M: Absolutely insane. I’ll leave it in your hands, Henry. I’ll drop everything to see you or anything else.

K: Bob, I’m sorry I’m speaking so vehemently, but it seems to me the sort of battle that no skillful bureaucrat would ever fight.

M: It’s insane, Henry. But we don’t have much time.

K: I’ll get right after it. It should have been approved to begin with.

M: OK, thanks.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 22. No classification marking.
  2. September 24.
  3. The President and Shultz met on September 17 from 3:05 to 4:04 p.m. to discuss the September 12–14 GATT Ministerial meeting in Tokyo. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) No memorandum of conversation from this meeting was found.