174. Minutes of National Security Council Meeting1

  • SUBJECT
    • The President’s Annual Review of Foreign Policy
  • PARTICIPANTS
    • President Richard Nixon
    • William P. Rogers, Secretary of State
    • Melvin Laird, Secretary of Defense
    • General George A. Lincoln, Director of Emergency Preparedness
    • John N. Mitchell, Attorney General
    • John N. Irwin, II, Under Secretary of State
    • Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
    • Richard Helms, Director of Central Intelligence
    • Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
    • William Safire,3 White House
    • Colonel Richard Kennedy, NSC
    • Winston Lord, NSC

RN: I want to review the work going on on the Report that I will make on the 25th.2 I have not yet gone into the final draft. I want to ask Director Helms to give a general briefing on the world and I will ask Dr. Kissinger to summarize the Report. Then I’ll ask Mel [Laird] and Bill [Rogers] to note which sections we want to work on. I will be working on it this weekend. Dick [Helms]?4

Helms: Around the world we see a number of developments.

[Page 704]

I’ll start with the Soviet Union. The Soviets are deploying a third group of SS–9s. They have a new task group heading for Cuba.5

Laird: It will enter Cuban waters today.

Moorer: It’s an N-Class submarine, not nuclear firing.

Helms: They are moving ahead with preparations for the Party Congress which was scheduled previously for February. They face serious problems of resource allocation in their economy, of reform, and whether to crack down on the East Europeans. Some in the leadership want to modernize the economy. Brezhnev and Kosygin are aging, so there may be some leadership changes but it is unlikely there will be major changes in policy.

Let me turn now to China. Their missile development is moving toward an ICBM, but there is no firm evidence of any deployment.

RN: What kind of missiles do the British and French have? Helms: Both the French and British missiles are IRBM’s.

RN: Then China would be the third to have ICBM’s. What about submarine missiles?

Laird: The British have Polaris.

Helms: China has a 1400-mile missile being tested. They could have an operational ICBM by 1973. They have an active nuclear test program and can deliver a 3-Megaton weapon with their IRBM.

They do not have a missile for their missile submarines. They are developing a new sub but we have no evidence of a nuclear-powered sub yet. Their submarines strictly stick to Chinese waters.

Their Cultural Revolution is still having an effect. There is no clear pecking order in their 25-main politburo. Mao is still in charge; the others are a mixture of groupings.

Their international relations have regained momentum. The image now given is one of stability and reasonableness. Peking is no softer on Southeast Asian issues but there is an indication they would see a negotiation as advantageous. There are still border talks going on with the USSR. There have been no more clashes. The Soviets have tripled their forces on the border; the Chinese have also moved forces to the border. There is now no contact between the Soviet and China Communist Parties. The Soviets attacked the Chinese over the South Vietnamese invasion of Laos, claiming that the Chinese had alienated the peoples of Southeast Asia and the Chinese attitude was thereby detrimental to the anti-imperialist struggle.

[Page 705]

RN: How new is this sort of attack?

Helms: It’s a recurring theme but this is one of the most virulent instances. It evidences real distaste.

Rogers: It’s interesting that the Soviets take the Laos invasion as an opportunity to take off on China. It’s useful in noting to Congress that it’s unlikely China and the USSR would team up against us; this rules out a conference on Indochina with Peking and Moscow.

Kissinger: Hanoi has a problem here, too.

Rogers: Hanoi can’t go either.

Helms: Let me review the effects of recent developments in Southeast Asia. The Communist position in South Vietnam has deteriorated sharply in the last year. Cambodia is now denied to them as a sanctuary and port. In Cambodia they now have an active opponent claiming further resources. The Laos invasion threatens their last logistics route. The fact that the Lon Nol6 Government survives complicates Hanoi’s problem. The odds favor the survival of a non-Communist government.

If successful, the present offensive will cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail and prevent their reinforcement for a year. The Communists have real problems in the countryside. They concede in the Delta that only 12% of the people are under their control. The elections this year will be a demonstration of the viability and strength of South Vietnam. They are still strong and will fight in south Laos, and also will fight in the North. Hanoi must feel that things are coming to a head. They see an anti-communist coalition being formed and the United States shows no evidence of concessions in Paris. In short, Hanoi’s strategy is not working.

In the Middle East, there is no evidence of a break in the fundamental deadlock. There has been no fighting—there’s 30 days more ceasefire. In the long view all the issues boil down to the territorial problem. The Israelis insist on defensible borders and won’t give up Jerusalem, Sharm el-Sheikh, Gaza and the Golan Heights. They are not specific on the rest. Sadat’s7 Suez proposal was trying to take some danger out of the situation. Mrs. Meir8 insists on a peace treaty before any withdraw; she’ll talk about Suez separately.

Jarring9 is now more active. He made new proposals to the Arabs and Israelis. He’s asked for simultaneous commitments. He’s received [Page 706]no answer yet but there’s not much hope. The level of armaments is rising throughout the area. Israel can defend itself against any or all of them but it’s becoming more difficult. They would preempt, but the Arab air forces have increased their air defense. There are 13,000–14,000 Soviet military personnel in the UAR. This could result in their direct involvement if the fighting resumes.

Rogers: There is a report that the UAR sees 150,000 losses if they try to cross the Canal. That’s certainly a stabilizing factor. Egypt knows it would get licked. Both sides are concerned.

RN: Thank you, Dick. Henry?

Kissinger: Let me briefly summarize the purpose of this Foreign Policy Report—the procedure, and what it attempts to do.

We started at the end of September by sending out a NSSM requesting the agencies’ contributions.10 These were received by the end of November. They were worked on by my staff, on the basis of comments and drafts we received from the agencies which were incorporated into the document and our general understanding of the President’s approach. A draft then went out to the departments around January 20. We have received many comments. We are now incorporating the changes and we will take up any questions. So the final draft will reflect the agreement of all the senior advisors. Most of the comments we have received improve the draft and do not change the philosophy. I am going to work with the President in Florida and then send the drafts to the agencies again for review.

What is the purpose of the document? It is to get beyond what happened to why it happened. It is to put to the American public, the bureaucracy and foreign governments a picture of the world as you see it, where you see us and the world going. That is the meaning of a generation of peace—to look beyond crisis-management toward a long view. This can make a contribution to the level of public debate. Debate will be in the framework of the document rather than just newspaper nit-picking of day-to-day actions. This can improve the understanding by the American people, foreign governments and the bureaucracy, of the major issues of foreign policy.

The thrust is that there have been major changes since the end of the war and up to the time this Administration came into office. Other countries, especially Europe and Japan, have grown stronger; the United States no longer enjoys a nuclear monopoly; the Communist [Page 707]world is no longer a monolith. All these developments have implications for our policy. One theme is a new partnership with a greater contribution to be made by others. This is known as the Nixon Doctrine.11 It also means we need a new doctrine for our strategic and general purpose forces in a new strategic situation. Thirdly, there is a new approach to the Communist world, because of the new situation.

Thus the Report is organized into a section on relations with allies and friends, a section on relations with our adversaries, a long chapter on the meaning of the Nixon Doctrine, and a strategic section which includes a balanced description of strategic forces and a description of arms control—both of which are discussed in detail.

RN: Dobrynin always says “disarmament;” we use the phrase “arms control.” That’s their propaganda.

Kissinger: This is the general outline and the philosophy. I want to be brief; I want to allow some time for the others to speak. This has been a cooperative enterprise, and the whole government has been involved in it. It shows that our policy has had a coherent point of view since you took office.

RN: I will have to read it. I’ll do it this weekend.

Laird: I have one concern. I felt the Report last year12 presented the three major points of the Nixon Doctrine. That was good. I see that the draft now says we were the ones who suggested an ABM ban; this is a problem for me. I want to fudge it a little. I want to avoid mention of the four options because then we’ll have to explain them in testimony.

RN: It’ll leak if we have too much detail. We’ll have to face a lot of questions.

Laird: During the 1960’s we were sold the flexible response doctrine. This was the McNamara approach. The Nixon Doctrine got away from flexible response; we moved to the initiative with partnership and negotiation. This is the thrust of our initiative—we want to get away from “flexible response” and turn to “deterrence”—”realistic deterrence” tied to the Nixon Doctrine. We will sell to the Congress and the people the idea of deterrence and a policy of initiative rather than response. A policy of response is negative rather than the initiative we need for the 1970’s. We should get this incorporated in the Report more fully.

[Page 708]

The strategic section doesn’t tie in with the SALT section. We can make the sections work together.

The section on the NSC System: Last year it emphasized the improvements we had brought about; this year it seems to emphasize [crisis] management. We want to emphasize that we still want to look at the long term.

Rogers: We fully support the idea of the Report. We will make a report to the Congress also, that goes into greater detail in many areas.13 I think the idea of this Report is excellent. The coordination has been very good. We had an opportunity to make comments on the SALT part. I support Mel on this: I think we should drop the options. We can state our approach. Otherwise it’s a target for attack. I’m sure we can work it out with Henry.

RN: On the SALT part: the pathetic idealism on arms control in this country means it would be best to speak on it often. We know that cosmetics have a lot to do with how people see this, regardless of the substance. It’s important to people.

Rogers: There’s no criticism of us in the public or any question whether we are forthcoming. But if too much is let out it gives the opposition fire.

Laird: Everybody knows what our position is. Gerry Smith’s briefing leaked; the Soviets are putting out their side.

Rogers: It’s well written and a good report, but it’s too long. It’s twice as long as last year’s, particularly in light of the State and Defense reports14 that are also coming out. Last year’s was about right. There’s some repetition. We must watch how we say that we thought of everything; we can make it more subtle, I think.

Kissinger: We’re cutting it now by 15%–20%.

RN: I want it tight.

Rogers: We want to balance the length with the substance of the chapters. I think our report fits well together with this one.

[The meeting adjourned.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–110, NSC Minutes, Originals, 1971 thru 6–20–74. Confidential. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Kissinger sent Nixon a memorandum on February 10 briefing him on the purpose of the meeting. (Ibid.) The memorandum is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, 1969–1972, Document 84.
  2. Special Assistant to the President and speechwriter.
  3. The President transmitted his Second Annual Report to the Congress on United States Foreign Policy on February 25. The report includes the following parts: The Nixon Doctrine, Relating National Interests, The Soviet Union, Securing National Interests, The World Interest, and The National Security Council System. For the text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1971, pp. 219–345.
  4. All brackets are in the original.
  5. Reference is to Soviet naval activity near the Cuban port of Cienfuegos.
  6. Lon Nol, Prime Minister of Cambodia.
  7. Anwar al-Sadat, President of Egypt.
  8. Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel.
  9. Gunnar Jarring, Swedish Ambassador to the Soviet Union and United Nations Special Representative for the Middle East.
  10. NSSM 102, issued on September 21, 1970, called for submissions from the Departments of State, Defense, and the Treasury and the CIA in preparation for the President’s second annual review of United States foreign policy. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 365, Subject Files, NSSMs, Nos. 43–103 [1 of 2])
  11. For the origins of the Nixon Doctrine, see footnote 5, Document 98.
  12. Nixon’s First Annual Report to the Congress on United States Foreign Policy for the 1970s was transmitted on February 18, 1970. For the text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1970, pp. 116–190.
  13. “United States Foreign Policy 1969–1970: A Report of the Secretary of State” was transmitted to Congress on March 26. The report includes an introductory statement by Rogers and sections on Relations Among States and The Common Concerns of Diplomacy. For the text, see Department of State Bulletin, April 5, 1971, pp. 465–477.
  14. Regarding the Defense Department report, see Document 177.