14. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Moorer)1

Nixon: How’d you like what I said about national defense, Admiral?2

Moorer: That was fine, sir. We’ve been up struggling on—

Nixon: Look, fight like hell for the budget. We cannot cut the budget.

Moorer: Yes, sir. We spent five days already on it, and we are working hard on the Symington committee now.

Nixon: Put it to them on the basis that if they cut this budget they will destroy the chances for MBFR and for the deal with the Soviet. The Soviet—Brezhnev, I know, I’m going to meet the son-of-a-bitch this summer.3 And he’ll be there. And if we’ve already cut, he won’t give me a damn thing.

[Page 44]

Moorer: You’re right, sir. That’s exactly what—

Nixon: I think I got that point across. You can’t—that the rule of diplomacy, one unbreakable rule—is that you can’t get anything unless you’ve got something to give.

Moorer: Exactly. Yes, sir. Well we’re doing our best. We’re finished with the Senate now. We’ve got the House Appropriations Committee and then the Armed Services Committee.

Nixon: Just make the point—

Moorer: Yes, sir.

Nixon:—that those who cut the budget will destroy the chances for reduction of armaments, or limitation of armaments, and for peace.

Moorer: Right, sir.

Nixon: Okay.

Moorer: Well we’ll lay it on them as hard as we can.

Nixon: All right. Thank you, Admiral.

Moorer: Again, thank you, sir.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of a Conversation between Nixon and Moorer, White House Telephone, Conversation No. 44–92. No classification marking. The editors transcribed this tape recording specifically for this volume.
  2. On March 29, Nixon addressed the nation regarding Vietnam and domestic problems, devoting a portion of his remarks to defending the military and the defense budget. For the full text of Nixon’s address, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1973, pp. 234–238.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 7.