24. Memorandum of the President’s Meeting with the Republican Congressional Leadership1


  • Defense Procurement and MFN

President: I would like to say we owe leaders a vote of thanks. I take back things I said to the Senate. Reversing that troop cut vote2 was enormously important. I am meeting with Gromyko tomorrow3 and it would be useless if the cuts had been voted.

Griffin: Tower and Thurmond are doing a great job managing the Hill. We got some great help from the White House.

President: I called some, too. I called Long4 who usually goes along but he said he was so committed he couldn’t do it. Which way did Randolph5 go?

B:6 Bad.

Schlesinger: You are all familiar with the bill. We have two major objectives this year. (1) to avoid crippling amendments, like troop cuts for our forces overseas, and (2) to build the forces of the future. We [Page 118] must not dismantle overseas posture. Yesterday was gratifying. The vote today on the Humphrey amendment7 is of less concern.

President: What do you mean less concern? The principle is the same. If we unilaterally cut, we can’t negotiate and the Senate would be responsible. We can’t say “Isn’t peace wonderful—look at our China and Soviet initiatives and let’s reduce unilaterally.”

Thurmond: That is our position. On Humphrey, should we compromise or stonewall?

Schlesinger: The rate of withdrawal is the same, only it drops the third year. Our Europe troops must stay; it’s important to the Koreans that we keep our divisions there. So we have little room for reduction.

Kissinger: We are proposing 10–15% mutual reductions in Europe. You may say even that is disadvantageous. If we cut unilaterally it is a disaster. Whether it’s 40% over three years or 25% over two years is irrelevant. It will ruin negotiations in Europe. If it’s done in Asia it would have a serious effect on the Japanese and the Chinese.

President: The most serious effect is on the Chinese.

Tower: All these points have been made and that military force is a tool of diplomacy.

President: Who has been withdrawing forces? I know who sent them there—the Democrats, in Southeast Asia and Korea. We have brought home 500,000 from Southeast Asia and 100,000 from elsewhere, and eliminated the draft. The Democrats brought the war; we brought peace. If they want it dirty we can play it.

Thurmond: Better precise arguments and not jump on the Democrats.

President: The road to peace is not bug-out. The road to war is to be weak so we aren’t respected. If we are weak, the Chinese will desert us, the Japanese, etc.

Let’s make it clear we brought the troops home, we are working for offset, etc. Are we going to have a mutual reduction hopefully bringing peace to the world? We can’t do it if we reduce unilaterally.

Anybody who votes to make the U.S. weaker is voting for war.

Look at the intelligence. The Soviets are going all out. Make appeal on the basis of peace.

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Tower: We have made it. Now we need backroom persuasion.

Griffin: We shouldn’t overlook that yesterday Brooke, Case, Javits and Percy8 were with us.

President: Take Javits. A vote for Israel in the Senate is always 80–20. Those who would be in the biggest trouble if we reduced in Europe would be the Israelis. If we hadn’t had NATO and the Sixth Fleet in the Jordan crisis, we couldn’t have saved the situation.

Kissinger: Without NATO we wouldn’t have had a plausible deterrent in the Jordanian crisis.

President: The basic question is whether we will have the strength to negotiate reductions and bring peace. Our goal is to get reductions, peace, and bring the troops home.

I am meeting with Kirk.9 He’s a nice guy but he thinks the answer to peace is to give everyone another bowl of rice. Why did we die in World War II, in Korea, Vietnam? Only to bring peace—not for aggrandizement. Who fears the U.S.? No one.

Are we now to take away the impression which we have used and need to build peace?

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to national security policy.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 2, September 27, 1973—Nixon, GOP Leadership. Confidential. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room of the White House from 9:00 to 10:21 a.m. Other attendees included: Senators Brock, Scott, Wallace F. Bennett, Norris Cotton, and George D. Aiken; Representatives Leslie C. Arends, John B. Anderson, Barber Conable, Jr., Robert H. Michel, and William S. Mailliard; and administration officials Agnew, Anne Armstrong, Ash, Friedersdorf, Haig, Korologos, Timmons, Ziegler, Counselor to the President Bryce N. Harlow, and Executive Director of the Domestic Council Kenneth R. Cole, Jr. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)
  2. In an October 2 memorandum, Korologos informed Nixon that the Senate had rejected by a vote of 44–51 an amendment, sponsored by Senator Cranston, to the FY 74 Defense authorization bill (HR 9286) that called for a 40 percent reduction over a three-year period in the number of United States troops stationed overseas. (Ibid., White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, President’s Handwriting, Box 23, October 1973) The final legislation (PL 93–155), approved by Congress on November 5, funded an active-duty military force of 2,165,000 troops, down 68,000 from the administration’s request. The measure also authorized $21.3 billion for weapons procurement and military research in FY 74. (Congress and the Nation, Vol. IV, 1973–1976, pp. 155–157)
  3. The President met with Andrei A. Gromyko, Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador to the United States, on September 28. The record of the meeting is in Foreign Relations, 1973–1976, Vol. XV, Soviet Union, June 1972–August 1974, Document 137.
  4. Senator Russell Billiu Long (D–Louisiana).
  5. Senator Jennings Randolph (D–West Virginia).
  6. Presumably either Bennett or Brock.
  7. According to Korologos’ October 2 memorandum, on September 27 the Senate adopted, 48–36, an amendment to HR 9286, introduced by Humphrey, calling for an incremental reduction of overseas troops over a three-year period totaling 110,000. On October 1, the Senate rejected, 47–51, another amendment, originally introduced by Humphrey, that would have cut the authorization by $750 million. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, President’s Handwriting, Box 23, October 1973)
  8. Republican Senators Edward William Brooke, III (Massachusetts), Case, Javits (New York), and Charles Harting Percy (Illinois).
  9. Nixon met with Norman A. Kirk, Prime Minister of New Zealand, on September 27, 1973, from 10:38 a.m. to 11:37 a.m. A record of their conversation can be found in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. E–12, Documents on East and Southeast Asia, 1973–1976, Document 41.