154. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Pompidou
  • Mr. Andronikoff (Notetaker)
  • President Nixon
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Mr. Alec Toumayan (Notetaker)
[Page 477]


  • The Year of Europe

[Omitted here is discussion of matters other than the European security conference or MBFR.]

President Pompidou: [Omitted here are unrelated comments.] I do not think the U.S. can afford to leave Europe. You can pull out 10,000 or 20,000 GIs; this will not matter. It will be a token. It will impress some and worry some. Either the Soviet Union pushes its pawns and it can do so militarily or half militarily, half politically. Will the U.S. accept this or seek a loophole or consider that its interests are at stake? If the U.S. chooses a loophole, the figures are there to show that Europe cannot defend itself. If the U.S. decides that it is vital to act, then it will not shirk its responsibility regardless of their weight. In 1940, a French politician wrote that the French didn’t want to die for Danzig.2 No doubt many Americans are ready to say now that Americans must not die for either Paris or London. The result of not wanting to die for Danzig is that we died altogether at the time.

Dr. Kissinger: This attitude provoked the death of many countries even though it is illogical. The President has said he does not want to withdraw more than 10,000 to 20,000, but unless we make an enormous effort, Congress will want to legislate the withdrawal of 75,000 to 100,000 men by September or October. This may be illogical but it is a fact. That is why the President seeks a political basis on which he can stand against what would not be in our interests.

[Omitted here is discussion of matters other than the European security conference or MBFR.]

President Nixon: [Omitted here is an unrelated comment.] Let me give you an example, on MBFR where you feel as I do. I keep dangling this in front of Congress to keep them from cutting funds. Yet I have seen no plan that is satisfactory. It will be very difficult for any country to sit down and negotiate when the Soviet Union speaks for the entire Warsaw Pact. So it is important that you, Heath, Brandt and I talk of these things. With the Italians also, if we only knew who he is.

President Pompidou: Leone told me he will come even if there is a crisis, and there will be a crisis. On MBFR we are outside but we have an opinion. We found many good things in the latest information given [Page 478] to us by U.S. representatives. We think one must not touch national forces, for this is the beginning of a neutralization of Europe.

President Nixon: We are happy that this is the French view because this places a new restraint on some of our allies.

President Pompidou: We thought we had persuaded Brandt but recently he spoke of national forces again, and he is an independent man who does not speak lightly.

Dr. Kissinger: Not only that, but it means swapping good German divisions for bad Polish and Czech divisions.

President Pompidou: I speak of Brandt. He came from the U.S. with a good impression that he had convinced you.3

President Nixon: Of what?

[Omitted here is discussion of matters other than the European security conference or MBFR.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 26, Geopolitical File, France, Chronological File. Top Secret; Sensitive. The conversation took place in the Kjarvalsstadir. Nixon and Pompidou met for a two-day summit in Reykjavik May 31–June 1.
  2. Reference to the Free City of Danzig, placed under League of Nations mandate at the end of World War I. The Baltic port sat atop the strip of German lands ceded to Poland at the end of World War I, dubbed the “Polish corridor,” because they divided East Prussia from the rest of Germany. Poland’s refusal in 1939 to accede to Nazi Germany’s demands to return this territory, along with Danzig, to Germany led to the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 and sparked World War II.
  3. See Document 145.