336. Memorandum for the President’s File by the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig)1


  • Meeting with Chancellor Brandt on Wednesday, December 29, 1971 at 9:30 a.m.,
  • The President’s Residence, Key Biscayne, Florida2


  • The President
  • Chancellor Brandt
  • Mr. Sahm
  • General Haig

President Nixon introduced the meeting by informing the Chancellor that General Haig was proceeding to China the following day to make arrangements for the President’s February 21 visit there. The President noted that the China initiative was not a sudden whim, but rather the culmination of a long period of careful preparation, which commenced as early as 1967 when he had written an article for Foreign Affairs 3 pointing out the desirability of opening a channel of communication with 750 million of the world’s most talented people. Despite the difficulties posed by our obligation to Taiwan, continued isolation could no longer be tolerated. In ten years China will be a great nuclear power and an incalculable danger to peace should it continue to be isolated from the world community. From the outset of his Administration the President was conscious of the obligation to make an effort at least towards establishing a dialogue. Consequently, discreet approaches were made through third parties. Among others, the Government of Pakistan made known to the leader of Communist China our desire to open a dialogue. Two years of indirect contacts were maintained. Then an invitation was received for the President’s visit and Dr. Kissinger travelled to Peking in July to work out the details.

There is a substantive difference between the Summit in Peking and that in Moscow. The President had always made it clear that a visit [Page 953] to Moscow would have to be based on concrete substantive achievements which would precede the event. This occurred through the vehicle of SALT, ongoing discussions on the Middle East, trade and other specific negotiations. Furthermore, the U.S. has had years of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. President Nixon has never looked upon the Soviet Summit as an exercise in atmospherics; detailed preliminary work has been underway for an extended period. Above all, the Moscow visit could not be another Yalta where hopes were raised only to be dashed by a lack of specific accomplishments. The Peking visit, on the other hand, is distinctively different in character. The fact of the visit itself constitutes the opening of a channel of communication with the Government which has been isolated from the U.S. for a quarter of a century. There are still insurmountable differences between the two governments. It is not likely that recognition will result from the visit and, above all, no agreements will be sought at the expense of old friends. On the other hand, problems of the Pacific and future confrontations there might be avoided by talking about the problems. An overriding truth, however, is the fact that both Peking and Washington are separated by a wide gulf both in ideologic sense and on specific substantive issues. These differences will exist for years to come just as many of the differences which existed with the Soviets in 1945 still exist today. It will take years to overcome these differences. Certainly Dr. Kissinger made no agreements during his two trips to Peking.4 It is clear, however, that the Chinese view the U.S. as no longer its major enemy. The Soviets are their greatest fear; Japan is second and very probably India in the light of recent events. The Chinese have a phobia of being hemmed in and this may explain their willingness to host a U.S. President. Asia is in a period of transition as the U.S. presence is reduced. The likelihood of Japanese rearmament is high and China fears this.

Chancellor Brandt asked about the situation in South Vietnam.

The President pointed out that the U.S. involvement, casualties and sacrifices have steadily declined. He noted that the North Vietnamese now appear to lack the punch for a decisive military victory. U.S. withdrawals will continue. The recent air raids against North Vietnam represent insurance for forthcoming U.S. withdrawals. Total withdrawal is the ultimate U.S. aim. The U.S. will soon reach a point where residual forces are required only for our prisoners of war. But the residual forces will remain there as long as Hanoi holds U.S. prisoners. The war will not be settled in Peking however since Hanoi poses a dilemma for both Peking and Moscow although it is most probable that China [Page 954] would like to be done with the war. The Soviets, however, provide major assistance. At the present time it looks like South Vietnam can survive although Laos and Cambodia remain in doubt. Soviet mischief-making continues in Southeast Asia and it appears that North Vietnam remains the main obstacle to peace.

Chancellor Brandt noted that Germany has an interest in relations with China and already has a substantial amount of trade. All this is without an official presence there. The West German News Agency man conducts Bonn’s diplomacy in Peking. At the right time Brandt will seek to normalize, also. But the Soviets are the problem. Bonn cannot appear to be playing China off against Moscow. On the other hand, Bonn does not have the Taiwan problem. The problem of two Germanies is much like two Chinas in the United Nations and this also complicates normalization. Sometime within the next six months the FRG will try to meet with the PRC in a third country to:

  • —formalize trade relations, and
  • —broaden other contacts.

Before this occurs Bonn will inform the Soviets, however.

President Nixon commented that in many respects Germany’s problem is even more difficult than is the U.S. problem. The Soviets are able to apply greater retaliatory leverage.

Chancellor Brandt said in any event nothing will happen soon. Contacts might be in Paris or in Vienna ultimately.

President Nixon noted that the PRC Ambassador in Paris is competent.5

Chancellor Brandt asked about the status of SALT negotiations.

President Nixon said that the bargaining and negotiating have been difficult and hard and that this issue goes to the heart of the security of both sides. Nevertheless, progress is being made. On the Soviet side the key question is defensive systems and on the U.S. side it is control of Soviet ICBMs. For this reason the U.S. has insisted on simultaneity. It is probable that the point of agreement could be arrived at before or by May with perhaps the final touches taking place in Moscow. In any event SALT will be on the Summit agenda. After the initial agreement, however, explorations must go beyond ABM and ICBMs, and the initial agreement will not deal with European oriented systems.

President Nixon stated that he plans to be in Peking for a full seven days and that the meetings will include extensive talks. At that time [Page 955] President Nixon plans to plumb Chinese attitudes with respect to the Federal Republic.

Chancellor Brandt welcomed this offer and indicated that the FRG would then hold off until President Nixon returns from Peking.

President Nixon added that in addition to an assessment of Peking’s attitude it is his view that the FRG must play a strong role with Japan as well as with China. The President than asked Chancellor Brandt if he had any views on the SALT negotiations.

The Chancellor stated that he had none, adding that Germany was pleased with the progress thus far.

President Nixon stated that the overall objective is to seek viable controls. Neither side can permit the other to acquire a decisive advantage. Thus much tough bargaining lies ahead. However, Berlin is a good example of what can be accomplished when the bargaining is hard and detailed.

Chancellor Brandt stated that the treaties with the Soviet Union and Poland will become an issue of great domestic debate in the FRG. While this is essentially an internal problem, his Government must hold firm to the NATO Communiqué of the preceding year which portrays both treaties “within the framework of a policy of the NATO Alliances.”6 Thus it will be depicted that these treaties are consistent with the policy of the Alliances. This should be understood clearly in the light of the discussion with the President the day before. While the FRG would not wish the allies or the U.S. to interfere, it is also essential that the German public is aware that what has been done is not in conflict with the interests of the Alliances.

President Nixon suggested that perhaps the best way to present it is in the context that the Alliances did not object but the decision is for the Federal Republic to make and the allies in turn could accept it.7

The President asked General Haig to confirm the U.S. attitude. General Haig stated that we favor normalization but the objectives undertaken by the Federal Republic must remain the Federal Republic’s business.

President Nixon stated it was now apparent that the Soviets have linked Berlin to the other treaties thus employing reverse linkage.

[Page 956]

Chancellor Brandt stated that however is an erroneous position. Of course the Soviets have always lacked human concern. The Federal Republic on the other hand has an interest in people. While the Soviets agreed on Berlin their agreement was politically motivated.

President Nixon stated this is the same kind of attitude the U.S. faces on the POW issue in Southeast Asia. In the same way the Soviets missed an opportunity for psychological gain in Germany if they had been more forthcoming on the humanitarian side. Perhaps this is the greatest achievement of the Berlin settlement. Neither the U.S. nor the Federal Republic could afford to be as calculating as the Soviets and yet the agreement is essentially a good one.

President Nixon asked for the Chancellor’s view on Brazil.

Chancellor Brandt stated that Germany has some trade and investment there, especially in the Sao Paolo area. He noted that political relations are good.

President Nixon stated that Argentina has great internal problems but also has a fairly sizeable German population.

Chancellor Brandt stated that it appears that the greatest problem is Chile and he continued by asking about Cuba.

President Nixon stated that Cuba poses a mixed bag of tricks. Castro’s influence has been reduced and he has failed economically in Cuba. Most Latin leaders recognize this. It costs the Soviets a million and a half a day and it is anything but a showcase. On the other hand Latin America is in a state of turmoil with Brazil being the greatest exception. The youth is disturbed and alienated. The Catholic Church is divided especially among the younger leadership and anyone who establishes himself as a force for change becomes a popular hero. On the other hand, Castro had mixed reception in Chile.8 The people there are beginning to recognize that Allende hasn’t solved their problems. Peru is a somewhat different case. Velasco wants to set his own course while Castro seeks to be the inspiration for revolution. He remains alive and mischievous but his appeal has dropped. Another point of concern is the fact that Peru is pushing for reevaluation of the OAS view on Castro. The U.S. and Brazil are opposed and in fact the U.S. must continue to oppose Castro until he stops the troublemaking against his neighbors. What Castro does in Cuba is his business. When he resorts to exporting revolution, then the U.S. must be opposed. The same policy would apply to Allende. When he goes abroad, then the U.S. must be affected and must object. Expropriation is a case in point. Brazil is also [Page 957] a good counter balance. Its leadership does not meet our democratic standards. On the other hand, the Brazilian leader9 has been good for Brazil and we continue to maintain that if he takes no foreign policy actions against us, then what he does is acceptable. There are some that take the contrary view. Those who are opposed to Right Wing or military regimes seldom take exception to Leftist regimes. If it is a Greece or a Brazil, they become targets. All this constitutes is different standards of morality. In final analysis, however, great nations must recognize the limits on their ability to change the internal affairs of a country. This is true in Greece, Brazil, and Indonesia in the Pacific. President Nixon recalled the situation in October in South Vietnam when people were clamoring for a cutoff in aid to President Thieu because of his election practices. At that time the President stated that if he applied these standards to other nondemocratically installed nations, then 70% of all U.S. aid would have to be terminated.

Chancellor Brandt stated that he used the same kind of argument with the German foreign policy.

President Nixon agreed pointing out that a parallel exists in the case of his China trip. Many claim that the U.S. is meeting with its enemies. The answer is simple. China has been an enemy but it is there and the question is whether we talk or fight. Conversely should the U.S. overthrow a Greek regime just because it is reactionary. It is essential that the world be looked at as it is and not within ideological biases. Policies of this kind do not indicate a lack of understanding. They do indicate a facing up to problems as they are. Just as Chancellor Brandt wishes to change the game in Central Europe, President Nixon seeks to change the game in Asia. It doesn’t make sense to just dig in and stay intransigent. President Nixon recalled Dean Acheson’s writing in the book “Present at Creation” where he revealed two types of diplomacy. One the idealistic and the other brought about the realization that we were not present at creation and therefore must live with the world we have. The need is to ease tensions and to seek ways to lessen the dangers. If a leader fails to make the effort during his tenure, what has he accomplished.

Chancellor Brandt agreed noting that recognition of facts is not necessarily support of them or acceptance of them. Further, neither leader could afford to underestimate his potential influence on more advanced segments of the Communist word.

President Nixon stated that John Foster Dulles reiterated that minds that can understand the atom must also be able to perceive the fallacies of Communism. Over time the human mind will see the light. [Page 958] This is why trade can be helpful. When those within the Communist system observe the free world, they cannot but question their own system. Anyone who has been to Eastern Europe sees what the system means. Dulles referred to it as the “East of change.”

Chancellor Brandt stated that this was absolutely correct.

President Nixon stated that the Communist Bloc and especially the Soviet Union are dominated by tough leaders. On the other hand they are fifty years behind in meeting the demands of their consumers.

The conversation then turned to driving conditions in West Germany which President Nixon stated were bad since German drivers move at too fast a speed. This also is a problem in the U.S.

Chancellor Brandt stated that they have been trying to solve the problem by imposing speed limits but without substantial luck.

President Nixon stated that it was perhaps the quality of the German automobile.

Chancellor Brandt noted that the Chinese had just purchased six new Mercedes 600s, perhaps in time for the President’s visit.

Chancellor Brandt asked President Nixon if he intended to visit other locations in Russia besides Moscow.

President Nixon stated that he did intend to visit other locations so that he could see the different peoples of the Soviet Union.

Chancellor Brandt noted that in Moscow he observed great differences between the older women and younger women. The older women were in the traditional mode but the younger women had picked up some of the modern styles.

At this point, President Nixon, Chancellor Brandt, General Haig, and Mr. Sahm were joined by Secretary of State Rogers and Foreign Minister Scheel. Secretary Rogers stated that concerning the European Security Conference, there should be no firm schedule on such a meeting, and it should not be considered until after the Protocol in May or June, and also until after the Ministerial Meeting on May 30–31. He stated that the initial meetings could occur as early as perhaps September or October, with further discussions in the Spring of 1973. Foreign Minister Scheel agreed that it would be difficult to fix a schedule for the actual convening of a European Security Conference at this point.

President Nixon stated that the best he could assess at this point was that the Conference would focus on political and economic issues.

Chancellor Brandt stated that there would have to be some improvement in political coordination and organization before a Conference could be convened. Foreign Minister Scheel stated that it was essential that a summit be held with the new European Economic Community and that the role of the United States be defined with [Page 959] respect to the European Community on economic matters. Secretary Rogers stated that maybe this could occur in August or September. Chancellor Brandt stated that that was too soon, since the Olympic Games would be hosted in Munich in August.

President Nixon stated that he would like to see the Games, but that in any event, it is essential that the European Security Conference be kept in clear focus. It is obvious that the Soviets want such a Conference, but within the United States—especially within the Congress— there is a great tendency to assume that the Conference itself would be tantamount for justification for mutual balanced force reductions, noting that many seek to give this impression. It also tends to build expectations for unilateral U.S. reductions. For this reason, it is essential that the planning prior to the Security Conference be complete and detailed, and that no hopes be raised that it can be a substitute for continued essential defense sacrifices. In essence, the European Security Conference is a misnomer. The United States does not believe that hardware can be given for software. Therefore, all of the allies must move in the most deliberate fashion, express a willingness to discuss the issue with the Soviets, but, above all, achieve complete alignment of views among the Western allies before entering into any kind of a Conference.

Secretary Rogers stated that the Soviets now do not seem particularly interested in mutual balanced force reductions. German Foreign Minister Scheel agreed, but stated that with perhaps Soviet intentions to link force reductions with the European Security Conference and to have such a Conference serve as a substitute vehicle for achieving their end.

Chancellor Brandt said that all the governments must have a forum to express their concerns and their hopes. The European countries wish to raise the Brezhnev Doctrine, the issues of sovereignty, etc.

The Romanian said he would feel safer if such a Conference were held. Thus, many of the Eastern European states hope to achieve additional security from it by obtaining a principle for the renunciation of force or some other type of reassurance not in terms of pure military security but rather in terms of political assurances which would lead to additional security for the Eastern states.

President Nixon stated that it is obvious that the Romanians would wish to see a European Security Conference.

Secretary Rogers added that the Scandinavians, Belgium and Netherlands are also interested.

Foreign Minister Scheel stated that even France was somewhat interested since they wished to ease the independence movement in Eastern Europe.

Secretary Rogers stated that this is what the United States would seek out of such a Conference.

[Page 960]

Chancellor Brandt stated that the mutual balanced force reduction issue in his view is a matter which the Soviets are interested in but haven’t had sufficient time to study. The Soviets are also aware that the French are strongly opposed to balanced force reductions but he wondered about the status of the Brosio visit to Moscow.10

Foreign Minister Scheel stated that the Soviets have not replied to the Brosio initiative. He knows that when he asked about it in Moscow the Soviets had stated that this was not a problem, especially with respect to Brosio’s known views, but rather the Soviets were delaying because they were not sure themselves what their own views would be on MBFR. Secretary Rogers stated that the U.S. had been unable to get a commitment from the Soviets on the issue. Foreign Minister Scheel stated that Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko had raised the issue of MBFR with him over a year ago and even referred to asymmetrical reductions. At that time, Gromyko was interested in getting MBFR discussions started if only in a symbolic sense. Secretary Rogers replied that since that time, however, the Soviets had said nothing. Secretary Rogers stated, in any event, it is not a problem that has to be faced for a while. Foreign Minister Scheel stated that MBFR is a long time political problem which will continue after his retirement.

President Nixon stated that the talks in Key Biscayne thus far have been very helpful, and he noted that he and Chancellor Brandt have covered China, European problems, FRG and U.S. relations, and that on the whole, these relations were excellent.

Secretary Rogers confirmed that the counterpart sessions with the Foreign Minister and himself were equally productive.11 Foreign Minister Scheel then noted that the President and certainly Secretary Rogers should come to Munich for the Olympics. President Nixon noted that he had been there in 1956 at the time he was working on the Hungarian refugee problem. Chancellor Brandt stated the British Queen and the Shah of Iran would be among their honored guests and that President Nixon should seriously consider joining the group.

President Nixon then referred again to reverse linkage on the Berlin Agreement and the Soviet/Polish Treaty, noting that the Soviet position lacked humanitarian concern. Secretary Rogers asked whether [Page 961] the Soviets might change their position. Chancellor Brandt stated that he was not sure; he thought so but that, in any event, he looked for ratification of the treaty sometime in May and hoped that there would be improved transit to East Berlin by Eastertime, so that the reverse linkage problem may ultimately be finessed. Foreign Minister Scheel stated that the Soviets had not been particularly intelligent about this issue. He had raised it with Gromyko in Moscow12 and Gromyko had informed him that Brezhnev had his reputation intertwined with the Moscow treaty and, therefore, they had to be secure with respect to its ratification. Secretary Rogers stated that the problem was that they had moved from a position of no linkage to reverse linkage and that, in effect, this helped us.

The group bade farewell and President Nixon issued instructions for the departure ceremony and the movement of the Chancellor and his party by helicopter back to Sarasota.13

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, Box 87, Memoranda for the President, Beginning December 26, 1971. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only.
  2. For the German record of the meeting, see Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1971, Vol. 3, pp. 2008–2019. For memoir accounts, see Kissinger, White House Years, pp. 965–967; and Brandt, People and Politics, pp. 302–308.
  3. The article, entitled “Asia After Vietnam,” appeared in the October 1967 edition of Foreign Affairs, pp. 113–125. See also Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. I, Document 3.
  4. Kissinger visited Beijing in July and October 1971.
  5. Huang Zhen, who in May 1973 became the first director of the Chinese Liaison Office in Washington.
  6. For the text of the final communiqué issued at the NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels on December 4, 1970, see Department of State Bulletin, January 4, 1971, pp. 2–6.
  7. Kissinger described this exchange in his memoirs as follows: “[Brandt] expressed his gratification at NATO’s support for his Ostpolitik. Nixon frostily corrected him, saying that the Alliance did not object to the policy. But the Federal Republic had to make the decision and accept the responsibility.” (Kissinger, White House Years, p. 966)
  8. At the invitation of Chilean President Salvador Allende, Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro arrived in Santiago on November 10 for an official visit; the trip, which lasted until December 4, was Castro’s first abroad in nearly 8 years.
  9. General Ernesto Geisel.
  10. During a meeting at Brussels in October 1971, NATO Deputy Foreign Ministers appointed former Secretary General Manlio Brosio to explore in Moscow the possibility of mutual and balanced force reductions (MBFR). The Soviets did not respond to Brosio’s request for a visa and refused to negotiate with a single NATO representative.
  11. Memoranda of conversation for the session on December 28 are in National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 686, Country Files, Europe, Germany (Bonn), Vol. X. A memorandum of conversation for the session on December 29 is ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 28 GER B and POL EUR E–GER W.
  12. Scheel was in Moscow November 25–30 for meetings with Brezhnev, Kosygin, and Gromyko. For the text of an announcement on the visit, issued by the West German Foreign Office on December 2, see Texte zur Deutschlandpolitik, Vol. 9, pp. 241–244.
  13. For the text of remarks exchanged between Nixon and Brandt at the end of the meeting on December 29, as well as the text of the joint statement issued on the same day, see Department of State Bulletin, January 24, 1972, pp. 96–97.