211. Editorial Note

President Richard Nixon met with former Italian pharmaceutical industry executive Baron Guido Zerilli-Marimo and Alexander Butterfield and Ollie Atkins of the White House staff between 12:23 and 12:39 p.m., June 11, 1971, for a discussion of the situation in Italy. During the course of their conversation, Zerilli-Marimo told the President: “We have a problem in Italy with your Embassy.” Zerilli-Marimo elaborated: “You have a wonderful Ambassador there, this Martin. He’s an excellent gentleman. I’m sure he’s a man of high integrity.” Nixon replied, “Right, right, right,” and Zerilli-Marimo continued: “And quite a good officer of the career diplomacy, and so on. But, he’s not what—what we need in Italy.” Nixon asked whether a “stronger man” was required. Zerilli-Marimo agreed and added that the President needed “a man who has more energy, who has more ability to make judgments.” Zerilli-Marimo believed that U.S. Ambassador to Italy Graham Martin was “an old man, but not old by age.” Due to the deaths of his two sons, Martin was “old by spirit” and “very sad all the time.” Zerilli-Marimo added that Martin had “no contacts.” According to Zerilli-Marimo, an Ambassador “should have friends; he should have people who tell him how things are; to investigate,” as was the case when James Clement Dunn was the Ambassador to Italy (1947–1952). Nixon agreed with Zerilli-Marimo’s assessment of both Martin and the Italian political situation. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation 517–10)

At 2:40 pm that afternoon, Nixon met with Assistant to the President H.R. Haldeman and President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger, to whom he relayed the details of his conversation with Zerilli-Marimo. The President commented, “But I do think that we need a more vigorous man in Italy. A guy that is outgoing.”

Kissinger: “I’ve come to that conclusion, too.”

Nixon: “Henry, the trouble with Martin is, of course, the trouble with most of the State Department. They’re—I think Zerilli put his finger on it. He says, ‘An old man, not in years, but in spirit.’”

Kissinger: “Now, that’s true.”

Nixon: “And that’s what you’ve got. They’re all washed-out, Bob.”

Kissinger: “Martin is on your side, strangely enough, on substance—”

Nixon: “Oh, he is.”

Kissinger: “—but, but he suffers from the other defect of the State Department, which is low energy.”

Nixon: “That’s right.”

Kissinger: “I mean, he’s not disloyal, but he has no energy—”

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Nixon: “No, no, no, no, no. I wish—as a matter of fact, Martin would be a fine guy on the board of one of these damn banks.”

Kissinger: “Yeah.”

Returning to the topic of Martin several minutes later, Kissinger suggested “at the latest, after the December Presidential election, we ought to get him out of there.” (Ibid., Conversation 517–22) The editor transcribed the portion printed here specifically for this volume. Nixon had previously discussed Henry Tasca, U.S. Ambassador to Greece, as a replacement for Martin in a March 25 conversation with Greek-American industrialist Tom Pappas and Attorney General John Mitchell. The tape recording of the discussion is ibid., Conversation 473–10. Martin left post in April 1973.