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223. Editorial Note

Between 4:50 and 5:06 p.m., April 4, 1972, President Richard Nixon and President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger met with the departing French Ambassador Charles Lucet. In the course of a discussion of U.S.-French relations, the conversation turned to Italy, Lucet’s next Ambassadorial assignment. The President told Lucet, “I would appreciate your keeping in close touch” with U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin, who was “a very intelligent fellow. Not a very great social fellow, but he’s very intelligent—knows things.” He continued: “We all have an interest in a strong Italy. I mean, we really have, keeping it—keeping that country from—I mean, they’re such fine people, but just that lack of leadership. That’s what they need.” Kissinger added: “And, there may be a coup there if this chaos continues.” Nixon queried: “Who? Who would go along? The Left—?” Kissinger interrupted: “Either the Right or the Left.” The President then replied: “Well, let’s hope to God it’s the Right.” The conversation concluded shortly thereafter. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation 702–7) The editor transcribed the portion of the conversation printed here specifically for this volume.