354. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to Bruce Kehrli of the White House Staff1

SUBJECT

  • Ulster

In your memorandum of July 24th,2 you note correctly that the Ulster problem is becoming a difficult political issue and asked what, if anything responsible, could be done. The answer is a simple “nothing.” I can conceive of no more self-defeating initiative than to move one inch beyond our current policy. Thus far, we have avoided a hornets’ nest by confining ourselves to saying that we are concerned about the Ulster tragedy, welcome all responsible efforts to stop the violence, and would consider playing a “useful role” if asked, at the same time emphasizing that it would be “inappropriate and counter-productive” to intervene in any way.

The wisdom of this course is that it keeps us on good terms with the British who insist Ulster is an internal affair and, perhaps even more importantly, keeps us on good terms with the Irish Government which also has no desire to benefit from U.S. meddling. The very fact that U.S. Catholics are heartened by our domestic policies on abortion, busing and aid to parochial schools should more than compensate for a lack of do-goodism on the Ulster problem.

In a domestic sense, there is no way that we can “out-Kennedy” Kennedy on this issue and before the campaign goes very long, McGovern will be way out in left field. Therefore our best posture in the post-Vietnam climate is the overriding need to keep out from the [Page 1035]foreign policy point of view and I think, quite frankly, to let McGovern and his supporters get out on a limb from the domestic point of view. Only then should we consider sawing the limb off.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 694, Country Files—Europe, Ireland. Secret.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid.)