172. Transcript of Telephone Conversation1 2

P: Did I catch you while you are seeing Cabot? No, thatʼs all right, you can talk. Two things: One, I mentioned to him my conversation with Benelli. I want him to understand we will fight the new opening to the left. I want him to fight that there. I am sure of Martin but I think the others are cutting us up.

K: I agree or why would Benelli have brought that up?

P: On the Africa thing, it seems to me Ferguson and the others are convinced that we have to deal with Gowon. That heʼs powerful. Do you think so?

K: Thatʼs their view. The problem as I see it is first of all, in the press statement they already read one sentence

P: I thought that had already gone out

K: Not yet. Have to say determination because in a month it will be apparent that over a million people are dying of starvation.

P: The only problem is this. When I think of the whole business of having a meeting of these people and the rest, that we have Ferguson go along with it.

K: I am not sure we should have a White House conference.

P: I donʼt know if it will come off. Weʼve already shown enough interest. Let Norman Cousins take it up with the State Department.

K: If there is a huge amount of starvation, I want you protected. Youʼve done much

P: If they are bleeding and dying

K: Did you see the memo on Biafra I left with you this morning? I would go easy on the White House conference for at least a few days.

P: I will put that on a back burner for at least a few days. Itʼs a savage situation. I think they are going to starve them. I think State knows it and Ferguson knows it.

K: Ferguson said over 500 thousand are going to die.

P: I think they donʼt give a damn. They think itʼs Africa and thatʼs the way it will be. Bill made the practical point that we cannot do what they donʼt want us to do.

[Page 2]

K: Every hot item gets shuttled into the White House but State gets credit for all the good

P: We havenʼt had any disagreements with State offer this have we?

K: Oh, yes, everything that has been done in the past week has been done with WH pressure. I donʼt think we can do a great deal more. I would eliminate that one sentence. It looks callous. Other than that, I have no problems with it. The White House conference can go on the back burner. It might get you points with some people not normally for you

P: Strange isnʼt it? Those who usually are liberals would let Nigeria starve. They just figure that most important thing…

K: I thought you might like to know that at the meeting with the Chinese in Warsaw they have insisted on news media. Itʼs unprecedented. You know, itʼs in their Embassy. They must be scared out of their minds of the Russians.

P: I hope something happens between us. Hope no battle on Biafra with State. We have to fight ABM. Len Garment sent me a memo. Favorable and unfavorable. I talked with Haldeman and told him that they are catering to the wrong people. They are willing to tear up the society.

K: The people to whom you are appealing will not respect you for it.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 361, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. President Nixon told his Assistant for National Security Affairs, Kissinger, that he believed Special Coordinator on Relief Ferguson and others were convinced that it was necessary to deal with Major General Gowon, Chairman of the Supreme Military Council of Nigeria. They discussed the starvation crisis, and Nixon expressed his belief that neither the Department of State nor Ferguson cared.