156. Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), and Secretary of State Rogers1 2

Rogers: I don’t believe there’s any difference of views on anything. I would just like to express some of my own thoughts on that. First, it seems to me we should engage in the maximum diplomatic efforts to do everything we can to caution restraint on both sides at the highest level always so that everyone can look at the record and see that we have done everything we can diplomatically. Secondly, I think that our relations with Yahya are good and should continue to be good and we should continue to keep very close to him. Three, I don’t think we should try to mastermind a political solution. I never thought so. I don’t think it’s possible, and I think he is coming to the conclusion that something has to be done politically.

Nixon: Yahya do it on his own?

Rogers: He is going to have to do it on his own.

Nixon: Do you agree with that?

Kissinger: Completely.

Rogers: Now, he is—

Nixon: As a matter of fact, when the foreign minister was in here, he seemed to me, I didn’t get too specific, but he seemed to be awfully reasonable on that subject.

Rogers: Well let me say that I think he’s going to be forced to do something, either that or he’s going to get out. There is a possibility he would turn over to Bhutto, which would not be a good development.

Nixon: Bhutto!

Kissinger: But he’s planning that anyway. [unclear]

Nixon: Turn over to Bhutto?

Rogers: Well, he says he is, but I’m not so sure. I have a feeling that if he can pull this out that he may stay in some capacity. But in any event, I think that the thing we have to face up to, and not make any decisions, so this is not to ask you to decide anything, but I think, I want to express my view that I think that it’s probably going to get worse. I don’t see any solution for—so that I think that our principal objective should be to do what we can to prevent fighting from breaking out.

Nixon: Let me ask this, just 1 minute to bring me up to date. I saw the morning papers and the morning report. To what extent are they fighting now? They had a jet fight, I understand. That doesn’t mean that there’s a damn war going on.

Rogers: Well—

Nixon: Are there—do the Indians deny still that they had divisions in there?

Rogers: Yes, yes. And I think maybe that they don’t have divisions but they certainly have brigades. And they’ve got people in there—

Nixon: It’s like North Vietnam still denying they are in South Vietnam.

Rogers: And it’s true there is one building, a major penetration. And in two other areas it looks as though there is penetration. No one is exactly sure. But I have no knowledge. It’s tough to tell them apart, of course, because they’re with the guerrillas. Now—

Kissinger: The guerrillas, the guerrillas have been operating with brigade strength with artillery support and air support and tanks. So even if they’re technically—I mean, this doesn’t just happen [unclear exchange].

Rogers: The question really is how, how much are they involved and how [unclear] will they say, and so forth. My own judgment is that they are going to get more involved. Secondly, I think that we have to face the fact that Yahya’s position militarily is extremely weak. He’s got 60–80,000 men in East Pakistan. He has a whole lot of trouble—

Nixon: He’ll be demolished there.

Rogers: Yeah, and that’s, of course, where the fighting is going on. And it’s a 2,500-mile flight around the edge of the land. So that the logistics, you know, are impossible from that standpoint. And the, as I say, my own judgment is that probably it will get worse, and probably we have to face up to the fact that it will get worse.

Nixon: [unclear] avoid getting too much blood [unclear]. We’re not really responsible for every war.

Rogers: Oh, we’re not getting the blame so far.

Nixon: What is our [unclear] so far?

Rogers: No.

Nixon: You’re responsible even more than we were, very much for this, don’t you think so, Henry? [unclear exchange]

Rogers: I think that’s what we should continue to try to do since [unclear]. I think the other thing that I want to stress [unclear]. Our ability to affect the course of events is quite limited. We don’t have much leverage. We have a few things we can do. We are still providing some military equipment and spare parts, and it’s not lethal weapons, but it’s very, very insignificant. Our aid program is pretty well committed. Theoretically, we could turn some of it off, but it would create all kinds of legal problems. Hell of a problem with banks and companies that [unclear] equipment. And it wouldn’t have any effect on the military situation at the moment. Whether we should take some actions that would be symbolic or not I think is something you won’t [will?] decide. We could take some action. For example, I already have told my people administratively not to grant any export licenses. Not just say that [unclear] process them.

Kissinger: To whom?

Nixon: India?

Rogers: To diminish the total.

Kissinger: [unclear]

Rogers: Oh, no, no, no. Just said to the processing officer to slow down the processing. As of yesterday but don’t grant them until we decide, until the President decides what he wants to do. Secondly, I have told our AID people that there’s another, there is about $11 million not committed. I said “let’s don’t commit it till we see what develops.”

Nixon: Where is this [unclear]?

Rogers: But the fact of the matter, without going into all the details, that I have gone over very carefully [unclear] some of which we don’t know, some of these things are done by the Congress, and some are done by the [unclear], you know all that, but still the leverage we have on India is very minimal. If we take some action against them, which you might decide to do, it would be symbolic rather than substantive. Now the other point I want to refer to briefly is the United Nations. I do not think, and have never thought, that we should take any action to take it to the United Nations. On the other hand, I think the United Nations will be a very useful organization if things get worse, because, and I have a feeling that Pakistan will come to this conclusion itself—

Nixon: Will they [unclear] beyond the UN? [unclear]

Rogers: That’s why India has just written, why Mrs. Gandhi has just written us a letter in which she urges us not to do anything, not to take it to the UN. Obviously, the Indians are worried about it.

Nixon: Huh.

Rogers: You see she doesn’t—

Nixon: Do they have the votes? Hell, they can get all the Russian votes. They got the African—

Kissinger: This is the Security Council.

Nixon: Oh.

Rogers: You see what would happen in the Security [Council]—

Nixon: I see. This wouldn’t be a General Assembly thing?

Rogers: No, no.

Kissinger: By Thursday.

Rogers: No, it wouldn’t be. The reason that India doesn’t want it is because she doesn’t want any United Nations presence. She doesn’t want any observers there. Pakistan’s position is much more reasonable than India’s. That’s why India doesn’t want—she’s made an appeal to keep it out of the Security Council.

Nixon: Well, what—we probably [unclear–have not?] got much control. I think that’s your view, isn’t Henry? The United Nations, we are not going to take it to the United Nations?

Kissinger: No.

Rogers: Well, I think what we ought to keep in mind, though, is I think on balance it will be the only alternative that Yahya has and it will be helpful to him. He wants to get through December because he’s got his plans made for this new, for this Constitution to go into effect at the end of December, first of January. If he can keep peace there for a couple of months then he may feel that he’s on the road to a political solution. What will happen in the United Nations, in the Security Council, is that they will, among other things, they will say why don’t we send a United Nations observer team to the area and make a report and so forth. Now she’ll resist that. She’s already resisted it. She said she doesn’t want the United Nations there. She doesn’t want anybody to look at what they’re doing. Yahya has the United Nations people in East Pakistan. He’s perfectly prepared for that. He also is prepared to withdraw his troops from the border if India will do likewise. So that the things that the Security Council would recommend in the way of military action and observers and so forth I think would all benefit Yahya. Now the risk, of course, is that India will also bring into the Security Council political questions. But I think that those are manageable. Of course, India will be tremendously embarrassed if it goes to the Security Council. Now I say these things, not with the thought that we should take action, but with the thought that we should resist fighting Pakistan who will move in this direction. Yahya’s told US that this is his only alternative, really.

Nixon: At this time? Has he said it recently?

Rogers: I don’t know. When I say recently I know it’s less than—

Nixon: Yeah, what I mean is since the trouble started.

Rogers: Yeah, I think this is one of the things that they are considering. And, of course, in the Security Council we would be China, Pakistan, and the United States all on one side, so we’ve got some pretty good leverage. And what we would do is emphasize keeping the peace. And we would say, “We urge both sides to exercise extreme restraint.” We would urge United Nations to send observers there to find out what the conditions are. We would urge a mutual withdrawal. We would urge the very thing that Yahya has offered. That’s why she resists this. That’s why her very strong letter to you, in order to keep it out of the Security Council.

Nixon: [unclear exchange]

Rogers: It wasn’t yesterday.

Nixon: Since the trouble started?

Kissinger: No, no.

Rogers: Oh, I guess probably I didn’t notice the date.

Nixon: That’s all right.

Kissinger: It came in on Friday.

Rogers: What’s the date today?

Kissinger: Twenty-fourth.

Nixon: Twenty-fourth.

[unclear exchange]

Rogers: [unclear] Very strong plea to keep it out of the Security Council. So I think what I would like to—

Nixon: She must have made that plea—what I’m just, the date is important. She made that plea knowing that she was going to order this attack on Pakistan.

Rogers: That’s right.

Nixon: I think. That’s my guess. She can’t, she can’t, [unclear] as you know, [unclear] without doing some directing it, without a hell of a lot of planning. So she must have known.

Rogers: [unclear]

Nixon: You know, the thing I would say, the main point I would like to do [unclear], the only thing about the symbolism, Bill, that concerns me, is that I implied when I met her, and you also talked to her about the fact that the Congress [unclear]. And I talked to her and said [unclear]. We know India has lots of friends, but I said there’s no way that Congress [unclear] with Vietnam and everything. I said there’s one thing that’s happened in this country, and it doesn’t make any difference where it is, whether it’s Nigeria, or South Asia, or anywhere else. The American Senate is [inclined] to [keep] hands off any situation where fighting breaks out. That’s their attitude. And I was very strong on that. Now I know it can be said that it won’t do any good, and we don’t have any leverage, and it’s only symbolic and the rest. But on the other hand, I want you to look into what we could do that is symbolic because I think we need some symbolism. The other thing is, which I think is very important, looking at the balance there, the Indians are going to win. And they are going to lose too. But they are going to win without any question. Pakistan eventually will disintegrate. East Pakistan [unclear] a little down the road. So it is very much in our interest to get the damn thing cooled if we can. In other words, just on the merits India doesn’t want to cool it. They want Pakistan to disintegrate. Despite what she says that’s what she wants, there’s no question about that. Now under those circumstances, it seems to me that, clearly apart from the fact that Yahya has been more decent to US than she has, clearly apart from that, I think that our policy wherever we can should definitely be tilted toward Pakistan, and not toward India. I think India is more at fault. Let me put it this way, if we could get, if the Congress could get all excited about cutting off AID to Pakistan when it involved an internal Pakistan problem—

Rogers: Yeah.

Nixon:—it seems to me that Congress should get twice as excited when it involves cutting off aid to India when India is engaged in a violent, across the border operation. Now my view is that very strongly, I mean, I didn’t frankly feel that Congress should cut off aid to Pakistan. I mean, when the country has internal problems [unclear]. Is the British thing worked out? Is that [unclear exchange]. Let’s support them on that.

Rogers: Oh, sure.

Nixon: Home should know that we will back him.

Kissinger: Well we—

Nixon: [unclear]

Rogers: Oh, yeah.

Nixon: Well I want you to know that you could let—be sure Home knows it. I told him when he was here that they had made a deal [unclear]. Now, so having said that, it seems to me that our whole game has got to be played—if you could find something symbolic to do I think it really has to be...

Rogers: Well, we can.

Nixon: She knows, she knows that we didn’t shoot blanks when she was here. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything. Second, in terms of the merits of the situation, to the extent we can tilt it toward Pakistan, I would prefer to play that. That’s where the UN game comes in. Now I would say there that if Yahya, he feels it’s in his interest, if he pushed the UN game, that’s one thing. But I couldn’t agree more with the proposition that we shouldn’t push the UN game if there’s any feeling that it might be to the detriment of Pakistan. Now you feel it’s the other way.

Rogers: You know we haven’t done any [unclear].

Nixon: I understand. Well, I know we haven’t done anything yet. But the point is what do we do now. They’re going to ask are we prepared to go to the United Nations and all that. Joe [unclear–Sisco?] talked about that today.

Rogers: Well there are two things about the United Nations that I think we should keep in mind. One, I think on balance that Pakistan will come off better than India.

Nixon: In the UN?

Rogers: In the UN—in the Security Council. Because there’s nothing you can do by way of—we can try to work out a political accommodation. That’s something that has to be done inside Pakistan. There are many things you can do to counsel military restraint. You can send people there. I’ve talked to all the UN people who’ve been out there and they’ve all been very upset about the lack of cooperation on Mrs. Gandhi’s part. She’s made, I think, a very bad impression in this country by saying that she didn’t want the United Nations presence and so forth. So I think on balance, I think they would benefit by the Security Council action. There would be some fallout that would be critical of Yahya, even Mujib, but I think that would be less important than the action that the UN would take to have a presence in India. That’s what she doesn’t want. She doesn’t want to get caught at it. She’s denying that these troops are invading Pakistan. She’s denying that they are training guerrillas and all these other things. Now if you had a presence of the United Nations, there you’d have a good answer. She will resist it. She will resist it strongly. She’s very strongly opposed to it. So I think on balance it would be helpful to Pakistan. I’ll let that be your own judgment. But where does that lead me? It just leads me to this conclusion: that we shouldn’t do anything to discourage it. I don’t think we should carry the lead. And I don’t think we should counsel [unclear] if we’re asked. I think it would be beneficial to Pakistan. And I think most people that have studied it will come to that conclusion. Secondly, I agree fully with the idea that we ought to tilt toward Pakistan. We have. My problem is I dislike the Indians so goddamn much. I had trouble even being reasonable with them.

Nixon: Right. Well, in tilting toward them for 25 years, it has only gotten US a kick in the pants.

Rogers: So, really now when you say you’re [unclear].

Nixon: How do we do it?

Rogers: Oh I [unclear] bring over here this afternoon, which you can take with you, which will suggest several ways we can take action. One would be right now we’d just announce that we’re not going to grant any more export licenses in their sales act. And that would be perfectly consistent with what we did in the case of Pakistan. It doesn’t have any, it doesn’t have any real meaning to it. But the symbolism.

Nixon: Small arms.

Rogers: That’s right.

Nixon: Spare parts. That could be done.

Rogers: That can be done. We actually could embargo everything in the pipeline. We’ve got maybe, well we may have $10 or $15 million worth in the pipeline.

Nixon: Military?

Rogers: Military equipment. But most, a lot of it is communications equipment. Some of it is tools for manufacturing ammunitions.

Nixon: Yeah. They got arms?

Rogers: We could do that. That’s quite a job if we embargoed everything. That would really be passing judgment. We did not do that in the case of Pakistan. If you remember we did not grant any new licenses. [unclear exchange] Now, we just close the pipeline off. We could, we could say that we’re not going to permit economic assistance [to be] committed, it’s about $11 million worth. It’s insignificant. I think that would be probably not a wise thing to do because we’re going to have to provide help for them for the refugees anyway. We got a lot of money, $250 million, for food and that sort of thing.

Nixon: What at the present time, though, are we doing for Pakistan? Have we got nothing going there?

Rogers: Oh, yes. Yeah, we have—

Nixon: Still, some economic stuff.

Rogers: Yeah. Oh, yes. We’ve got about, what is the total, Henry, 200 [unclear exchange].

Nixon: I guess, any action on Pakistan.

Kissinger: Well, the astounding thing [unclear] Mr. President, where the argument is made that economic assistance isn’t effective. Cutting it off isn’t effective. It’s almost the best argument against economic assistance. [unclear]

Rogers: Well, Henry, all I’ve got to say is [unclear] that it’s committed. In other words, economic assistance to India, $300 and some odd million is done in irrevocable letters and credit, so we can’t get out of that. Now on some of these contracts we had a lot of—

Nixon: At least let me see, let me see what the operative [unclear]. You know we just, I just may want to take a hard line on that.

Kissinger: We had 11 million, as Bill says, in obligated total funds [unclear]. And then we have 107 [unclear]. And then from then on it gets more difficult.

Rogers: Yeah, 380 million. The bulk of it is committed. We just can’t dicker with it.

Kissinger: In addition to that, there’s an appeal for an aid agreement that’s ready to be signed if we can drag out these arms.

Rogers: Oh, [unclear] that’s no problem.

Kissinger: And then there’s another $100 million item.

Nixon: Well I just want to see that. [unclear] It may be—

Kissinger: One point I would like to make, Mr. President, for your consideration, I agree on the UN. I’m in total agreement with Bill. I think we should [unclear] absolutely right. And it’s going to go that way. We should take then initiative if it comes that way.

Nixon: Now let’s, just on the UN thing, because I won’t be exposed to any questioning on this till Monday or Tuesday, till Tuesday of next week.

Rogers: Your press conference is on Tuesday? Nixon: I may have it Tuesday. But it depends on how much of this in the Cabinet. You may be exposed to questions and Ziegler may. Now what do we want to say about this in your opinion?

Rogers: My opinion—

Nixon: See, I don’t think you can sort of take the idea that... I don’t think you can take the idea that well the UN—a very delicate thing. A lot of people are, why the Christ aren’t we for the UN getting in? What do you think?

Kissinger: Well, we haven’t said we’re against the UN.

Nixon: I know. Well, that’s the point. What should Bill say? The same thing. What I meant is I think we’ve got to do nothing about getting in the UN. But it sort of appears that, well that’s—what do you think?

Rogers: I—

Nixon: What can you say?

Rogers: Well, I think the ideal—

Nixon: You may be put to that very soon.

Rogers: I think our position should be for the moment we’re watching developments, we’re actively engaged in diplomatic activity.

Nixon: That’s right.

Rogers: I’m going to talk, in fact, to the Indian Chargé, he’s trying to see me with some special message now. And I’ll try to see the Paks so we can say we’ve talked to everybody. And we’ve talked to the Russians. So that we can say that we’ve done all this and that kind of activity. Now, we’ve gotten a good deal of credit for that already.

Nixon: I think so.

Rogers: We’ve been very active, and we aren’t committed necessarily to either side. Secondly, on the, it seems to me we can say we’re doing this, we’re watching the situation carefully, we’re consulting with all the parties concerned. That we haven’t—that there’s no judgment on that yet. We have no decision. That we would assume that that’s something that each nation will want to consider itself, leaving the impression that that really helps Pakistan. Pakistan makes the first move and India resists, they’ll gain a good deal.

Nixon: Yeah.

Rogers: Because people will say that India must be responsible. India [unclear] the United Nations. And I think that they—

Nixon: That’s the thing that I can’t understand Bill, that Mrs. Gandhi, that she’s reading the P.R. wrong there, don’t you agree, Henry? Because they’ve resisted the UN on refugees and everything else. Pakistan has invited them in.

Kissinger: Well, their crimes are not in P.R. [unclear exchange] Well, Mr. President, it’s not inconceivable that the Indians are trying this one on because they don’t seem irrevocably committed to go in deep. They’re sort of [unclear] in nearly division strength. So, if we show at this point, not yet [unclear] irrevocable strength, I think it would be wrong to cut away now. But if we—

Nixon: [unclear]

Kissinger: We could do a number of things that warn them that something is coming. And if it escalates—

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: All we would have done is a very mild démarche to [unclear].

Nixon: There’s another reason that it just, I feel that it might have an effect. Bill, you know, I called on her after you met with her. You told her, “Now look here, you’re going to catch hell on this.” I think, I feel that we must not shoot blanks. Because I also told, well even Tito when he was here. I said [unclear] I told him much more directly when we were talking at dinner [unclear]. He was on the Indian side of course. I said, well let’s just understand one thing. I said I don’t know what’s going to happen. But if there’s a breakout of war, you can forget United States aid to India. And I feel that we ought to do something symbolic, I really feel it.

Rogers: Yeah, there’s no problem there.

Nixon: That I think something symbolic might have an effect, might have an effect, on restraining India. That—I don’t know. Many people think it won’t?

Rogers: Well, we haven’t gotten the reports back from the telegrams we sent out. I’ll see this fellow when I get back to the office. But I think what, Mr. President, maybe—

Nixon: Keating’s a traitor.

Kissinger: [unclear]

Rogers: I think what we might do is wait until Friday, this announcement on Friday that we have suspended the, issuing any further export licenses. Now that’s what we did last time.

Nixon: Let me suggest this, I think it would be helpful, Henry—Bill it’s on the list here today for Ziegler to say that this was the subject of the discussion, is that all right?

Kissinger: I think that would be very—

Nixon: We had an hour discussion on India–Pakistan and then I think we will continue to meet on Friday. In other words, we will have a whole new conversation and so forth. But that gives US time to think about it. I want to read the paper, could you have something by five o’clock?

Rogers: Oh, yeah.

Nixon: I mean that these alternatives—things are options that we can do. I won’t, as you know [unclear–do?] anything that is useless or anything.

Rogers: We don’t want to seem petulant.

Nixon: But on the other hand, very firm. That we want to be helpful. But I think, I think in anything that we say there should be a very positive statement that the United States commitment to help refugees, to help hungry people, et cetera remains. And that’s where, Henry, you can continue with this potential PL–480 to both Pakistan and India, granted so that we are feeding people there. Right?

Kissinger: That’s right.

Nixon: On the other hand, military stuff. Boy, we could be awfully tough.

Rogers: I wish we had. [unclear]

Nixon: One thing, I mention this [unclear] with SALT. I’ve mentioned this to Henry, this multilateral aid thing, we have got to get some stroke. I think that’s a study for the next 2 or 3 months.

Rogers: I couldn’t agree more.

Nixon: I just, every time we turn around and we try to fight the UN; Bill, we haven’t got any stroke with anybody.

[unclear exchange]

Nixon: World Bank

Kissinger: I don’t think they would lightly go into a confrontation with us, if we catch them early enough.

Nixon: Who?

Kissinger: The Indians.

Nixon: Now, the interesting thing is how do you both read the Russian thing? You read the Russian thing totally that they’re acting in a restraining way on India? Do you believe that?

Rogers: I do.

Nixon: Do you?

Kissinger: I think they are trying to restrain them but not very hard.

Rogers: Why?

Kissinger: Why, because there is some advantage to have [unclear] the Chinese presence.

Nixon: They want to screw the Chinese.

Kissinger: Humiliate them.

Nixon: On the other hand, well, on the other hand, it’s going to cost Russia a hell of a lot of money. I mean by a lot a great deal because they’ve got to support India in this war. And that they’re not for, are they? That’s why they ended the other one—the India-Pakistan [unclear–war?] Russia didn’t do that.

Kissinger: Well, I think the Indians are such, my reading of the Indians is that any rational assessment should indicate that there is only one way a political revolution can go [unclear]. So they know they’ve got that. But what they are pressing for is so traumatic a settlement on the East Pakistan situation that the West Pakistan situation starts unraveling also. And what they want is to reduce West Pakistan to something like Afghanistan status. And that they are the only significant country. They want to turn East Pakistan into a sort of Bhutan. And after that, I’m willing to predict [unclear]. Because East Pakistan suffers from neglect from West Pakistan. I think the Indians have a vested interest in keeping them down.

Rogers: Yeah.

Kissinger: Because if East Bengal becomes even nominally [unclear] then West Bengal is going to be attractive.

Nixon: It’s already a horrible place.

Kissinger: So they want to make sure that East Bengal is worse off than West Bengal [unclear].

Nixon: That’s right.

Rogers: I’m not sure—I think that Henry’s right. I suppose there’s a lot of that thinking. But also a lot of it is just hatred—they hate. Just sheer hate.

Kissinger: No that’s [unclear exchange].

Nixon: I think actually that both Pakistan and India hate each other so much that they are totally irrational about [unclear]. They really are. You talk to a Pakistani and get his take.

Rogers: Just like a man and wife. They hate each other and they are too jealous to care about the welfare of the children. They just hate each other.

Nixon: I don’t think Yahya’s that far.

Rogers: No, he isn’t.

Nixon: But Bhutto. Now what—really what he did is disgusting.

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: Good God. What am I thinking?

Rogers: Not helpful. He’s supposed to be, he’s more leftish than—

Nixon: Oh, he’s leftish. I know. But which way? Is he anti-India? Anti-US?

Kissinger: Violently anti-Indian. Pro-Chinese.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: But in a way we gain a lot if he comes in.

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger:—we have less obligations to—

Nixon: Bhutto might make a deal with the other fellow. Would he make a deal with this Mujib guy?

Rogers: No.

Nixon: No.

Rogers: That’s, of course, part of the trouble. The reason that—

Nixon: You ever met Bhutto?

Rogers: No. No.

Nixon: More important, have you ever met his wife? Boy, she is one of the most beautiful women in the world.

Kissinger: It depends, Mr. President.

[unclear exchange]

Kissinger: If Mujib is, if they’re thinking of a united Pakistan then Bhutto would never deal with Mujib. Because he’s afraid that Mujib will aim for the prime ministership.

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: If, however, to [unclear] Bengal, then Bhutto is in a better position to present himself than Yahya. Yahya is a better man for reconciliation. Bhutto is—

Nixon: Yahya is a thoroughly decent and reasonable man. Not always smart politically, but he’s a decent man.

Rogers: Quick note on what Henry said, and that is—if Yahya steps out of the picture,which is quite possible. That means that he’s given up on East Pakistan. Cause Bhutto can’t—

Nixon: Yeah, yeah. Bhutto basically has been—he hasn’t changed. My last report is one of my basic [unclear] in ’67 when I was there, is that the son-of-a-bitch is a total demagogue. And therefore Ayub Khan gave me a rundown on him, and he’s a pretty good judge of men, and he said this fellow is just bad news.

Rogers: Let me say, Mr. President, when you asked me what I thought the Russians were doing, I think they would like to have a major war avoided. But I agree that they are not restraining the Indians too much. In other words, they want the Indians to do much as they are doing. I think they hope a major war can be avoided. I think to that extent they help. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pull back a while on it. I wouldn’t be surprised if next week or so it cools off a little bit. But I don’t think it’s going to cool off—

Nixon: Well, let me talk to one other subject, which I think also relates to this—relates to what you, we decided on Friday. I don’t want us to get caught in this—we of course are interested in results—but I don’t want to get caught in the business where we take the heat for a miserable war that we had nothing do with.

Rogers: No.

Nixon: I think it’s very important that we do enough, that we appear to be—but I think we just got to get it across to the American people that we cannot be responsible for every goddamn war in the world. Now we weren’t responsible for the Nigerian war. We are not responsible for this war. The idea that this thing, and the refugees, and Pakistan and the rest, we couldn’t avoid that, could we?

Rogers: As a matter of fact, that’s another advantage of having the thing in the Security Council, because then it does put the heat on the United Nations, and distinguishes it from us. There’s very little we can do.

Nixon: Do you have any thought there as to how we—I think we got to, I sense these political things developing. You know, we’re doing well in several fields. But I just don’t want this thing to muddy the water. I mean, how can we avoid getting caught in the [unclear]. Now the United States—why didn’t we avoid the war with India-Pakistan?

Kissinger: The truth of the matter is, if anything produced the war, not saying we did it, was the Indians [who] see the Pakistanis in a uniquely weak position, with the world opinion turned against them. And basically there’s an opportunity they’ll never get again for at least [unclear]. So if any mistake was made it was being too hard on Pakistan. [unclear]Secondly, I think, we have a very aggressive record. Of one we haven’t backed down, first for the refugees, secondly for relief in East Pakistan, and thirdly in moving things concretely towards the political evolution. We’re the only ones that pass that test.

Rogers: Yeah.

Kissinger: We got the military governor replaced with a civilian governor. We got them to admit UN observers. We got them to permit UN peace [unclear].

[unclear exchange]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of Conversation among Nixon, Kissinger, and Rogers, Oval Office, Conversation No. 624–21. No classification marking. The editor transcribed the portion of the conversation published here specifically for this volume.
  2. Nixon, Kissinger, and Rogers discussed the implications of the crisis in South Asia and the approach to be taken in dealing with India and Pakistan.