223. Memorandum for the President’s File1 2


  • President’s Meeting with Robert McNamara and John Connally on Tuesday, February 8, 1972 at 3:15 p.m. to 4:20 p.m.


  • The President
  • John Connally, Secretary of the Treasury
  • Robert McNamara, President, World Bank
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Mr. McNamara: The cartoons here are impressive.

The President: I have seen cartoon collections in various Presidential libraries. Cartoons were especially influential before TV.

Let me ask you, Bob, about your trip.

Mr. McNamara: The situation is bleak. Even Ceylon is highly unstable. 14,000 young people are in prison. [That would be like 235,000 in the U.S. equivalent.] Nepal is completely dependent on India; they currently need $8–10 million in economic aid. The mood in India is bellicose and self-righteous. In Pakistan, Bhutto is the only possible leader.

The President: What should we do?

Mr. McNamara: Restoring aid won’t reduce the stress, but we must have a serious dialogue with India.

The President: We are not offended by India. But Congress is. India hasn’t had a more consistent friend than I have been. In fact a large aid program to India is not necessary.

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Mr. McNamara: I am having lunch with Jha. We must restore the $87 million aid commitment and work out the debt rescheduling. There will have to be a consortium meeting.

The President: Who should be our emissary? I am the best man to sell the Indian program. But let me ask you frankly: Is it worth normalizing our relations? Why should we give the $87 million? The $10 billion we gave them since their independence only gained us contempt and hatred.

Mr. McNamara: It would get us into a political dialogue now. It would make a difference.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, Box 87, Memoranda for the President, Beginning February 6, 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Prepared but not initialed by Kissinger. The meeting was held in the President’s office in the Old Executive Office Building. Connally also attended the meeting. The conversation was also tape-recorded. (Ibid., White House Tapes, Recording of conversation among Nixon, Connally, Kissinger, and McNamara, February 8, 1972, 3:15–4:20, Old Executive Office Building, Conversation No. 320–328)
  2. President Nixon and World Bank President Robert McNamara discussed restoration of U.S. economic assistance to India. Nixon questioned the value of such assistance for the U.S.