139. Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), and President’s Assistant (Haldeman), Washington, June 11, 1971.1 2
Nixon: Now, the Brazilians are fighting us because of some fishing thing. They say our relations are the worst in fifty years. I don’t believe that. It can’t be that poor.
Kissinger: No, no.
Nixon: They’re still coming up for their trip, aren’t they?
Kissinger: Yeah. But, we haven’t treated the Brazilians right, Mr. President. They’ve—
Kissinger: Well, they have been on our side—
Nixon: Throughout, I know.
Kissinger: Throughout. They have a government—
Nixon: The only ones who helped in World War II, Bob, you know.
Nixon: Now, there’s Brazilians living in Italy. It fought well, too.
Kissinger: That’s right. And they’ve had a government which is essentially pro-U.S.
Kissinger: The two hundred-mile limit, they’re triggered into by all the other countries. They can’t be—but, they haven’t enforced it. But, State has been hacking away at them, because they’re a military government.
Nixon: Who’s our ambassador?
Kissinger: [William] Rountree.
Nixon: Well, he’ll do what we say, right?
Kissinger: He’ll do what we say.
Kissinger: But he’s just gotten there. They had that jerk Elbrick there.
Nixon: Well, let’s change [unclear]—
Nixon: That jackass.
Kissinger: And, now, Congress refuses to ratify the International Coffee Agreement, because of their two hundred-mile limit. And that’s what’s driving the Brazilians up the wall.
Nixon: Well, get the message to the Brazilian ambassador: “Forget—Don’t, don’t look at what our Congress does, but look at what we do. That, we are just the best friend Brazil has had in this office.”
Nixon: “And he’s pro-Brazil all the way. We’ll show it when we have our, our—” Why don’t you do that? Let’s—
Kissinger: That’s right.
Nixon: —tell him to pass the word.
Kissinger: And what—when they come up, Mr. President, we ought to set up some special—
Haldeman: It’s not until September?
Kissinger: We should set up some special consultation arrangement with them.
Kissinger: Of course, one of the places that has to be cleaned out is that Latin American outfit.
Nixon: You mean Meyer?
Kissinger: Meyer, and all the people below him. Meyer is just a weakling. But, this Latin American outfit is Left-wing New Deal.
Nixon: That’s right.
Kissinger: They were great Alliance for Progress men. And, the other day, when Somoza was here, Meyer told me, full of pride, that they told Somoza that if he doesn’t watch out, he’s going to have the fate of his father, and he’s got to be more liberal. Now, who the hell are we to start lecturing—?
Nixon: For Christ sakes! What the hell are we to tell him that?
Nixon: Well, hell, I [ unclear].
Kissinger: They wouldn’t tell this to Allende when he came up. Well, I’ll call Connally this morning [unclear].
Nixon: [Unclear] Well, I guess that’s—I think you’ve got to give [unclear] a call. Call in the ambassador, today, for Brazil. Tell him that we want to set up a special channel. Bring him in to shake my hand.
Nixon: How would that be?
Nixon: Is he a trustworthy fellow?
Kissinger: [text not declassified] I think the best way to do this—
Kissinger: —is to send Walters down soon.
Kissinger: He knows Médici.
Nixon: All right, fine. But—
Nixon: All right, I’d get a hold of Walters. We’ve got to go out and get that thing on that job anyway. And how is that coming? I’m sure we—
Kissinger: I think that’s set. I have to check.
Nixon: Well, we’ve got to get Christian out of there.
Kissinger: I think it’s set. But we need Walters in Paris, and he doesn’t want to leave—
Kissinger: —before the end of the year—
Nixon: Yeah. Fine. End of the year? Well, all right, here’s what you do: get a hold of Walters now and have him fly over to the Mexican—to the Brazil meetings.
Nixon: Fair enough?
Kissinger: Fair enough.
Nixon: Call in their ambassador—
Kissinger: And express our warm feelings.
Nixon: And, and—and say, “The President wants him to know that they must not—that all this—that we’re—that we—that the President feels very strongly, and he will have a special—is going to have a special emissary go down to see them.” Ok? That wouldn’t be a problem, would it? Or, even if you put it in his letters.
Nixon: All right.
Kissinger: Well, I can say something about your special interests.
Nixon: Yeah, and that I, that I, that I brought it up this morning, and that I was terribly concerned about this. I don’t want this fishing thing to get them all disturbed. That the Congress thing—just leave it alone. I consider, consider Brazil our biggest investment in the Americas.
Nixon: I think it’s good. I think if you get Walters a text of the plan, he goes down.
Kissinger: Right. I’ll write that up. [Unclear]—
Nixon: And incidentally, you know, you realize, Henry, if we get Walters in here we could use him for [unclear]—
Kissinger: Oh, Christ. We can [unclear]—
Nixon: —all over the world.
Kissinger: Oh, yes—
Nixon: And that’s what we should be doing.
Kissinger: And he could set up a network for us of—where we have trustworthy fellows everywhere. [text not declassified]
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation No. 517–4, Oval Office. No classification marking. The editors transcribed the portions of the tape recording printed here specifically for this volume. The transcript is part of a larger conversation, 9:37–10:36 a.m. Nixon, Connally, and Kissinger also discussed Brazil in Document 42.↩
- President Nixon and President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger lamented that the fisheries dispute and congressional refusal to ratify the International Coffee Agreement had soured relations with Brazil.↩