36. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, July 28, 1973, 12:30 p.m.1 2



  • Mr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Ambassador Marshall Green, U.S. Ambassador to Australia
  • Mr. John A. Froebe, Jr., Staff Member, NSC

DATE TIME AND PLACE: July 28, 1973, 12:30 p.m.
The White House

SUBJECT: Prime Minister Whitlam’s Coming Visit

Mr. Kissinger:(Referring to the meeting he had just attended.) I have just found out what our two national security problems are. What face should we put on the President and my meetings with Whitlam?

Ambassador Green: As you have seen from my reports, we believe that Whitlam will continue in power, in spite of the fact that his party is sliding slightly. We must get along with him. He has much in common with the President — they both have climbed the political ladder, they both have a deep interest in foreign policy.

Mr. Kissinger: What does he want to discuss with me?

Ambassador Green: Southeast Asia. He also just wants to say that he has seen you.

Mr. Kissinger: I have given him one hour.

Ambassador Green: I thought it was only a half hour.

Mr. Kissinger: But we extended it to an hour.

Ambassador Green: I think we must get to Whitlam on three points: First, Whitlam has some strong ideological bents, and some bias against the use of military power. He is inclined to believe that international problems can be resolved by friendship. Second, we are in the midst of serious negotiations [Page 2] with our adversaries. If it looks to them like our friends are pulling back, it will not be of help to us in these negotiations. Third, our defense installations in Australia must be preserved. We should also give him the large picture, and impress on him the point that you stressed to me when you came back from Hanoi: that North Vietnam understands only power.

Mr. Kissinger: Will he leak?

Ambassador Green: No.

Mr. Kissinger: I don’t want to hear him going out to the press afterward with any “depths of human depravity” line.

How is Australia?

Ambassador Green: Good — but I would like to come back to Washington.

Mr. Kissinger: You are the first Foreign Service Officer I have heard say he wants to come back here. They all want to get an embassy and get overseas.

Ambassador Green: I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the President’s agreeing to this meeting with Whitlam. The matter was taking on some nationalistic overtones. Whitlam was worried that his left wing could exploit this. The timing of the decision also was good: made Whitlam sweat a bit.

The visit will show he is on good terms with the U.S., something that is still very important with Australian prime ministers. Many people come to me and tell me not to pay any attention to the Labor Party left wing. [Page 3] At the same time, we must recognize that Whitlam wants to identify more with Asia.

I would define U.S. interests in Australia as: (1) preserving our defense installations; (2) maintaining our investment and trade there (we are doing well on trade, but our investment is beginning to come under fire); and. (3) that Australia not turn inwardly, but that we both rather get together with Asian nations.

The Australian perception of the threat in Asia is on the decline. Australia has good relations with Indonesia and Japan. Whitlam and many of his party admire our normalization of relations with the PRC, our getting out of Vietnam, and our contributions to reduced tension in Asia generally.

At the same time, Whitlam doesn’t want to be overly identified with the U.S. We should have a broader relationship with Australia, one that defines a lower profile for our military installations there.

Mr. Kissinger: But don’t Australian interests make it more necessary for them to be on good terms with us than for us to be on good terms with them?

Ambassador Green: Yes... The issue of U.S. defense installations in Australia has been temporarily defused.

Mr. Kissinger: What would you recommend that I take up with Whitlam as opposed to what the President takes up with him?

Ambassador Green: I think you both should press our general world views on him.

Mr. Kissinger: Do you want to join the meetings?

Ambassador Green: Yes. That with the President as well? Will Plimsoll be sitting in on the one with the President?

Mr. Kissinger: I must check with the President on your sitting in. I don’t know whether Plimsoll will in the President’s meeting. I’ll check.

Ambassador Green: The Australian press has been after me on the effects Watergate has had on our foreign policy.

Mr. Kissinger: Do you think it is hurting us? Of course, it can’t help but hurt — but in what way as you have seen it?

Ambassador Green: It has hurt to some extent. I don’t go along with the sort of line taken up by James Michener in his “Is America Burning?”. Watergate has had less impact in Australia than elsewhere. They understand American institutions — better than we understand theirs. It has certainly had less impact in Australia than in Europe.

Mr. Kissinger: I have a hard time assessing this one.

Ambassador Green: But Watergate also hurts us in Hanoi. Others feel it hurts the Administration in Congress.

Mr. Kissinger: In Congress, definitely.

[Page 4]

Ambassador Green: You sent me a message saying that the Whitlam meeting with the President was on the tracks. I was under tremendous pressure at the time. But the position I took publicly was noncommittal. The delay in the President’s response raised a storm in Australia. Fortunately, the President’s answer came through about three weeks before the Labor Part’s biennial conference. Whitlam’s having the invitation in hand made a hell of a difference at the conference. Whitlam succeeded in turning off his left wing’s criticisms of our defense installations. The only adverse impact in this regard was on the Omega project.

I was a bit worried on not having been able to see you before leaving for Canberra last May...

I hope for a reasonably good rapport between the President and Whitlam. Whitlam should be given a good understanding of our perspectives, We should do our best to broaden Whitlam’s approach, so that he will return with a better grasp of our approach on such issues as SALT and other global strategic questions.

The PRC ambassador’s attitude has changed from when I first arrived. The Chinese even gave a dinner in my honor not long ago. The Australians love this U.S.-PRC relationship. This helps our policies in Australia generally. Dave Osbourne, when I was passing through Hong Kong on my way to Canberra, told me that in his view the PRC has three interests in Australia: wheat, keeping the USSR out of Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, and good U.S.-PRC relations.

Mr. Kissinger: The Chinese are our best NATO ally. They have the perception, but not the force.

Ambassador Green: If you can get across to Whitlam the perspective that the U.S. wants good relations with Australia… that we need good relations with our allies generally...

Mr. Kissinger: What themes should the President develop with Whitlam?

Ambassador Green: The same message. But I would suggest that the President should aim to get out of Whitlam a statement along the following lines; “I don’t have complete control over all my cabinet ministers, but I’m going to protect U.S. interests — defense installations, investments (I can’t increase U.S. investments, but I’ll protect existing U.S. investment). Please understand, though, that from time to time I must say certain things [Page 5] that are not going to be wholly palatable to you, but you should consider these to be necessary for my internal tactical needs.” Whitlam will live up to such a statement.

Mr. Kissinger: But Whitlam must volunteer this.

The President at this point has many preoccupations. He may not be on target on all questions. You and I must help him out.

(To Mr. Froebe.) May I see Marshall alone for two minutes? (Mr. Froebe left the room. )

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 910, VIP Visits, Australia, PM. Whitlam Visit, July, 1973 [1 of 2]. Secret; Sensitive. The conversation took place at the White House. Drafted by Froebe.
  2. Kissinger and Green discussed U.S.-Australian relations.