49. Message From the President's Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, October 23, 19711 2

[Page 1]

BY WIRE

October 23, 1971

To:

  • Henry A. Kissinger

FROM:

  • B/Gen. A.M. Haig, Jr.

I have again discussed with the President your schedule and its possible impact on ChiRep vote. You should be aware that I strongly made the points which you raised when this was discussed the first time around, especially the point that your artificial stopover in Anchorage would generate speculation which would be far worse than adhering to original schedule. Rogers and Bush both took exception to my analysis, but especially Rogers. He stated that your arrival time in Anchorage would make it perfectly understandable that you would wish to have a rest before proceeding to Washington. His basic argument, which the President accepted, was that your arrival just before what has now become a critical UN vote would generate speculation about US/Peking relations which was bound to have an unsettling effect on fence-sitting nations. The President accepted this argument and overruled me on the issue.

Since that confrontation, the President has talked to me twice very much aware of my stated view and what he understands must be your concerns. He suggested such things as a stopover in San Clemente or a revision of your schedule to carry you to Hawaii [Page 2]for a day or two. I have taken the position that any artificial modification of your schedule upon returning from such an important mission would be surfaced for precisely what it is. I have also made the point that he has ordered this without firm evidence that the UN vote will, in fact, take place Tuesday morning although every indication points to it as of this writing. It could happen that an unforeseen delay would occur in the vote which means that you could still arrive just before it actually occurred. The President stated that he still wished to delay for 24 hours but agreed that if there were any unforeseen delay in the UN vote that you should proceed with your scheduled arrival here on Tuesday afternoon. A further complication in this issue has been the fact that Haldeman has been away for the weekend and there is no rational way to talk to the President except in person.

I believe I have now pieced together the reasons for the President's giving in to Rogers on this issue. Apparently, Rogers contacted him immediately after your departure and insisted that he be given the same privilege with respect to the Moscow advance that you had enjoyed on the Peking advance. When the President mentioned this to me, I stated that it would be an unmitigated disaster which could not be done under any circumstances. I am not sure that the President has yet turned Rogers down, but I know he intends to do so. I was instructed under no circumstances to mention Rogers' [Page 3]approach to you. I am confident that we have given in to Rogers on the issues of your return as a sop which will enable us to take a tougher subsequent stand on the Moscow question.

Throughout yesterday's meeting on the UN, it was very evident that Rogers is attempting to again assert himself es a dominant force. This was probably triggered by both the Chal Roberts and the Sherman stories in the Washington Post. In any event, the cheap gamesmanship has reached the high point of my memory.

If you wish, I will again raise with the President the issue of not delaying your arrival. As you know, I am in complete agreement with your own views and would, of course, do what you wish in any event. Two points were used as counters to my original arguments. One was that your return time had been fuzzed up in the original announcement so that this delay would not be the source of speculation. The second was that it would be very logical for you to wish to take a rest-break after such a tiring period.

When I spoke to the President privately about my concerns on delaying your arrival time he stated that he was aware of all of my arguments and yours, but pointed out that he was taking the action to protect you from charges which would emanate from State that your trip to Peking had been at the expense of Taiwan's seat. He stated [Page 4]that you should be aware that Rogers had continued to take the position that the timing of the trip to Peking has had a deleterious Impact on the vote and since the outlook is now bleak, it is very probable that should we lose, State would launch a campaign designed to place the blame on your shoulders. Unfortunately, in this context the President is exactly right, although I am equally convinced that the realities of the situation are that your visit has had, if anything, a favorable impact on the vote and, as a minimum, the pros and cons have cancelled each other out.

I have given to the President your most recent information on the head-to-head session, the conclusion of technical arrangements, the treatment of the UN vote and the status of Mrs. Nixon. He was most grateful and delighted with all that has been accomplished under the most tedious circumstances. I have also come down hard with State on their contingency thinking with respect to the Baroody plan and believe that it is turned off completely.

I will not raise with the President again the issue of your delayed return until I hear further from you. In the meantime, I am concerned that appropriate arrangements are made for your revised itinerary to include accommodations, etc. Please keep us informed.

Finally, the President has asked me to emphasise to you in light of all the foregoing the importance of avoiding any comment to [Page 5]the press in Anchorage or elsewhere about the nature of your trip until the United Nations vote is completed. lie intends to meet with you as soon as you arrive here.

Warm personal regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1035, Files for the President-China Material, China-HAK October 1971 Visit. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. A typed notation on the message indicates that it was sent to Kissinger in Beijing via wire.
  2. Haig informed Kissinger that he had raised Kissinger's points, concerning his return to the United States, with President Nixon, Secretary of State Rogers, and Ambassador to the United Nations George H.W. Bush. Rogers concluded, and Nixon agreed, that a stopover in Alaska would be desirable. Haig also commented that Rogers was “attempting to again assert himself as a dominant force.”