4. Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, February 3, 1973.1 2

Kissinger: I bet [John A.] Scali would be--will be some experience up there. [laughs]

Nixon: I was so amused when I was talking to Heath at the dinner, at the White House dinner. I said, “Are you”--It’s one of the few times I [unclear]. I said, “By any chance, would you be coming over, to speak to the U.N. sometime.” [Unclear] He said, “Frankly, I abhor the place so much that I just can’t bring myself to come.”

Kissinger: [laughs]

Nixon: Goddamit the British are sick of the U.N. What’s turned them off on it so much?

Kissinger: Well, on all these racial problems, all their African problems, and then at Suez. It’s always that double standard.

Nixon: It just--Just remember, I will never go before them again.

Kissinger: No.

Nixon: I’m not going to do it.

Kissinger: No.

Nixon: Even with Scali there and all the rest. I mean, I wouldn’t do it even with [George H.W.] Bush. They don’t care who’s there. The U.N., now, that’s the job of the Secretary of State--

Kissinger: And, actually, they--you were there twice and they treated you really--

Nixon: I was snubbed both times. Basically, not only--not only by the membership of the U.N., but also, let’s face it, by the damn Secretariat.

Kissinger: Oh--

Nixon: The whole staff. Remember how they treated us?

Kissinger: Well, it was--

Nixon: Waiting around.

Kissinger: Well, that U Thant said he couldn’t greet you at the door because he was at the...

Nixon: At some meeting--

Kissinger: ...at the dinner of the Pakistan ambassador. It’s an outrage. And then this idea, well, you don’t know whether the [unclear] are made to sit on the floor listening to Haile Selassie speak. I mean that’s just ridiculous.

Nixon: Yeah, sitting there and everybody--nobody got up when we came in, anything like that. I think with the U.N. just a cool detachment is what is required now. I gave a 25th anniversary dinner for ambassadors.

Kissinger: Oh, yeah.

Nixon: And we’ve done everything. I’ve gone the extra mile, but they say I haven’t--

Kissinger: And you spoke to them twice--

Nixon: I want you to have, incidentally, a talk with Scali soon.

Kissinger: Right.

Nixon: Before he gets up there, and to tell him: “Now look, John, there’s one thing understood, that you can in no circumstances count on: Your job at the U.N., your work -- I mean you’re going to have to work with us and so forth and so on, but the president is not going to be available to go to the U.N.”

Kissinger: Right.

Nixon: Not in this term. We’ve done it twice now. And I don’t want him to--you know what I mean? [Kurt] Waldheim will be after us to come up for something or other, or now this is a special deal and how about coming? Henry, I think the U.N.--I think the American public now is getting really pissed off at it. And I think what was the straw that broke the camel’s back--

Kissinger: Was this.

Nixon: --was this hijacking

Kissinger: Oh, this hijacking?

Nixon: [Unclear] go on. You know, they don’t even--

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: --support us on hijacking.

Kissinger: Yeah. Yeah.

Nixon: The right of liberation, I think also their figures would support us in Vietnam you know.

Kissinger: Well, also the way they jumped up and down when Nationalist China was evicted.

Nixon: That was a horrible thing--

Kissinger: That was revolting.

Nixon: Remember how they danced?

Kissinger: It was revolting.

Nixon: Oh, yeah. A bunch of apes. Well--

Kissinger: Right.

Nixon: Have a good time in New York. When are you going to go?

Kissinger: I’ll go about 3:30, 4 o’clock.

Nixon: Where? You’re going...

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Oval Office, Conversation No. 840–12. No classification marking. The editor transcribed the portion of the conversation printed here specifically for this volume. The transcription is part of a larger conversation, 12:12–1:20 p.m. The portion of the conversation prior to that published here is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–15, Western and Eastern Europe, 1973–1976.
  2. Nixon and Kissinger discussed their attitudes concerning the United Nations and the general lines of policy they wished Ambassador-designate Scali to promote.