31. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

P: Hello

K: Mr. President.

P: Hi Henry how are you?

K: OK. I know you called me earlier but

P: No, I just called but I didn’t—it was just something that I’d worked out with Al. It was nothing. It was on nothing of importance.

K: Right. Well, I’ve had lunch with Dobrynin and at least that part of our foreign policy is. . . .

P: Still alive, huh? (Laughter)

K: Because we’ve got—we are working on next year’s summit.

[Page 138]

P: Right. I noted in the summary of course, the fact that they did test their first successful MIRV. It shows why they are against the MIRV ban.

K: Well we are making some progress from the result that they have tested the MIRV. They shall have to take a different. I think it’s already foreseeable.

P: Well with Dobrynin at least it was still cordial.

K: We’re already plotting out the elements of an agreement. Of the series of agreements we’ve now begun to make a breakthrough on SALT. At least a breakthrough to indicate how it might go and we’re talking about MBFR. Of course, I am convinced Mr. President we will have that European declaration no later than early next year and in many ways it will be better for us next year than this year.

P: Yes. You haven’t heard from the British yet?

K: No, but we can’t until Heath comes back from Ottawa.

P: Yes.

K: We had another bit of a discussion yesterday with their Chargé. Because they briefed all the other Europeans when Burke Trend was in here and didn’t tell us ahead of time and wouldn’t even tell us afterwards what they had said so I demanded the briefing and then they said they would do it on a one time basis but they didn’t feel obliged to tell us what they discussed with the Europeans. So now I’m cutting them off from intelligence special information they are getting here. I mean if they are going to share everything with the Europeans we can’t trust them for special relationship. I am putting it on the basis that we are reassessing all liaison relations. I am not doing it from the White House, I’m having the Agency heads do it.

P: Yes. Well, who do you think is up to this? Who is playing this game?

K: Well, you know he has these tacky tendencies Mr. President and he—I think he is trying to take a free ride on us in getting into Europe.

P: Yes.

K: I think they’ll come around but they are going to be tough because they will want to steal deGaulle’s line from the French. It was a horrible mistake that we pushed them into Europe. We didn’t do it.

P: Yes. It was never my idea. But nevertheless.

K: And they are doing that now with the same single-mindedness that they pursued the special relationship with us before.

P: I think they’re determined if they are going to be in Europe, they want to wheel Europe and that is it and they don’t want us to wheel in.

K: Yes, but if that is what they are going to do there is no sense in arguing them the information which they then can market in Europe. We are better off doing it directly.

[Page 139]

P: Sure. No special relations. Correct. They’ll have the relation with the French.

K: That’s right.

P: With them and a few others.

K: (Laughter)

P: That’s all right. It is just part of the international game.

K: Oh no. This is. . .

P: It is a passing thing.

K: That is a phase where we just have to show our teeth. Absolutely confident.

P: Right.

K: You already see articles in the European press saying now they think the Declaration of Principles is a good idea. Where three weeks ago they were picking on it all the time.

P: Yes. Look. The main thing is as far as we’re concerned though let’s not be too eager. We are not eager with them, we are not eager with our Chinese friends. Understand?

K: That’s right.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to U.S.-European relations.]

P: Yes. Well, that’s all right. I just feel that sometimes we tend to. . . It’s hard to you know, to sort of pull ourselves up by the bootstraps all the time with some things we are going through here but dog gone it we—with the Europeans. . . My attitude is so what—if they want to play this kind of a game. Fine. You know. Henry, you could find—I mean I wouldn’t like it to happen to Europe but there are worse things than the American/Russian condominium now. Let’s face it.

K: Mr. President, the Europeans will be on their knees by the end of this year. They cannot do without us. All they have to understand is that they can lose us.

P: That’s right because you see. . . You talk about these forces for Europe and that sort of thing but Good God, I mean what the hell are the Europeans going to do when you say—each of them on their way to Moscow. Now what in the hell do you think Brezhnev wants with Pompidou?

K: They’ve been taking us too much for granted.

P: That’s right. We’re going to have. . . That we have to stay, that we need them and that we’re going to maintain the rein and so forth. All right, we don’t have to stay Henry. We just don’t have to necessarily. You understand that?

K: I couldn’t agree more.

P: Let me say, we do have to stay in Japan and Korea but that’s a different thing.

[Page 140]

K: Well, I think we have to stay to some extent in Europe but. . .

P: No, nobody even in Europe—I would play a different line and say all right and that means. . . It’s up to you, you can’t have a free rein, they are not going to confront us and have us stay now. That’s all there is to it.

K: They cannot exclude us from their deliberations and expect us to give them an undiluted nuclear guarantee. That just cannot be.

P: That is right.

K: But it is certainly not going to come to that point.

P: Right. Right.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to U.S.-European relations.]

  1. Summary: Nixon and Kissinger discussed the U.S.–UK special relationship and the EC response to the Year of Europe.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 21. No classification marking. The conversation ended at 3:26 p.m. Nixon was at Camp David; Kissinger was in Washington. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) During an August 9 talk on U.S.-French nuclear issues, Kissinger told Schlesinger: “The British are behaving shitty. If they know we have another option, they might buck up. The Brits helped draft the nuclear agreement and now won’t help defend it.” (Memorandum of conversation, August 9; Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 2) Kissinger engaged in detailed discussions with UK officials during the negotiation of the U.S.–USSR Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War. (Memorandum of conversation, March 5; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 62, Country Files, Europe, General, UK Memcons (Originals), January–April 1973 (2 of 2); and Memorandum of conversation, April 19, ibid., January–April 1973 (1 of 2))