Saturday, Oct 01, 2022

'[Indira Gandhi] Is A Bitch ... The Indians Are Bastards'

Recently declassified 'Documents on South Asia, 1969-1972' contain a wealth of information on what the then American President Richard Nixon and his assistant for NSA Henry Kissinger thought of India, and provide a fascinating insight into how the du

'[Indira Gandhi] Is A Bitch ... The Indians Are Bastards'
Recently declassified 'Documents on South Asia, 1969-1972' contain a wealth of information on what the then American President Richard Nixon and his assistant for NSA Henry Kissinger thought of India, and provide a fascinating insight into how the duo sought to play the Russians and the Chinese in those crucial days of 1971

150. Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), and the President’s Chief of Staff (Haldeman), Washington, November 5, 1971, 8:15-9:00 a.m.

Nixon: This is just the point when she [Indira Gandhi] is a bitch.

Kissinger: Well, the Indians are bastards anyway. They are starting a war there. It’s—to them East Pakistan is no longer the issue. Now, I found it very interesting how she carried on to you yesterday about West Pakistan.

Nixon: I think I’ll make the meeting today a rather brief—cool. [unclear] I don’t mean by that cool in terms of not trying to bring up [unclear] I’ll talk to her a little about Vietnam, and–

Kissinger: I’d let her talk a little more, maybe today—

Nixon: Yeah?

Kissinger: —to be a little less forthcoming. But basically, Mr. President—

Nixon: So I was trying to give her no excuses. Now I’ve talked to her, told her everything we’re going to do. Now it’s up to her.

Kissinger: While she was a bitch, we got what we wanted too. You very subtly—I mean, she will not be able to go home and say that the United States didn’t give her a warm reception and therefore, in despair, she’s got to go to war.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: So her objective—she has a right to be a little sore because you thwarted her objective. She would rather have had you give her a cool reception—

Nixon: That’s right.

Kissinger: —so that she could say that she was really put upon.

Nixon: Oh, we really—

Kissinger: And—

Nixon: We really slobbered over the old witch.

Kissinger: How you slobbered over her in things that did not matter, but in the things that did matter—

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: —you didn’t give her an inch. So that she’s—

Nixon: She knows.

Kissinger: She knows she isn’t coming out of here with any—she can’t go home and say, “The president promised to do the following for me,” and then when you don’t do it—

Nixon: Did you get across with that clown yesterday afternoon at 5:00? You went on the, that as far as the, as she was concerned that she would consider letting him—

Kissinger: Yep.

Nixon: —consult with regard to the designation. We want to be sure he understood that was the situation.

Kissinger: Right, and I fixed it in the memorandum of conversation which I’m giving him in such a way that it—just a little. I’ve made it a little more explicit.

Nixon: Now you’ve covered Rogers for long enough—

Kissinger: Oh yeah, Rogers is in good shape.

Nixon: He’s prepared to be told this?

Kissinger: Oh yes. They’ve apparently treated him personally in a way that he doesn’t like, so he’s very—

Nixon: Ha!

Kissinger: No, no. He’ll be very tough with them.

Nixon: Yeah, he’s likely to be sharper with them than I was, you know. He can do that [unclear].

Kissinger: Well, he will be personally sharper but he doesn’t like her. In substance he won’t be as tough as you—

Nixon: He’s likely [unclear].

Kissinger: —because he doesn’t know the subject so well. I mean the skill—

Nixon: You should have heard, Bob, the way we worked her around. I dropped stilettos all over her. It’s like, you know—

Kissinger: She didn’t know [unclear exchange] about the guerrillas in East Pakistan. [unclear]. One thing that really struck me, the blown up [unclear] and that takes a lot of technical training. I wonder where they got that.

Nixon: She [unclear] so fast.

Kissinger: She said the East Bengal rifles [unclear–used to?]. That’s where it came from. 

Nixon: That’s right. We also stuck it to her on that book—Henry’s book about India-Pakistan.

Kissinger: She said she studied a lot about the problems—how these conflicts started. Read a book by Maxwell, called India-China War, which is a book that in effect proves that India started the ’62 War. It was done with an enormous politeness and courtesy and warmth.

Nixon: Well I acted as if I didn’t know what the hell had happened—

Haldeman: Yeah.

Nixon: —so she couldn’t say anything. But she knew goddamn well that I knew what happened, don’t you think?

Kissinger: Oh, yeah. You stuck it to her about the press.

Nixon: On that I hit it hard. 

Kissinger: And I told—

Nixon: I raised my voice a little.

Kissinger: And I told her assistant—I told my opposite number that the thing that is really striking to us is that last year Mrs. Gandhi, during her election campaign, made official protests that we were intervening when we weren’t. And she never produced any proof. And yet every opposition candidate gets a royal reception, tremendous publicity, personal meetings. And then after you do all of this you come over here and ask us to solve all your problems.

Nixon: You told him that?

Kissinger: Oh, yeah.

Nixon: Good for you.

Kissinger: I said look at the record the last 3 months. You’ve had a press campaign against us. You put out the word that our relations are the worst ever. You get Kennedy over. You get that Congressman Gallagher over. You make a treaty with the Russians. And then you come here and say we have to solve your problems for you.

Nixon: Well if it was any—

Kissinger: But, Mr. President, even though she was a bitch, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that we got what we wanted, which was we kept her from going out of here saying that the United States kicked her in the teeth. We’ve got the film clip of this; you’ve got the toast. You’ve got the general warmth that you generated in the personal meeting. 

Nixon: I do think at dinner tonight [unclear].

Kissinger: You didn’t give her a goddamn thing.

Nixon: [unclear]

Kissinger: If you would have put on a Johnson performance, it would have been emotionally more satisfying but it would have hurt us. Because—I mean if you had been rough with her—

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: —then she’d be crying, going back crying to India. So I think even though she is a bitch, I’d be a shade cooler today, but—

Nixon: No, no. I mean, “cool” in terms of, like yesterday, as you noted, I tried to carry the conversation.

Kissinger: No, I’d let her carry it. 

Nixon: And was sort of saying, "look, we’re being as good as we can in dealing with Pakistan. What else can we do?" Today, I’m just going to say [unclear].

Kissinger: That’s what I would do. Except for Vietnam, I’d give her 5 minutes of the Tito talk because it will go right back to the Russians as well as to the Vietnamese.

Nixon: Will it?

Kissinger: Oh, yeah. They have the closest diplomatic ties now with Russia. They leak everything right back to them.


154. Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), and the Pakistani Foreign Secretary (Sultan Khan), November 15, 1971, 4:31-4:39 p.m.

Nixon: Our sentiments I expressed to your previous ambassador who—before he left, a fine man. And we talked very directly to Mrs. Gandhi. Believe me. Publicly we did all those things. But very directly, and I speak straight from the shoulder. And Kissinger, Henry, can tell you what I said. And I think you have it, do you not? So did Rogers. Rogers was very tough on it. Now, Rogers told me he saw you Monday. Now the thing we, the thing we can do is that—what we are trying desperately to do is not to allow this terrible tragedy, the agony that you’re going through, [to] be a pretext to start a war. We just aren’t going to allow that if we can help it. We’re also talking with our Soviet friends.

[unclear exchange]

Nixon: At my suggestion—

Kissinger: To explain that.

Nixon: —we’ve done that. Now, yet, I hear every morning, as Henry will tell you, I’m on the phone with him Sunday; I was on the phone with you Saturday. I was, you know, every morning we worry about these things. But what we can do from here remains to be seen. There was one unfortunate thing, that announcement to the effect that the arms were [unclear] gave the impression [unclear–that it was done?] because she was here. It had nothing to do with that at all.

Khan: This I can assure you, the President—

Nixon: He knows that.

Khan: —he knows fully—

Nixon: You know I was the one who put them back in, and—but I didn’t want you to be embarrassed by that.

Khan: [unclear] Democratic pundits and all that. He fully appreciates that it could not have been your intention to embarrass him in any way, and we just took it in stride that it will show that. He asked me, he asked me in that way, a very sincere position. He knows the concern you have, sir, for Pakistan [unclear].

Nixon: I have indeed. Let me say that the President is a good friend to me. He is a good friend to Kissinger. I—let me be quite candid with you. As I told your former ambassador, and as the President knows, there’s a huge public relations campaign here. Many of our friends in the other party, and including, I must say, some of the nuts in our own party—soft heads–have jumped on it, have completely bought the Indian line. And India has a very great propaganda line. And if you read our press, I mean, you get the whole impression that India’s completely right. Now that’s shifting a little. India may have overplayed its hand a bit. I’m talking with great candor with you, and this is just for your ears and the President’s. The important thing is we know—I know—that this is one of those terrible problems that, frankly, must be solved by a political solution; it must not be solved by force. And we simply want to play a role which will be helpful and won’t harm you. We will try to restrain to the extent that we have any influence [on] the Indians. We will do everything we can to try to help you in your cause. That’s where we stand here. How, what we can do—what we can do, of course, is limited by the circumstances. We don’t control the Indians. That’s accurate. The fact that, if you, if there’s any more—I’d like, I would, I’d like to give you more encouragement than this, but I’d like to be totally honest.

Khan: [Unclear] We realize that the Indians are not [unclear].

Nixon: Yeah.

Khan: [unclear] And I’m grateful you anticipated our desire and have [unclear—been in contact with the Russians?] on this. Because, if you can [unclear—bring the Russians?] with you on the need for maintaining peace on the subcontinent, it just might turn the tide.

Nixon: I hope so. Well, the Russians should have some influence. What reaction did we get from our—well he doesn’t know.

Kissinger: Well, he claims that they are not sending much military equipment, and that they are warning the Indians against precipitous action. But I’m seeing him again later this week.

Nixon: Good. 

Kissinger: And this will be one of the high items on my agenda.

Nixon: For what effect it has, the Indians are aware that this must stop. Or they can count us out. Do you see what I mean?

Khan: I do, sir.

Nixon: That's the way it's going to be.

Kissinger: I’ve also told the Foreign Secretary that in their contacts with the Chinese they can emphasize to them that we are prepared to discuss joint tactics with them in the UN, for example.

Nixon: Yes, yes. Now the UN thing is very, we can, of course, I don’t want our State Department people talking to the Chinese at the UN at this point. That can be your job, right?

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: On the other hand, we should do this [unclear—same thing?]. The difficulty with the UN thing, as I would see it, is if you get it in to the UN, and you may want to go there, but on the other hand, you don’t want to get it in there and then get that General Assembly—you just don’t know how the votes are going to come out. Now, of course, the Chinese are in the Security Council. So, what we want to do—

Kissinger: It’s a bad line up.

Nixon: Huh?

Kissinger: Bad line up. 

Nixon: It doesn’t impress me as being a very good show. 


156. Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), and Secretary of State Rogers, Washington, November 24, 1971, 12:27-1:12 p.m.

Rogers: I don’t believe there’s any difference of views on anything. I would just like to express some of my own thoughts on that. First, it seems to me we should engage in the maximum diplomatic efforts to do everything we can to caution restraint on both sides at the highest level always so that everyone can look at the record and see that we have done everything we can diplomatically. Secondly, I think that our relations with Yahya are good and should continue to be good and we should continue to keep very close to him. Three, I don’t think we should try to mastermind a political solution. I never thought so. I don’t think it’s possible, and I think he is coming to the conclusion that something has to be done politically. 

Nixon: Yahya do it on his own?

Rogers: He is going to have to do it on his own.

Nixon: Do you agree with that?

Kissinger: Completely.

Rogers: Now, he is—

Nixon: As a matter of fact, when the foreign minister was in here, he seemed to me, I didn’t get too specific, but he seemed to be awfully reasonable on that subject. 

Rogers: Well let me say that I think he’s going to be forced to do something, either that or he’s going to get out. There is a possibility he would turn over to Bhutto, which would not be a good development.

Nixon: Bhutto!

Kissinger: But he’s planning that anyway. [unclear]

Nixon: Turn over to Bhutto?

Rogers: Well, he says he is, but I’m not so sure. I have a feeling that if he can pull this out that he may stay in some capacity. But in any event, I think that the thing we have to face up to, and not make any decisions, so this is not to ask you to decide anything, but I think, I want to express my view that I think that it’s probably going to get worse. I don’t see any solution for—so that I think that our principal objective should be to do what we can to prevent fighting from breaking out.

Nixon: Let me ask this, just 1 minute to bring me up to date. I saw the morning papers and the morning report. To what extent are they fighting now? They had a jet fight, I understand. That doesn’t mean that there’s a damn war going on.

Rogers: Well—

Nixon: Are there—do the Indians deny still that they had divisions in there?

Rogers: Yes, yes. And I think maybe that they don’t have divisions but they certainly have brigades. And they’ve got people in there—

Nixon: It’s like North Vietnam still denying they are in South Vietnam.

Rogers: And it’s true there is one building, a major penetration. And in two other areas it looks as though there is penetration. No one is exactly sure. But I have no knowledge. It’s tough to tell them apart, of course, because they’re with the guerrillas. Now—

Kissinger: The guerrillas, the guerrillas have been operating with brigade strength with artillery support and air support and tanks. So even if they’re technically—I mean, this doesn’t just happen [unclear exchange].

Rogers: The question really is how, how much are they involved and how [unclear] will they say, and so forth. My own judgment is that they are going to get more involved. Secondly, I think that we have to face the fact that Yahya’s position militarily is extremely weak. He’s got 60–80,000 men in East Pakistan. He has a whole lot of trouble—

Nixon: He’ll be demolished there.

Rogers: Yeah, and that’s, of course, where the fighting is going on. And it’s a 2,500-mile flight around the edge of the land. So that the logistics, you know, are impossible from that standpoint. And the, as I say, my own judgment is that probably it will get worse, and probably we have to face up to the fact that it will get worse.

Nixon: [unclear] avoid getting too much blood [unclear]. We’re not really responsible for every war.

Rogers: Oh, we’re not getting the blame so far.

Nixon: What is our [unclear] so far?
Rogers: No.

Nixon: You’re responsible even more than we were, very much for this, don’t you think so, Henry? [unclear exchange]

Rogers: I think that’s what we should continue to try to do since [unclear]. I think the other thing that I want to stress [unclear]. Our ability to affect the course of events is quite limited. We don’t have much leverage. We have a few things we can do. We are still providing some military equipment and spare parts, and it’s not lethal weapons, but it’s very, very insignificant. Our aid program is pretty well committed. Theoretically, we could turn some of it off, but it would create all kinds of legal problems. Hell of a problem with banks and companies that [unclear] equipment. And it wouldn’t have any effect on the military situation at the moment. Whether we should take some actions that would be symbolic or not I think is something you won’t [will?] decide. We could take some action. For example, I already have told my people administratively not to grant any export licenses. Not just say that [unclear] process them.

Kissinger: To whom?

Nixon: India?

Rogers: To diminish the total.
Kissinger: [unclear]

Rogers: Oh, no, no, no. Just said to the processing officer to slow down the processing. As of yesterday but don’t grant them until we decide, until the President decides what he wants to do. Secondly, I have told our aid people that there’s another, there is about $11 million not committed. I said "let’s don’t commit it till we see what develops." 

Nixon: Where is this [unclear]?

Rogers: But the fact of the matter, without going into all the details, that I have gone over very carefully [unclear] some of which we don’t know, some of these things are done by the Congress, and some are done by the [unclear], you know all that, but still the leverage we have on India is very minimal. If we take some action against them, which you might decide to do, it would be symbolic rather than substantive. Now the other point I want to refer to briefly is the United Nations. I do not think, and have never thought, that we should take any action to take it to the United Nations. On the other hand, I think the United Nations will be a very useful organization if things get worse, because, and I have a feeling that Pakistan will come to this conclusion itself—

Nixon: Will they [unclear] beyond the UN? [unclear]

Rogers: That’s why India has just written, why Mrs. Gandhi has just written us a letter in which she urges us not to do anything, not to take it to the UN. Obviously, the Indians are worried about it.

Nixon: Huh.

Rogers: You see she doesn’t—

Nixon: Do they have the votes? Hell, they can get all the Russian votes. They got the African—

Kissinger: This is the Security Council.

Nixon: Oh.

Rogers: You see what would happen in the Security [Council]—

Nixon: I see. This wouldn’t be a General Assembly thing?

Rogers: No, no.

Kissinger: By Thursday.

Rogers: No, it wouldn’t be. The reason that India doesn’t want it is because she doesn’t want any United Nations presence. She doesn’t want any observers there. Pakistan’s position is much more reasonable than India’s. That’s why India doesn’t want—she’s made an appeal to keep it out of the Security Council.

Nixon: Well, what—we probably [unclear–have not?] got much control. I think that’s your view, isn’t Henry? The United Nations, we are not going to take it to the United Nations?

Kissinger: No.

Rogers: Well, I think what we ought to keep in mind, though, is I think on balance it will be the only alternative that Yahya has and it will be helpful to him. He wants to get through December because he’s got his plans made for this new, for this Constitution to go into effect at the end of December, first of January. If he can keep peace there for a couple of months then he may feel that he’s on the road to a political solution. What will happen in the United Nations, in the Security Council, is that they will, among other things, they will say why don’t we send a United Nations observer team to the area and make a report and so forth. Now she’ll resist that. She’s already resisted it. She said she doesn’t want the United Nations there. She doesn’t want anybody to look at what they’re doing. Yahya has the United Nations people in East Pakistan. He’s perfectly prepared for that. He also is prepared to withdraw his troops from the border if India will do likewise. So that the things that the Security Council would recommend in the way of military action and observers and so forth I think would all benefit Yahya. Now the risk, of course, is that India will also bring into the Security Council political questions. But I think that those are manageable. Of course, India will be tremendously embarrassed if it goes to the Security Council. Now I say these things, not with the thought that we should take action, but with the thought that we should resist fighting Pakistan who will move in this direction. Yahya’s told us that this is his only alternative, really.

Nixon: At this time? Has he said it recently?

Rogers: I don’t know. When I say recently I know it’s less than—

Nixon: Yeah, what I mean is since the trouble started.

Rogers: Yeah, I think this is one of the things that they are considering. And, of course, in the Security Council we would be China, Pakistan, and the United States all on one side, so we’ve got some pretty good leverage. And what we would do is emphasize keeping the peace. And we would say, "We urge both sides to exercise extreme restraint." We would urge United Nations to send observers there to find out what the conditions are. We would urge a mutual withdrawal. We would urge the very thing that Yahya has offered. That’s why she resists this. That’s why her very strong letter to you, in order to keep it out of the Security Council. 

Nixon: [unclear exchange]

Rogers: It wasn’t yesterday.

Nixon: Since the trouble started?

Kissinger: No, no.

Rogers: Oh, I guess probably I didn’t notice the date.

Nixon: That’s all right.

Kissinger: It came in on Friday.

Rogers: What’s the date today?

Kissinger: Twenty-fourth.

Nixon: Twenty-fourth.

[unclear exchange]

Rogers: [unclear] Very strong plea to keep it out of the Security Council. So I think what I would like to—

Nixon: She must have made that plea—what I’m just, the date is important. She made that plea knowing that she was going to order this attack on Pakistan.

Rogers: That’s right.

Nixon: I think. That’s my guess. She can’t, she can’t, [unclear] as you know, [unclear] without doing some directing it, without a hell of a lot of planning. So she must have known.

Rogers: [unclear]

Nixon: You know, the thing I would say, the main point I would like to do [unclear], the only thing about the symbolism, Bill, that concerns me, is that I implied when I met her, and you also talked to her about the fact that the Congress [unclear]. And I talked to her and said [unclear]. We know India has lots of friends, but I said there’s no way that Congress [unclear] with Vietnam and everything. I said there’s one thing that’s happened in this country, and it doesn’t make any difference where it is, whether it’s Nigeria, or South Asia, or anywhere else. The American Senate is [inclined] to [keep] hands off any situation where fighting breaks out. That’s their attitude. And I was very strong on that. Now I know it can be said that it won’t do any good, and we don’t have any leverage, and it’s only symbolic and the rest. But on the other hand, I want you to look into what we could do that is symbolic because I think we need some symbolism. The other thing is, which I think is very important, looking at the balance there, the Indians are going to win. And they are going to lose too. But they are going to win without any question. Pakistan eventually will disintegrate. East Pakistan [unclear] a little down the road. So it is very much in our interest to get the damn thing cooled if we can. In other words, just on the merits India doesn’t want to cool it. They want Pakistan to disintegrate. Despite what she says that’s what she wants, there’s no question about that. Now under those circumstances, it seems to me that, clearly apart from the fact that Yahya has been more decent to us than she has, clearly apart from that, I think that our policy wherever we can should definitely be tilted toward Pakistan, and not toward India. I think India is more at fault. Let me put it this way, if we could get, if the Congress could get all excited about cutting off aid to Pakistan when it involved an internal Pakistan problem—

Rogers: Yeah.

Nixon: —it seems to me that Congress should get twice as excited when it involves cutting off aid to India when India is engaged in a violent, across the border operation. Now my view is that very strongly, I mean, I didn’t frankly feel that Congress should cut off aid to Pakistan. I mean, when the country has internal problems [unclear]. Is the British thing worked out? Is that [unclear exchange]. Let’s support them on that.

Rogers: Oh, sure.

Nixon: Home should know that we will back him.

Kissinger: Well we—

Nixon: [unclear]

Rogers: Oh, yeah.

Nixon: Well I want you to know that you could let—be sure Home knows it. I told him when he was here that they had made a deal [unclear]. Now, so having said that, it seems to me that our whole game has got to be played—if you could find something symbolic to do I think it really has to be…

Rogers: Well, we can.

Nixon: She knows, she knows that we didn’t shoot blanks when she was here. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything. Second, in terms of the merits of the situation, to the extent we can tilt it toward Pakistan, I would prefer to play that. That’s where the UN game comes in. Now I would say there that if Yahya, he feels it’s in his interest, if he pushed the UN game, that’s one thing. But I couldn’t agree more with the proposition that we shouldn’t push the UN game if there’s any feeling that it might be to the detriment of Pakistan. Now you feel it’s the other way.

Rogers: You know we haven’t done any [unclear].

Nixon: I understand. Well, I know we haven’t done anything yet. But the point is what do we do now. They’re going to ask are we prepared to go to the United Nations and all that. Joe [unclear–Sisco?] talked about that today.
Rogers: Well there are two things about the United Nations that I think we should keep in mind. One, I think on balance that Pakistan will come off better than India.

Nixon: In the UN?

Rogers: In the UN—in the Security Council. Because there’s nothing you can do by way of—we can try to work out a political accommodation. That’s something that has to be done inside Pakistan. There are many things you can do to counsel military restraint. You can send people there. I’ve talked to all the UN people who’ve been out there and they’ve all been very upset about the lack of cooperation on Mrs. Gandhi’s part. She’s made, I think, a very bad impression in this country by saying that she didn’t want the United Nations presence and so forth. So I think on balance, I think they would benefit by the Security Council action. There would be some fallout that would be critical of Yahya, even Mujib, but I think that would be less important than the action that the UN would take to have a presence in India. That’s what she doesn’t want. She doesn’t want to get caught at it. She’s denying that these troops are invading Pakistan. She’s denying that they are training guerrillas and all these other things. Now if you had a presence of the United Nations, there you’d have a good answer. She will resist it. She will resist it strongly. She’s very strongly opposed to it. So I think on balance it would be helpful to Pakistan. I’ll let that be your own judgment. But where does that lead me? It just leads me to this conclusion: that we shouldn’t do anything to discourage it. I don’t think we should carry the lead. And I don’t think we should counsel [unclear] if we’re asked. I think it would be beneficial to Pakistan. And I think most people that have studied it will come to that conclusion. Secondly, I agree fully with the idea that we ought to tilt toward Pakistan. We have. My problem is I dislike the Indians so goddamn much. I had trouble even being reasonable with them.

Nixon: Right. Well, in tilting toward them for 25 years, it has only gotten us a kick in the pants.

Rogers: So, really now when you say you’re [unclear].

Nixon: How do we do it?

Rogers: Oh I [unclear] bring over here this afternoon, which you can take with you, which will suggest several ways we can take action. One would be right now we’d just announce that we’re not going to grant any more export licenses in their sales act. And that would be perfectly consistent with what we did in the case of Pakistan. It doesn’t have any, it doesn’t have any real meaning to it. But the symbolism.

Nixon: Small arms.
Rogers: That’s right.

Nixon: Spare parts. That could be done.

Rogers: That can be done. We actually could embargo everything in the pipeline. We’ve got maybe, well we may have $10 or $15 million worth in the pipeline.

Nixon: Military?

Rogers: Military equipment. But most, a lot of it is communications equipment. Some of it is tools for manufacturing ammunitions.

Nixon: Yeah. They got arms?

Rogers: We could do that. That’s quite a job if we embargoed everything. That would really be passing judgment. We did not do that in the case of Pakistan. If you remember we did not grant any new licenses. [unclear exchange] Now, we just close the pipeline off. We could, we could say that we’re not going to permit economic assistance [to be] committed, it’s about $11 million worth. It’s insignificant. I think that would be probably not a wise thing to do because we’re going to have to provide help for them for the refugees anyway. We got a lot of money, $250 million, for food and that sort of thing.

Nixon: What at the present time, though, are we doing for Pakistan? Have we got nothing going there?

Rogers: Oh, yes. Yeah, we have—

Nixon: Still, some economic stuff.

Rogers: Yeah. Oh, yes. We’ve got about, what is the total, Henry, 200 [unclear exchange].

Nixon: I guess, any action on Pakistan.
Kissinger: Well, the astounding thing [unclear] Mr. President, where the argument is made that economic assistance isn’t effective. Cutting it off isn’t effective. It’s almost the best argument against economic assistance. [unclear]

Rogers: Well, Henry, all I’ve got to say is [unclear] that it’s committed. In other words, economic assistance to India, $300 and some odd million is done in irrevocable letters and credit, so we can’t get out of that. Now on some of these contracts we had a lot of—

Nixon: At least let me see, let me see what the operative [unclear]. You know we just, I just may want to take a hard line on that.

Kissinger: We had 11 million, as Bill says, in obligated total funds [unclear]. And then we have 107 [unclear]. And then from then on it gets more difficult.

Rogers: Yeah, 380 million. The bulk of it is committed. We just can’t dicker with it. 

Kissinger: In addition to that, there’s an appeal for an aid agreement that’s ready to be signed if we can drag out these arms.

Rogers: Oh, [unclear] that’s no problem.

Kissinger: And then there’s another $100 million item.

Nixon: Well I just want to see that. [unclear] It may be—

Kissinger: One point I would like to make, Mr. President, for your consideration, I agree on the UN. I’m in total agreement with Bill. I think we should [unclear] absolutely right. And it’s going to go that way. We should take then initiative if it comes that way.

Nixon: Now let’s, just on the UN thing, because I won’t be exposed to any questioning on this till Monday or Tuesday, till Tuesday of next week.

Rogers: Your press conference is on Tuesday?
Nixon: I may have it Tuesday. But it depends on how much of this in the Cabinet. You may be exposed to questions and Ziegler may. Now what do we want to say about this in your opinion?

Rogers: My opinion—

Nixon: See, I don’t think you can sort of take the idea that. . . I don’t think you can take the idea that well the UN—a very delicate thing. A lot of people are, why the Christ aren’t we for the UN getting in? What do you think? 

Kissinger: Well, we haven’t said we’re against the UN.

Nixon: I know. Well, that’s the point. What should Bill say? The same thing. What I meant is I think we’ve got to do nothing about getting in the UN. But it sort of appears that, well that’s—what do you think?

Rogers: I—

Nixon: What can you say?

Rogers: Well, I think the ideal—

Nixon: You may be put to that very soon.

Rogers: I think our position should be for the moment we’re watching developments, we’re actively engaged in diplomatic activity.

Nixon: That’s right.

Rogers: I’m going to talk, in fact, to the Indian Chargé, he’s trying to see me with some special message now. And I’ll try to see the Paks so we can say we’ve talked to everybody. And we’ve talked to the Russians. So that we can say that we’ve done all this and that kind of activity. Now, we’ve gotten a good deal of credit for that already.

Nixon: I think so.

Rogers: We’ve been very active, and we aren’t committed necessarily to either side. Secondly, on the, it seems to me we can say we’re doing this, we’re watching the situation carefully, we’re consulting with all the parties concerned. That we haven’t—that there’s no judgment on that yet. We have no decision. That we would assume that that’s something that each nation will want to consider itself, leaving the impression that that really helps Pakistan. Pakistan makes the first move and India resists, they’ll gain a good deal.

Nixon: Yeah.

Rogers: Because people will say that India must be responsible. India [unclear] the United Nations. And I think that they—

Nixon: That’s the thing that I can’t understand Bill, that Mrs. Gandhi, that she’s reading the P.R. wrong there, don’t you agree, Henry? Because they’ve resisted the UN on refugees and everything else. Pakistan has invited them in.

Kissinger: Well, their crimes are not in P.R. [unclear exchange] Well, Mr. President, it’s not inconceivable that the Indians are trying this one on because they don’t seem irrevocably committed to go in deep. They’re sort of [unclear] in nearly division strength. So, if we show at this point, not yet [unclear] irrevocable strength, I think it would be wrong to cut away now. But if we—

Nixon: [unclear]

Kissinger: We could do a number of things that warn them that something is coming. And if it escalates—

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: All we would have done is a very mild démarche to [unclear].

Nixon: There’s another reason that it just, I feel that it might have an effect. Bill, you know, I called on her after you met with her. You told her, "Now look here, you’re going to catch hell on this." I think, I feel that we must not shoot blanks. Because I also told, well even Tito when he was here. I said [unclear] I told him much more directly when we were talking at dinner [unclear]. He was on the Indian side of course. I said, well let’s just understand one thing. I said I don’t know what’s going to happen. But if there’s a breakout of war, you can forget United States aid to India. And I feel that we ought to do something symbolic, I really feel it.

Rogers: Yeah, there’s no problem there.

Nixon: That I think something symbolic might have an effect, might have an effect, on restraining India. That—I don’t know. Many people think it won’t?

Rogers: Well, we haven’t gotten the reports back from the telegrams we sent out. I’ll see this fellow when I get back to the office. But I think what, Mr. President, maybe—

Nixon: Keating’s a traitor.

Kissinger: [unclear]

Rogers: I think what we might do is wait until Friday, this announcement on Friday that we have suspended the, issuing any further export licenses. Now that’s what we did last time.

Nixon: Let me suggest this, I think it would be helpful, Henry—Bill it’s on the list here today for Ziegler to say that this was the subject of the discussion, is that all right?

Kissinger: I think that would be very—

Nixon: We had an hour discussion on India–Pakistan and then I think we will continue to meet on Friday. In other words, we will have a whole new conversation and so forth. But that gives us time to think about it. I want to read the paper, could you have something by five o’clock?

Rogers: Oh, yeah.

Nixon: I mean that these alternatives—things are options that we can do. I won’t, as you know [unclear–do?] anything that is useless or anything.

Rogers: We don’t want to seem petulant.

Nixon: But on the other hand, very firm. That we want to be helpful. But I think, I think in anything that we say there should be a very positive statement that the United States commitment to help refugees, to help hungry people, et cetera remains. And that’s where, Henry, you can continue with this potential PL– 480 to both Pakistan and India, granted so that we are feeding people there. Right?

Kissinger: That’s right.

Nixon: On the other hand, military stuff. Boy, we could be awfully tough.

Rogers: I wish we had. [unclear]

Nixon: One thing, I mention this [unclear] with SALT. I’ve mentioned this to Henry, this multilateral aid thing, we have got to get some stroke. I think that’s a study for the next 2 or 3 months.

Rogers: I couldn’t agree more.

Nixon: I just, every time we turn around and we try to fight the UN; Bill, we haven’t got any stroke with anybody.

[unclear exchange]

Nixon: World Bank

Kissinger: I don’t think they would lightly go into a confrontation with us, if we catch them early enough.

Nixon: Who?

Kissinger: The Indians.
Nixon: Now, the interesting thing is how do you both read the Russian thing? You read the Russian thing totally that they’re acting in a restraining way on India? Do you believe that?

Rogers: I do.

Nixon: Do you?

Kissinger: I think they are trying to restrain them but not very hard.

Rogers: Why?

Kissinger: Why, because there is some advantage to have [unclear] the Chinese presence.

Nixon: They want to screw the Chinese.

Kissinger: Humiliate them.

Nixon: On the other hand, well, on the other hand, it’s going to cost Russia a hell of a lot of money. I mean by a lot a great deal because they’ve got to support India in this war. And that they’re not for, are they? That’s why they ended the other one—the India-Pakistan [unclear–war?] Russia didn’t do that.

Kissinger: Well, I think the Indians are such, my reading of the Indians is that any rational assessment should indicate that there is only one way a political revolution can go [unclear]. So they know they’ve got that. But what they are pressing for is so traumatic a settlement on the East Pakistan situation that the West Pakistan situation starts unraveling also. And what they want is to reduce West Pakistan to something like Afghanistan status. And that they are the only significant country. They want to turn East Pakistan into a sort of Bhutan. And after that, I’m willing to predict [unclear]. Because East Pakistan suffers from neglect from West Pakistan. I think the Indians have a vested interest in keeping them down.

Rogers: Yeah.

Kissinger: Because if East Bengal becomes even nominally [unclear] then West Bengal is going to be attractive.

Nixon: It’s already a horrible place.

Kissinger: So they want to make sure that East Bengal is worse off than West Bengal [unclear].

Nixon: That’s right.

Rogers: I’m not sure—I think that Henry’s right. I suppose there’s a lot of that thinking. But also a lot of it is just hatred—they hate. Just sheer hate.

Kissinger: No that’s [unclear exchange].

Nixon: I think actually that both Pakistan and India hate each other so much that they are totally irrational about [unclear]. They really are. You talk to a Pakistani and get his take.

Rogers: Just like a man and wife. They hate each other and they are too jealous to care about the welfare of the children. They just hate each other.

Nixon: I don’t think Yahya’s that far.

Rogers: No, he isn’t.

Nixon: But Bhutto. Now what—really what he did is disgusting.

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: Good God. What am I thinking?

Rogers: Not helpful. He’s supposed to be, he’s more leftish than—

Nixon: Oh, he’s leftish. I know. But which way? Is he anti-India? Anti-US? 

Kissinger: Violently anti-Indian. Pro-Chinese.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: But in a way we gain a lot if he comes in.

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: —we have less obligations to—

Nixon: Bhutto might make a deal with the other fellow. Would he make a deal with this Mujib guy?

Rogers: No.

Nixon: No.

Rogers: That’s, of course, part of the trouble. The reason that—

Nixon: You ever met Bhutto?

Rogers: No. No. 

Nixon: More important, have you ever met his wife? Boy, she is one of the most beautiful women in the world.

Kissinger: It depends, Mr. President.

[unclear exchange]

Kissinger: If Mujib is, if they’re thinking of a united Pakistan then Bhutto would never deal with Mujib. Because he’s afraid that Mujib will aim for the prime ministership.

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: If, however, to [unclear] Bengal, then Bhutto is in a better position to present himself than Yahya. Yahya is a better man for reconciliation. Bhutto is—

Nixon: Yahya is a thoroughly decent and reasonable man. Not always smart politically, but he’s a decent man.

Rogers: Quick note on what Henry said, and that is—if Yahya steps out of the picture,which is quite possible. That means that he’s given up on East Pakistan. Cause Bhutto can’t—

Nixon: Yeah, yeah. Bhutto basically has been—he hasn’t changed. My last report is one of my basic [unclear] in ’67 when I was there, is that the son-of-a-bitch is a total demagogue. And therefore Ayub Khan gave me a rundown on him, and he’s a pretty good judge of men, and he said this fellow is just bad news. 

Rogers: Let me say, Mr. President, when you asked me what I thought the Russians were doing, I think they would like to have a major war avoided. But I agree that they are not restraining the Indians too much. In other words, they want the Indians to do much as they are doing. I think they hope a major war can be avoided. I think to that extent they help. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pull back a while on it. I wouldn’t be surprised if next week or so it cools off a little bit. But I don’t think it’s going to cool off—

Nixon: Well, let me talk to one other subject, which I think also relates to this—relates to what you, we decided on Friday. I don’t want us to get caught in this—we of course are interested in results—but I don’t want to get caught in the business where we take the heat for a miserable war that we had nothing do with.

Rogers: No.

Nixon: I think it’s very important that we do enough, that we appear to be—but I think we just got to get it across to the American people that we cannot be responsible for every goddamn war in the world. Now we weren’t responsible for the Nigerian war. We are not responsible for this war. The idea that this thing, and the refugees, and Pakistan and the rest, we couldn’t avoid that, could we?

Rogers: As a matter of fact, that’s another advantage of having the thing in the Security Council, because then it does put the heat on the United Nations, and distinguishes it from us. There’s very little we can do.

Nixon: Do you have any thought there as to how we—I think we got to, I sense these political things developing. You know, we’re doing well in several fields. But I just don’t want this thing to muddy the water. I mean, how can we avoid getting caught in the [unclear]. Now the United States—why didn’t we avoid the war with India-Pakistan?

Kissinger: The truth of the matter is, if anything produced the war, not saying we did it, was the Indians [who] see the Pakistanis in a uniquely weak position, with the world opinion turned against them. And basically there’s an opportunity they’ll never get again for at least [unclear]. So if any mistake was made it was being too hard on Pakistan. [unclear] Secondly, I think, we have a very aggressive record. Of one we haven’t backed down, first for the refugees, secondly for relief in East Pakistan, and thirdly in moving things concretely towards the political evolution. We’re the only ones that pass that test.

Rogers: Yeah.

Kissinger: We got the military governor replaced with a civilian governor. We got them to admit UN observers. We got them to permit UN peace [unclear].

[unclear exchange]

161. Conversation Between President Nixon and Secretary of State Rogers, Washington, December 6, 1971, 9:19-9:24 a.m.

Nixon: Hello.

Rogers: Good morning, Mr. President.

Nixon: We’ve got this set now. It will be 1:30 and we’ll meet in the EOB.

Rogers: Uh-huh.

Nixon: Because some other meetings will be taking place here.

Rogers: Uh-huh.

Nixon: And at—just get a general rundown on the situation and then if you also could, I think give those—give the Senators a call and tell them you can come up.

Rogers: Yeah, I’ve done that already.

Nixon: This afternoon.

Rogers: I’ve done it.

Nixon: I don’t know how broadly that should be done, but I think it’s a very good idea for at least the record to be out with regard to what we’ve done on refugees—

Rogers: Uh-huh.

Nixon: Why we’ve taken it to the UN. We are staying out of this thing in terms of both—in terms of our military assistance—the fact that we have cut off the military assistance to India, etc. Because even though we read it all time and are quite familiar with it, some of them are not familiar as they might be with this.

Rogers: I see.

Nixon: You remember Church made this statement—

Rogers: Yeah.

Nixon: —To effect that we are do absolutely nothing on refugees. And I told Mansfield about it this morning, I said: "I can’t understand that. Because you know we’ve given 250 million dollars." Mike was aware of it. So I think it’s just one of those things—

Rogers: I don’t think we can keep Church quiet, though. I heard him on television last night. He’s going to make—he’s going to make a political attack. And all we can do is try to dull the attack. I think that—I don’t believe we’re going to have much criticism because I think what the American people want is for us to stay out of it. And I think they want us to do everything we can to bring about a peaceful settlement, which we are trying to do, and to help in a humanitarian way. I think we have a very good record.

Nixon: Well, I think the record’s good. But let’s just don’t assume that the record is known.

Rogers: Oh, no.

Nixon: Keep putting it out.

Rogers: Oh, no. We’ve got to keep putting it out.

Nixon: There are apparently quite a few of these fellows that heard some of the UN debate on television. They said the Russian-Chinese exchange was rather bitter.

Rogers: But it’s—you know it’s wonderful.

Nixon: Yeah.

Rogers: I tell you, the Russians—the Chinese call the Russians "Social Imperialists," and the Russians call the Chinese "Social Traitors."

Nixon: Boy. Yeah. Yeah.

Rogers: It’s pretty, pretty acrimonious.

Nixon: Right. Right.

Rogers: And it leaves us in a pretty good position because we haven’t had to get involved in the middle. 

Nixon: Right. Right.

Rogers: Do you think—would you suggest that maybe I see a lot of Senators or just—I wondered about whether–

Nixon: No.

Rogers: I thought I’d just talk to the—

Nixon: I would get—I think that if you do too many, it builds it up. But I think just doing a few due to the fact that they must be aware of the fact that we’re informing them, that’s all. No, but I think, you know—

Rogers: Mike [Mansfield] suggested, he said that they’re having a vote and he could get a lot of Senators, and I said: "No I don’t think that’s a good idea. That will make it seem like a crisis."

Nixon: Well also, it will also give it a crisis, but it also gives a lot of the demagogues a chance to get up and make speeches about things. That isn’t what you want.

Rogers: That’s right.

Nixon: I think that—just tell Mike to have a few in their office.

Rogers: I thought have Mike and Hugh [Scott] and, unfortunately, Bill [Fulbright] and George Aiken.

Nixon: Naturally. 

Rogers: And Stennis and somebody else.

Nixon: That’s right. Armed Services. Foreign Affairs. Maybe—that ought to do it.

Rogers: That ought to do it.

Nixon: That ought to do it. Because if you go beyond that, it’s simply going to be a miniature UN debate, which is not going to be very useful.

Rogers: Right. And I also thought I’d tell them at the end that I’d continue to come up periodically to fill them in so we’d keep them fully advised about the crisis.

Nixon: Right. Right. Right.

Rogers: I’m scheduled to go to this NATO meeting. I had planned to go to Iceland; I think I’ll skip that. But I think I probably should go to the NATO meeting.

Nixon: What time is the NATO meeting?

Rogers: Well I could leave, I could leave Wednesday. [December 8] It’s really Thursday and Friday, but there is a dinner Wednesday night—

Nixon: Yeah.

Rogers: —Of the Big Four. I think I probably better go to that.

Nixon: I think by that time there won’t be anything you can do.

Rogers: When I leave—I’ll probably leave Wednesday morning and get back Friday night.

Nixon: I think you should go. I mean, the world has to go forward. This conflict is, was one that was apparently inevitable, at some time or other. It’s just unfortunate that it had to come for this cause and at this time.

Rogers: That’s right. Of course, militarily, it looks really looks pretty, pretty bleak.

Nixon: Oh my. Yes. No way.

Rogers: No way.

Nixon: Except, I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the position of the Indians trying to take West Pakistan.

Rogers: No. No.

Nixon: That’s going to be real rough going up through those mountains.

Rogers: No. And I rather hope that the West Paks can do some good up in Kashmir. Maybe they can make some offsetting gains up in there.

Nixon: That’s right.

Rogers: Of course, geographically it would make a lot more sense if they could have the Kashmir and—

Nixon: That’s right. That’d be a good trade.

Rogers: That’s right.

Nixon: That’d be a good trade. Good trade. 

Rogers: But that’s tough going up in that mountain area.

Nixon: Yeah. Incidentally, is Bush there with you?

Rogers: No.

Nixon: No, he isn’t?

Rogers: He’s in New York. I alerted him to the fact that you may call him.

Nixon: Yeah, I might give him a call. Fine. Good.

Rogers: Yes.

Nixon: All right, see you at 1:30.

Rogers: Fine. Bye. 

162. Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, December 6, 1971, 6:14-6:38 p.m.

Nixon: I had a thought or two on India-Pakistan. First, Stans wants to report to me.

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: I thought we’d have him report to the Cabinet. I don’t think it’s a good idea. I’ll tell you what I had in mind. I think he should report to you, Henry, I’ll tell you why. I think we ought to cool it with the Russians.

Kissinger: I couldn’t, Mr. President—

Nixon: [unclear] Stans will want to have a press conference and tell them about all the progress he’s made on this thing. And we have got to cool it. And I’d just simply tell him [unclear] let’s get a damn signal across on that. Now Maury’s going to be hard to handle. Maybe you could get it a little reversed.

Kissinger: I’ll get a hold of it. I’ll do it.

Nixon: [unclear]

Kissinger: No, I’ll do it. Maury will be hard to handle, but he’s a great team player. And he sees now that we deliver. This is the sort of signal the Russians understand. 

Nixon: If there’s anything that’s outstanding now, in the way of, let me tell you, in the way of licenses, or anything with the Russians, just drag our feet.

Kissinger: You’ll be better off, Mr. President, 6 months from now. If they lose respect for us now, they’ll put it to us the way it’s never been—

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to South Asia]

Nixon: What I was going to say, Henry, what I’m concerned about, I really worry about, is whether or not I was too easy on the goddamn woman when she was here.

Kissinger: Well—

Nixon: Think I was? Maybe I was. Now I don’t know, maybe it wouldn’t have helped.

Kissinger: Well—

Nixon: I think, I think she was out on a course to do this without any–

Kissinger: I have sought out–

Nixon: [unclear] She suckered us at that. Suckered us. 

Kissinger: Well, Mr. President, I wonder now in retrospect—

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: —now that you put the question—well, you followed your recommendations we all made to you.

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: So if anyone is to blame—

Nixon: If anything, if anything, I was a little tougher on her than the talking paper, you know what I mean?

Kissinger: Oh, yes.

Nixon: I was not soft on her on this thing. I told her that—

Kissinger: No, but our advice to you was not to give her a pretext.

Nixon: That’s right. That’s right.

Kissinger: And you even said to me—I remember when you went out—

Nixon: Gracious remarks, I went "boom!"

Kissinger: But on the other hand, well, the public thing had to be gracious. But when I look back on it now could we have recommended to you to brutalize her privately? To say now I want you to know—

Nixon: I should have. I should have.

Kissinger: —You do this and you will wreck your relations with us for 5 years and we will look for every opportunity to damage you.

Nixon: That’s right. That’s right.

Kissinger: I just want you to know that. That’s probably what we should have done.

Nixon: Yeah. And another weakness we’ve got is Keating there as Ambassador.

Kissinger: Oh, he’s a bastard.

Nixon: [unclear]

Kissinger: Of course, we don’t—

Nixon: [unclear], soft, son-of-a-bitch.

Kissinger: But she was playing us.

Nixon: She was playing us. And you know the cold way she was the next day—she didn’t [unclear]. And this woman suckered us. But let me tell you, she’s going to pay. She’s going to pay. Now I mean on this aid side, I am not—

Kissinger: And let’s fight it in the campaign. The Democrats will make issue—

Nixon: They’ll probably say we’re losing India forever. All right, who’s going to care about losing India forever?

Kissinger: I think, Mr. President, if we go to the American public and say what we’ve done and what they did, by that time there will have been a massacre in East Pakistan under their aegis. We’ve got to keep the heat on them now. They have to know they paid a price. Hell, if we could reestablish relations with Communist China, we can always get the Indians back whenever we want to later—a year or two from now. 

Nixon: Would you check to see what the hell that letter from Suharto was that his ambassador brought in. I want to be sure to follow up with Suharto [unclear]. The Indians are following up.

Kissinger: But it’s precisely with people like him that we have to show that we’re going to be tough.

Nixon: That’s right.

Kissinger: So that he doesn’t get swallowed—get ideas—

Nixon: Now, I want—we’ll sleep, Henry, on my proposition with regard to the Chinese–

Kissinger: I haven’t done anything yet—

Nixon: But I feel strongly that we should do it. I think we’ve got to tell them that some movement on their part we think toward the Indian border could be very significant. And that as far as we’re concerned that we have sent—just say that we have sent a very tough note to the Russians and that we are cooling our relations. That is anything you can—I don’t know how to put that. But the President is [unclear]—you know what I mean?

Kissinger: We’ve gotten—the way we could put it, Mr. President, is to say—we shouldn’t urge them to do it because they’ll get too suspicious. If we could say, we have, if you consider it necessary to take certain actions we want you to know that you should not be deterred by the fear of standing alone against the powers that may intervene.

Nixon: Right. Right. That’s right. And then say, "We have done this and this and this ourselves and we have done it first." And then say, "It is apparent that it appears frankly now that the only thing that on the briefing, the confidential briefing that we have had, it appears the only thing the Indians fear is the possibility of [unclear–sanctions?]." You know? I don’t know if you want to be that specific or not. I don’t know. But damnit, I am convinced that if the Chinese start moving the Indians will be petrified. They will be petrified.

Kissinger: Except the weather is against them.

Nixon: I don’t give a damn. That’s more incentive if they can get through that pass.

Kissinger: I’ll look into it.

Nixon: Henry, be sure—be sure to move on that point. You know what I mean? The Chinese, you know, when they came across the Yalu, we thought they were a bunch of goddamn fools in the heart of the winter, but they did it.

Kissinger: That’s right.

Nixon: I’m not so sure. We know what the Paks can do.

Kissinger: Because what’s going to happen is after this is over, the fact is they have to get a friendly government over into West Pakistan. This has been a great operation for the Indians. Because this is—it’s going to lead to the overthrow of Yahya, for sure. And to—but—

Nixon: It’s such a shame. So sad. So sad. Tomorrow we’re going to have a meeting on Vietnam.

[Omitted here is discussion of Vietnam]

Nixon: Coming back to this summit—I mean this India-Pakistan—

Kissinger: One mistake we made—it wasn’t your mistake but it was—it took us 2 weeks to get the bureaucracy. If we could have got the bureaucracy on the first day of the Indian attack on East Pakistan to do the things they finally did today, that might have given them enough of a shot to blow them up. That might have given the Russians enough of a shot.

Nixon: You know, Mrs. Gandhi she’s in her parliament and they’re thumping their desks with their fists [unclear]—

Kissinger: But she would have snubbed them [unclear]. By that time she had crossed the rubicon. The time to [unclear]—

Nixon: [unclear] She attacks us, so forth and so on.

Kissinger: But she’s been pretty cautious about attacking us. And she’s not the only one. She’s never mentioned us by name.

Nixon: We’re not—that’s one of the reasons why I shouldn’t get out on a press conference. Because I’ll have to take her on and I’m not going to do it. I don’t want to be in a position of attacking. I’ve got to stay out of that.

Kissinger: I think so.

Nixon: Or do you—you agree?

Kissinger: No, I think you ought to stay out of it. You definitely ought to stay out of it. You don’t want to get into an argument with her, particularly as for a brief period it will look as if she’s winning. No. Absolutely not.

Nixon: The main thing is we must not lose or be blamed for this goddamned thing. We’ll get blamed.

Kissinger: No, no.

Nixon: Church. Teddy Kennedy. 

Kissinger: No, I went to Joe Alsop’s house the other night and Teddy Kennedy was there. Of course, he’s such a jerk. He started mumbling that we didn’t do enough. And I just jumped all over him. I said, "We did this and this and this. What would you have done, Teddy? What more would you have done?" He said, "I would have shown more sympathy." I said, "We gave them 250 million dollars. Do you really think sympathy—" Well, he pulled way off. He said he’d like to meet me and talk about it a little more.

Nixon: Yeah. Incidentally, that Helms report [3 seconds not declassified]

Kissinger: Right.

Nixon: Give me a copy of that.

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: I’m going to put it out to the press. Put the whole goddamn thing out. Now who would be a good one who would like to have such a nice week?

Kissinger: I think that Scali and Colson would be better judges of that.

Nixon: Oh, I [unclear]. But I’ve got to—

Kissinger: Joe Alsop would [unclear] it up.

Nixon: Well, would Joe use it? I don’t know. What side is he on in this?

Kissinger: Oh, he’s on ours. Oh, God.

Nixon: Okay. Let me ask you to do this. Is there a way—can you get it into Joe’s hands? I want that report of Helms put into the hands of a columnist who will print the whole thing. Now I want you to get it out. Now this is a smart thing to do, Henry. I know. You know what I mean? You just happened to get a [2 seconds not declassified] report [3 seconds not declassified]; it will make her look bad. I know that’s their tragedy. Now that’s the way they play it. That’s the way we got to play it. You don’t agree?

Kissinger: Yes, I do agree.

Nixon: All right.

Kissinger: Another thing—

Nixon: Who would you give it to? Would you give it to—

Kissinger: I, my—I shouldn’t do it. I’ve never played—

Nixon: Give it to Scali.

Kissinger: I’d give it to Scali and let him.

Nixon: And tell him to get it out?

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: Tell him that this is gospel. You can give it to anyone you want, but don’t get caught. Don’t give it to Colson ’cause he’s—

Kissinger: He’d disrupt this.

Nixon: Scali will know how. Okay?

Kissinger: I’ll do that.

Nixon: Just say that this report came out. And, but just be sure to get it yards away from the White House.

Kissinger: Right. I’ll get that done today.

Nixon: Okay. Boy-oh-boy. It’s interesting. We’re done with the Russians. 

Kissinger: Well, we couldn’t—Brezhnev is in Warsaw. And we only sent a message last night. Today we sent a letter. 

Nixon: The Russians, they’ve just said hands-off to us.

Kissinger: Well, we wrote them a pretty tough one. 

Nixon: What did we say?
Kissinger: Well, we said this threatens the whole climate of confidence we’ve tried so hard to establish. I told him yesterday that [unclear] it’s exactly the opposite of what they should want. They’re driving us into aligning ourselves with countries that we have no particular parallel interest in on the sub-continent. And I said, "How can you talk to us about Security Council guarantees if you thwart the Security Council?" And I threatened them that we would not carry out the Middle East negotiations. And they seem—I haven’t talked to you about this—and we can’t do it. But they have been bugging me to come to Moscow. I don’t want to [do?] it. I’ve just tried to use it because of the Rogers problem. But they’ve sent me a formal invitation now. I don’t want to do it, but he raised it again yesterday. And I said, "under these conditions there’d be no chance at all talking about it."

Nixon: That’s correct.

Kissinger: To put it on the basis because they have turned it off. We can just cancel this visit, which I never had any intention of [unclear-going on?] in the first place.

Nixon: But let’s cool it on the Stans thing.

Kissinger: Right.

Nixon: We’ll meet tomorrow. I’ve only got 5 minutes for whatever they want to do. [unclear]—

Kissinger: Then I would suggest also, Mr. President, the Indian Ambassador must not be seen under any level higher than the country desk officer. [unclear]

Nixon: Did you put that out?

Kissinger: No.

Nixon: We’ll put that out. [unclear] the Indian Ambassador. I want it as an instruction on my part: "The President instructs the Indian Ambassador to not be seen at any level other than the country desk level." Also, I want you to send a message to Keating. He is to be totally cold in his relations.

Kissinger: Right.

Nixon: Put that out. From me. 

163. Conversation Among President Nixon, Secretary of Commerce Stans, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig), and the President’s Assistant and Press Secretary (Ziegler), Washington, December 7, 1971, 3:55-4:29 p.m.

Stans: And what you said before I left was that this could be a watershed in our relations. And Kosygin opened up the meetings saying, "Mr. Secretary, we have high hopes for your mission." And so the thinking was parallel all the way through.

[Omitted here is discussion of an 11-day trip to the Soviet Union just completed by Secretary Stans.]

Nixon: I was wondering, Henry, what questions Ron would [unclear].

Kissinger: Let me tell you first—

Nixon: Don’t you think you ought to cover—

Kissinger: What I thought I would do is to take a very—

Nixon: Do you think we ought to postpone?

Ziegler: No, no. Backgrounder.

Nixon: No, I didn’t mean—the whole corps. The whole corps.

Kissinger: Well, what I thought, Mr. President, I do—

Nixon: [unclear]

Ziegler: Actually—

Nixon: But this isn’t too bad. This isn’t too hard.

Ziegler: [unclear]

Nixon: Forty people, perhaps. Or do you expect more?

Ziegler: No.

Nixon: Well, that’s good. Then you can have an intelligent conversation. Go ahead, Henry.

Kissinger: What I thought I would do is to first, say a lot of nice things about the Indians. As, you know, of our concern for the Indians, how we consider them one of the key countries in the world. And that what we have been forced to say the last few days has been done with enormous reluctance. I think we ought to parse it this way. Then to say—

Nixon: You might even say this: The President, our concern is, why don’t you put it—be a little bit stronger. First of all, I visited India in 1953, and I visited there on two other occasions, but for a considerable time in 1967 and, of course, briefly as President. I have great interest, as I’ve said there, and I said when she was here, expressed our views that it is the policy of the United States to help the largest nation of the world—free nation—succeed because [unclear] very important that they succeed. That’s why we’re one of the strongest supporters in terms of [unclear]. I think that’s not a bad idea. If there is a problem, and you think there’s a problem [unclear]. I don’t know how or when. [unclear]

Ziegler: [unclear]

Nixon: Oh my God, when I was in India in 1967, I was there 3 days, and I saw Mrs. Gandhi, the President, the Vice President, every goddamn Indian [unclear].

Kissinger: Yeah. I don’t really think I ought to—

Nixon: Who said it?

Ziegler: Bob.

Nixon: I think it was Hal.

Kissinger: I don’t think—

Nixon: Utterly ridiculous.

Kissinger: I don’t really—

Nixon: If it comes up, [unclear] you know what the [unclear] she said quite the contrary [unclear].

Kissinger: But then I thought I would simply summarize everything we had done—on both sides. And I can make in a very low key way an enormously damning case against the Indians.

Nixon: What are you going to do? Well, what is our purpose?

Kissinger: Our purpose is to say—

Nixon: [unclear] Let me just get—as I understand, Teddy has attacked on what ground? That we should have expressed concern about Pakistan’s rape of East Pakistan? Did we—did we express concern about that?

Kissinger: We cut off—

Nixon: Jesus Christ—

Kissinger: —No, what I would—

Nixon: [unclear]

Kissinger: What I will say to that is that our actions spoke for us. That we cut the economic assistance. We cut all military supplies except some licenses. 

Nixon: Those that were in the pipeline.

Kissinger: And not even all of—and even some of those.

Nixon: Right. And we used our influence to create [unclear].

Kissinger: That when I was in India, at your request, I told the Indians that we thought we should maintain some equity with the Pakistanis, and they said they understood this. So they weren’t asking us to make any condemnation.

Nixon: The question was to condemn and have no influence or to continue relations and have some.

Kissinger: Let’s find out how much military aid we cut off.

[Unclear exchange of conversation among Nixon, Kissinger, and Ziegler]

Ziegler: I think the overriding—

Nixon: What do they need to hear?

Ziegler: I think the overriding advantage of Henry, the way he knows how to do these things, will be without even referring directly to Kennedy, which I don’t want to do, for sure. He will put it in perspective that will put Kennedy out here in left field and not really relating to realities. And I think the documentation on India at the time of the East Pakistani blow up, and how it all evolved to the point where we can say that India has led to the crisis.

Kissinger: [unclear]

Nixon: It’s what we need at this time.

Ziegler: It’s a prospectus.

Kissinger: [unclear] 

Nixon: He wants to see my schedule.

Ziegler: l called him on that.

Nixon: I also said yes to [unclear].

Ziegler: And I also talked to him about the fact, I said, if you have any question at all, Marvin, I said if you have any question at all about the humanitarian concerns we have expressed both the last months about East Pakistan and Pakistan, number one, you know damn well how much money we put in there. I said, number two, I can refer you to transcript after transcript where we have referred to the President’s concern [unclear].

Nixon: [unclear exchange] But Marvin Kalb, the fact that he’s on it shows the Russians are helping.

Kissinger: Oh, yeah. The Russians have an outrageous [unclear]. And you know they just—We have an intelligence report today that they told the Indians we were [unclear-providing?] arms to Pakistan.

[Omitted here is a portion of the conversation not related to South Asia]

Nixon: You want—you’re going to try and make the point that we have maintained our influence with Pakistan. That influence, as a result of it, they have accepted all the various conditions we have laid down and were prepared to accept others. Right? And if we had not maintained our influence they would have done nothing.

Kissinger: Well, I—

Nixon: The UN observers, the military civilian government, the—you know, good God.

Kissinger: And I can show a real pattern of Indian deceit. For example, on November 19, I saw the Indian Ambassador. On November 15 I saw the Pakistan Foreign Secretary. And I told him we needed a maximum program because it would be very difficult to prevent hostilities from breaking out. He said he would let me know after he came back on the 22nd.

Nixon: Well, is this—

Kissinger: And on the 19th I told this to the Indian Ambassador. And he said, "Well let me know as soon as you know when will that be." I said around the 28th. On the 22nd they attacked. So—

Nixon: Henry, what do you want to have come out of it?

Kissinger: Well, I what I want to have come out of this, for your sake Mr. President, is to show first of all, that in action we showed enormous concern.

Nixon: For the refugees?

Kissinger: For the refugees. That in practice we’ve made major efforts to bring about a political settlement. In fact, the only political movement that has occurred has been at our urging.

Nixon: That’s right.

Kissinger: Thirdly, that we were in the process of negotiating with the Pakistanis to move them even further. That we told this to the Indians—

[Omitted here is conversation unrelated to South Asia.]

Nixon: So the purpose is to show that we’ve done the best we can. We have no influence—we have no responsibility for either. It’s not our job. The Russians have an interest in India. The Chinese have a hell of an interest in Pakistan. We only have an interest in peace. We’re not anti-Indian; we’re not anti-Pakistan. We are anti-aggression, as a means of solving an internal, a very difficult internal problem. 

Part I Part II  ! Part III  ! Part IV

For more declassified documents and originals of telegrams and background papers, please visit the Office of the Historian, the US Department of State.