March 29, 1971: Telephone conversation between President Nixon and Kissinger

Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and His Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)/1/

/1/ Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 367, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking. A note on the transcript indicates that the tape recording from which the transcript was prepared was “brought in” on March 29.

San Clemente, California, March 29, 1971.


P: Hello.


K: Mr. President.


P: Hi Henry. You sleep well?


K: Yes, very well. It’s really a very restful place out here.


P: What’s new today. Got anything on the wires or anything of interest?


K: There’s nothing of any great consequence Mr. President. Apparently Yahya has got control of East Pakistan.


P: Good. There’re sometimes the use of power is . . .


K: The use of power against seeming odds pays off. Cause all the experts were saying that 30,000 people can’t get control of 75 million. Well, this may still turn out to be true but as of this moment it seems to be quiet.


P: Well maybe things have changed. But hell, when you look over the history of nations 30,000 well-disciplined people can take 75 million any time. Look what the Spanish did when they came in and took the Incas and all the rest. Look what the British did when they took India.


K: That’s right.


P: To name just a few.


K: Well in those cases the people were more or less neutral. In the Inca case they expected a god to come from the West . . .


P: That sort of . . . yeah, put them out.


K: Which helped a bit.


P: That’s right. But anyway I wish him well. I just . . . I mean it’s better not to have it come apart than to have to come apart.


K: That’s right. The long-term impact of its coming about [apart]
. . . people now say that the fellow Mujib in the East is really quite moderate and for a Bengali that’s right. But that’s an extremely unstable situation there and the radical groups are likely to gain increasing strength.


P: This will be only one blip in the battle and then it will go on and on and on and it’s like everything in the period we live in isn’t it since World War II.


K: That’s right, that’s right.


P: Where revolution in itself, independence is a virtue which of course it never was. That wasn’t true at the time of the French revolution either and it isn’t any more true today. The real question is whether anybody can run the god-damn place.


K: That’s right and of course the Bengalis have been extremely difficult to govern throughout their history.


P: The Indians can’t govern them either.


K: No, well actually the Indians who one normally would expect to favor a breakup of Pakistan aren’t so eager for this one. Because they’re afraid that East Pakistan may in time, or East Bengal may in time have an attraction for West Bengal with Calcutta and also that the Chinese will gain a lot of influence there.


P: Interesting.


K: And that, I think, is a good chance.

[Omitted here is discussion of issues unrelated to South Asia.]