H. R. “Bob” Haldeman on 21 December 1970


Edited by Ken Hughes, with Kieran K. Matthews and Marc J. Selverstone

In his tape-recorded diary, the White House Chief of Staff recounted a discussion with the President about doing a year-end television interview with newswoman Nancy Dickerson on public television and allowing the commercial networks to cover it. When the National Security Adviser joined them, the conversation turned to Vietnam.

H. R. “Bob” Haldeman

Henry [A. Kissinger] was in for a while and the President discussed a possible trip for next year. He’s thinking about going to Vietnam in April [1971] or whenever we decide to make the basic end-of-the-war announcement. His idea would be to tour around the country, build up [Nguyen Van] Thieu and so forth, and then make the announcement right afterwards. Henry argues against a commitment that early to withdraw all combat troops, because he feels that if we pull them out by the end of ’71, trouble can start mounting in ’72 that we won’t be able to deal with, and which we’ll have to answer for at the elections. He prefers instead a commitment to have them all out by the end of ’72, so that we won’t have to deliver finally until after the [U.S. presidential] elections [in November 1972] and therefore can keep our flanks protected. This would certainly seem to make more sense, and the President seemed to agree in general, but wants Henry to work up plans on it. He still feels he’s got to make a major move in early ’71 and he could make the commitment at that time that . . . there would be no further use of draftees in Vietnam, and also make the long-range troop withdrawal commitment. Henry’s argument is that this precludes then the necessity for periodic announcements or explanations and covers the whole thing in one swoop, as did our 150,000 announcement last year.

Haldeman turned to the President’s idea for a Christmas program in 1971 that would include readings by Nixon of authors such as Charles Dickens and letters he had received.

Cite as

“H. R. ‘Bob’ Haldeman on 21 December 1970,” H. R. Haldeman’s Diary, 21 December 1970, Presidential Recordings Digital Edition [Fatal Politics, ed. Ken Hughes] (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2014–). URL: http://prde.upress.virginia.edu/conversations/4006727