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Schedule March 6: The Cold War Foundation March 20: Beyond the Cold War April 3: Afghanistan & International Terrorism April 17: The U.S. & the Middle East after the Arab Spring May 1: The Constitution & the U.S. Role in the Current World May 15: The United States and Transnational Matters.
March 6: The Cold War Foundation
March 20: Beyond the Cold War
April 3: Afghanistan & International Terrorism
April 17: The U.S. & the Middle East after the Arab Spring
May 1: The Constitution & the U.S. Role in the Current World
May 15: The United States and Transnational Matters
--Department of Defense
--Joint Chiefs of Staff
--Central Intelligence Agency
--National Security Agency
--National Security Council
Congress: Legislative Reorganization Act
--creation of Armed Services Committee
--strengthening international affairs powers of Appropriations Committee
Ass’t Secretary of DefensePaul Nitze: The NATO requirement involves the whole question of whether we are going to denuclearize NATO. I would suggest that what you do is to say that we’re prepared only to discuss Cuba at this time. After the Cuban thing is settled and these things are out, we’re prepared to discuss anything.
President Kennedy: No, I don’t think we can . . .
How much negotiations have we had with the Turks this week? Who’s done it?
Unidentified: No, we have not.
Secretary of State Dean Rusk: We haven’t talked with the Turks. The Turks have talked with us.
President Kennedy: Where have they talked with us?
Rusk: In NATO.
Rusk: Well, we’ve asked [US ambassador to Italy Thomas] Finletter and [US ambassador to Turkey Douglas] Hare to give us their judgments on it. We’ve not actually talked with the Turks.
Ball: We did it on a basis where, if we talked to the Turks, I mean, this would be an extremely unsettling business.
President Kennedy: Well, this is unsettling now, George, because he’s [Khrushchev’s] got us in a pretty good spot here. Because most people would regard this as not an unreasonable proposal. I’ll just tell you that. In fact, in many ways—
McGeorge Bundy: But what “most people,” Mr. President?
President Kennedy: I think you’re going to have it very difficult to explain why we are going to take hostile military action in Cuba, against these sites, which is what we’re thinking about, when he’s [Khrushchev’s] saying, “If you’ll get yours out of Turkey, we’ll get ours out of Cuba.” I think you’ve got a very touchy point here . . .
Bundy: It isn’t as if we’d got the [Jupiter] missiles out, Mr. President. It would be different. Or if we had any understanding with the Turks that they ought to come out, it would be different. Neither of these is the case.
President Kennedy: Well, I’d just like to know how much we’ve done about it; because, as I say, we talked about it—
Bundy: We decided not to, Mr. President. We decided not to play this directly with the Turks.
Ball: If we talked to the Turks, they would bring it up in NATO. This thing would be all over Western Europe, and our position would have been undermined.
Bundy: That’s right.
Ball: Because immediately the Soviet Union would know that this thing was being discussed. The Turks feel very strongly about this. We persuaded them that this [stationing of missiles, in 1959] was an essential requirement, and they feel that it’s a matter of prestige and a matter of real—
Bundy: If we had talked to the Turks, it would already be clear that we were trying to sell our allies for our interests. That would be the view in all of NATO. Now, that’s irrational and it’s crazy, but it’s a terribly powerful fact.
Former ambassador to the USSRTommy Thompson: Particularly in the case that this is a [Soviet] message to you and [UN General Secretary] U Thant.
Ass’t Secretary of State U. Alexis Johnson: It seems to me we ought to get word to [UN ambassador Adlai] Stevenson that, if this is put out up there, he should immediately saw we will not discuss this question of the Turkish bases.
Bundy: The problem is Cuba. The Turks are not a threat to the peace. Nobody tells the Turks as—
President Kennedy: I think it would be better, rather than saying that, until we get some time to think about it, just saying: “Well, the fact of the matter is that we received a letter last night from Khrushchev and it’s an entirely different proposal.” So, therefore, we first ought to get clarification from the Soviet Union of what they’re talking, at least to give us a . . .
As I say, you’re going to find a lot of people who will find this is a rather reasonable position.
Bundy: That’s true.
President Kennedy: Let’s not kid ourselves.
Albert Thomas: Well . . .
President Johnson: You know that I know what I’m doing.
Thomas: Frankly, I—
President Johnson: You know, and we screwed it up. This damn fool [Minnesota senator Hubert] Humphrey put that paragraph on.
Thomas: That’s right—
President Johnson: I told [House Majority Leader Carl] Albert to get it off, cut it off.
Thomas: I think it’s your partners over on the Senate side. Now, old Otto [Passman] played ball. He told me he was going to do his damnedest to take it out.
Have you got the language in front of you?
President Johnson: Yes, sir, I’ve got it front of me. And it oughtn’t to be in there. It’s just a damn—
Thomas: [hurriedly reading] “Agency or national in connection with the purchase . . . [etc.].”
President Johnson: That’s right.
Thomas: “Or national except when the President determines that such guarantees would be in the national interest.”
Thomas: “And reports each”—
President Johnson: No, no! No! Period, after “national interest.”
Thomas: I know, but read your language further. “And reports each determination.”
President Johnson: [loudly] Why should I want to report to everybody that I screwed a girl? You screwed one last night, but you don’t want to report it.
Thomas: [slyly] I wish I did.
President Johnson: Well, you know what I’m talking about. That made it come home to you, didn’t it?
Thomas: Well, it ain’t going to—
President Johnson: Don’t you think I’m a damned idiot, now.
Thomas: Now, now—
President Johnson: Well—
Thomas: Now, now, now, now. Of course not. But I don’t think it’s going to hamstring you a bit on—
President Johnson: It doesn’t hamstring me. It just publicizes that I’m pro-Russian right when [Richard] Nixon’s running against me. That’s all it does.
President Johnson: Well, listen, Albert—
Thomas: —he ain’t going to get two or three—
President Johnson: Listen, Albert. You and I are buddies now. You understand politics, and I do, too. I’m telling you that we’re working with the Republicans up there 100 percent.
Thomas: Well, I’m on your side.
President Johnson: Well, all right. You just don’t ever agree that that’s a good clause, because you know goddamn well it ain’t. Don’t try to shit me, because I know better.
Thomas: Here’s the Speaker. Well, I’ve worked with it in the—
President Johnson: Yeah, you’ve worked with it, but you’ve been working with it under Republican presidents, not under Democrats. When a Democratic President has to report that he makes a determination that it’s in his interest to go with Russia, it’s not good when you’re running for office. Now, you know that, don’t you?
But he said, “I want you to know that if you do not deliver Israel here on this [UN] resolution—[immediate] withdrawal—and you cannot pull these fighters back like you do two boxing men in the ring, separate the combatants, and you pull them back to where they were before this war started, then I want you to know there’s going to be a big war, and there’s going to be a great war, and it’s coming soon.”
And I said, “Well, now, Mr. Chairman, I hope that there’s not going to—
And he said, “They’ll fight with their fists and they’ll fight with arms.” And I said, “Now, if you’re saying that the Israels [sic] and the Arabs are going to have some further difficulties, I hope they don’t. I’m going to do everything I can to keep ‘emfrom fighting, and I hope you do everything you can to keep ‘emfrom fighting. But if you’re saying that it goes beyond that area, and others will be fighting, then you’re speaking very serious business, and something that concerns me greatly. And I think it should concern you.”
And he backed away from it, and said, “Well, I said that they would be fighting out there.” And I said, “Well, I’ll do all that I can to keep ‘emfrom fighting; hope you do, too.”
Eisenhower: Mm. Mr. President—
President Johnson: He made another pass this afternoon along the same line, and I met him the same way, and he backed off from it again.
And, incidentally, that includes the business elite.
Henry Kissinger: Time has been a little better—
President Nixon: [unclear] yeah, but that’s—
Kissinger: [Editor Hugh] Sidey has been a disaster.
President Nixon: That’s right. He’s—
Kissinger: Life is a disaster.
President Nixon: That’s right. But my point that I’m making is this: they’re finished for this reason. That if, when it’s tough, they aren’t there, we don’t want them.
Now, we’ve got to build a new Establishment. We’re going to. And it isn’t going to come out of the Ivy League, you know. Let me say—I’ve already given instructions: you know, there’s never going to be another Harvard man hired in our staff? Not any new ones. We’ve got plenty already. No more.
It’s too bad—some good men will be missed. But why do we take people that have had their minds poisoned by the . . .?
Kissinger: We can’t.
President Nixon: Never, never, never.
Kissinger: We’ve got to put them to the sword, Mr. President.
President Nixon: I’m going to.
Kissinger: It’s just not—
President Nixon: I don’t mean that we’d get much better out of Ohio State. But, God, there’s a chance. At Harvard, there’s no chance.
Kissinger: You’ll get better out of—
President Nixon: [continuing] Yale! The same. Columbia—
Kissinger: Yale is worse than Harvard.
President Nixon: Much worse. Princeton. But, you see, the whole bunch of people have no courage, no guts.