KC Johnson

LBJ and Arthur Goldberg, 15 July 1967

President Johnson: I didn’t say a word [to Soviet premier Alexsei Kosygin]. I just said, “You try to get Syria to close down.”

But I—like Theodore Roosevelt—I just said it in a soft voice. But I turned them around—

Arthur Goldberg:  That’s—

President Johnson:  —And I moved right up there close to them, and they understood that. [Chuckles.]

Goldberg: That’s damn good. That’s exactly the way to treat them.

You know, the other evening, when we were trying to work out these few observers, you know, to send to the [Suez] canal?

President Johnson: Yeah.

Goldberg: This blustering Soviet [UN] ambassador [Nikolai] Federenko made this big speech privately, you know, trying to bear down on us, that we were the obstructers.

I lost my temper. I told him to stop. He didn’t intimidate me. Come on back to the Council, and we’ll debate it publicly, as to who was making all the peaceful proposals. And they backed down.

President Johnson: This damn [Soviet foreign minister Andrei] Gromyko’s the mean one, though. He is—

Goldberg:  Mm-hmm. Well, he’s a record player.

President Johnson: He’s up here at Glassboro, and he just busts up everything.

Goldberg:  Yeah. He’s still hanging around here?

President Johnson:  Yes, that’s right. As long as he is, he’s going to have trouble.

Goldberg: Yeah. Well—

President Johnson:  He’s just—

Goldberg:  Dean [Rusk] has called me—

President Johnson: Every time this fellow would try to agree to something—every time Kosygin tried to agree—he wouldn’t let him.

Goldberg: He would hold him back?

President Johnson: Yes, sir.

Goldberg:  Mm-hmm.

Dean had talked about coming back here. I said he’s welcome, but I would not dignify his presence. We ought to close this damn business and get him out of here.

President Johnson:  I’d sure get him away as quick as I can.

Goldberg:  Yeah.

President Johnson:  Because he is no damn good. He’s poison.

Goldberg:  He’s warmed up his plane about three or four times.

President Johnson: Why, you let him go. Quit holding him.

Goldberg:  Yeah. But the only way we’ll get him out of here is to wind up [unclear].

President Johnson:  Yeah. Well, I hope you can do it next week.

Goldberg:  Yeah. Well, I’m hopeful—

President Johnson:  What about the Security Council? What will they do on sanctions [against Israel]?

Goldberg:  No, they won’t—well, there we are! We may be left alone again. But I wouldn’t think that would be possible I think we’d get some support against this. Although we’ve had some very weak reeds . . . You saw the British . . .

President Johnson:  Looks like hell that the British quit us on this, and just 18 of us abstained.

Goldberg:  Yeah. And it was—I told Rusk, it was kind of a motley company.

President Johnson:  Who were the 18 with us?

Goldberg:  Well, a couple of Africans, a few Latin Americans. That was about it.

President Johnson: Who were the Latins?

Goldberg:  Uh, the Latins—

President Johnson:  Nicaragua? [Chuckles.]

Goldberg:  It’s published in the Washington Post; I don’t have the list in front of me.

President Johnson: Nicaragua, I guess. [Laughs heartily.]

Goldberg:  Yeah, you can guess. It wasn’t a hell of an impressive showing. I felt a little lonesome over there.

President Johnson: Yeah, I did, too. I felt lonesome when I made it [the decision]. I knew it wouldn’t be anybody. But . . .

Goldberg: But it’s all right. It will go—our position was a pretty good position. We said that the whole kit and caboodle had to be settled. And I think that’s all right.

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