President Richard Nixon told his National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, in May 1972 in a taped phone call that he wanted to step up the bombing of North Vietnam and he “didn’t give a damn” about how many thousands of Vietnamese civilians died as a result.
“The only place where you and I disagree … is with regard to the bombing,” Nixon said. “You’re so goddamned concerned about the civilians and I don’t give a damn. I don’t care.”
Kissinger made it clear that his concern about civilian deaths was only about politics and appearances at a time when the people of the United States and the world were engaged in a fierce struggle opposing the U.S. carnage in Vietnam.
“I’m concerned about the civilians because I don’t want the world to be mobilized against you as a butcher,” Kissinger said. “We can do it without killing civilians.”
The taped call was part of the Nixon files released by the National Archives in 2002, thirty years after the conversation was recorded.