160. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Conversation with Yuly Vorontsov, Counselor at the Soviet Embassy, at the Motion Picture Association of America, June 4

The only substantive conversation was as follows:

Joe Sisco came up and, in the course of some banter about whether or not this would be a busy summer, said that the Soviets should recognize that large Congressional majorities could still be mustered for anti-Soviet positions. Specifically, he said, that the 76 [73] Senators2 who are urging the President to sell Phantoms to Israel did so out of a deep concern over Soviet actions. It did not take much to arouse this country against the Soviets if a threat to our interests was sensed. Sisco said that this ready reservoir of popular US anti-Soviet sentiment could well make life more difficult for both our governments.

Vorontsov said the Israelis were trying to get the US and the Soviets embroiled with each other and were responsible for the Congressional actions. In Soviet judgment, most Americans understood the policies of confrontation could not accomplish anything vis-à-vis the Soviets, who could not be intimidated. Most US people wanted the US to keep its hands off in the Middle East and elsewhere. Only the Israelis and a few Americans were picturing the Middle East conflict as one between the Soviet Goliath and the Israeli David.

I said that Vorontsov should not underrate the suspicion of the USSR that remains among many Americans, even if it seems now to be largely beneath the surface. Americans were still capable of being aroused by Soviet efforts to damage our interests. It was a mistake to think that the Israelis alone were responsible for pressures on the Phantoms or for our concern about Soviet conduct in the Middle East.

Helmut Sonnenfeldt 3
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 284, Memcons of Staff, January–September 1970. Confidential. Sent for information. Copies were sent to Kissinger and Ash.
  2. In reaction to the President’s decision to postpone delivery of F–4 Phantom jet fighter– bombers to Israel, 73 Senators sent a letter to the President urging him to reconsider.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.