144. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Rogers and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

R: I have had McCloskey go in2 and he won’t refer to this.

K: We can’t do anything about it now anyway. What the President wants is to give the announcement here and give the backgrounding to you.

R: What is the announcement? I understand “Godspeed” is in there.

K: We got the lines from you.

R: But if the thing falls through, which it might, and they had the statement from the President he’d have egg on his face. I am willing to take some risks, but I’m not sure the President should.

K: When should it be done?

R: Well, we said 12:00. It’s now 12:30. But if you announce it you are going to get a million questions that can’t be answered.3

K: The UAR hasn’t agreed to it yet.

R: We were going to say that there are rules, but we’re not releasing them now. We may now have ruined the thing.

[Page 496]

K: Not me because you haven’t been talking to me.

R: These things are operational and I think I should take the lead. This meeting last night4 screwed it up so badly . . .

K: Don’t be ridiculous.

R: I’m not being ridiculous.

K: You are being absurd. The thing was totally screwed up and everything I did was checked with Sisco. He said Mrs. Meir was about to resign . . .

R: You either have somebody running the operation or you don’t.

K: If you have a complaint, talk to the President. I am sick and tired of this. If he has a message for the President he isn’t going to give it to you. I was at a dinner last night. I had an urgent call. I came back to my office. As soon as I came in I called Sisco and Atherton for instructions.

R: He didn’t have a message for the President; he wanted to talk with you. When you have an audience with him they think they have two ways to play it. I don’t think it’s a good procedure. I am not saying you shouldn’t be involved . . .

K: I don’t want to be involved. I said I noted what he said and they would hear their answer from Sisco.

R: Well, you and I don’t see alike on these things. They need to have the idea that when we are acting we act pursuant to the President. If they have a feeling that there are two channels to the President they will use them differently.

K: I didn’t take it to the President. He doesn’t even know about it yet.

R: But they think you did. It would be helpful to me if, when all it is is carrying out orders, you would not take part in the discussions. When they have a message that’s different, but when they have a complaint about something they did with us, you should refer them to me or Sisco. I don’t think when you have such a critical matter they should have a feeling that they have got two ways to play it. They should think when we speak that we speak for the President.

K: There is no separate channel. Every conversation I have had I have sent you a memcon and I have checked every comment with Sisco and I have been told the fact that I backed Sisco has helped.

R: Why do you think they go to you?

K: To try to end run and get the President to overrule you.

R: That’s right.

K: But that has never happened.

[Page 497]

R: But why give them the impression that it might.

K: I thought they were going to tell me that they had attacked the SAM sites across the Canal.

R: I’m not making any headway. I think this is operational—I don’t think you should see these people. Anyway, let me know what the President wants. When is Ron5 going to do it?

K: When we get word from you that we can.6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 6, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. Department of State Spokesman Robert J. McCloskey. Reference is to the Department of State noon press briefing.
  3. McCloskey made the announcement at 1:45 p.m. EST in the name of the Secretary of State: “We have just been informed by the Governments of the United Arab Republic and Israel of their acceptance of the United States proposal for a standstill ceasefire to come into effect at 2200 Greenwich Mean Time today, Friday, August 7. We welcome this statesmanlike action taken by the leaders of the governments concerned. We hope this important decision will advance the prospects for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” (Department of State Bulletin, August 31, 1970, p. 244)
  4. Reference is to Kissinger’s 10 p.m. meeting on August 6 with Rabin and Argov concerning the cease-fire agreement. See Document 143.
  5. White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler.
  6. Referring to the disputes between Rogers and Kissinger over Middle East policy, Haldeman wrote that during a “long talk” about the issue with the President, Nixon said that Kissinger was “too self-concerned and inclined to overdramatize.” He also said that Kissinger was “overly concerned about anything that affects Israel,” but that the larger problem was that neither Rogers nor Kissinger would “really admit the other might be right.” ( Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition, July 16, 1970) A month later, Haldeman wrote that Kissinger’s admitted paranoia about “the State Department’s maneuvering” worried the President. Nixon commented that it “creates doubts about K[issinger]’s reliability on other recommendations, and gets in the way of his doing his work.” He added that Kissinger was “basically jealous of any idea not his own, and he just can’t swallow the apparent early success of the Middle East plan because it is Rogers’. In fact, he’s probably actually trying to make it fail for just this reason. Of all people, he has to keep his mind clean and clear, and instead he’s obsessed with these weird persecution delusions.” (Ibid., August 17, 1970)