303. Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

[Omitted here is conversation unrelated to the Middle East.]

Kissinger: Actually, you know, in the Middle East, our negotiations—we can claim 90 percent of the credit. If we had done what State did, the Russians would still be in Egypt. The way they conducted these negotiations created so much frustration in Egypt. I mean, we’ve now got to move after the election. Incidentally, Sadat sent you a message.2 I sent him a message, as I told you last week, that I’d be prepared to meet a representative of his [in] early October to—he wanted a private contact with us.3 I said early October is the earliest. He sent you a message saying he wants you to know he wants you to be re-elected.

Nixon: Hmm.

Kissinger: [laughs] I said [unclear] almost unanimous that he understands why you say early October.

Nixon: Well, our main game there is the Russians, as I told you.

Kissinger: Well, the way I would visualize it is if we could get a deal with the Egyptians, then we can make the same deal with the Russians, and then everybody will be happy.

Nixon: Well, what about the Israelis? [unclear]—

Kissinger: You’ll have to brutalize the Israelis.

Nixon: That has to be done in any event.

Kissinger: Mr. President—

Nixon: It’s in their own best interests.

Kissinger: —if we’re ever going to screw the Israelis—it’s not even screwing them—if we’re ever going to brutalize them—

Nixon: We’re doing what’s best for them.

Kissinger: I think the first half of next year is the time to do it. Get it done. Then, by the ’76, there’ll be a new card.

[Page 1034]

Nixon: The main thing is to do it for the reason that our interests vis-à-vis the Soviet Union must override everything else in the world today.

Kissinger: My objection to Rogers wasn’t that we were brutalizing the Israelis; it’s that we were cementing the Russians into the Middle East—

Nixon: That’s right.

Kissinger: —and that they were likely to produce a war. If you can pull off—if the Egyptians think that after moving to you that things got fluid—

Nixon: Yeah?

Kissinger: —while when they went to the Russians it didn’t work, you have restored the American position among the Arabs. You’ve—the Israelis trust you enough to know that they get—and we can get them a better deal, I believe, than what Rogers offered them. Not as good as they want, but better than what they were offered two years ago.

Nixon: That’s right.

Kissinger: So, while the Israelis won’t be happy—

Nixon: That’s right—

Kissinger: And this is why we shouldn’t make too many moves before November, but after that we should—

[unclear exchange]

[Omitted here is conversation unrelated to the Middle East.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Oval Office, Conversation No. 759–5. No classification marking. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon and Kissinger met from 10:34 to 11:47 a.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files) The editors transcribed the portion of the tape recording printed here specifically for this volume. Brackets indicate unclear portions of the original recording or those omitted by the editors except “[in]” and “[laughs]”, added for clarity.
  2. See Document 299.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 305.