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44. Memorandum for the Record1

SUBJECT

  • Washington Special Actions Group Meeting, San Clemente, August 25, 1969

PARTICIPANTS

  • Dr. Kissinger
  • U. Alexis Johnson
  • Admiral Nels Johnson
  • G. Warren Nutter
  • John H. Holdridge
  • Thomas Karamessines

[Omitted here is discussion of Korean contingency plans and contingency plans for a Soviet attack on China.]

Middle East

1. It was agreed that an integrated paper was needed which would consider what to do to deter the Soviets, moving up the various situations from the least bad to the worst, noting that if deterral failed, then we would help the Israelis, and after going after Soviet LOCs, to face the decision of introducing US forces. The second draft of the papers would go through these considerations in detail.

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2. Dr. Kissinger felt that the best thing to do might be to make the Soviets fight in the Middle East rather than in Iran or Turkey. Admiral Johnson pointed out that our biggest problem is where we operate from, most advanced bases would be ruled out for one reason or another and we might have to fall back as far as the Azores.

3. Mr. Holdridge left the meeting at this point with Mr. Karamessines in order to make a flight back to Washington from Los Angeles.

John H. Holdridge
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS–76, Committees and Panels, Washington Special Actions Group, July–August, 1969. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. All brackets are in the original except those indicating text omitted by the editors. At the July 2 WSAG meeting, Kissinger asked Johnson “to see what could be done bureaucratically to set up a Middle East planning element.” Johnson replied that he would “look into what has been done in Middle East planning in the recent past and under the former administration.” At the August 8 WSAG meeting, the group decided that a Middle East scenario should be conceived “based on Arab attack of Israel, with Soviet military assistance extending beyond the now-existing border between the Arab States and Israel.” Minutes of both meetings are ibid.

    In National Security Decision Memorandum 19, July 3, Nixon directed that the political-military contingency plans prepared by NSC Interdepartmental Groups be forwarded to the Washington Special Actions Group. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL–314, National Security Memoranda) The WSAG was created on May 16 when the President directed that the Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee on Korea “be constituted on a permanent basis in the event of future similar crises worldwide.” Kissinger explained that Nixon “visualizes” that the WSAG would “confine itself to consideration of the policies and plans affecting crises.” Furthermore, “implementation of policy decisions and coordination of operations” would be “conducted through the interagency Crisis Task Forces prescribed by the Under Secretaries Committee under the authority of NSDM 8.” (Memorandum from Kissinger to Rogers, Laird, and Helms, May 16; ibid.) For NSDM 8, dated March 21, and Kissinger’s May 16 memorandum, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume II, Organization and Management of U.S. Foreign Policy, 1969–1972, Documents 31 and 45.