65. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • New Soviet Doctrine on the Middle East

The recent official Soviet statement2 has disturbing implications beyond the particular problem of Lebanon with which it ostensibly dealt. It said:

“The firm belief is expressed in Soviet leading circles that not a single foreign power should encroach on the sovereignty of Lebanon and its right to settle its internal affairs and must not interfere in matters within the competence of the Arab states themselves.

This is reminiscent of the Brezhnev doctrine of limited sovereignty for Eastern Europe, which asserted that a threat to the security of a socialist state was a “common” problem and a “concern” for all socialist states.

In effect, the statement

—sets up the USSR as the arbiter of what constitutes a matter within the sole “competence” of the Arab states, and

—asserts the principle that the internal affairs of Lebanon or any other country in the area should be decided by the “Arab states themselves.”

One can be fairly certain that the Soviets will take credit for forestalling a US intervention as the Soviet press is now claiming. And there is no doubt that the Soviets have strengthened their hand in the area by their maneuver.

Left unchallenged, the Soviet statement puts the USSR in the position of placing a protective umbrella over radical Arab intervention in other Arab states.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 644, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East—General, Vol. II. Confidential. Sent for information.
  2. Sonnenfeldt sent a memorandum about the statement, which was released in Moscow on October 25, to Kissinger on October 29. (Ibid., Box 710, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. VI)
  3. Nixon underlined this sentence and wrote: “I agree. What is Sisco’s reaction & recommendation?”