96. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

P: I can’t get into this Israeli thing. I have a (education) group meeting coming up. I don’t quite understand State’s position and what we favor here. I want economic assistance and taking care of their losses and then the game plan—with increased Soviet movement we will move in amount (dictated). What basically is different?

K: State sent over a transigient [sic] statement.2 Bill will agree after I work it over.

P: So the statement is put on guidance. We will provide economic assistance up to 7 million dollars; and provide for losses3 but we’re not going beyond that point.

K: There seems to be some discussion over who will make the announcement. State thinks it’s going to be made over here.

P: They will make the announcement. That’s an order.

K: My concern is Jewish control of the press and Rabin’s request to see me with a message from Meir. I should tell Rabin that we will replace their losses and let the good news come out of here and the bad news from State.4

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P: Call Rabin in Thursday and tell him the good news—economic up to whatever it is.

K: Close to 8 mill. dollars.

P: Replace losses and Third, we will re-evaluate if there is a change.

K: Sisco recommends that they keep production at such a level we can get planes to them.

P: I recommended no on the memo5 because I didn’t want anything announced. I don’t want it to seem we are giving the Israelis everything they want.

K: We have to get across to the Israelis that this is a tactical move.

P: Tell Rogers that this is a diplomatic move and I want them to use it as a move with the Soviets on this.

K: If the Soviets stop moving arms, then we move right on this. We will change if the Soviets keep sending arms.

P: This is not the time to do it. We have problems in this country, even from those they think they have support from.

K: [omission in the original] Media will go for this even more. That’s my concern.

P: Rabin couldn’t control them against Pompidou 6 and I’m not sure he can control the intellectuals. Rabin should know this is policy.

K: The danger is that if we kick them in the teeth they might start a war.

P: We aren’t. We field the losses—put this in a peaceful context. We will be of assistance there then put it to the Soviets. We are not going along on a massive Israeli request. It would force the Soviets into a massive reaction including men into the UAR.

K: They have held back and now we must see what they are doing.

P: You decide whether you want to tell Dobrynin.

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K: I’m seeing him today on SALT.7

P: But I don’t think this soon. Let Rogers tell him. And State is to make the announcement.

K: I will get that set this afternoon and they will make the announcement Friday.

P: You prepare the papers. I will be tied up until [omission in the original].

K: There’s another issue—My Lai. That general is going to find disciplinary problems and I think you should stay out of that.8

P: That should be done at the Laird level.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 4, Chronological File. No classification marking. All brackets are in the original except those indicating text omitted in the original and “[sic]”, added for clarity.
  2. Likely a reference to the Department’s plan, attached as Tab B to Kissinger’s memorandum to Nixon, Document 95.
  3. Of Phantom jet aircraft.
  4. Kissinger met with Rabin on March 12. See Document 99.
  5. See footnote 4, Document 95.
  6. Roughly 10,000 demonstrators led by American Jewish organizations jeered French President Georges Pompidou as he and his wife arrived in Chicago for a dinner sponsored by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. The demonstrators were protesting France’s decision not to sell arms to Israel. (New York Times, March 1, 1970, p. 9) Haldeman recorded in his diary on March 1 that Nixon received news of the protests from Protocol Chief Emil Mosbacher. “P[resident] furious. Will announce cancellation of Israel arms tomorrow, wants legislation to provide protection for foreign visitors, and he will go to New York dinner tomorrow night to add an extra touch. Really disturbed because Mrs. Pompidou has decided to go home tonight, wants to try and stop her. So we swing into immediate action this afternoon and have all the wheels grinding. Fun to have a crisis, if only a little one.” ( Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition, March, 1, 1970)
  7. For the memorandum of conversation of Kissinger’s March 10 meeting with Dobrynin, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 140.
  8. Reference is to the U.S. attack on unarmed Vietnamese civilians in the village of My Lai on March 16, 1968. Following public disclosure of the killings by investigative journalist Seymour M. Hersh in November 1969, Secretary of the Army Stanley R. Resor and Army Chief of Staff General William C. Westmoreland appointed Lieutenant General William R. Peers to conduct a thorough review of the events. Peers concluded in a March 17, 1970, report that a “tragedy of major proportions” occurred at My Lai, which prompted action against 14 officers, including the commanding officer of the American Division, Major General Samuel W. Koster, by then Superintendent of West Point. The officers were accused of dereliction of duty and supression of evidence. Platoon commander Lt. William L. Calley was found guilty of murder but was freed in 1974 after three years confinement at Fort Benning, Georgia. The others were acquitted or never tried. (New York Times, April 9, 1984)