285. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Among the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Secretary of State Rogers, and the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Sisco)1

K: We have a message here Joe should read to you.2 We were talking to Rabin when that message came in and we told him we would talk to him shortly.3

S: Here is what came in Mr. Secretary, from the King at 3:00. “Situation deteriorating dangerously following Syrian massive invasion. Northern forces disbanded. [omission in the original—Irbid] occupied. Having disastrous effect…. I request immediate intervention, both air and land to safeguard independence of Jordan. Immediate airstrike from any quarter plus air cover are imperative. …” What I am not clear from this is whether he is asking for British intervention or not.

R: Intervention by us or Israel? By anybody?

S: It obviously leaves both options open, in my judgment.

K: The way I read it air strikes from any quarter and the ground forces from us.

S: And they would also like British intervention. In light of this my own feeling would be that we now amend what we were going to tell Rabin and obviously Henry will have to check this with the President. (1) Give Israelis essence of the information in this message and go beyond merely a request for reconnaissance but to say to them that we would look favorably if they took this action. In fact, as we were talking and this message came in Rabin said there was no difficulty, but the first question the Israelis would ask is would the Americans agree we should do this. And we fenced, but this is an understandable question on their part.

R: My view is that we should favor it because if the King goes down the drain then the GD thing is a total mess. This way it will be a mess, but if they can save the King there is some advantage.

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S: One would hope that whatever the Israelis did is sufficient.

R: I think the question of whether we should land troops is different. As long as we are sure the King is requesting Israeli air support.

S: Well Mr. Secretary here is a previous message—let me read it so you will feel completely confident. (Read the British message)4 So the request to Israel for the air strike precedes this second one.

R: We have a request to the British and to us both so there is no doubt about it.

K: And we were not giving Rabin any satisfaction. In fact, Joe was doing the talking when at the precise moment the other message came in. The fact seems to me to be that if there isn’t an air strike the whole thing may come apart. I don’t think we have any choice.

R: No, I don’t think we have any choice. What it amounts to is Israel is just doing it now at the right time.

S: Bear in mind that the Russians are behind the Syrians.

R: I don’t think we have any choice. Let’s go ahead.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 30, Chronological Files. No classification marking. As implied in the first paragraph, this call probably took place at 10:20 p.m. Kissinger and Sisco were at the White House and Rogers was either at the State Department or at his home.
  2. Document 284.
  3. See Document 283.
  4. In telegram 7568 from London, September 20, 1242Z, the Embassy reported that King Hussein contacted the British Embassy in Amman asking for assistance “in coping with large Syrian armored force, even from Israelis.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 619, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan Crisis) See also Document 279.