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

K: I was told you were still up and I wanted to tell you. We have gone over everything at that meeting2 and Alex Johnson is preparing a diplomatic scenario for first thing in the morning if the Israelis go. We will call in the Soviets. The second possibility that State favors is if [omission in the original—Syrians] withdraw, we would ask the Israeli’s to withdraw.

P: I think the best thing is to say nothing and let them come to us. No reason to tell them.

K: The only argument for that is to warn them to stay out. They know the Syrians have been bad boys.

P: Under no circumstances. But to warn them to stay out— K: That might be useful.

P: This is happening because Syrians are there and we want you to stay out. All right.

K: We will report to our allies our general attitude but so no one’s nose gets out of joint. Moorer is preparing for contingency. Soviets probably knew about this and they will have a starchier reply than we now have. They may attack the Israelis from the air and we may have to fly air cover over Israel against the Soviets.

P: We will see.

K: The major thing is to go in and come out—

P: I understand. We know it’s a possibility. We will now find out.

K: Packard has been—we are getting together an assistance package for Jordan in case they need it and Israel for losses. We are telling the Jordanians that we have passed on messages to all people they wanted and question of assistance is being urgently and sympathetically considered. We are phrasing it constructively. As you said, the morale of the King is important.

P: He will tell his troops.

K: We will advise the Shah just to show him consideration.

P: What about the Arabs?

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K: We should keep quiet. They won’t tell them. There’s some feeling you might call in Congressional leaders tomorrow to advise them. If you want to consider evacuation scheme, you might want to inform them and it gives them flexibility.

P: We will consider it but late in the day.3

K: On the check list. If it breaks. Otherwise, everyone is tracking. We are meeting again in the morning and everyone will work down.

P: Russians flying with air strikes? I don’t believe it.

K: Not normally but their behavior lately—they are either incompetent or forcing a showdown. If they are incompetent, we will have an easy victory.

P: We will see what’s happening in the morning.

K: You pulled them together. Haig and I feel that. You’re calm and got to the heart of it. When they heard the Commander in Chief say this.

P: In the office we hadn’t had messages yet from the situation and they came in later and we were considering the contingency. Know we have told them there’s no question. The Secy. of State has spoken and the U.S. is committed.

K: I called Bill—couldn’t reach Laird—and he is content with everything. This time everyone is together.

P: We hope for the best. Thank you, Henry, and good night.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 30, Chronological Files. No classification marking.
  2. See Document 290.
  3. On September 22, President Nixon met with Senator Hugh Scott and Congressman Gerald Ford from 10:40 to 10:53 a.m., and with 13 Southern Democrats from 5:05 to 6:25 p.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)