294. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig), and Secretary of State Rogers1

K: Bill?

R: Yeah, Henry.

K: I’ve got Haig also on an extension because he was in on the conversations so that if you had any questions of nuances I might have missed, you can check with him. We had a call from Rabin, oh about half an hour or so ago, with the following information.2 He said they’ve undertaken reconnaissance—they haven’t had a full read-out yet—but their preliminary indication is that there is a substantial Syrian force in Irbid. It has not moved south as far as they can tell, but it is there and, otherwise, the situation is substantially as it’s been described in these cables. Secondly, they believe that air action alone is not going to be enough under these circumstances, and that ground action would be necessary. Thirdly, they wanted to know what our reaction would be if they thought ground action was necessary to accomplish the objective. I told him that, of course, I would have to check; that I couldn’t say. Last night, the President had said they should do what was necessary, as I told you. But I didn’t want to do it when the issue was theoretical, and wanted to make sure it would be put to him again.

R: Did they give any indication of the size of the force?

K: They had said it confirmed their original estimate which was about 200 tanks, but they had not had the full read-out yet on the pictures. They said it was a substantial force. To bring you up to date, I then called the President …

[Page 819]

[The Signal Operator interrupted to say the President was calling Mr. Kissinger]

The President came on.

K: Mr. President.

P: It seems if they go in on the ground, I think they should announce that they will withdraw—whether they do it at the time they go in or—they shouldn’t do it under pressure, but it’s better to do it early—that they will withdraw when the Syrians withdraw from Jordan. Do you see the point?

K: Right.

P: They shouldn’t leave the implication, which again will make it politically more difficult for them than to just go in and sit there. Don’t you think so?

K: Right.

P: Don’t you think so?

K: I think that would be very helpful. They’ll be tough as hell on all these things.

P: I understand.

K: But that should certainly be our position.

P: Therefore, it’s also a position that we’re going to have to take with them later, and it’s also in their interest. They look awful good here.

K: I, incidentally, asked him that point, and he said, “well this depends on how things develop in Jordan, if the whole thing comes apart” … but yours, of course, is on the assumption that it won’t come apart.

P: I mean, that’s a different ballgame. If the whole thing comes apart, they’ve changed their minds. But when they go in, they should say that.

K: Absolutely.

P: And break their word.

K: I completely agree with you.

P: Tell them they have to look good at the beginning, so that that will help things not coming apart in Jordan.

K: Right, Mr. President.

P: That’s the whole point of this. If things come apart, then they break their word and we understand.

K: Right.

P: Okay, that’s going to help them.

K: Right, Mr. President.

[End of tape]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 30, Chronological Files. No classification marking. The time is handwritten. All brackets are in the original.
  2. No other record of conversation has been found.