114. Editorial Note

At the end of the day on October 6, 1973, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger met with the head of the People’s Republic of China’s Liaison Office, Huang Zhen, at the White House. According to a memorandum of conversation, Kissinger discussed the United States’ grand strategy in the current Middle East crisis. He assured the Chinese that “our strategic objective is to prevent the Soviet Union from getting a dominant position in the Middle East,” and maintained that the President wanted to use this crisis “to demonstrate that whoever gets help from the Soviet Union cannot achieve his objective, whatever it is.” Kissinger also noted that the United States hoped to prevent “a situation in which a country uses international disputes to attack and then ask for a ceasefire after it has gained some territory.” As far as the Arab states were concerned, Kissinger emphasized to Ambassador Huang that he was doing them a favor by calling for an immediate return to the status quo ante before the fighting started:

Kissinger: For today and tomorrow the Arabs think this is disadvantageous for them. They think it is asking them to give something up. By Tuesday and Wednesday if the war isn’t ended, the Arabs will be pleading with us to get this for them, since within 72 to 96 hours the Arabs will be completely defeated. And we have to think of that situation, not of today’s situation when they have gained a little territory. I am not asking anything from the Chinese side. I am really explaining what we are thinking.

Huang: It is not possible for us to do anything.

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Kissinger: I am not asking you to do anything. I thought the Prime Minister and Vice Prime Minister in New York might like to know what our thinking is as the situation develops. So we want to say now that we are for a return to the ceasefire line, so we can say it later when Israel has broken through into Syria.”

Kissinger also told Ambassador Huang that Israel was merely “a secondary, emotional problem having to do with domestic politics here.” (Memorandum of conversation, October 6, 9:10–9:30 p.m.; National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Policy Planning Staff, Director’s Files (Winston Lord), 1969–1977, Box 328, China Exchanges July 10–October 31, 1973)

Following his meeting with Huang, Kissinger telephoned the British Ambassador to the United States, Lord Cromer, at 9:38 p.m. to reiterate the need for a cease-fire and to inform him of the actions the United States would be taking in the Security Council the following day:

“[K:] Our thinking is that we probably won’t be able to avoid calling for the Security Council meeting tomorrow sometime.

“C: No. That is OK.

“K: But we really feel very strongly that a simple ceasefire is (a) short sighted in the present circumstances and I will tell you why. Our judgment is that within 72 hours the Israelis will be pushing deep into Syria. They may not go into—beyond the Suez Canal but they will wipe out what is there. And we may then find such a resolution extremely handy on getting them back. Oh, well—

“C: Oh, well, I think . . .

“K: In addition to the general principles which I stated earlier. Now we are quite determined that if the Israelis go beyond the present cease-fire lines that we will push them back.

“C: Yes, that is the point I was trying to make. If we they do that, then I think we are going to have a new situation.

“K: Yes, but if we don’t position ourselves now. Let me tell you, Eban is not eager to have a Security Council meeting.

“C: I am sure he is not.

“K: And . . . if there is one, he wants to return to the status quo ante.

“C: Yes . . . I think it is a very difficult one.

“K: Now what we will do—it will go to the Security Council tomorrow and I am just telling it to your people so that they can think about it. We do not intend to fall on our swords to get a vote tomorrow.

“C: No.

“K: What we will do is to introduce our resolution. And then we don’t mind going at a stately pace.” (National Archives, Nixon Presi[Page 340]dential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 22)