132. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger1

P: Hi, Henry. What’s the latest news? I got the military news.

K: Yeah. Well, on the diplomatic front we had another message from Brezhnev asking us not to table a Resolution and promising us he would not table a Resolution without consulting with us, telling us they are using a great effort on the Arabs.2

P: Yeah.

K: First of all, if this turns out to be true—Well, first of all, we’re in no hurry to table anything.

P: No.

K: We’re making our record. We’re the only ones that are pushing for anything.

[Page 389]

P: Yeah, yeah.

K: But if we bring it off—By Thursday3 it will be over in my view.

P: Oh, sure.

K: If we bring it off, Mr. President, if this thing ends without a blowup with either the Arabs or the Soviets, it will be a miracle and a triumph.

P: Right. The one thing we have to be concerned about, which you and I know looking down the road, is that the Israelis when they finish clobbering the Egyptians and the Syrians, which they will do, will be even more impossible to deal with than before and you and I have got to determine in our own minds, we must have a diplomatic settlement there.

K: I agree with you.

P: We must have. We must not tell them that now but we have got to do it. You see, they could feel so strong as a result of this, they’d say: Well, why do we have to settle? Understand? We must not, we must not under any circumstances allow them because of the victory that they’re going to win—and they’ll win it, thank God, they should—but we must not get away with just having this thing hang over for another four years and have us at odds with the Arab world. We’re not going to do it anymore.

K: I agree with that completely, Mr. President. But what we are doing this week is putting us in a position to do—

P: To do something, that’s right.

K: To do something.

P: And to do something with the Russians too.

K: Exactly.

P: I’m not tough on the Israelis. Fortunately, the Israelis will beat these guys so badly I hope that we can make sort of a reasonable—You and I both know they can’t go back to the other borders. But we must not, on the other hand, say that because the Israelis win this war as they won the ’67 war, that we just go on with status quo. It can’t be done.

K: I couldn’t agree more. I think what we are doing this week will help us next month.

P: Maybe. I hope so. But in any event, on Brezhnev, he may be wanting—Of course, the other thing that Brezhnev may be thinking of, his clients are going to get clobbered. You know, that’s the only reason Kosygin came to see Johnson.

K: Yeah, but in ’67 they were slamming their fleet around, they were threatening war, they were castigating us at the Security Council [Page 390]. . . breaking diplomatic relations with us, threatening our oil installations. And no one has made a peep against us yet.

P: That’s great.

K: And that’s a major triumph for our policy and we can use it in the MFN fight.

P: Thank God, yeah. You’ve got the Congress in good shape and you’ve got . . .

K: I had a good talk with Stennis.4

P: How good? Does he think we’re doing the right thing?

K: Oh, he says he’s marking it down on his calendar. He said it’s a great day.

P: Because why?

K: Because he thinks we’re in control and we’re handling it well.

P: Right. Good, good, good. That’s good. Actually though, the Israelis are really moving now, aren’t they?

K: Well, they will be by tomorrow morning. I mean, they’re in a position now from which they will—

P: They’ll cut the Egyptians off. Poor dumb Egyptians getting across the Canal and all the bridges will be blown up. They’ll cut them all off—30 or 40 thousand of them. Go over and destroy the SAM sites. The Syrians will probably go rushing back across now.

K: No, the Syrians—that will turn into a turkey shoot by Wednesday.5

P: Yeah, yeah . . . surrender.

K: Either surrender or a terrific shellacking.

P: Just so the Israelis don’t get to the point where they say to us: We will not settle except on the basis of everything we got. They can’t do that, Henry. They can’t do that to us again. They’ve done it to us for four years but no more.

K: The first thing we’ve got to do is to get them back to their lines prior to the ceasefire.

P: I agree.

K: Which this they’ve promised us. But no one else knows we’re going to manage it. And the next step then will be to start the diplomatic offensive.

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P: Right.

K: Right after the election, which is two weeks from now.

P: That’s right. Oh, I know, you’ve got to wait until after that. The first of November.

K: Right.

P: Good. Let me know if anything comes along.

K: But if we can hold this present situation another 48 hours, Mr. President it will be a great triumph for you.

P: Maybe that’s right.

K: No. Yeah, because we can brief the hell out of this one.

P: Why?

K: Just compare it to ’67.

P: Yeah, I guess so. Well, we thought we could brief the #@*! out of Jordan. It didn’t help much.

K: Jordan we never briefed much.

P: Never did, did we?

K: No.

P: That was really a good one though.

K: But there we couldn’t tell the truth.

P: We really with no cards at all—just like India/Pakistan—played a hell of a game.

K: Exactly.

P: This time we don’t have any cards either.

K: We’re playing a pretty good game.

P: That’s right. Okay, Henry, thank you.

K: Right.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 22. No classification marking.
  2. See Document 130.
  3. October 11.
  4. Kissinger and Stennis talked on the telephone at 10:20 a.m. on October 8. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 22) Printed in Kissinger, Crisis, p. 116.
  5. October 10.