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140. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • President Nixon
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Assistant to the President
  • Ron Ziegler, Press Secretary
  • Maj. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, Dept. Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

The President: Give no background—especially to that jackass Jackson.2

Kissinger: The information we had prior to the outbreak was this. We had been receiving information about the buildup. I asked Dinitz for an assessment. He said there was no chance of an attack and they had adopted defensive positions as a result of the Syrian air battle of last month.3

The President: Dinitz has to keep the pro-Israel group off our back.

Ziegler: The Guadalcanal is moving. What is that for?

Kissinger: It’s for the evacuation of Libya. It should be by helicopter, not the 82nd.

The President: How about Dobrynin?

Kissinger: I told him if they are playing games, it risked the whole relationship.4

Up to Saturday5 there was unanimity that the Arab buildup was defensive. Friday night we got an Israeli message, disturbed about events that day. Saturday morning they told Keating they wouldn’t attack.6

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Never once did we tell the Israelis not to attack. After the war started, I approached the Soviets; the British were for a joint approach in the Security Council. The Soviets refused; the British wanted a simple ceasefire, but then decided not to submit any resolution. The Chinese had no instructions.

Golda said they would have victory by Wednesday night and not to table a resolution before Tuesday.7

Egypt is opposed to a resolution also.

The Soviet Union has asked for us to hold off on a resolution while they work with the Arabs.8

For us to table a resolution would be a disaster right now. If the Russians come in with a simple ceasefire, we are in trouble. We can’t veto it. We either vote yes or abstain.

We are still in good shape. We are the only ones that both sides are talking to. We have two messages from Ismail;9 we kept Jordan out; we have a message of thanks from Lebanon;10 and we are in touch with the Russians.

The President: How many Americans are there in Israel?

Kissinger: If the Arabs sense that the Israelis have lost more than they have admitted, they might rush in.

The President: Why do we have such lousy tanks?

Let’s give them some M–60 tanks. It would give them great assurance if we could eventually give them laser bombs.

Let’s go ahead on the consumables. But the quid pro quo is to tell Golda to call off the Jewish Community in this country. If it gets hairy, we may need to do more.

Kissinger: But not today.

The President: The Israelis must not be allowed to lose. How about sneaking in planes and tanks?

Kissinger: We can wait until Thursday.11 If the Israelis for the first time were pushed back by Arabs . . .

The President: Let’s identify the tanks and planes on a contingency basis—in Europe.

Kissinger: We want to stick by Israel now so they won’t turn on you during the diplomatic phase.

For the leadership meeting. They’ll ask: Will we replace the equipment?

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Keep it as cool as possible at the leadership meeting. It will keep the Arabs quiet and the Israelis know what we will be doing.

The Israelis will face a new problem. They have lost their invincibility and the Arabs have lost their sense of inferiority.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 2. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office.
  2. Kissinger and Nixon were planning to meet with the Congressional leadership the following morning. See Document 143.
  3. See Document 134.
  4. Kissinger spoke with Dobrynin on the telephone at 11:29 a.m. and told him that the Soviet Chargé in Amman was encouraging Hussein to join the fight. Dobrynin said that it was unbelievable, but agreed to check with Moscow. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Anatoli[y] Dobrynin File, Box 28)
  5. October 6.
  6. See Documents 95 and 99.
  7. October 9. See Document 115.
  8. See Document 130.
  9. See Document 118 and footnote 2, Document 138.
  10. Not further identified.
  11. October 11.