205. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Kissinger and the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1

K. When Dinitz mentioned 20 helicopters . . .

S. They have asked for a total of 50, 25 of two kinds. Defense is now sending eight. It’s a big kind.

K. Will you let Dinitz know that tomorrow. We were supposed to tell them when we shipped the whole complement of Sky hawks.

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S. They were talking about it and whether we should ship ten more.

K. Can you get that done?

S. I will get that done right away and . . .

K. The Soviets have sent us a three-point plan2 which I will get over to you, of which points one and three are highly acceptable. Point two is not acceptable, however. It calls for a withdrawal to the line in Res. 242 which they will not accept. As to the frontiers . . . I called Dinitz and left out point three so I will have something to use as an incentive tomorrow. They are as obnoxious as the Vietnamese.

S. I think you have it started just right. By the time we get something down we can live with they will be relatively pleased.

K. They also told me they are going across with more tanks. I am afraid it will turn into a turkey shoot. If they keep going across somebody is going to get killed, that’s for sure.

S. The real danger is the Egyptian army is going to panic.

K. Once they get across in division strength that means the SAM belt is gone. When they see the army from top and bottom they are going to disintegrate. They are not that good. They won’t be able to get supplies. They’ll die of starvation. What I can’t understand is how they broke through the Canal.

S. That is a mystery to me. They had this new defense position. They broke through two divisions, one infantry and one armor.

K. Is that the detailed report?

S. Yes, they attacked through a strong point because if they went through a weak point they would have two strong divisions surrounding them.

K. They broke through a strong point and went across the Canal. They are a good army or the Egyptians are very bad.

S. The Israelis are very smart and audacious and willing to take chances and back them very strongly.

K. It is going to turn into a nightmare. I wonder if and when I should go to China. The Russians suggested negotiations be conducted between them and us and not have any other UN members, together with the Arabs and Israelis. You can imagine what Chou En Lai is going to say to this. Of course, the Europeans will go right up the wall.

S. Of course, the trick of trying to get negotiations with permanent members of the Security Council . . .

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K. I am going to get a message out to Ismail.3 Do you think that is all right? I thought I would say this will remain my position regardless of the military outcome but it might make them suspicious.

S. I like it and you should send off a message but telling them that might tip them and antagonize them.

K. I am afraid they will all get hung. I think this is the end of Sadat.

S. I think you are right. They might just run them out.

K. They have to be careful. The fact of the matter is when all is said and done it is a Soviet defeat. The same reasons why we could not accept an Israeli defeat will operate against them and even if they say the supplies did it, that should make them realize they better get on our side.

S. In that sense it couldn’t have been better.

K. When should I go to China? Next week has the advantage . . . Larry said the President will start a peace initiative when I am gone. I can’t think he will do too much without me.

S. I will want to reflect a bit. My first reaction is that he would.

K. You think he wants to give up a winning compromise. He will be up to his eyes in alligators with Cox next week.

S. He wants to be out in front with this one.

K. Supposing I go in two weeks. He can move even more easily then. I have three choices; to go next week, to go in two weeks, or to go in four weeks. Which do you think is best?

S. Honestly I don’t see how you can go next week. I think it would look bizarre now that we are at this point under almost any circumstances.

K. Should I delay two weeks or five weeks?

S. Five weeks would bring you up to November . . .

K. I then move up against the Nobel prize and NATO. My instincts are two weeks.

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S. If things move we may be at the point of a ceasefire and the meetings or something started.

K. I will have a ceasefire by Monday.4 I promise.

S. I agree there will be a ceasefire but I mean all the . . . will have quieted to the point it should be under control. That is probably too early to anticipate any real negotiations will be underway.

K. Have you heard about the Egyptians. They have already prepared for my arrival there.

S. That is probably that draft public announcement. That’s beautiful! They are something else.

K. In the nutty Arab world I am sort of a mythical figure. The Arabs think I am a magician.

S. That’s right. Might not be possible right now.

K. But I probably would have had an unbelievable welcome.

S. I think it would have been unbelievable. They have been so far. It has to be against all their instincts. They underestimated their military capacity.

K. If they had accepted our proposition last Saturday5 they would have been in a superb position.

S. They really would have. They just wanted a little more I guess. It just doesn’t make sense.

K. I will send those three points over to you.

S. Ok. Goodbye.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 22. No classification marking.
  2. See Document 202.
  3. In his memoirs, Kissinger wrote that at midnight on October 18, he sent “a conciliatory message” to Ismail for Sadat. Kissinger added: “Its basic point was to reaffirm the offer made two days earlier of a cease-fire linked to a reaffirmation of Resolution 242. To make clear that we respected Egypt’s dignity, I paid special attention to the fact ‘that Egypt and its Arab allies have brought about important changes in the situation as a result of the strength and the valor demonstrated on the battlefield. None of this should be jeopardized by further prolongation of the fighting.’” Kissinger concluded the message by reiterating the United States’ appeal for a cease-fire even in the changed military conditions: “‘Mr. Ismail knows the importance we attach to a prompt end to the hostilities and conditions that make possible a serious effort toward a fundamental settlement. This remains our view. To this end, it is important that both sides maintain a restrained attitude, keeping in mind the imperative need for a long-term relationship.’” (Years of Upheaval, p. 541)
  4. October 22.
  5. October 13.