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220. Telegram From Secretary of State Kissinger to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1

Hakto 6. 1. I did not see the President’s message to me2 or the press release (AP–V168) relating to his instructions on letter to Brezhnev until I had returned from my first session with the Soviets. I was shocked at the tone of the instructions, the poor judgement in the content of the Brezhnev letter and the failure to let me know in advance that a press statement be issued.3

2. Did you, as I asked, take these matters up with Haig before final decisions were made?

3. The letter to Brezhnev has already been used against me; the General Secretary refused to accept it when I told him I would have to refer any scheme back to Washington for consideration, citing the fact that I already had full powers granted me by the President.

4. As a result, my position here is almost insoluble. If I carry out the letter of the President’s instructions it will totally wreck what little bargaining leverage I still have. Our first objective must be a cease-fire, that will be tough enough to get the Israelis to accept; it will be impossible as part of a global deal. If the war continues the consequences will be incalculable. We can pursue the course the President has in mind after a cease-fire made with Israeli acquiescence, but not before. In the meantime, a continuation of public comment can only ruin us all around.

5. It will be a near miracle if we bring off a cease-fire, but I think it can be done if we stay disciplined. The President can then work as he wishes.

6. I want you to know that I consider the tone and substance of his instructions to me to be unacceptable. We have brought foreign conduct to the point we have by avoiding gimmicks and holding to measured steps. I intend to continue with this approach, which I believe to be the appropriate course.

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7. I want to ensure that nothing I have said here or that is reported in other messages detailing my meetings is used in press meetings.

8. Please show this message to Haig.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 39, Kissinger Trip Files, HAK Trip—Moscow, Tel Aviv, London, HAKTO, SECTO, TOSEC, Misc., Oct. 20–23, 1973. Secret; Sensitive; Immediate.
  2. See Document 218.
  3. The letter to Brezhnev is Document 217. Regarding the President’s instructions, see footnote 2 thereto. The press release is not printed; but see Document 223.
  4. Kissinger recalled in his memoirs that when he returned to the guest house after his first session with Brezhnev, there was “another unnerving surprise”—the instructions from Nixon along with a White House announcement of the fact that the instructions had been sent. He commented that “the message, dictated personally by Nixon, was, however much I disagreed with it, an acute discussion of the Middle East problem, a remarkable feat of concentration considering the Watergate storm raging about him.” Kissinger noted that the instructions expressed Nixon’s conviction that the Soviet Union and the United States should jointly use the end of the war to impose a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. He remarked that it had been a blessing that he had been ignorant of this message during his session with Brezhnev since “American strategy so far had been to separate the cease-fire from a postwar political settlement and to reduce the Soviet role in the negotiations that would follow the cease-fire.” (Years of Upheaval, pp. 550–551)