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268. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Kissinger and the White House Chief of Staff (Haig)1

K. I just had a letter from Brezhnev asking us to send forces in together or he would send them in alone.2

H. I was afraid of that.

K. I think we have to go to the mat on this one.

H. This is a reaction to your tough response?3

K. No, we just said we would veto any UN resolution. What they said is they would join if someone else proposed it.

H. Where are the Israelis at this point?

K. They’ve got the 3rd Army surrounded.

H. I think they’re playing chicken. They’re not going to put in forces at the end of the war. I don’t believe that.4

K. I don’t know . . . What’s going to keep them from flying paratroopers in?

H. Just think of what it will do for them. Of course, their argument is that Israel is not complying.

K. I think the Israelis should offer to back up. That is dangerous for they might insist they back up beyond the point where they were.

H. We don’t expect the Israelis to take that sort of thing. Do the Israelis know. I mean, have you brought them along?

[Page 737]

K. I’ve kept them informed.5 Should I wake up the President?

H. No.6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 23. No classification marking.
  2. Document 267. According to Kissinger’s memoirs, Dobrynin called him at 9:35 p.m. with a letter from Brezhnev so urgent that he had to read it to him on the phone. Kissinger wrote that he could see why: “It was an ultimatum.” (Years of Upheaval, p. 583) No other record of the telephone conversation has been found.
  3. After their 7:15 conversation (see Document 266), Kissinger and Dobrynin spoke again at 7:25 p.m. Speaking of the vote in the United Nations, Kissinger told Dobrynin: “if you want confrontation we will have to have one,” and he concluded: “We are going to veto and it would be a pity to be in a confrontation.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 23)
  4. Kissinger recalled later that he did not see it as a bluff, but that it made no difference because the United States could not afford to run the risk. If it remained passive in the face of the threat, the Soviet leadership would see no obstacle to turning it into a reality. (Years of Upheaval, p. 585)
  5. Kissinger called Dinitz at 10 p.m. to inform him: “The Soviets say if we don’t put forces in jointly they will go in unilaterally.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 23) Printed in Kissinger, Crisis, pp. 343–344.
  6. Kissinger wrote that he decided to call immediately for a WSAG meeting to convene that night at 10:30 p.m. (Ibid.) At 10:15 p.m., he called Dobrynin and warned: “ We are assembling our people to consider your letter. I just want you to know if any unilateral action is taken before we have had a chance to reply that will be very serious.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Anatoli[y] Dobrynin File, Box 28) Printed in Kissinger, Crisis, p. 365. See Document 269.