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314. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Dr. James R. Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense
  • William E. Colby, Director, Central Intelligence Agency
  • Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Maj. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Schlesinger: What about the Saudis?

Kissinger: What I can do with them depends on what I can do with Sadat.2

Schlesinger: The Saudis are getting heady over the power of oil.3 I am not sure they have a future aside from the West. They can’t survive spitting fire and brimstone at the West.

Kissinger: The Shah would play that game. He is raring to go. The Saudis are having trouble surviving in this kind of world and they have to be more radical than the radicals.

How is the energy speech coming? Should be matter-of-fact.

Scowcroft: It’s okay.

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Colby: Could I review my Meir scenario? I want to say that we can’t humiliate Sadat.

Moorer: We have a CENTO exercise in November. A couple of destroyers, right at the entrance to the Gulf. We haven’t gotten CENTO into this. It starts the 19th of November.

Kissinger: That is a good thing to have happen. Bill, you should stress the impact of what Europe and Japan will do if a crisis appears to be a result of Israeli intransigence.

Schlesinger: We need a public line on the Hancock when it arrives.

Kissinger: Routine. An exercise that we have been planning a long time.

I will discuss with the Shah. If he wants it in, I will let you know.

Schlesinger: No, off the coast of Oman.

Kissinger: Can it go into the Red Sea past the blockade?

Moorer: I don’t know if there is a blockade.

Schlesinger: What do I tell the Dutch? They were brave and they are running out of fuel.4

Colby: We could contribute oil.

Kissinger: I would tell them we will be sympathetic.

The Israelis are willing to negotiate on the ceasefire line and back off the roads if they can stay on the sides of the road.

Colby: The blockade is broken if Israel backs off. Could you leapfrog the short term and go to the long term?

Kissinger: They will be so easy on the long term!

My guess is the Israelis plan to stay on the West Bank as they did on the Canal.

Schlesinger: You have to keep the Third Army hostage to keep the Arabs in control.

Kissinger: Look at this—they would agree in principle to go to the October 22 lines, they would pull back from the roads, let UN on the road; there would be an exchange of prisoners and a lifting of the blockade. I can get the blockade lifted maybe by telling Sadat the best thing is to get Israel into a withdrawal posture.

Colby: Can we get them across the Canal before the elections?

Kissinger: Only if Egypt withdraws too, and that they won’t do.

I personally think the Sadat proposal is not bad: Egypt stays where it is and Israel pulls back 30 kilometers. Golda says that would be an [Page 875]Egyptian victory. If we had a demilitarized zone of 30 kilometers, Egypt couldn’t cross it without leaving their SAM protection.

If Yariv would tell them Monday5 there will be no more convoys; they would look so bad that I can come in Tuesday with a proposal that will look good.

Schlesinger: Get Sadat to push Faisal.

Kissinger: I have to promise Israeli disengagement right after the first of the year. The Israelis will scream and we must have unity in the country to stand up for it.

Is the oil message going Tuesday night?

Scowcroft: Yes.

Kissinger: We have to start working on the Jewish lobby.

I am disappointed in Jackson. He threatened me with a low defense budget if I didn’t go along.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to the Middle East.]

[Kissinger:] The Russians may make a run at us while I am away. What can we do?

Schlesinger: Turn Israel loose on the Third Army and tell Sadat if he lets the Soviets loose, it will be very bad.

Kissinger: That Syrian is a real rug merchant. He asked for a piece of Mount Hermon in return for the prisoners. He wanted the Syrian bodies back. He offered a territorial split.

Colby: We could aid Israel to blockade Latakia.

Schlesinger: Or work with the Turks to close the Straits.

Colby: Yes. If the Turks think they are being enveloped . . .

Kissinger: We are making an impact on Europe. Brandt sent a good letter. The French are improving their NATO declaration.

Schlesinger: The French are shits. What about the British?

Kissinger: Let’s do nothing until I get back. Then we will meet immediately. Brent, keep these people informed.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to the Middle East.]

Schlesinger: I will be back on Thursday.

Kissinger: Let’s work out a plan for grabbing some Middle East oil if we want.

Schlesinger: Abu Dhabi would give us what we want.

Kissinger: The Shah is cynical enough to discuss this with us.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 2. Secret. The breakfast meeting was held in the White House Map Room.
  2. A November 3 memorandum to Kissinger reported on Sadat’s November 2 meeting with Saudi King Faisal, during which Sadat was very optimistic over the prospects for the success of Kissinger’s forthcoming diplomatic mission to the Middle East. Sadat told Faisal he had finally decided that Kissinger was truly sincere in his desire to be evenhanded toward the Arabs and Israel. The Saudis did not want their oil embargo to be the only weapon in the Arab arsenal, so they were relieved to hear that Syria and Egypt considered themselves to be as strong militarily as they were before the war. The Egyptians were fully prepared to return to a war of attrition strategy if this became necessary. The King approved of maintaining this as an alternative and said he would continue to support and encourage Egypt to sustain a war capability until the Israelis withdrew to the 1967 lines. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 139, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, [November–December 1973])
  3. A November 4 report from Jidda noted that Saudi Minister of Defense and Aviation Prince Sultan had stated privately that when meeting with Kissinger King Faisal would take a position demanding maximum Israeli concessions—total withdrawal from Sinai and Gaza, from the West Bank of Jordan, from Jerusalem, and from the Golan Heights—before the Arab oil embargo would be lifted. Once negotiations commenced, however, the King would neither endorse nor oppose any particular settlement. He believed that Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and the Palestinian resistance movement deserved the right to make their own settlements on the basis of their own best interests. (Ibid., Box 40, Kissinger Trip Files, HAK Trip—Mid East, Islamabad, Peking, Tokyo, Seoul, State Cables, Nov. 5–16, 1973 [2 of 2])
  4. The oil embargo was extended to the Netherlands on October 23 because of its assistance to Israel.
  5. November 5.