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Preface

The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the United States Government. The Historian of the Department of State is charged with the responsibility for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series. The staff of the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, under the direction of the General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, plans, researches, compiles, and edits the volumes in the series. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg first promulgated official regulations codifying specific standards for the selection and editing of documents for the series on March 26, 1925. These regulations, with minor modifications, guided the series through 1991.

Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, established a new statutory charter for the preparation of the series which was signed by President George H.W. Bush on October 28, 1991. Section 198 of P.L. 102–138 added a new Title IV to the Department of State’s Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 U.S.C. 4351, et seq.).

The statute requires that the Foreign Relations series be a thorough, accurate, and reliable record of major United States diplomatic activity. The volumes of the series should include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government. The statute also confirms the editing principles established by Secretary Kellogg: the Foreign Relations series is guided by the principles of historical objectivity and accuracy; records should not be altered or deletions made without indicating in the published text that a deletion has been made; the published record should omit no facts that were of major importance in reaching a decision; and nothing should be omitted for the purposes of concealing a defect in policy. The statute also requires that the Foreign Relations series be published not more than 30 years after the events recorded.

Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that document the most important issues in the foreign policy of the administrations of Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. The subseries presents a documentary record of major foreign policy decisions and actions of both presidents. This volume documents U.S. policymaking toward the Arab-Israeli dispute between January and [Page IV]December 1973, i.e., the months before, during, and immediately after the Arab-Israeli War of October 1973.

Although part of a larger integrated series, this volume is intended to stand on its own. Readers who want a more complete context for U.S. policy toward the Arab-Israeli dispute during the Nixon and Ford administrations should consult other volumes in the 1969–1976 subseries of the Foreign Relations series. U.S. policy regarding the dispute during the first Nixon administration is covered in Volume XXIII, Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1969–1972, while U.S. policy regarding the Jordan crisis of September 1970 is addressed in Volume XXIV, Middle East Region and Arabian Peninsula, 1969–1972; Jordan, September 1970. U.S.-Soviet discussions on the Arab-Israeli Dispute—the “Two-Power Talks”—is documented in Volume XII, Soviet Union, 1969–1970, while superpower discussions on the Middle East leading up to and during the Moscow Summit is covered in Volume XIII, Soviet Union, 1970–1971 and Volume XIV, Soviet Union, 1971–1972. U.S.-Soviet discussions regarding the Arab-Israeli War of October 1973 are documented in Volume XV, Soviet Union, June 1972–August 1974. Readers will find extensive coverage of the oil and energy aspects of the dispute, including the U.S. response to the Arab oil embargo which followed the October 1973 War, in Volume XXXVI, Energy Crisis, 1969–1974, and Volume XXXVII, Energy Crisis, 1974–1980. The development of U.S. policy in the aftermath of the October 1973 War, highlighted by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s “shuttle diplomacy” between Israel and the Arab states, is documented in Volume XXVI, Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1974–1976. Lastly, readers interested in bilateral relations with Iran and Iraq during the Nixon and Ford administrations should consult Volume E–4, Documents on Iran and Iraq, 1969–1972, and Volume XXVII, Iran; Iraq, 1973–1976.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXV

The editors of this volume sought to present documentation that explains and illuminates the major foreign policy decisions taken by the administration of Richard M. Nixon toward the Arab-Israeli dispute in the months preceding, during, and immediately following the October 1973 War. Documentation in this volume includes memoranda; records of discussions both within the U.S. policy-making community, as well as with foreign officials; cables to and from U.S. diplomatic posts; and papers that set forth policy issues and options, and which show decisions or actions taken. The emphasis is on the process by which U.S. policy developed, and the major repercussions of its implementation rather than the details of policy execution.

This volume covers an important period in the history of the U.S. engagement with the Arab-Israeli dispute. The October 1973 War rep[Page V]resented not only a renewed clash of Arab and Israeli forces, it ignited an energy crisis brought on by an Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) oil embargo against the United States, and led to the threat of a direct superpower confrontation. The war also prompted the United States to undertake an unprecedented role in the pursuit of a negotiated settlement to the dispute.

At the beginning of 1973, the Middle East was in a state of diplomatic and military stalemate. There had been no overt armed clash of Arab and Israeli forces since the August 1970 ceasefire which ended the three-year Egyptian-Israeli War of Attrition and, with the exception of the Jordanian crisis the following month, no major event had occurred that disrupted the region’s strategic status quo in over two years. Moreover, efforts toward a diplomatic settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute during President Nixon’s first term, such as the Jarring mission and the Rogers Plan, had had little success. Even Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s decision to expel Soviet advisers from Egypt in July 1972 did not have an immediate effect on the stalemate. During his first term in office, Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry Kissinger, had been preoccupied largely with ending U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War, the burgeoning rapprochement with the People’s Republic of China, and pursuing détente with the Soviet Union. Yet both Nixon and Kissinger were aware of the importance of the Middle East to U.S. national security—economically, politically, and militarily—and, with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973, sought to launch a new diplomatic initiative for peace in the Middle East during Nixon’s second term.

In order for this new initiative to succeed, Nixon’s foreign policy team needed to confront the legacies of the 1967 war. The first third of this volume, covering January to October 1973, documents the Nixon administration’s efforts to break this diplomatic and military impasse while seeking to prevent simmering tensions from instigating renewed hostilities. Within this context, Washington attempted to address Israel’s continued insistence upon Arab recognition, direct negotiations, and security assurances as preconditions for its withdrawal from the territory it occupied in June 1967, territory which it considered necessary to act as a buffer against future Arab attacks. On the other hand, U.S. policymakers also had to grapple with Arab dissatisfaction toward a status quo that, from the Arab perspective, placed Israel in a dominant position. Indeed, Sadat had concluded by 1972 that military action was necessary to restore Egyptian honor and, more importantly, prompt U.S. diplomatic intervention, all with the ultimate aim of bringing about a peace settlement acceptable to the Arab states. Ultimately, the Nixon administration saw the conflict as part of the Cold War struggle; any move to bring the Arab states and Israel to a negoti[Page VI]ated settlement needed to take into consideration the Soviet Union, whose role in the region had risen significantly in the years since 1967.

The core of this volume is U.S. diplomacy during the course of the October 1973 War itself, the outbreak of which, following the attack by Egyptian and Syrian forces on Israeli positions in the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights on October 6, 1973, presented the United States with a number of profound and, at times, conflicting concerns. In a strictly regional context, the October 1973 War pushed the Nixon administration to weigh Washington’s historic commitment to the security of Israel alongside a desire to avoid an irreparable rift with the Arab world, especially Arab states such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia with which the United States had generally maintained good relations. Concurrently, the Nixon administration was compelled to address mounting concerns that the Soviet Union might exploit the tensions in the region, a prospect that would hamper, if not wreck, its pursuit of East-West détente. Within weeks, the shifting tide of the war against the Egyptians pushed the superpowers toward a military confrontation of their own. U.S. policymakers sought to prevent the war from triggering a wider, more destructive conflict that would shatter the regional and global power balance. The volume provides extensive documentation of the high level contacts between Washington and officials of the belligerent countries, the United Nations, and the Soviet Union. Due to the increasing impact of Watergate on Nixon and many of his advisors, Kissinger undertook the management of the conflict and efforts to bring about a negotiated ceasefire. The volume also illustrates the actions undertaken to initiate and execute the massive military re-supply of the Israel Defense Forces following the IDF’s heavy losses during the early stages of the war, the internal institutional politics of the airlift debate, and the largely unsuccessful diplomatic push to win the support for U.S. policy aims by Washington’s Western European allies.

The volume concludes by documenting events during the immediate postwar period. Following the October 1973 War, the quest for peace between Israel and the Arab states became a top priority for U.S. policymakers. Kissinger’s late October trip to the region, his first as Secretary of State, confirmed the U.S.’ growing postwar position as mediator in the Arab-Israeli dispute, one which would continue through the remainder of the 1970s. Yet Washington’s decision to actively aid the Israeli military presented a new set of diplomatic challenges. While the OAPEC oil embargo is documented extensively in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXVI, Energy Crisis, 1969–1974, the political dimensions of the embargo and the Nixon administration’s immediate response to them are presented here.

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time. Memoranda of conversations are placed according to the [Page VII]time and date of the conversation, rather than the date the memorandum was drafted.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor and the chief technical editor. The original document is reproduced as exactly as possible, including marginalia or other notations, which are described in the footnotes. Texts are transcribed and printed according to accepted conventions for the publication of historical documents in the limitations of modern typography. A heading has been supplied by the editors for each document included in the volume. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are retained as found in the original text, except that obvious typographical errors are silently corrected. Other mistakes and omissions in the documents are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an addition in roman type. Words or phrases underlined in the source text are printed in italics. Abbreviations and contractions are preserved as found in the original text, and a list of abbreviations is included in the front matter of each volume.

Bracketed insertions are also used to indicate omitted text that deals with an unrelated subject (in roman type) or that remains classified after declassification review (in italic type). The amount and, where possible, the nature of the material not declassified has been noted by indicating the number of lines or pages of text that were omitted. Entire documents withheld for declassification purposes have been accounted for and are listed by headings, source notes, and numbers of pages not declassified in their chronological place. All brackets that appear in the original document are so identified by footnotes. All ellipses are in the original documents.

The first footnote to each document indicates the source of the document, original classification, distribution, and drafting information. This note also provides the background of important documents and policies and indicates whether the President or his major policy advisers read the document.

Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in the volume, indicate the location of additional documentary sources, provide references to important related documents printed in other volumes, describe key events, and provide summaries of and citations to public statements that supplement and elucidate the printed documents. Information derived from memoirs and other first-hand accounts has been used when appropriate to supplement or explicate the official record.

The numbers in the index refer to document numbers rather than page numbers.

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Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, established under the Foreign Relations statute, reviews records, advises, and makes recommendations concerning the Foreign Relations series. The Advisory Committee monitors the overall compilation and editorial process of the series and advises on all aspects of the preparation and declassification of the series. The Advisory Committee does not necessarily review the contents of individual volumes in the series, but it makes recommendations on issues that come to its attention and reviews volumes as it deems necessary to fulfill its advisory and statutory obligations.

Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act Review

Under the terms of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) of 1974 (44 U.S.C. 2111 note), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has custody of the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The requirements of the PRMPA and implementing regulations govern access to the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA to review for additional restrictions in order to ensure the protection of the privacy rights of former Nixon White House officials, since these officials were not given the opportunity to separate their personal materials from public papers. Thus, the PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA formally to notify the Nixon Estate and former Nixon White House staff members that the agency is scheduling for public release Nixon White House historical materials. The Nixon Estate and former White House staff members have 30 days to contest the release of Nixon historical materials in which they were a participant or are mentioned. Further, the PRMPA and implementing regulations require NARA to segregate and return to the creator of files private and personal materials. All Foreign Relations volumes that include materials from NARA’s Nixon Presidential Materials Project are processed and released in accordance with the PRMPA.

Nixon White House Tapes

Access to the Nixon White House tape recordings is governed by the terms of the PRMPA and an access agreement with the Office of Presidential Libraries of the National Archives and Records Administration and the Nixon Estate. In February 1971, President Nixon initiated a voice activated taping system in the Oval Office of the White House and, subsequently, in the President’s Office in the Executive Office Building, Camp David, the Cabinet Room, and the White House and Camp David telephones. The audiotapes include conversations of President Nixon with his Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry[Page IX] Kissinger, other White House aides, Secretary of State William P. Rogers, other Cabinet officers, members of Congress, and key foreign officials. The clarity of the voices on the tape recordings is often very poor, but the editors have made every effort to verify the accuracy of the transcripts produced here. Readers are advised that the tape recording is the official document; the transcript represents an interpretation of that document. Through the use of digital audio and other advances in technology, the Office of the Historian has been able to enhance the tape recordings and over time produce more accurate transcripts. The result is that some transcripts printed here may differ from transcripts of the same conversations printed in previous Foreign Relations volumes. The most accurate transcripts possible, however, cannot substitute for listening to the recordings. Readers are urged to consult the recordings themselves for a full appreciation of those aspects of the conversations that cannot be captured in a transcript, such as the speakers’ inflections and emphases that may convey nuances of meaning, as well as the larger context of the discussion.

Declassification Review

The Office of Information Programs and Services, Bureau of Administration, conducted the declassification review for the Department of State of the documents published in this volume. The review was conducted in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12958, as amended, on Classified National Security Information and applicable laws.

The principle guiding declassification review is to release all information, subject only to the current requirements of national security as embodied in law and regulation. Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State, other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and the appropriate foreign governments regarding specific documents of those governments. The declassification review of this volume, which began in 2006 and was completed in 2010, resulted in the decision to withhold 3 documents in full, excise a paragraph or more in 9 documents, and make minor excisions of less than a paragraph in 37 documents.

The Office of the Historian is confident, on the basis of the research conducted in preparing this volume and as a result of the declassification review process described above, that the documentation and editorial notes presented here provide a thorough, accurate and reliable account of the Nixon administration’s policy toward the Arab-Israeli dispute in the months preceding, during, and immediately following the October 1973 War.

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Acknowledgements

The editors wish to acknowledge the assistance of officials at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project, located at the time of research at the National Archives and Records Administration (Archives II), at College Park, Maryland. The editors also wish to acknowledge the Richard Nixon Estate for allowing access to the Nixon Presidential recordings and the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace for facilitating that access. John Haynes of the Library of Congress was responsible for expediting access to the Kissinger Papers, including the transcripts of Henry Kissinger’s telephone conversations. Bill Burr of the National Security Archive was helpful throughout the compiling process in pointing to and providing copies of documents in his edited collection on the October 1973 War. The editors were able to use the Kissinger Papers, including the transcripts of telephone conversations, with the permission of Henry Kissinger. The editors would like to thank Rita Baker and Laurie Van Hook for their intellectual contributions to the volume. The editors would also like to thank Alex Wieland for his assistance and contributions in the final stages of producing the volume.

The volume was researched, selected, and annotated by Nina Howland and Craig Daigle under the supervision of Edward C. Keefer, former General Editor of the Foreign Relations series. Chris Tudda coordinated the declassification review under the supervision of Susan C. Weetman, Chief of the Declassification and Publishing Division. Renée Goings did the copy and technical editing. Do Mi Stauber prepared the index.

Ambassador Edward Brynn
Acting Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs
July 2010