122. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Kissinger: [Discussed Ray Cline piece on the October war.]2

On Allon: At the dinner on the last night it should be only Max Fisher from the Jewish community and no trained seals from the press.

You got a letter from Sadat.3

President: I thought it a statesmanlike letter.

Kissinger: He followed it up with an oral message.

President: What does Sadat need?

Kissinger: Israel has to give up the passes. Maybe just give Egypt a Western toehold and put the passes themselves under the UN. Israel is willing to give up the northern oil field, but I think they would give up the southern field too. If they gave up all the oilfields and maybe 50 kilometers in the north, we could play around with the passes.

A quick agreement carried out over nine months with a one-year extension of UNEF should take Egypt out of it.

If we get an agreement, I think we should give military aid to Egypt. The Egyptian military establishment can’t run down without the Egyptian military doing something about it.

President: I have an open mind about it.

Kissinger: It would be useful to tell Sadat we are turning in that direction.

President: How about covert aid?

Kissinger: That is not worth the risk. Three years ago it would have been easy—not now.

President: Do we need Congressional approval for cash subsidies?

[Page 466]

Scowcroft: Only if there is some prohibition on Egyptian aid.

Kissinger: If not, I would just announce it.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Arab-Israeli dispute.]

[Kissinger:] Back to Allon

If he has reasonable proposals, you can be conciliatory. If not, say we can’t underwrite them under these conditions. If there is no settlement, there will be a war and I don’t know how we would conduct ourselves in that situation.

[There was a discussion of laser-guided bombs.]

President: I told Jim4 I recognize the April 1st target but I had to be cognizant of our own units and we wouldn’t strip our units until we had full cooperation from Israel.

Kissinger: I think it is dangerous to put them in that strong a military position; then they are sorely tempted to tell us to go to hell.

A confrontation sometime down the road is inevitable. If they had moved on the West Bank, we could have avoided Rabat. Now Hussein is knocked out. If we can get something on Egypt, we can go to Geneva—Syria wants to—and let it get stalemated there. If there is another war I think—cost what may—you have to get a final settlement.

President: How shortsighted they are!

Kissinger: Three million people can’t stand against 120 million with unlimited resources. With Soviet backing. Winning is as dangerous as losing.

If the Israelis march on Damascus and the Soviets put in two divisions and announce they are just going to the ’67 borders, and call on us and the Europeans and Japanese to join in guaranteeing the ’67 borders . . .

[Omitted here is discussion of the Oval Office, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Golda Meir.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 7, December 9, 1974, Ford, Kissinger. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office at the White House. All brackets, except ones that describe omitted material, are in the original.
  2. A reference to Ray Cline’s article in Foreign Policy entitled “Policy Without Intelligence.” (Foreign Policy, No. 17 (Winter 1974–1975), p. 128)
  3. The letter has not been found.
  4. Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger.