231. Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting1

    • Middle East; Vietnam and Cambodia
    • Chairman
      • Henry A. Kissinger
    • State
      • Kenneth Rush
      • **Joseph Sisco
      • *Arthur Hummel
      • Robert McCloskey
    • Defense
      • William Clements
      • Robert C. Hill
    • JCS
      • Adm. Thomas H. Moorer
      • V/Adm. John P. Weinel
    • CIA
      • William Colby
      • **Samuel Hoskinson
      • *William Christinson
    • NSC
      • Gen. Brent Scowcroft
      • **Harold Saunders
      • *William Stearman
      • *Lt. Col. Stukel
      • Jeanne W. Davis


Middle East

It was agreed that:

[Omitted here is information unrelated to oil. A note on the original indicates there were separate Summaries of Conclusions for the Middle East and for Vietnam and Cambodia.]

… the President’s message on the oil emergency will be redrafted to eliminate mention of the Middle East situation and of any numbers; it should be cast in terms of U.S. energy needs and the steps being taken to meet them.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

[Page 657]

Secretary Kissinger: Can we turn to the oil emergency? I understand that has deteriorated into a proliferation of meetings—there were 55 people at the last one.2

Mr. Clements: It was horrible.

Secretary Kissinger: It has now been decided that the President will put it out next week.3 Will that hurt or help if it happens just as I arrive in Cairo?4

Mr. Clements: I don’t like the latest draft. I’ve cautioned (Governor John) Love that we shouldn’t use all those numbers. That would be alarming.

Secretary Kissinger: Are the numbers still in the message? They have to come out. (to Gen. Scowcroft) We have to get that cut down. You see to it.

Mr. Clements: It just gives the Arabs the ammunition to come back to us.

Secretary Kissinger: If we can get it cleaned up, should we put it out next Tuesday5 or hold it?

Mr. Clements: We shouldn’t get it confused with your visit.

Secretary Kissinger: Should we wait a week?

Mr. Rush: (Saudi Petroleum Minister) Yamani told (Ambassador) Akins that one of the reasons for their actions on oil was to show the US that they will have to turn to other sources of energy. They can pump half the oil at twice the price.

Secretary Kissinger: No, that wasn’t why they did it.

Mr. Rush: But it’s true that we do have to turn to other sources. If we don’t put the message out now, but wait until you come back from your trip, it will look as though the trip was a failure. We should talk about the worldwide energy shortage and how we intend to meet it.

Secretary Kissinger: Let’s set up a committee to rewrite the message—Bill (Clements), Joe (Sisco) and Hal (Saunders)—let’s do it today.

[Page 658]

Mr. Sisco: It should be very low-key—to meet our energy needs, we are taking the following steps.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, there should be no mention of the Middle East, no numbers. We’ll get the latest draft, rewrite it here so there will be no jurisdictional disputes, then Scowcroft can ram it down their throats. We’ll put it out Tuesday. Scowcroft will monitor it.

Mr. Sisco: I’ve talked with the best Arabists in the (State) Department, and they feel strongly we should go on Tuesday.

Secretary Kissinger: But there will be no cracks at the Arabs.

Mr. Clements: Absolutely.

Mr. Rush: It’s not retaliatory—we’re just meeting an economic need.

Mr. Clements: (to Secretary Kissinger) Did you see that report from Germany that they are going to announce rationing today or tomorrow—they’re reaching for a 12% cut in consumption, but they can’t do it.

Mr. Rush: Ken Jamieson (of Exxon) is pushing them.

Secretary Kissinger: I thought we told Jamieson to shut up and not to panic people.

Mr. Clements: I don’t know whether he is there on his own initiative or whether the Germans asked him to come over.

Mr. Rush: He was already planning to go to Europe. That’s why he wanted to shift his appointment with you (Mr. Kissinger).

Secretary Kissinger: The last thing we need right now is for someone to panic.

Mr. Clements: That’s why I’m telling you.

Secretary Kissinger: Rationing in Germany won’t make any difference.

Mr. Clements: It certainly won’t help Henry (Kissinger) for the Germans to panic.

Secretary Kissinger: (to Mr. Rush) Will you call Jamieson and tell him to cool it.

Mr. Rush: I’d better call (Ambassador) Hillenbrand first and get the facts.

Secretary Kissinger: I thought we had agreed everyone could stay cool for two weeks.

Mr. Clements: We did. This will cause a chain reaction in Europe that couldn’t be more detrimental to your trip.

Secretary Kissinger: This will just create domestic pressure in those countries to put the squeeze on Israel. Then the Arab incentive to deal with us will go down. Ken (Rush), get hold of Jamieson immediately.

[Page 659]

Mr. Rush: I will.6

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–117, Washington Special Action Group, WSAG Minutes (Originals) 10/2/73–7/22/74. Top Secret; Nodis; Codeword. The meeting occurred in the White House Situation Room. The minutes are printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXV, Arab-Israeli Crisis and War, 1973, Document 308.
  2. Attended only portion on Middle East
  3. Attended only portion on Vietnam
  4. Attended only portion on Middle East
  5. Attended only portion on Vietnam
  6. Attended only portion on Middle East
  7. Attended only portion on Vietnam
  8. Attended only portion on Vietnam
  9. Presumably a reference to the meetings being held by Love. No minutes of those meetings were found.
  10. Nixon’s energy message was delivered on November 7. See Document 237.
  11. Kissinger’s stop in Cairo was part of a longer trip throughout the Middle East and Asia. Kissinger was in Morocco (November 5–6), Tunisia (November 6), Cairo (November 6–7), Jordan (November 8), Saudi Arabia (November 8–9), Iran (November 9), Pakistan (November 10), China (November 10–14), Japan (November 14–16), and South Korea (November 16).
  12. November 6.
  13. In a telephone conversation that evening at 6 p.m., Kissinger told Jamieson, “the best thing you can do is keep everybody from taking panicky action while invoking the gravity of the situation. If we can alleviate the situation on this trip we will know that soon, if we cannot avoid it, if we can avoid the temptation of these people buttering up Saudi Arabia, saying the government is stupid, and that kind of thing.” He added, “If they have grave doubts about the government, if they think we are not doing enough, tell them we will continue to press, believe me we are doing everything we can. We have got to organize pressure to face the onslaught of the Israeli lobby.” Kissinger promised to talk “with absolute frankness with King Faisal,” and ask that he ease the embargo for 6 months, then reimpose it if needed. Jamieson promised to “take the line you suggested.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 23, Chronological Files, October 1973)