22. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
- James R. Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense
- Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Secretary Schlesinger: What are your travel plans?
Secretary Kissinger: I have to go to India on my way to the Soviet Union and the Middle East at some time.[Page 108]
Secretary Schlesinger: How is it going?
Secretary Kissinger: I had good talks with Allon. They are unrealistic. They seem to think they can stall for a year or two. They are getting ready to repeat the strategy of 1971—not to stonewall, but they’re bringing up devices for stalling.
But they have to move on Jordan to keep the Palestinians quiet. If there is another oil crisis, we will have a world economic collapse.
How is Project Independence coming?
General Scowcroft: It is going nowhere.
Secretary Schlesinger: There is no way to get there. It takes enormous concentration because the authority is so confused. I pushed this business in the AEC and was frustrated then.
Kissinger: We will never get oil prices down if we talk about it the way we are.
Schlesinger: Our industry is collapsing. We can’t even get tank turrets produced any more.
Kissinger: Baker told me about communication security and we haven’t done anything for 10 years.
Let’s talk energy. What do we have to do to get going? The chances of a war in the next year are 40–60.
Schlesinger: Would we take Abu Dhabi?
Kissinger: We should plan for it.
Schlesinger: I may put some Marines in the Indian Ocean.
Simon is talking about breaking the Shah. That’s crazy.
Kissinger: He is the one real element of stability. We will know within three months whether we can get a process going in the Middle East. If not, there will probably be a war within a year.
Schlesinger: How should we handle the Israelis?
Kissinger: The President has given Brent and me orders not to deliver anything. That is not realistic. They have two lists. They said you okayed it subject to my approval.
Schlesinger: I said that only with respect to the laser-guided weapons would I talk to you.
Kissinger: They are trying to play between you and me. The Kalb book started it. They are spreading the word that you support them and then that makes me the bogey man. They think we will both be protesting it isn’t us, and so they will get their way. We need some technical excuses. They can roll any aid bill through the Congress. The only resistance they take seriously is that of the President—and they think he is paralyzed now.
What Israel lacks now is the determination to bite the bullet. But another war could be a disaster—with an oil embargo, European pres[Page 109]sures, the possibility the Soviets won’t be so craven, which we can’t count on.
Schlesinger: It is in their ethos.
Kissinger: They probably will be more risk-taking next year.
Israel has to negotiate with either Jordan or Egypt and get the other in line to negotiate. They haven’t refused, but if we fulfill everything they want, we reverse their incentive.
Schlesinger: We won’t do it, then. We will do it only if they deliver. How about the Redeye?
Kissinger: I better talk to the President. He has given orders.
Schlesinger: We can give them Redeye and some M–48’s.
Kissinger: How about the LGB and Cobras?
Schlesinger: I would wait for more movement.
Kissinger: Let me talk with the President. I am sympathetic with the tanks and half way with the Redeye.
Schlesinger: We have pressured the Soviets not to distribute Strelas.
Kissinger: Just to the fedayeen, no?
Another oil crisis would be bad.
Schlesinger: We might have to seize Abu Dhabi.
[There was some further discussion of oil and investment]
Kissinger: Do we have contingency plans to handle Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia?
Schlesinger: It would take a lot of men and ships. We could put a couple of brigades in Diego Garcia.
Kissinger: I fought for you before Mahon. He said they wanted to cut $3 billion.
Schlesinger: About $1 billion of real cuts.
Kissinger: I must tell Egypt that they must not play with the oil thing again.
Schlesinger: Are they the best?
Kissinger: Yes. Because they will get the word out, and it isn’t a threat to them. I will propose talks with Egypt in September through Washington and that they open talks with Jordan, to be completed after Egypt. If they agree to this we can open the taps a bit. But can we argue it’s production rather than a political hold up.
Schlesinger: Yes, but not across the board.
Kissinger: Let’s do a restricted NSSM—we can hide behind it.
Schlesinger: The next war will be more like the 1967 rather than the 1973.
Kissinger: I agree.[Page 110]
If we can get Egypt out and get Jordan arguing with the PLO, Syria can’t do much by itself.
Schlesinger: If one of the Gulf states blows up, could we have the Saudis take it?
Kissinger: Tell the Saudis the Iranians will do it if they don’t.
[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Middle East.]
Summary: Kissinger, Schlesinger, and Scowcroft discussed Gulf contingency planning, the possible effects of a second oil embargo, and military supply to Middle East countries.
Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 4, Nixon Administration. Top Secret. The meeting took place at the Pentagon. Kissinger met with Allon at Camp David July 31–August 1. The records of their conversations are in↩
Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXVI, Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1974–1976, Documents 93 and 94.