Nixon's Plan for Israel to Invade Syria

Shmuel Rosner has pulled a fascinating snippet of history from the archives. He highlights one telling conversation between the then-Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Yitzhak Rabin and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger.

Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the Israeli Ambassador (Rabin), September 21, 7:05 p.m.

K: There is a point of clarification I want to raise with you. What did you tell [diplomat Joe] Sisco this afternoon about the alternate plan we mentioned to you this afternoon, the alternate courses of operations? [namely, attacking Syria.]

R: He raised the question. He said they estimated that Jordan didn't want ground operations in Jordan and he asked about the possibility of carrying out diversionary action in Syria. He asked my opinion. I made it very clear that diversionary operations cannot achieve anything unless the purpose is to eliminate the forces in Jordan.

K: I want to get one thing clear. Did I understand you correctly when we talked this afternoon that if a major operation was carried out in Syria, from a military point of view this was a feasible operation? You and I have to be meticulous in our understandings for this reason. What you tell me I report to the President. When another version is reported, my version must be the correct one. Otherwise there is no sense in my talking to you. I reported my understanding of the conversation this afternoon -- from a purely military point of view you expressed the thought that this might be an effective and probably the effective way of doing it.

R: Exactly.

K: We were told this evening that it was your judgment that from a military point of view it was not feasible [Kissinger refers to the report on the Sisco conversation].

R: This time it is recorded. He [Sisco] talked about diversionary tactics. I went into detail and explained to him. I said to him you don't have diversionary...

K: You don't have to explain any more than that.

R: It is unbelievable.

K: The only essential thing is that any time you deviate, even in the slightest -- which you didn't do... I want to know when I say in a meeting "It is my belief that this is the Israeli point of view," I want to be exactly right.