NEW REVELATIONS - Kissinger illegal invasions
The Americans were worried not only by Hussein's weakness in imposing his sovereignty on Yasser Arafat and his rivals in other fedayeen (guerrilla) organizations, but also about the passengers' lives and the evacuation of other American citizens who found themselves caught up in the battles in Amman.
In his conversations with his military adjutant, Alexander Haig, Kissinger groused about the behavior of Rogers ("that son of a bitch of a field marshal") and his aide for Middle East affairs Joseph Sisco, who eventually became Kissinger's own advisor on the same area of the world: "That son of a bitch will be on the phone to the secretary within two seconds," Kissinger warned Haig.
A typical maneuver of Kissinger's was to converse with Rabin and to instruct him on what to say (and what not to say) to Sisco. Kissinger withheld bits of information from Rabin. Twice, for example, he did not reveal to him that Nixon was present in his office and listening to their phone conversation. Here is a sampling of statements from those days:
Sisco to Kissinger: "Rabin also said that we no longer have to worry, because it is dark and he did not know any Arab who would fight at night."
Kissinger to Sisco: "Secretary Rogers and I have talked to the president. He still has a bias for using U.S. planes rather than Israeli planes if Iraqis or Syrians move into Jordan, but he is more receptive to a counterargument than he was yesterday."
Sisco: "He [Rogers] too wonders, however, why Americans are not better than Israelis. He has reached the same conclusion about the president's bias in favor of American air."
Kissinger: "It is not a question of who is better, the questions are: (1) who has the better reason for doing it - foreign intervention for the U.S. as opposed to a national security issue for the Israelis; (2) who can sustain it better there; (3) who has the deterrent force behind an initial strike. If things continue as they are, however, it may not be necessary.
"On military actions, the president has ordered the Kennedy to the Mediterranean, on the understanding that the third carrier would be rotated out in November if the situation quiets. He wants some beefing up of the Sixth Fleet, as well as a demonstration that we can do so."
Deputy secretary of defense David Packard: "There isn't anything we can do in the U.S. without its leaking. It might be possible to do something with troops in Germany."
Kissinger: "How fast could U.S. troops get there from Europe?"
Admiral Thomas Moorer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "From 40 to 48 hours."
Kissinger: "From the U.S.?"
Moorer: "From Europe. The flight time from Europe is seven and a half hours in a C-130 and four and a half hours in a C-141, so the troops would arrive rested. Flying time from the U.S. would be eighteen and a half and fourteen and a half hours, respectively. This is from a non-alert status. If the forces used were from the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, they would have to be staged either through Greece or Incirlik [in Turkey]."
Sisco: "Or through the British base on Cyprus. I don't think we could get approval for staging either through Greece or Turkey."
Here Kissinger says that the president is not keen to use Israeli forces, and Moorer notes that the cease-fire (on the Suez Canal) would "go out the window" if Israeli forces are deployed. Sisco says that the first preference would be to put Jordanian forces into the field, the second American, and the third Israeli.
Kissinger: "In the present situation in Jordan, the peace initiative doesn't have a prayer. We can't ask the Israelis to negotiate a border arrangement with a government that isn't in control of its country."
Moorer: "By using the 82nd Airborne, we would then have four brigades: one brigade from Europe and a division from the U.S. We should look carefully at the second phase, however - examine our staying power, which is limited. We may be faced with the possibility of Syria and Iraq mounting an attack on Lebanon and Jordan."
Lt. Gen. Melvin Zais, director of operations: "The first company could be there in 20 hours, with the rest of the brigade following."
Kissinger: "Could one company survive?"
Zais: "We would make this judgment at the time. Someone has to go in first."
Kissinger: "Could we look at the possibility of ginning up some exercise to keep the brigade on alert?"
Zais: "One problem is that the European brigade is a dual-purpose brigade, with both an airborne and a ground capability. The minute you start packing parachutes and readying planes you have given a signal."
Kissinger: "If we do not get the fedayeen in Jordan under control, the peace initiative will go by the board. Israel has to have a government to deal with that can fulfill its obligations. The president's instincts are to crush the fedayeen now. Although he may reconsider, we must make sure such a move doesn't fail because we didn't have a good plan. Could we sustain an action to prop up Hussein? How long would we have to stay?"
Moorer: "We have a plan to mount such an operation. The question would be if it should spread. Given our Vietnam requirements, we might be in some difficultly with ammunition and other things. We always have to consider the next possible step."
Kissinger: "Could we count on the Iraqis and Syrians becoming involved?"
Moorer: "It would be prudent to do so."
Kissinger: "Then what?"
Moorer: "We would put the four brigades into Jordan to handle the situation."
Central Intelligence Agency director Richard Helms: "Would that mean we had no strategic reserve left in the U.S.? That scares the hell out of me."
Moorer: "That's right. That would be everything we've got."
Zais: "There is no other existing unit in the U.S. We would have to reforge a unit to go to Europe to replace the brigade. Also, the 82nd is not in great shape. It is C-2, meaning it is at about 85 percent personnel strength."
Kissinger: "How would the battle develop?"
Sisco: "We would land at the airport, and move out, I assume assisting the Jordanian army, to clean out the city. We assume the Jordanian army could establish and sustain certain positions. The Iraqis are outside the city. If both Iraq and Syria should move, I can't believe Israel would stand idly by. This would mean, basically, a U.S.-Israeli operation to sustain Hussein against the Palestinians, Iraqis and Syrians. The whole Arab world would have to come out in support of Iraq and Syria."
Kissinger: "Suppose the king moves against the fedayeen without U.S. support. Would the Iraqis intervene?"
Sisco: "If they did, the Israelis would intervene, at Jordanian request, with ground forces."
Kissinger: "That would finish the king."
Sisco: "Yes, but better Israeli forces than U.S. forces. The Israelis and Jordanians have already talked about this."
Moorer: "We could always give Jordan air support from our [aircraft] carriers." (Later, Moorer expresses the concern that in air battles with the Syrians, the American pilots would be liable to lead their enemies to their aircraft carriers, which would be attacked from the air.)
Kissinger: "I assume if Israel moved in support of Hussein, it would be with our approval."
Sisco: "At least our tacit approval. We could never convince anyone that it was done without our approval."
Kissinger: "But if the Soviets or Egyptians prepare a move, we should be in a position to keep the Soviets out."
Sisco: "And we should be prepared to supply Israel with considerable additional wherewithal, since Israel would be expending materiel very rapidly."
Helms: "Anything involving four brigades would be out politically."
Kissinger: "That is why Israeli forces are preferable. The missing ingredient would be enough U.S. show of force to keep the Soviets and Egyptians out."
Helms: "How big would that have to be?"
Sisco: "I don't think the Egyptians would intervene. We would have to provide the ring so far as the Russians were concerned, however. Also, Israel would need more to sustain itself against the Iraqis in a Jordan situation."
Kissinger: "Do we have a package that could serve this purpose? Could we pick one of the existing alternative packages?"
Sisco: "We could adapt one to suit the purpose - probably by including more planes and bombs ... On the Egyptian side, the Egyptians would probably move some of the SAMs closer to the [Suez] Canal. Also, Russian pilots would likely become more involved. The Israeli tactic would probably be to keep the Canal area as quiet as possible. Nasser would have to step up his campaign against Israel in some way - probably by small, showy raids."
Helms: "He might undertake a bombardment of the Bar Lev line."
Asked whether he thought the Jordanian army could handle the fedayeen by itself, Helms replied: "Yes, if they will do it. They don't need help to handle the fedayeen."
Sisco: "In these circumstances, the fedayeen in Lebanon would feel they had to act. Without outside intervention, however, the Lebanese army could do reasonably well against the fedayeen. Lebanon would want additional military equipment, however - at least armored personnel carriers."
Kissinger: "We may be forced when this crisis is over, to address the question of crushing the fedayeen."
Sisco: "A political settlement is still the best tool in terms of the fedayeen. A substantial portion of the Palestinians still prefer a political to a military solution. It might alter our attitude, however, as to the realistic elements of a settlement. For years we have told the Israelis that the Allon plan is a non-starter. We might look at it again in the light of changed circumstances."
This year, without even waiting for the 40th anniversary of the events, the American administration has declassified a collection of fascinating transcripts of discussions, telegrams and phone conversations.Stumble It!