Kissinger & the Yom Kippur War
WHAT happened in October 1973? Or rather, what happened in Washington between October 6, 1973-when fighting erupted on the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights-and 3:30 A.M. on Saturday, October 13, when the definitive orders to start the USAF airlift of arms to Israel were finally issued? During those eight days of mounting agony, while the Israelis lost almost one-fifth of their air force, and were literally running out of ammunition, it seemed as if the survival of the Jewish state would hinge on a single decision, to be made in Washington. For a moment the most intense pressures of global politics converged on a small number of people, whose actions were shaped by their conflicting goals and by their partial views of a constantly changing military situation. Now almost a year later, as Israel and the United States are about to enter a new phase of their unequal dialogue at the Geneva negotiations, a precise account of the events of October 1973 could be of more than historical significance for both governments, and both concerned publics: many of the protagonists are still the same.
Unfortunately, unlike wars or even nuclear alerts, the processes of diplomacy and domestic decision that first held up, and then released, the flow of arms to Israel under siege were not public events. Hence there is no open record. What happened, and failed to happen, in Washington between October 6 and October 13 was the outcome of private meetings and private communications. Much of the time the critical exchanges were verbal. As a result, those who in the future may attempt a reconstruction of these events on the basis of written records will run the risk of being very seriously deceived. The written records are not only incomplete, but there is also a high probability that some are deliberately misleading.
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