(29 October 1992)
After learning Hebrew, David Korn rose to become chief of the political section while at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv (1968 to mid-1971). Later, he was office director for northern Arab affairs (1972 to 1975), policy planning in 1977, officer director for Arab-Israeli affairs (1978-1981).
In the interview, David Korn shared what policy planning in the state department really was: less planning and more carrying out what had already been decided by the administration. For instance, in 1977, the U.S. wanted to get the parties to Geneva for a conference. Korn thought that without a clear purpose, it would all blow up afterwards. When asked the reason U.S. wanted the Soviets in attendance, he said that “nobody bothered to explain it to me at the time. That is the way the state department is…. it sounds nice, policy planning. But, you know, half the time they were trying to figure out what it was.”
From there, it went downhill: “any pretense even of making substantive progress before Geneva was set aside…the whole idea was, was just a desperate push to get a conference there and to get people to come and sit down.” Sadat’s response to this never-happened conference? He went to Jerusalem.
Sadat thought his big gesture would result in something grandiose in return, but Korn understood the nature of what was being asked made that impossible. This also explains why Korn described his 1978 meetings with Roy Atherton and Hal Saunders as surreal. Asked to prepare a declaration of principles on the Palestinian issue, “we would talk about things that hadn’t been agreed upon and…there was no prospect of seeing them being agreed upon.” And yet, they carried on with their policy planning. As for Carter, Korn believes that he was naïve about what he could force the Israelis to do about withdrawal and applying Palestinian self-rule. It is clear from the Korn interview that Carter firmly and irrevocably believed that he could deliver Israel to the Egyptians and when he could not members of the Egyptian bureaucracy who dealt with Sadat and the negotiations put the blame for Carter’s failure at the ‘feet of the Israeli lobby.’ Sadat put enormous faith in Carter, and Carter simply could not deliver Israel on the Palestinian issue. The Egyptians by Korn’s reasoning did not understand that Israel under Begin were virtually immovable in terms of major compromises for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Wendy Kalman and Ken Stein, June 2, 2022
Ken Stein interview with David Korn, Washington D.C.
(29 October 1992)
KWS: Go ahead.
DK: He [Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Ibrahim Kamel who replaced Ismail Fahmy after his resignation] told us — he had us over to his, umm, [unintelligible] place and he told us about how he had met [Anwar] Sadat. Umm, this was I guess in the late 1940s or early 1950s anyway, before, before the revolution. And, umm —
KWS: [Unintelligible] was there in ’42, ’44 [unintelligible].
DK: Right, sometime back then, I don’t recall the date, I am not sure he even told us back then. But anyway, both he and Sadat were in jail for agitation [in 1946] Now, he was a son of a wealthy person and Sadat was the son of somebody very poor. But anyway, they were in cells next to each other and he gave, he gave Sadat cigarettes. And that is how they struck up a friendship. And so, him, he joined the diplomatic service and when Sadat came to power and Fahmy went off, he was uh, Kamel was the ambassador to Germany, and Sadat called him back and said, my friend, would you be the foreign minister? He didn’t want to be. He didn’t have the stature, he didn’t have the toughness.
DK: He didn’t have anything for it. And he was, he was really a very weak individual. He, he, he broke down in tears at Leeds [Castle talks]. And umm, and at, umm, at Jerusalem, the political committee meeting in January with him. Was it, was it, uh —
DK: January of ’88.
DK: ’78 rather. January of ’78, now Leeds was in July of ’77, umm —
KWS: July of ’78.
DK: July of ’78, that’s true.
KWS: Political military talks came about immediately after Ismailia.
KWS: One was in Jerusalem, political. Military was Tahera Palace in Cairo. Subsequent to that was Leeds, which was in July of ’78.
DK: Okay, okay. I had Leeds ahead.
KWS: It’s okay.
DK: [Unintelligible.] Anyway, in Jerusalem, he was just absolutely nervous as can be. He said, “I have not slept for one second since I have been here,” and this was his second day or something. “But I will not sleep while I am here.” And uh, umm, he, well, there was the famous toast by [Menachem] Begin, where everybody wanted to crawl under the table, it was, it was so obnoxious. And then he got up and he was, umm, he was so furious, he got up and he called back to Sadat and told him [unintelligible]. Anyway, he was a very — he was there because Sadat had wanted him there and for no other reason, he wanted out.
KWS: He wrote a book called The Camp David Accords [published 1986].
DK: I have heard that he has.
KWS: It was first in Arabic and then translated into English.
DK: Was it translated into English?
KWS: Yes, I just finished reading it.
KWS: And it gives some very precise, exacting repetition of meetings, conversations, of memoranda. I mean the detail is excruciating. And when [Bill] Quandt refers to it in his book [Camp David: Peacemaking and Politics], he mentions the fact that it is very accurate, very precise and doesn’t even — But there is —
DK: It doesn’t say that he broke down and cried on the [unintelligible]?
KWS: No, no, no. But there are some very interesting conversations, I mean verbatim conversations, with Sadat.
KWS: Particularly the last couple days of Camp David, and he was about to call it, throw in the towel. Word by word, bleep by bleep, umm, just — I mean, you read it and you feel like you were there.
KWS: What I am particularly interested — if we have time, we’ll go back — but I, I, I’m very short on good information on the period of ’77 to ’79, umm, only because I guess it’s — I’m just beginning it. But your memory becomes very important to me. Umm —
DK: Well, what specifically on the period —
KWS: Well, I have —
DK: — from ’77 to ’79?
KWS: I have a whole — I have enough to keep you busy for a while.
DK: ’Cause I can remember anything —
KWS: First of all, tell me, umm, where were you during the last days of the [unintelligible] October, November, December of ’76. Where were you?
DK: Oh, well, I was in Calcutta. I came back from Calcutta in June or July, [unintelligible], July of ’77 and, umm, I had been assigned to, umm, policy planning staff for them to be the staff person for the Middle East.
KWS: You worked for whom?
DK: Well, Tony Lake was the, umm, was the policy planning chief. But uh, I got myself — really, I sort of assigned myself to work with [Roy] Atherton. Umm, more than policy planning. I have been along with him on a number of things. Anyway, I came in the summer of ’77. This process had already started —
DK: — when I arrived.
KWS: And you stayed policy planning?
DK: Well, [unintelligible]. Then in the summer of ’78, I worked — I was on the policy planning staff during the summer of ’78 and then went into the office director job and it was, umm, Arab-Israeli affairs. Umm —
KWS: Stayed ’til?
DK: Until ’81.
KWS: Umm, when you came to policy planning in July of ’77, what was the policy?
DK: What was the policy? Well, the policy at that time was all out Geneva. And we were going to get to Geneva. That was the goal. We were going to get this Geneva peace conference, and it didn’t matter how we got it, it didn’t matter what happened after we got it. But I can recall Roy Atherton looking desperate there, sometime in September or October saying, “Going to get to Geneva, it doesn’t matter [laughs] how we get there, what happens after is we’re going to get to Geneva.” [President Jimmy] Carter had, I guess, obviously, you know, said, “This is what we have to do and this, fellows, is what we are going after.” And, umm, I can recall thinking, you know, “Fine, we get to Geneva and then the whole thing explodes. How are we going to carry on after that?” Well, we didn’t ever get to Geneva.
KWS: What, what did it mean, “getting to Geneva?”
DK: What did it what?
KWS: What did it mean getting to Geneva? Did it —
DK: Just getting people to there. Just, just to bring your conference into being.
KWS: Was, was, what was — was the conference a place to ratify something or it was a place where you could —
DK: No, no, there was nothing to ratify. That’s the, that’s the whole point, there was no substance there at all. It was simply — I mean there was no agreement, no nothing. It was simply getting people to come and sit down in Geneva, and not whether —
KWS: And that was the Carter view of what a conference would look like?
DK: Well, you know, Carter — I’m sure Carter had more in mind.
DK: I am sure he had much more in mind, but by that time, by the summer of ’77, umm, I think he — well, my recollection, my understanding at the time was that, uh, substance had proven so difficult that, umm, we were really concentrating on form.
DK: Umm, and substance they’d given up on, you know, on trying to work out a substantive agreement, and were simply going to get, umm, aiming at getting a conference together. And then, once you got them together, the idea of, you know, it’s the old idea that keeps coming up in diplomacy, with the state department — Umm, that once you get the people together, nobody is going to want to leave, because the person that [unintelligible] leaves will be playing to the failure and therefore, you keep the pressure on them, you know. You get them together first and then you, you start working on declarations of principles and all these other things and you keep the ball in the air.
KWS: Were you at policy planning when [Israeli Prime Minister Menachem] Begin arrived for his first visit?
DK: Umm, that was, I guess, in the summer of ’77.
KWS: That was July of ’77.
DK: I don’t think so, I don’t think I had started yet.
KWS: He, he came something like, the 17th, 19th of July.
DK: Yeah, I, I hadn’t, uh — I wasn’t on board then.
KWS: [U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus] Vance went out to the Middle East in August.
DK: Yeah, uh-huh.
KWS: Umm —
DK: I am not even sure if I went with him, I’m not sure I did. I went with him when he went in December, didn’t he?
KWS: Again. He went again in December.
DK: Yeah. I didn’t go in August, I went in December. I don’t think I went in August, I am pretty sure I didn’t.
KWS: And the whole effort — he went to Cairo, he went to, umm, Amman. When he was in Cairo, Sadat proposed that there should be some preparatory working groups that should be established for Geneva. And Vance was sort of ambiguous about that possibility, he didn’t know whether it should. But by the time he got to Damascus, apparently, he had succumbed or agreed with Assad that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea and, uh — Sadat was a little bit angry about that.
DK: I have forgotten all this, but uh, you talked with Mike Sterner?
KWS: Yes, I have.
DK: [CBS reporter] George Herman?
KWS: No, I have not talked to George.
DK: Talk to George Herman, because George Herman was along on all of these things and George Herman took notes. I remember seeing him taking copious notes. And uh, if he hasn’t thrown those notes out, they could be very helpful.
KWS: I’ll do that. Umm, we get to September. Umm, [Moshe] Dayan, comes on the 19th.
KWS: This is of course before we knew anything about Dayan in Morocco.
DK: Right, uh-huh.
KWS: And what can you tell me about what was going on in September, October?
DK: I just [unintelligible] recollection of that at all, I am sorry to disappoint you.
KWS: Umm, what about any notion of what — did you have any —were you aware of the, of the U.S.-Soviet Declaration before it was —
DK: Oh yes, yes. I was in on that with Roy. I mean, you talked to Roy about that, didn’t you?
KWS: I am going to see Roy, umm —
DK: Okay, well, he, he took me with him to New York to meet with, umm, this Russian —
KWS: Stenyenko [Soviet diplomat Mikhail Sytenko.]
DK: Yeah [unintelligible].
DK: Umm, and the Soviets were so eager to get this thing. Roy obviously had, uh —
KWS: The Soviets were eager?
DK: Oh yes. They were, they were ready to give a — We didn’t have to argue much with them at all. I mean, Roy didn’t have to argue with them at all. [Unintelligible] more than [unintelligible] than anything else, but uh, we fly up to New York and we met with this fellow, I’ve forgotten where. Umm, and Roy had the outlines of what he wanted, I assume. He had gotten it approved by Carter. And Carter had sent him to negotiate this thing. And the guy caved on almost everything, the Russians caved on almost everything.
KWS: Who drafted it? Who drafted it?
DK: I have forgotten how, you know, this came somewhere. I didn’t have any hand in drafting it. I don’t think I had any hand in drafting it. I mean, Roy had it from somewhere. Umm, he probably drafted it himself and gotten it approved by [unintelligible], by Carter. But, umm, anyway, the main thing I recall about this was that the Russian was ready to — you know, the central issue was, umm, how, how do you deal with the Palestinians in this declaration. And the Russian started out with his formulas which were essentially Arab formulas but, umm, caved right away.
DK: [Unintelligible] said we had to tone this down and it ended up — oh, I’ve forgotten; you know the language better than I do. [Unintelligible] but anyway, there was no problem in reaching the agreement. It was a short session.
KWS: Mm-hmm. And the Soviet intent was to, just to get to Geneva?
DK: Well, the Soviets wanted to be cut in on this, no. [Unintelligible], they, they wanted to be a part of this. They, you know, they — well, this of course was what the Israelis objected to and what Sadat objected to. I — thinking about it now, I suppose their concern was that Sadat was going to cut them out, umm, and uh —
DK: Umm, this was their chance to get in.
KWS: And they were using us as the door?
DK: Right, this is how they would get in.
KWS: Why was it so important for the U.S. government to have the Soviets involved?
DK: Well, umm, you know, nobody bothered to explain it to me at the time —
DK: That is the way the State Department is [laughs]. They —
KWS: [Still laughing.] You’re just in policy planning, but no one explained it to you. Well, I am sorry I asked the question.
DK: That’s right, it sounds nice, policy planning. But, you know, half the time they were trying to figure out what it was. Policy planning. But anyway, you know, Carter believed that um, you know, the way to get to Geneva, Geneva meant the Soviets. And Carter believed that that stage before the trip to, umm, uh, before Sadat’s trip to Israel and so on, but uh the only way you were going to achieve this conference, was to get to, to be able to work with the Soviet Union to get them to put pressure on the Arabs and so on and so forth.
KWS: And that the Soviets would put pressure on the Syrians, the PLO, and —
DK: Yeah, yeah, that, that I mean was the assumption.
KWS: Umm, any concern about what impact this might have on anyone in the region? I mean this —
DK: Umm, obviously, the Israeli reaction was not anticipated [laughs]. If it had been, you have to wonder if the move would have been made at all. But, the Israelis were outraged. Dayan, I remember, Dayan stomping around and stuff, his, his complaining here. He was in a meeting with Vance and Dayan and a bunch of people.
KWS: Were you at that meeting?
DK: In New York.
KWS: October 4th-5th?
DK: I guess so, you know the dates now.
KWS: That’s reading [unintelligible.]
DK: I know how this is because —
KWS: No, no, no.
DWS: — during, during my book on the War of Attrition, I knew these things [unintelligible] —
KWS: All I am trying to do is refresh your memory.
DK: Yeah, well, whenever it was.
KWS: It started about 7:30 at night. Carter participated, he had to leave to go to dinner, came back. There was a meeting which Dayan called “brutal.” Meir Rosenne tells me it is the first time he ever heard Dayan use his infirmity, uh, in any kind of descriptive analysis. He said, uh, he said to Carter about the U.S.-Soviet Declaration, “I may have one eye, Mr. President, but I’m not blind. “
DK: My, my recollection was not of a meeting with Carter. I never participated in a meeting with Carter. It was with Vance. There must have been a meeting —
DK: — with Vance ahead of that.
KWS: That’s right. And it also took place while Carter dismissed himself and had to go to a dinner that night.
KWS: Vance and Dayan continued.
KWS: Apparently, this was a very, I mean even in Dayan’s memoirs —
DK: Yeah. Well, it was, it was a very, umm, I just remember it was — Dayan was being very difficult. But I had seen him be difficult. Well, I saw him be difficult after that too. He was in a nasty mood. And then, later on in Washington when the peace treaty was being negotiated. He could be nasty all along.
KWS: What was the environment between the U.S. and Israel at the time? I mean, Begin had been elected, Begin had been to Washington. There was a disagreement about the settlements, disagreement about whether the PLO should participate. Not really a big disagreement about Geneva, I mean, Begin wasn’t thrilled by it but he didn’t dismiss it. Umm, was it his frustration that was building? It seems— that the meeting with Dayan, from all of the readings — it seems to have been the point where all the anger and frustration and the patience just exploded. I mean, everybody just lost it.
KWS: And it built way before you became [unintelligible; laughs] — you weren’t the cause of it.
DK: No, no. Of course. Well, all I can say really is that here was Carter who was fixated on this problem and he was determined and he was going to use his presidency to, uh, to achieve something in the Middle East. Again, nobody explained to us why [laughs]. We weren’t there to be told, you know —
DK: — what was on the boss’s mind. I mean, why the boss wanted to do this, just that he wanted it done. Umm, and, umm, the problem was to maneuver the basically, the Egyptians and the Israelis, and tried to bring the Syrians in and the Jordanians in, in as well. But, as I said earlier, the thing that struck me was that by September, umm, any pretense even of making substantive progress before Geneva was set aside and umm, and the whole idea was, was just a desperate push to get a conference there and to get people to come and sit down. And that was the whole — that was what we had been reduced to by September.
KWS: Is this what Sadat wanted?
KWS: Is this what Sadat wanted?
DK: No, Sadat didn’t want it. And that’s why Sadat essentially, you know, goes back — that and the U.S.-Soviet Declaration which is why essentially Sadat, umm, gave up and went to Jerusalem. Sadat — uh, I don’t think, I don’t know, I wasn’t that much inside on these things, not particularly on the Egyptian side, but, uh, my understanding all along was that Sadat was very cool to this idea. But, Carter — and I guess Vance too — thought that the only way was to get to Geneva.
DK: [Pause.] And we wouldn’t, you know, we, we would, we might have [unintelligible] — Geneva kept retreating in time. And, uh —
KWS: That’s right. It was first supposed to be October and then it was supposed to be December, and then it was supposed to be January —
DK: And uh, so there was this desperate chase after Geneva which kept moving ahead of us all.
KWS: Well, if the focus wasn’t on substance and the focus was on procedures or, or form, what were some of the procedures and form that we are talking about here? Would Carter and Vance call this thing together? I mean, how was this thing supposed to unfold?
DK: I, I, I don’t know.
KWS: But I assume that someone had done some, some papers on all this and —
DK: I am sure, I am sure there were. I am sure that there was plenty of thinking about substance. I don’t mean to say that there wasn’t any thinking about substance, it was just that as far as negotiating substance, negotiating anything, about getting the parties to agree in advance to anything before Geneva — that was out. And there was simply the push to get there.
DK: Get them there and then hold them there.
KWS: You mentioned — umm, there are a whole series of reasons which have been given to me over the last couple years about what motivated Sadat to go to Jerusalem. You mentioned the U.S.-Soviet Declaration.
KWS: Umm, you alluded to earlier about, uh, the Soviet return to the diplomatic process.
DK: Umm —
KWS: That this was not his —
DK: And it was the Syrians as well, that Sadat didn’t want this. Sit down with the Syrians, you know —
KWS: What do you mean?
DK: Oh, Sadat didn’t want to sit down with the Syrians. He, umm, realized or felt right from the beginning that the Syrians were going to hold him hostage. Umm, and he really didn’t want them, he didn’t want a peace conference with them involved. Or at least with them involved in the way that they wanted to be involved, which was, always was, that Syria was supposed to call the shots. And they, nobody could do anything, Egypt wouldn’t deal with it, make any agreement, it had to be an overall uh, a package agreement of getting back the Golan and getting back the West Bank and Gaza and all of this, and therefore Egypt didn’t make any agreements. Sadat wanted Syria —
KWS: He was afraid of the Syrian veto.
DK: The Syrians would prevent him making any sort of a deal. Now, at the same time, of course, he didn’t want to get, the didn’t want to cut himself off totally from Syria and this was a big decision, a very difficult one for him to do so. But he didn’t want them involved in the details of his negotiations with Israel.
KWS: Did he, do you think at that moment, Sadat wanted to set the agreement with Israel?
DK: Well, I think that, umm, it’s difficult to say because we are all looking back, but, I think that the feeling was all along — you know, Mike Sterner was closer to this than I was — but, the feeling on this that I got from Mike was that Sadat all along was aiming at umm, you know, to get something for Egypt. And I think he would’ve liked to, to get something for Syria too. But he wasn’t going to hold getting something from Egypt hostage to getting something for Syria.
KWS: Mm-hmm. This is going to sound convoluted —
DK: I’m sorry?
KWS: What I am about to say may sound convoluted: Do you think he went to Jerusalem in order to prepare more properly for going to Geneva?
DK: No, no, no. He went to Jerusalem to, to, to destroy Geneva [unintelligible]. He went to Jerusalem so he wouldn’t have to go to Geneva, so there wouldn’t be any Geneva. He went to Jerusalem to rescue the whole process. He saw that the process was deadlocked, but he also didn’t want — my understanding wa— he didn’t want —
KWS: He came back from Jerusalem [unintelligible] — Just to be contrary for a moment, he came back from Jerusalem. Hermann Eilts saw him.
DK: All right.
KWS: And the first thing he said to him was, “You see? I’ve done it. In two weeks, we’ll be at Geneva.”
DK: Umm, okay, well, umm, I am not sure how you would interpret that, umm, maybe, you interpreted it: “Okay, we’ll go to Geneva now,” but, uh, my interpretation of it would be that, umm, you know, he, he had gone, umm, to Israel and the psychological barrier was broken and Sadat imagined early on, for a long time, was all that he had to do was break the psychological barrier and then everything would fall into place.
DK: There wouldn’t be even really much to negotiate about, you know. The Israelis had agreed to withdrawal and the Arabs would agree to peace, and uh — But the kind of negotiation that he foresaw in Geneva he didn’t want. That was my clear understanding.
KWS: Mm-hmm. I mean, if he was going to go to Geneva, he wanted to go to Geneva to ratify an agreement.
DK: Yeah, yeah.
KWS: I mean, that’s what he meant.
DK: Yeah. That, that is the way I’d take that.
KWS: I think most people — I think Herman Eilts would agree — that’s how he defined Geneva. That is why he talked about preparatory groups, and the declaration of principle, principles. And that’s why he had this crazy idea — well, I don’t know if it was crazy, but he wanted — That’s why he invited people to Mena House.
KWS: Mena House was supposed to prepare for Geneva.
DK: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
KWS: In fact, in fact, that is what the invitations to Mena House were.
KWS: They specifically said that.
DK: Mm-hmm, yeah. Well, that was partly — that was, well, that was something tactical, because, because umm, he, he didn’t want to, he didn’t want to exclude, to seem to be excluding anybody at that stage. I mean, Sadat wanted, wanted to make his separate arrangement, if you wish, but he also didn’t want to seem to be excluding anybody and so, everybody was invited: the Soviets and the Syrians, and the Palestinians, and none of them came, and uh — But that you could say, “Well, we are just following the track that everybody agreed on.”
DK: That was really tactical.
KWS: Umm, as you came to understand Sadat, was surprise part of his character [unintelligible]?
DK: Well, I guess so. I was in, umm, I had the good fortune to be in a number of meetings with Sadat that Roy Atherton held, and one or two that Vance held, but Sadat — everybody tells you this, I am sure — Sadat, umm, was not a man for detail. And he was a man of the grand gesture. And what he loved in particular was to do the contrary to what his advisors told him to do. Umm, his advisors would, you know, tell him to do something. I remember one —
KWS: Sounds like Jimmy Carter [laughs].
KWS: [Laughs.] I’ve been working with him for ten years, it sounds like someone I know.
DK: [Laughs.] Ismailia, I remember one meeting in Ismailia, and, umm, Sadat had his top people there. And um, what was it, one of the top — you know, these things don’t stay with you, but anyway, Sadat — one of the top people said something to him and Sadat said the contrary and the guy turned around and then said exactly what Sadat had said [laughs.]. It was so — he, he had, uh —
KWS: Before Jeru—? This had to have been after Jerusalem.
DK: Yes, yes, this was after Jerusalem, definitely after Jerusalem. But, uh, the thing was, the — his advisors, the ones he had around him by that time, didn’t contradict him.
DK: They might say something else, but they didn’t quite, they didn’t, umm, they didn’t try to persuade him. And as soon he, as soon as he laid down a line — at least in his presence — they, they turned around and, umm, slavishly followed it. Now, when they got out of his presence, umm, [Usamah] el-Baz — somebody you have probably seen; he, he has a voice like [Joseph] Goebbels, you know, he sounded just like Goebbels with his accent and his high-pitched voice. Anyway, el-Baz, really, he tried to throw monkey wrenches into everything, but, uh —
KWS: — that Sadat tried to do.
DK: Sadat — into everything that Sadat was trying to do, but Sadat kept overruling him. That’s, that’s straight on down the line.
KWS: What did Sadat expect to get from this trip to Jerusalem?
DK: Well, I think that the Jerusalem trip — you mean his trip to Jerusalem?
KWS: Yeah. I mean, what did he —
DK: Okay, you are not talking about politically.
KWS: No, substantively.
DK: No, I think it was a breakthrough. He was going to break through — Somebody told him you break through — he had imagined that you break through the psychological barrier and, umm, and that’s all, that’s all that stands in the way of, uh, peace. Umm, umm —
KWS: Yeah, but, but — That’s fine, but what, what did he expect the Israelis to do after he spoke to the Knesset? I mean, did he —
DK: Oh, he thought that Begin was going to come back and offer to give back Sinai and uh, oh, make, make concessions on the Palestinian issue.
KWS: In other words, he thought it was — his grand gesture would be met by an equally grand gesture.
DK: Oh yeah. Yes, he expected his grand gesture to be met by a parallel grand gesture on the part of the Israelis. But his, he was ready, his gesture was basically psychological, and he wanted the Israelis to make a material gesture. And uh, he was uh — well, when Begin went to Ismailia in December and then, then — from all reports we had, Sadat was, was very, yeah, was equally disappointed. Begin had really nothing to offer him except, umm, his little plan about the Palestinians, it didn’t, umm, it wouldn’t be acceptable to the Palestinians. Umm, anyway, that was the beginning of Sadat’s disillusionment.
KWS: Umm [pause], he knew he’d break the psychological barrier. He wanted some grand gesture in return. He wanted a separate arrangement as he called it, and yet he wanted to still remain connected to the Arab —
KWS: — his orbit.
KWS: Do you think he — it ever occurred to him that what he was doing, changing the nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict forever?
DK: What he was doing was what now?
KWS: Changing the nature of the conflict forever.
DK: The conflict. Umm, well I’m sure he did. I mean, that’s why he always saw himself as making grand, uh, you know, [unintelligible] history. I’m sure, he —
KWS: I mean, did he foresee that he was going to be isolated. I mean, this is tough stuff to —
DK: Umm, that I doubt. No, I doubt that he saw that he would — Well, you know, he didn’t, he didn’t arrive at this in one stage. I mean, Sadat was, umm, I suppose you’d say, a rather naive individual in a respect, but uh, he started out on the premise that Egypt had, under Nasser, had sacrificed itself to the Palestinians, and the Arab cause and he, Sadat, was a real Egyptian and he saw the suffering from the Six Day War and War of Attrition. And, and he was pro-Western, whereas Nasser was not pro-Western.
DK: Sadat’s inclination, personal inclination was favorable towards the West. So he started from this space and, and built up, little by little and was led along by, by Carter with various promises and uh, encouragement and we stroked over this period of a year and a half or so up to, up to Camp David, and, uh, and, well, there were letters. I remember drafting one letter from Carter to Sadat at the point where Sadat was discouraged and, you know, all sorts of things. And I think I mentioned this over the phone — I recall this and Hermann Eilts has probably mentioned this to you — but in February of ’78 — umm, excuse me — In February of ’78 — you know, these things are so, well, there was a point there — well, all right, no —
KWS: Are you talking about the strategy of Be— of Sadat coming to Camp David, meeting with Carter, Brzezinski with this plan that —
DK: No. All right, in the summer of ’78, Sadat was about to get off the wagon, the bandwagon, you know. And the Saudis were offering him money if he would, umm, would pull out and all this, and so there was this strategy. But then, no, what I am thinking of is in February of ’79.
DK: Umm, after Camp David and, and then, well then, the peace treaty negotiation and —
KWS: The Blair House talks.
DK: — the ninety days was passed with no result, umm, with a deadlock on, on all sorts of issues. And we had sort of a draft treaty with lots of brackets there. And umm, umm, in February of ’79, Eilts sent a cable in which he said that Sadat was going to get off the bandwagon. Sadat just didn’t think that this was going to work. And then Eilts talked about fear of assassinations, and Eilts was afraid of assassination.
DK: And, and this. this part, Carter’s final push then there for the treaty [unintelligible].
DK: Has, has Hermann [Eilts] mentioned that to you yet, that cable? No. Let me turn on the light.
KWS: No, it’s fine. Luckily, it doesn’t affect my hearing.
KWS and DK: [Laugh.]
KWS: Although wearing my glasses does.
KWS: Umm, after the trip to Jerusalem, he comes back and he waits about three or four, five days.
KWS: And then through his ambassador to the UN, he extends the invitations for the Mena House conference.
KWS: Umm, and the discussion of that is essentially, at Mena House — I don’t know if any Americans are there, I don’t think so.
DK: Well, umm, at Mena House, you know Atherton and Sterner and [American spokesman George F.] Sherman were at the Mena House talks.
KWS: They were there?
DK: Right, they were. And George should have notes on this.
KWS: But nothing came of it.
DK: No, no, they just had a good time. They had parties, they had parties with the Israelis and uh, [unintelligible] brought back by Sterner or Sherman. Somebody brought back pictures of them partying there. [Laughs.]
KWS: And then we have Ismailia —
KWS: — which is sort of a bust kind of summit.
KWS: Umm, and out of Ismailia come these political and military talks.
KWS: Tell me about them and what you know.
DK: Well, the military talks I don’t have any recollection of. I don’t think I was very much clued into that. I went to the Jerusalem political committee —
DK: — meetings. And um, what did they revolve around? On the Israeli side, it was uh — well, I recall, umm, Begin giving us a lecture on the Palestinian issue and the terms, “We hold the legitimate rights of the Palestinians and the legitimate interests of the Palestinians.” You know, I cannot recall this in sufficient detail to give you —
DK: — anything authoritative but Begin gave us — he stood up in a room, it was almost like an auditorium, and we sat there — and he gave us a 45-minute lecture, at least, on this issue of the code words on the Palestinians, and he explained why “legitimate rights of the Palestinian” was totally unacceptable. We were using “legitimate interests” at that time, as I recall.
DK: And we were pressing for “legitimate rights,” but the Israelis wouldn’t accept this. Umm, you know there was somebody who said there was the Palestinian issue and of course, then, there was the Sinai issue. I’m not — I don’t recall at what point it was that the Israelis resigned themselves to the idea that they were going to get out of all of Sinai, or almost all. It wasn’t until fairly late that they, that they resigned themselves to pulling out of the air bases. But, umm —
KWS: But these were not being discussed at the political meeting?
DK: That must have been discussed at the military meeting [unintelligible].
KWS: That is what [head of the IDF’s Strategic Planning] Abrasha Tamir and [Egyptian General Taha El-] Magdoub talked about.
DK: There may have been some discussion at the political committee too, I just don’t remember. The political committee was such a short thing. It lasted about two days. The main event was —
KWS: The 18th and 19th.
DK: — Was the dinner at which Begin got up and made the speech about how Kamel was a young man who didn’t understand these things.
KWS: But why did the political committee talks break down?
DK: About what?
KWS: When did they break down, why did they come to a halt?
DK: It was about, it was the speech.
KWS: You really, I mean —
DK: Well, this way you can say, that’s the, it’s the —
KWS: — that may have been overt, but you know —
DK: Well, first of all, Kamel was absolutely — that he, that he — his flesh was crawling. The idea that here he was in Jerusalem, Al-Quds, you know the holy city, and umm —
KWS: Was Begin wrong about what he said about Muhammed Ibrahim Kamel? I mean. by your description, this guy was totally out of his league.
DK: Well, he was, yes, he was —
KWS: And Begin called him a young man, I think.
DK: Yes, that’s what I said. He called him a young man.
KWS: But, so Begin wasn’t wrong about his characterization? The fact is that he did it in public and embarrassed the hell out of him.
DK: Well, that yes [unintelligible]. But Kamel — well, yes, yeah, he should never have said anything of that sort. But Kamel was way out of his league, but he, he was so uncomfortable with being there, he hadn’t wanted to go. He went only because Sadat told him to go, and I don’t think he had anything to, umm, he certainly wasn’t going to make any, umm, compromises or deals.
KWS: He wouldn’t, he, he —
DK: He was so uncomfortable just at being there that he wasn’t capable of doing much. You know, the thing could’ve gone on for, you know, three more days, and now I’m saying —
KWS: Apparently Vance was amazed that these things, these talks ended so quickly.
DK: Umm, well —
KWS: Vance actually believed that some progress could be made.
DK: Yeah, well you know, secretary of state goes there and thinks that uh, he’s got these people together and he hopes he can bring something out of it. I am sure that he felt Carter was going to be very disappointed in him.
KWS: Did Vance rely upon Dayan?
DK: Umm, I don’t know. I don’t know. But anyway, the speech gave, either gave Kamel a pretext for leaving or it was just, he was so, well, he was so nervous that it pushed him over the edge. And called Sadat, we were told, and we were told that he called Sadat and told Sadat that he had to come back. And Sadat, I think felt sorry for him and said, umm, “If you feel that way, come.” Umm, Sadat didn’t order him to stay on.
KWS: Meir Rosenne believes that the talks came to an abrupt halt and Vance didn’t know about it. And no one in the American delegation knew about it. But it was Brzezinski’s hope that they would come to an abrupt ending. I am merely giving you an explanation given to me by two Israelis.
KWS: Very conspiratorial, of course. That this, that having the talks break down was a way for the United States to reintroduce itself in a major fashion as the prime mediator. And here, in February, immediately after the breakdown, Sadat is invited to Camp David. Brzezinski cooks up this idea of coming up with a whole series of proposals, which would be American proposals, some of them would be very harsh. And then the United States would publicly recant on two or three of them in order to show the Israelis that they were truly the mediator and that way, Brzezinski and Carter could get back into the captain’s seat. Now, not only is this something that Meir Rosenne believes — Meir Rosenne actually believes this — but if you read Brzezinski’s Power and Principle closely, he never says that we doctored the Jerusalem talks, but he’s very proud at the strategy that was used, that was concocted at Camp David to try and get the Americans back in the middle.
DK: Right. But I don’t, no, I think the Israelis were just too Levantine.
KWS: Okay, that is legitimate.
DK: No, unless — I don’t think that the draw of rivalry between Brzezinski and Vance — I don’t think Brzezinski had anything to do with it. Brzezinski certainly could not have made the Jerusalem political committee talks succeed and he didn’t have to intervene to make them break down. Now, umm, they broke down and then the invitation came to, uh, to Camp David and then the strategy was worked out, you know, I think these things are really scratching one’s left ear with one’s right hand. Uh, it makes for interesting reading, but I don’t think it —
KWS: Umm —
DK: And you really had to be at that dinner to see how, I mean how awful it was. I mean —
KWS: Well, describe —
DK: — just the Americans. Well, you know, just to tell you that — we were sitting there at a table mixed with Egyptians and Israelis and, umm, and Begin got up to speak and, umm, the thing I recall about it was feeling like, “Gosh, we all ought to crawl under the table. I mean, this guy is being so obnoxious.” And the Egyptians looked like they were about to die. And then, umm, Kamel got up and he was shaking I think, he was so angry, and he said something, and then, suddenly, we were all adjourning. That’s the — He was really awful. Now, [laughs] —
KWS: I mean, that’s, that’s — that’s a good word.
DK: Did Meir Rosenne tell you about that? I don’t know.
KWS: No, Meir Rosenne did not tell me how awful that was.
DK: Yeah, yeah.
KWS: Umm, let me get back for a minute. Why do you think Begin came to the States in December of ’77 before he went to Ismailia?
DK: Yes, he did, of course he did. And Carter, Carter gave him this sort of endorsement he thought.
KWS: Of autonomy.
DK: This, this was the big misunderstanding, that’s right. This is the big misunderstanding — that Carter, Carter thought he had gotten something more from Begin than Begin had given and Begin thought he had gotten an endorsement for his Palestinian proposal.
KWS: Of course, Carter didn’t know that when Begin went back home he amended it because the cabinet wanted it amended. And then when he brought it to Ismailia, Carter thought it was the thing that Begin had shown him in Washington. In fact, it had been an amended portion; Sadat got in touch with Carter and said, “What, what are you doing to me?”
DK: Yeah, mm-hmm. Yeah.
KWS: All right. The same story.
DK: Well, let me just put in one more thing.
DK: About umm, Carter and, and Sadat. Carter was all during this period was pushing Sadat toward, umm, a full peace with Israel. It started off in the Spring of ’77 — this was before I came on board, but I was told about it, that, you know, Sadat had meant to come to Washington and made clear to Carter that, that there couldn’t be, you know, embassies or that sort of thing, yeah, but you would have sort of de facto peace. And, so it was from that basis that Carter started pushing him every step of the way to, uh, to, umm, to consider and basically accept the idea that there would be a full peace with embassy, open borders —
KWS: Get Sadat to agree to it.
DK: Yeah, yeah. And this, this was Carter’s main accomplishment, that, really —
KWS: When do you think this started?
DK: Well, it started right from the first meeting, that Carter was telling — that Sadat was telling Carter that, you know, you can’t have all the paraphernalia, we’ll just, we won’t have any more war. And Carter pushing Sadat, and telling him —
KWS: Did you ever learn or hear that — I may be telling you something that you may not have heard before — At that first meeting, Sadat told Carter that he would sign a separate peace with him.
DK: No. He already had —
[END OF SIDE ONE, TAPE ONE]
[BEGINNING OF SIDE TWO, TAPE ONE]
DK: It was very clear to me — me and I think to everybody there — that Sadat was not on board for a long time. I don’t when — actually, I can’t say the point he actually came on board for it, but Carter was having to push Sadat to accept the idea that this was going to be a real, normal peace. And to Sadat, Carter says he wrote — I, I grant you my memory and everybody else’s memory gets a little confused after a period of time, but I just don’t believe it, because there were so many things that, umm, well, this was the big sticking point all along.
KWS: I am aware, I, I’m —
DK: I mean, I mean, even after Camp David, it was a sticking point.
KWS: I didn’t believe it the first couple of years after it was first told to me in 1983. And, and then after it was told to me three or four times since, and then —
DK: You mean, by Carter?
DK: All I have to say is that I think he is making it up [laughs.]
KWS: Well, that’s, that’s not impossible, I mean, you know, people do that. The UN of course didn’t play any role. [UN Emergency Force commander, Major General Ensio] Siilasvuo was at Mena House, but that was about it.
KWS: Just sort of observing, more than anything else. Umm, how did Sadat develop this relationship with [Ezer] Weizmann? Can you shed any light on that?
DK: Well, well, you know, Weizmann is this colorful character and he, he throws his crutches away and walks up to him, that sort of thing.
KWS: [Laughs.] Yeah.
DK: [Laughs.] And, yeah, [unintelligible].
KWS: Pat Robertson pulling your ear [laughs].
DK: [Laughs.] Well, no, I think it was just, really, two people who had an affinity.
DK: And Weizmann also was, you know — rather, Weizmann was not a detail man, you know, like people like Rosenne and all those pretty common Talmudists from the Israeli delegation. Umm, he sort of had the same outlook that you break through these things and you make peace. Umm, that I —As far as I know anyway, there was simply a personal affinity that was the basis of friendship. But Sadat never liked, you know, Dayan and Dayan, you know, regarded Sadat as, as, umm, I don’t know exactly how he regarded him, but certainly didn’t, didn’t consider him a personal friend.
KWS: Tell me, umm, both Ismail Fahmy and Muhammed Ibrahim Kamel, separately, in the two different books, have referred to Sadat as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Is that accurate? They weren’t quite sure which one they were going to be with at any one moment.
DK: I just don’t know, I had — But you know, this recalls something that after, after the visit to Jerusalem, the story was going around among the Arabs. The Arabs couldn’t believe that Sadat had really gone to Jerusalem. I mean, a lot of people saw it but they couldn’t believe it. So, the story was going around the Americans had captured Sadat and they had put a look-alike in there and that this was not the real Sadat, this was the Sadat [unintelligible] —
KWS: CIA created one.
DK: This was the Manchurian candidate.
DK: [Laughs.] This, this was the story that was seriously going around the Arab world. Now, I, I don’t know if Sadat — Sadat was very cavalier with his aides, and that I know. That’s about all.
KWS: Did it occur to you in policy planning, did it occur to you when you went out with Roy that Sadat was concerned at all about his Arab adversaries, concerned about the Arabs?
DK: Oh, he was very concerned.
KWS: But it always, when it came to crunch time, they were always willing to put them aside and Egypt was first.
DK: No, he didn’t want to break with them, he didn’t want to break. He was very concerned about that and this is, this is why I think that the idea, that it was all wrapped up in April of ’77 —
KWS: I wouldn’t say wrapped up, it is just, this was his fallback position, was it? And Sadat and Carter knew it.
DK: Sadat was, I think Sadat was, like a lot of Arabs, [unintelligible], will tell you what you want to hear. And maybe Carter thought he had heard what, what he wanted to hear. Umm, Sadat would say something, and he wanted to be forthcoming with Carter and Carter would understand it to mean even more than, umm, intended. But, umm, uh, you know, it was clear that you wouldn’t have this long, drawn-out process. Umm, uh, it wouldn’t have taken a year and a half, well, it wouldn’t have taken — look, Carter was on the brink the whole time. Everything was on the brink all the time, and we were —
KWS: You were flailing.
DK: Flailing, flailing. In January, I knew in January that, uh —
KWS: That is because Carter didn’t deliver Israel.
DK: Well, remember, Sadat, too, I mean, that’s the thing. But, I — in January of ’79, I remember, we, we thought that the whole thing was going to fall through. Camp David had happened, ninety days had passed, the peace treaty was deadlocked. Umm, that uh, I don’t know, I think Sterner wrote a paper or something like that in January of ’92 about how we could sort of live with the situation where there would be no peace, but no war.
KWS: January of ’79.
DK: ’79, well, mm-hmm. Umm. But, uh, my recollection of the thing is all along, you know, it was nip and tuck. And Sadat wanted to make a separate deal but he didn’t want to lose, didn’t want to break with the other Arabs. And it was only after having been pushed along this path and made a certain number of decisions that he decided to go the, the whole way.
KWS: And at some point, he became impatient with the process.
DK: Well, he became impatient with the process at several points. I mean he became impatient, when he went to — that is why he went to Jerusalem.
KWS: Right and he also became impatient —
DK: But —
KWS: — later on by accepting what he accepted at Camp David.
DK: Well, I suppose that’s a, a good way to put it, but, uh —
KWS: I mean, after all, he did give away the ranch.
DK: Well, at Camp David, you know, what you had was a declaration of principles, really. And a declaration of principles doesn’t mean a fucking thing, and it’s a —
KWS: It’s a declaration of principles.
DK: It’s, it’s a declaration of principles. And all it says is some big lines and you have to fill in what is really important there. I mean, this is the thing. In all these negotiations, I — it amuses me to, to hear that negotiations, down the street there, that they are talking about getting declaration of principles. Well, this, this means, what this means, is that they haven’t been able to agree on anything, they haven’t been able to agree on anything practical. So, you go out and you, you try and get a declaration of principles that will cover that and give you something to, umm, to wave around and say. “We’ve got.” But still, you’ve still got many miles to go before you’ve got your agreement. And uh, we were constantly working on declarations of principles because we couldn’t agreement on, on, on the real substance.
KWS: David, after, umm, the visit, Mena House, Ismailia, Jerusalem talks, military talks — any time when you and Atherton were going out, umm, I guess [Bill] Kirby went out once or twice, and you went out once or twice, I guess you guys sometimes alternated — umm, was there ever any notion of, “Let’s go back to Geneva.”?
DK: No. No, not that I — No, Geneva was out, umm, Geneva was finished after, umm, after Sadat went to Jerusalem. I don’t recall it ever coming back. I mean, the Israelis didn’t want it, umm, Sadat didn’t want it. Like I said, he didn’t want to break with them, but still, he didn’t want the [unintelligible] —
KWS: What does that do to the, to, to how —
DK: — but I don’t think anybody would’ve accepted it, seriously.
KWS: What did it do to all you guys — and I don’t mean you particularly, but I mean like Quandt and Saunders and Atherton and other people who had been working on procedures and the form and Carter’s commitment to get to Geneva — you guys were just sort of hanging there without anything. On November 19, 1977: I mean, like, what, what do you do now?
DK: Well, when Carter — when, when Sadat went to Geneva, it was a surprise.
DK: Yeah. Everybody. And I remember there was a meeting in Phil Habib’s office and this was discussed and, “Should we go along with this or try and get him back on the Geneva track?”
KWS: You mean, from the time he announced to go, but before he went.
DK: Yes [unintelligible].
KWS: He announced on the 10th —
DK: All I recall was you know, Sadat had been announced and Sadat was going to Jerusalem. And then there was this meeting in Phil Habib’s office I think, under-secretary for political affairs, and a discussion was then should we support this or should we try to get him back on the Geneva track? And very quickly, I mean, it was almost academic, very quickly. we agreed that we had to support this.
KWS: But we took a long time to publicly support this.
DK: How long then until?
KWS: At least until early December. At least until the second week in December.
DK: You know —
KWS: And Vance went out first week in December.
DK: Well, all, all I recall is that this was a nut meeting anyway. This was the — the consensus was right away, “We’ve got to support this.”
KWS: Well, you guys may have in policy planning or state [department]—
DK: It wasn’t policy planning; this was essentially me and I happened to be with Roy, and he, he —
KWS: Right, but then, the core four or five people — but Carter, Brzezinski and Vance were very ginger in treating this, endorsing this publicly.
KWS: And they all say it: Brzezinski says it, and, and Vance says it in, in his book, you know, that “we were hesitant.” Quandt says it, “We were strained.” And the Israelis read this as, “How come you guys aren’t endorsing this?”
DK: Mm, I didn’t know.
KWS: I mean, that —
KWS: In other words, just because you guys —
DK: [Unintelligible; speaking while KWS completes his sentence.]
KWS: — talk about it in Habib’s office doesn’t mean it made it, made it on the nightly news.
DK: You are quite right. Umm, well, there was certainly in the state department, that I knew of anyway, there was no hesitancy. I think that [unintelligible].
KWS: Was there any difference after Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem on how to handle, handle the peace process, were there any difference in style or tone or content between Brzezinski and Vance?
DK: I don’t know [unintelligible].
KWS: Umm, you accompanied Atherton on some of these —?
DK: Yeah, mm-hmm, uh, several of them. Well — there are, umm, well, I think that there were two or three, I think two or three of them at least. One was, umm, after the, umm, the trip in July or August, umm, August, I guess, August of ’78.
KWS: There was one in April and there was one in August.
DK: Well, after the August of ’78, umm, when, umm, that’s when Vance had secretly lined up Begin and, uh —
KWS: Brought the hand-written letters.
DK: Yeah, mm-hmm. And Begin and Sadat were at Camp David and so he then sent Atherton off to Saudi Arabia and Jordan and, umm, to try line up Saudis and Jordanians in back of this, and Atherton took me along with him, in fact [Atherton’s wife] Betty went too. And we all flew in the air out of Chase — little turbo jets, turbo prop jets to, to umm, Taif and Taif then to Amman and over to —
KWS: I arrived in Jeddah the day — in fact, I had dinner —
KWS: You may not remember it. Umm, you came to Jeddah for one day.
DK: I guess so, yeah.
KWS: And umm, [U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia] John West invited me for dinner.
KWS: And I had a chance, this was the first time I met Roy —
KWS: — and the first time I had ever met you.
DK: That’s right. I recall, yeah.
KWS: And we were sitting, umm, we were sitting in John’s sort of [unintelligible] —
DK: I thought it was in Jordan that this happened [unintelligible]?
KWS: No, this was [unintelligible]—
DK: Okay, I remember the [laughs], I remembered the [laughs], I remember [unintelligible].
KWS: And uh, I just remember talking to, meeting Roy for the first time and talking about what it was like in Israel, what was going on in Israel, because I had just spent six weeks there and Roy —
KWS: — wanted to get sort of a —
KWS: — glimpse, as Roy always does.
KWS: He likes little —
KWS: — and that’s where I remember meeting you for the first time [unintelligible] group [unintelligible].
DK: Yeah, okay.
KWS: Umm —
DK: Well, anyway, that and then, then the trip to, to Israel in January of ’79 to try to hammer out some of these issues for the peace treaty, but didn’t really get anywhere. There must have been another trip too because I remember meeting with Sadat in Ismailia, with the boats right on the edge of the canal where you don’t see the water, but you see the boats —
KWS: That’s right.
DK: — moving through the desert.
KWS: Umm —
DK: Unfortunately, things like that rather than substance stick in your mind. [Laughs.]
KWS: [Laughs.] Umm, I see here, for your information, Quandt says in his book that for three months, from November 10 until February 10, we were an observer. He said we really did not know how to react.
DK: Oh, you’re talking about after Jerusalem.
DK: After [unintelligible] Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem.
KWS: He said we were sort of going along on the momentum of the aftermath of the trip until we sort of got back in harness and that came because of Sadat’s visit.
DK: Well, I guess that’s, that’s accurate because we felt that, at the time, everybody thought that momentum had been created by, I guess ,it was almost an acceptance of Sadat’s view that a big breakthrough had been made and things were going to roll along. And then after the Jerusalem political committee collapsed, it was clear that it wasn’t going to happen.
KWS: Was it a failure to read Sadat’s motivation? I mean, we just didn’t read him right or we didn’t —
DK: No, I think it was a failure to understand Begin and how difficult Begin was going to be.
KWS: Our failure, our state department.
DK: Yeah, yeah, I mean, well, the United States and —
KWS: In other words, we had, we — Rabin and Labor had gotten us accustomed to the fact that there could be territorial compromise, there could be resolution to this thing, there could be something to talk about. Begin’s election completely caught us by surprise. We had no idea that this guy was going to be so adamant and refuse to even talk about getting the PLO to the table and no negotiations about the West Bank at all.
DK: Well, I guess that, that really, that’s a good way to put it. Umm, but uh, I think yours, I always thought there was excessive optimism about, umm, Begin on the U.S. side. Carter had the feeling that here is somebody — One of the reasons Carter went ahead with this, though, was that he had the feeling that here was somebody that he could work with. A lot of this process is self-delusional. Umm, there are people, umm, who imagine what they want to happen and imagine that it is going to happen and so, even though here was this guy who, if you knew anything about him, if you knew Israeli politics, and so on, you knew he was going to be a really tough nut to crack. There was floating around Washington, I remember at that time, this idea that Begin was somebody you could work with and make progress with and could [unintelligible] —
KWS: This is after Sadat’s trip?
DK: No, this is before. No, this was in the summer of ’77.
KWS: You see, Carter had done something which no American president had done when Rabin came. He was an advocate. He said, “We will — you can withdraw, but it will have to be withdrawal with only minor border concessions.”
KWS: “You will have to talk —”
KWS: “— with the PLO.” Carter was stating an outcome for the Israelis —
KWS: — and the Israelis had never heard that from an American president. And when Begin came —
KWS: Carter treated Begin very differently than Rabin and I don’t think it was because of the political difference between the two. My own personal feeling is that Carter realized he had made a mistake —
DK: Yeah, you are right.
KWS: — in being an advocate.
DK: Well, I think he realized that he had gone too far with Rabin in approaching the problems.
KWS: Dan Pattir says that when Rabin came back, he felt like he had been a cornered animal.
DK: Mm, well, I think the Israelis tend to exaggerate a little bit. But he, he certainly was —
KWS: But before Begin came to this country —
KWS: — he read the memorandum of the notes that Rabin had taken of his meeting with Carter —
KWS: — and apparently, Begin was prepared for all hell to come from Carter —
KWS: — and was quite delighted that it didn’t.
KWS: And that’s why the press conference afterwards was so positive and glowing, because Begin was expecting the absolute worst from Carter —
KWS: and didn’t receive it.
KWS: He was expecting at least the same treatment that Rabin had received.
DK: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
KWS: Didn’t get it.
DK: Yeah. Right. Well, umm, yeah, well, umm.
KWS: But I think your point about self-delusion is — besides which, after you’ve committed yourself to a process, your comprehensiveness isn’t working, you’re not going to Geneva — now you are grabbing for whatever is left. You can’t — you don’t want this plane going down to a crashing defeat.
DK: Yeah well, okay. Look, in any case, I, I think you’re already — Quandt is quite right, we were — the feeling was that this process was going to carry itself along, although, umm, I’m sure there are people who didn’t really believe that. But it had to be given a chance. They had to be given a chance to, to, to try it and see, before the United States stepped in.
KWS: At one point, do you think Sadat knew that he was using Jimmy Carter?
DK: He was using Jimmy Carter? I always thought it was the opposite, the other way around, that Carter was using Sadat. What was Sadat using Carter for?
KWS: Well, he said, you know he trusted Carter so much, he essentially said, here, you represent me to Israel.
DK: Well, that’s the way, that’s the way things seem to happen in the Arab world. I dismiss that sort of thing.
KWS: Carter never dismissed it.
DK: Yeah, I know, Carter [unintelligible]. He didn’t —
KWS: That’s why Carter was taken in by Sadat. When you ask Carter to this day, he says, “My biggest mistake was that Sadat trusted me too much and Begin didn’t trust me at all.” He said, Carter made me — He said this, he said this to me. He said, “Sadat made me Egypt’s ambassador to Israel.”
DK: Hmm. Umm, well, I would have to think about that a little bit. But umm, it is, as you well know, in the Arab manner is to, uh, to throw your arm around the guy’s shoulder and tell him what a great buddy he is. And how you are going to do everything he wants you to do. Umm, and just give me your wishes, your desire is my wish, and so on and so forth. There is a lot of this bullshitting that goes on, umm, not just at the level of the street vendor, but at the upper level too.
KWS: [Laughs.] This could have been street vendors, my friend.
KWS: Umm, Kamel says in his book, he says Israeli-American differences, Israeli-American differences, allowed Egypt more time to enhance its negotiating position. “We can continue to eschew direct bilateral negotiations because the Israelis were not being pressured sufficiently by the Americans.” And he says we [the Americans] did this intentionally. He went on to say, “Our position consisted in refraining from engaging in any negotiations with Israel as agreed in Washington, until the latter modified its negative attitude. We’ve thrown upon the United States the burden of inducing Israel into becoming more forthcoming. And the United States had accepted that [role].”
DK: Yeah, like I said [unintelligible], well that sounds like a fair judgement to me. We were, we were trying to get Begin to move on the Palestinian issue.
KWS: And we gladly accepted the burden, didn’t we?
DK: Well, then if you [laughs] agreement, don’t you want to get an agreement? There are certain problems you have to work out. Then the Egyptians — well, yeah, the Egyptians, I think always felt themselves, umm, in a position of inferiority when it came to negotiating with the Israelis. The, umm, the Israelis were smart and well-briefed, and, umm, you know they, umm, had, they were argumentative and uh, and uh, umm, articulate and, uh, well-organized. Umm, and the Egyptians just weren’t in the same league with them. At all. You know, umm, Ibrahim Kamel was quite right. The burden was on the United States to twist the Israelis’ arm. But Egypt’s arm was being twisted too.
KWS: [Pause.] Brzezinski was very taken by Begin. And very taken particularly by the self-rule idea.
KWS: Any explanation? I am going to ask Zbig myself but — it was something that, I think Brzezinski understood as something less than self-determination, but something more.
DK: On the Brzezinski side, I’ve never had any contact with Brzezinski as in one meeting with him, Quandt would have to give you all of that. My, my perception of Brzezinski is really not in this at all. I mean, I knew he was there, and everybody knew he and Vance had their problems, but uh, from what I, and I think, you know, generally — maybe Atherton had a broader view of this — but from what I could see, it was all Vance. And Carter, of course.
KWS: In February of ’78, nine points were developed at state, the so-called nine points. The contents used terms like “transitional,” “interim,” “no assertion of sovereignty.” I mean, you defined a term earlier to me, this was a “declaration of principles” of what came out of Camp David —
KWS: — but the origins of the declaration of principles came out of these nine points.
DK: Well, of course this whole thing is a —
KWS: Accretion. Right, I understand. Umm, the future would be negotiated by Israel, Jordan, Egypt. No Palestinian participation [unintelligible]. No future, no Palestinian state. This is a very narrow document to come out of the Department of State in February of ’78 considering where the Department of State was in March or April of the previous year. This was a —
DK: All I can tell you on this is that I had the feeling of unreality, total unreality during the whole time that this thing — we would get together and discuss things as though, I mean, things that just weren’t going to happen and had never happened and I — you couldn’t imagine, that these were just dreamings. And these meetings we would have with Atherton and, uh, umm, with, uh, Saunders and we would talk about things that hadn’t been agreed upon and, and that there was no prospect of seeing them being agreed upon, as though they were, “Here’s our program.” I cannot recall the details of any of this, but I can just tell you, that was, that was the atmosphere of it. People were writing down things that were just madly unrealistic at the time.
KWS: Why? I mean, you know, Saunders has been involved in this for 25 years.
DK: I guess, uh —
KWS: Atherton has been involved for 20 some-odd years. I mean, you are not new to this thing either. I mean —
KWS: It is not like all you guys had spent your entire life in Antarctica.
DK: All you can, I guess, all you can say is look, you’re, umm, you’re pushing for something that doesn’t exist.
DK: And so you are straining the limits of reality. And you are doing this, you know, consciously, straining the limits of reality. Umm, I, you know, maybe had a more negative view of all these things than anybody else did, I don’t know. Umm, but I was more involved with Israel than any of them. I spent four years there and none of the others had spent any time there, only visits. And so, I guess that colored my whole outlook.
KWS: What four years?
DK: ’67-’71. And that colored my whole outlook on it, I guess.
KWS: Atherton went to Cairo on the 20th of April. He had meetings with Sadat and others. Present then were Eilts, [Egyptian Director of the Cabinet of the Foreign Minister] Ahmed Maher.
DK: I think I must have been there.
KWS: The current ambassador, Usamah el-Baz, in developing points that would come as compromise between Begin and Sadat. Is it fair to say that in the spring of ’78 that the most difficult pill came, to swallow, had to be swallowed by the Egyptians, because the reality was now setting in that they were not going to get a Palestinian state, they were not going to get self-determination, they were not going to get Israeli withdrawal, they were not going to get PLO participation? You read Muhamad Kamel’s book, you read Fahmy’s book, and there is this — you know, they have lived in this concept for a long time about “the Palestinians have got to have a state.” And now, even getting the Americans showing up with points that don’t even talk about a Palestinian state, they don’t even talk about participation of the PLO —
KWS: You guys are delivering a new concept that is like —
KWS: — a new galaxy to these guys.
DK: Mm-hmm, mm. Well, I must have been on that trip because I remember the meeting with Sadat. I think that must have been when the meeting was out —
KWS: Yes, yes.
DK: — on the canal in Ismailia.
KWS: Yes, that’s exactly right.
DK: Umm, but, uh, I don’t remember the substance of it, but, realist— What you say here fits in with, with my recollection, that we were pressing the Egyptians to do a lot of things that they didn’t really want to do. We were pressing the Israelis to do things that they didn’t want to do, but we were equally pressing the Egyptians to do a lot of things that they, umm, frightened them to death.
KWS: I think that is an understatement.
KWS: I mean, if, if these people had been schooled under Nasser —
DK: Mm-hmm, well that, that is the whole thing that these are all people who had grown up under Nasser.
KWS: Tahsin Bashir —
KWS: —and all these characters.
KWS: And now they are being asked to, you know —
KWS: — say night is day and day is night.
DK: Yeah, mm-hmm.
KWS: I [laughs], I’m not surprised that Sadat’s advisors didn’t agree with Sadat.
DK: Mm-hmm. Oh, well he was dragging them, you know, and kicking and screaming the whole time. I mean, that was quite clear. They were screaming[laughs], they were screaming bloody murder the whole time. I mean, they didn’t do it in front of him but uh, but they didn’t want to go there. Usamah el-Baz, I am surprised that he survived. He was the one who was the most difficult and the most rebellious.
KWS: So, at Camp David their worst fears were realized.
DK: Yeah, mm-hmm, yeah, mm-hmm.
KWS: Such a terrible agreement.
DK: Mm-hmm. Well, Usamah, umm, is obviously the type who can, who, who, uh right, who intends to stay no matter what. He stayed through Sadat and he stayed with Mubarak and, uh — But he was, was also the most strident. I remember him in Washington at the first meeting after Camp David to talk about the peace treaty. Getting up with his squeaky little voice, he sounded to me just like those recordings of Goebbels [laughs]. He really did.
KWS: And Sadat just couldn’t erode this political orthodoxy.
DK: Well, Sadat — These guys would come and talk and raise all kinds of objections and then go to Sadat and Sadat would make a decision and move, move on. That is way is happened.
KWS: I am surprised that Sadat wasn’t assassinated by one of these guys.
DK: [Unintelligible], that’s a — Well, by one of those guys? No. They wouldn’t assassinate him. Umm, but there were plenty of people who might have assassinated him. Hermann Eilts’ cables — the cable that I have referred to, he spoke to you about — the February of ’79 that talked about [unintelligible] assassination. But none of those guys would’ve assassinated him. Didn’t have the nerve to. Anyway, they, they they were part of the establishment and didn’t want to be strung up.
KWS: And yet the Egyptians, apparently, according to Muhamad Ibrahim Kamel, el-Baz, Nabil el-Araby, Ahmed Maher, Abdel-Raouf el-Reedy, were in the process in the summer of 1978 of drafting proposals for the future of West Bank and Gaza that dealt with bringing the West Bank under the administration of Jordan, umm, Gaza under the administration of Egypt after an Israeli withdrawal, umm, but not dealing with an independent state, not dealing with PLO participation. In other words, even though the Egyptians were forced to make these major compromises, on a working level, they were drafting ideas that had to do with well, how can we accommodate ourselves to what the Israelis want?
DK: Mmm. That [unintelligible].
KWS: And he had them, he tasked them to do that.
DK: Mm-hmm, well, he must have. I guess they wouldn’t have done it on their own. That’s for sure.
KWS: In April of ’78 before, umm, Begin came back to Washington —
KWS: — Carter said that a lasting settlement would not require complete withdrawal from occupied territories. Carter said this in public.
DK: Mm-hmm. Mm?
KWS: Muhamad Ibrahim Kamel viewed this as Carter caving into Israeli attitudes, placing the changing Carter at the feet of the Jewish lobby.
DK: When was this again?
KWS: This was in April of ’78.
KWS: He said, Kamel goes on to say, “This was an example of Carter’s irresoluteness and wavering.” It seems that whenever the Americans backtracked, it was always the Israeli lobby that was responsible.
DK: Mm-hmm [unintelligible].
KWS: They never viewed it as Egyptians —
DK: As far as the Egyptians.
KWS: Right, right. They never viewed it as something that was needed of the mediator if they were going to get both sides to inch across this bridge to one another.
KWS: ’Cause the Egyptians never thought it as a compromise, I guess.
DK: Well, you know, I am, I think you’re essentially right. The Egyptian attitude, the Egyptian argument all along was that the Americans, all the Americans had to do [unintelligible], the Americans had to do was tell the Israelis what to do and everything would be fine.
KWS: They really, I mean, Sadat had been —
DK: Well, that maybe, that may have been partly, you know, bluster, but it also wasn’t true, that they [unintelligible].
KWS: But Sadat had always talked about the United States had ninety-nine percent of the cards and that the United States, if it wanted to, it could deliver Israel.
DK: Umm, yeah, well, yeah, precisely. The Egyptian attitude was that the Americans, partly, would tell the Israelis what to do and the Israelis would, would hop to it.
KWS: Why didn’t it ever seep into the Egyptians that the United States couldn’t deliver Israel?
DK: [Laughs] Well, maybe, you know, there are several layers of consciousness there [laughs]. Maybe at one level they did understand this, but they never wanted to, they never wanted to admit it. You could never get an Egyptian, at least I never at that time knew an Egyptian, who would tell you, you know, umm, he understood the difficulties and that the United States had a tough time with the Israelis and all of that. The line always was, “You just tell the Israelis what to do.” You know, simple —
KWS: Did you —
DK: — very simple.
KWS: Were you part of the Blair House talks in October of ’78?
DK: Which, do you mean — ?
KWS: The Blair House talks?
DK: Yes, yes. Yes. That is what I am talking about after Camp David when the peace treaty was signed.
KWS: October 12, ’78 the talks begin and they lasted for about a week to 10 days.
KWS: Some people called them Second Camp David. And there was discussion of the draft Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
DK: Yeah, well. Well, Vance presented a draft. That was part of — The draft was presented there.
DK: It didn’t exist before. I mean, it was — well, it was hurriedly put together after Camp David. Carter said after Camp David, Carter said, “Now, full steam ahead on the peace treaty.”
DK: And so a draft peace treaty was put together and here Vance — for the first time, when the U.S. presents its document, which hadn’t happened before — so Vance goes into this meeting and put down this, uh, this document and everybody felt that it is the basis for the, for the negotiation. You got it there?
KWS: Umm, I don’t have the document. But what I do know is that as early as a year before —
KWS: — Vance came back from Cairo in August —
KWS: — of ’77 —
KWS: — with a draft Egyptian treaty and had asked — in fact, Carter had asked a treaty to be produced both by the Israelis and by the Egyptians and the Americans had now for one year.
DK: Oh, from the Israeli side and the Egyptian side.
DK: Oh yeah, we were pressing them, them to do these things, yes, that I, that I recall.
KWS: But this was the first time we had put forth a treaty.
DK: We had not put forth a document of our own. I mean they — we’d asked them to come up with things, I recall that, you know.
KWS: Umm, do you recall at all this notion of the priority of obligation clause, the linkage question?
DK: Oh yes, that was the main thing.
KWS: Tell, tell me what you recollect about it.
DK: Well, the Israelis were concerned that, umm, the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt had to override Egypt’s other, Egypt’s prior obligations to Syria or any other Arab state. To go to war, they were, they were afraid that to make this peace treaty and then, you know, something would happen between Israel and Syria and umm, the Egyptians would then — I mean, this is the way they presented it — the Egyptians would then denounce the peace treaty with Israel on the basis that they have this overriding obligation towards Syria from whatever the treaties were at the time that they were. I mean, this, this was the way the Israelis set it out in this meeting.
KWS: Umm, as it turned out, there was no linkage.
DK: Well, it was finally agreed, I mean, after great, umm, after great hammering by the Egyptians, they finally agreed to, umm, to say that the Israeli — their peace treaty with Israel took precedence over their other obligations. I have forgotten the exact language, but [unintelligible], but it was not an easy [unintelligible]. It was not an easy decision for them. It was, umm, at least, if it was, it wasn’t one that they lead on was easy, I would think. It took a long time and a lot of hammering to get to.
KWS: Carter was a different person now than he had been at Camp David and a different person than he had been in the previous year when he was pushing for Geneva. He seemed to have been a person who was more impatient to see a conclusion. His style was more rough. He was much more direct. He had been schooled now in Begin’s tactics and Dayan’s frustrations and he seemed to be a man who was not willing to take as much as he had taken a year earlier. He had been to school. It seems to be evident from what people talked about how he behaved at Blair House. He lectured to the Israelis. He called them into the Oval Office and he just let ’em have it.
DK: I remember him calling people in at six o’clock in the morning [laughs]. He [unintelligible], calling [Aharon] Barak and, yeah, right, it was at six o’clock in the morning. Yeah. Well, I was not with Carter very, very much at all. Once in while, I’d be meeting where Carter was, but I wouldn’t think — I really didn’t, umm — Roy and, umm, Bill Quandt and Hal were more directly connected to that. But there was this sense that, that Carter — it was 1979 already, elections were in the coming year, umm, he’d spent a lot of time on this. He had given enormous time and attention to it. And after the peace treaty was over, he just dropped it and that was the whole thing about the autonomy negotiations. Carter handed it over to Vance and, and we were given to understand that he had other things to do now. And this was the reason that umm, one of the reasons anyway, everybody felt that nothing happened. On the autonomy negotiations which began, you know, a couple of months after the peace treaty was signed.
KWS: So much time had been spent by him already and so many other items that he wanted to spend time on.
DK: He was getting into the late part of his term and he felt he had given an inordinate amount of time to the Middle East and, and was tired of it too. But after, after the signing of the peace treaty, Carter effectively dropped out. And of course, by fall of 1979 came the siege of the U.S. Embassy in Iran and, and uh, he was focused on that and —
KWS: Did you have contacts with Kamal Hassan Ali? Boutros Ghali?
DK: I remember [laughs], I remember Ali. He wore a fez. [Laughs.]
DK: Well, I hope I am not imagining this, but he was, you know, that old type. I mean, he looked like some Turkish official.
KWS: He had been a defense minister?
DK: Yeah, he had been a defense minister and it was amazing to hear this guy who, you know, a round [laughs] —
KWS: [Laughs.] A portly fellow.
DK: [Laughs.] I was in some meetings with him. I went out there with, with [Special Envoy Sol] , right, umm, two or three times. And, uh, you know, we went around to various things [unintelligible]. Autonomy negotiations never went anywhere.
KWS: Because the president was no longer involved?
DK: Because well, because that was the hard part, first of all. First of all, that was hard part. The peace treaty was the easy part.
KWS: [Laughs.] Never did you think you’d say that out loud.
DK: No [laughs]. No, but it was quite clear, the peace treaty was the easy part, and —
KWS: We’ve been going at this for an hour and half, just squeezing out this peace treaty. And now you’re sitting and saying, “But the peace treaty was the easiest part.” [Laughs.]
DK: Well, exactly. I mean, that was, that was the whole thing. Yeah, well, in relative terms.
KWS: Yes, I understand.
DK: Relative to — relative ease. I didn’t say the peace treaty was easy. It was never looked upon as easy. But compared to the West Bank issue, it was the easy part of the whole thing. So that was the first thing. The second thing was that, umm, Carter was not involved. And, umm, Carter was getting on in his term of office and the [unintelligible] election year was approaching and it was only by the time of the autonomy negotiations had started — that was May or June, I’ve forgotten — we went on the first trip that Vance made to — Vance made a trip to launch them. I guess that was in May or maybe it was in June. And we went to the Sinai, to Al-Arish, and Sadat hosted a lunch there. I remember Sadat handing out plates. He was really the [laughs], he was really the host [laughs]. And there was a meeting between the Israeli and Egyptian, umm, and wounded people who had lost their legs or arms were there. And there were a lot of, umm, a lot of ceremonies, ceremonies to — before the beginning of the first session. But then after that, Vance — even Vance stepped out and turned it over to, umm, well, where was, uh, what’s his name, the current ambassador to, uh, to Moscow? He was the first —
KWS: [Robert] Strauss.
DK: Yeah, Strauss. He was the first one. Strauss came in there and I had no involvement with Strauss at all. Strauss — Ned Walker [Jr.] can tell you about Strauss. Strauss just sort of kept the whole thing to himself and Ned went along with him.
DK: Was it Ned or was it, just a min, Jock Covey? Jock Covey. I am not sure. Anyway, Strauss was just sort of an interim there and — but the impression I had of Strauss, I think a lot of other people did, was here was this, uh, Texas politician who thought he could talk anybody into anything and that he was headed for a very sad, a very painful fall. And it happened very quickly. He was down there a few months and then he realized, umm, that he, he was out of his league and the Middle East was, was not Texas. Umm, and uh, so he got out of it. And [his replacement, Sol] Linowitz, who was a much more savvy character, knew, uh, knew — a much better negotiator, umm, and a smarter man, I think, got into it and did what he could. But he was being asked to carry the ball all alone. And who was he? I mean, he wasn’t even Secretary of State.
KWS: Before Israel signed the peace treaty with Egypt, it sought guarantees and assurances from the United States.
DK: [Unintelligible] a technicality. I mean, I guess they are all known now, but I mean, uh —.
KWS: What was — I mean, there was a memorandum of understanding?
DK: I, I couldn’t begin to tell you. I mean, maybe Roy has some better, closer recollection, but there were all sorts of things, I mean, is knowing what — I was put to work on the oil side. That was sort of given to me to, uh, to handle and I can’t recall the details of what we drew up, but, umm, I remember we had various papers and remember presenting one of them to —
[END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO]
[BEGINNING OF TAPE TWO, SIDE ONE]
DK: — White House, coupled with the elections and Carter had made this commitment. Was it elections? Maybe I’m off there. Anyway, there was a meeting in the White House and Carter made this commitment that we could go ahead and give Israel the assurance on, uh, on oil. If the Egyptians didn’t make good on their commitment, we would supply them.
KWS: David, am I mistaken but, I get the feeling that the Israelis have always used time on their side. They just seem to have the staying power that the United States — whether it be [Henry] Kissinger or Carter or [George] Baker or [President George] Bush — they just seem to hold on until we come around to the table.
DK: Well, the Israelis, look, the Israelis have a —
KWS: They [unintelligible] —
DK: Except for the Israelis — the Israelis look at it as: it’s their life. You know, for us, here we are, we’re going to be safe no matter what. But, umm, all these things affect them directly, deeply, personally, physically and in every other way. And so, we are asking them to give up something and uh, and they give it up and umm, then we’re, we’re very happy and go off and claim success, and uh, umm, they are stuck with it. So, that’s one element of it. The other is that the Israelis always outclassed us because, umm, the people that they had doing these negotiations were uh, had been doing these negotiations all along. You know, they’d been in it for, not just for a year or two, as — but for decades. You know, you say, you know, Atherton has been in this stuff, umm, and Saunders has been, and umm, [unintelligible]. Those of us who have been working in the Middle East have been working in the Middle East for quite some time. But, none of us really ever approached the longevity of the Israelis. Or the focus. We were — Atherton has been working on the Middle East for a long time but he, he wasn’t focused on the Arab-Israeli peace negotiations or the Arab-Israeli dispute all this time. Neither was I, neither was anybody else. The Israelis had the focus and they had, they had the files. And they had everything there. They, they, the people who had been involved, they had the experience and the files and everything and they could dig up all these documents that we couldn’t even find, and you know —.
KWS: Umm, if Carter had been involved in Oct—, in late ’79 and early ’80, knowing what you know about how difficult the autonomy negotiations would have been, could we have started the cycle?
DK: Well, Carter, uh, I don’t know. I think it just wasn’t practical that Carter would carry on, continue his involvement. I think that everybody pretty much understood that. And then after the hostages were taken in Iran, that threw everything off kilter. But, umm, [Jordan’s King] Hussein came to Washington, I believe, in July of 1980. And in that meeting, Carter told Hussein that he was going to be reelected and that the first thing that he was going to do as soon as he was reelected was to get this autonomy agreement. That was going to be the first priority of his second administration. This I have learned from [unintelligible] or whatever it was, I have forgotten but it, it has stayed very, umm, clearly in my memory. And uh, there was, I recall in the fall of 1980 until it looked so clear that Carter was not going to get reelected, and then, before the election, Saunders was talking about, umm, as soon as the election was over, he was going to start working on, on the autonomy agreement. Hal, Hal can tell you this better than I can. But uh, my understanding of it was that he was clearly focused on what the next step was going to be. But getting to 1980 and 1981 and to resume a very serious autonomy negotiation. In fact, I think that has always seemed to me the great tragedy of Carter’s failure to get reelected was that we would’ve had an autonomy agreement. He would’ve carried it through and in 1981 and 1982, the Israelis would’ve been out of the West Bank and you would’ve had something going there.
KWS: Carter — I’ve asked him this a dozen times and he could never give me an answer ’cause he doesn’t even have one — Camp David, the framework was flawed in the sense that they didn’t have a time trigger for the autonomy.
DK: Mm-hmm, the Israelis wouldn’t, well, the Israelis wouldn’t agree to — The Israelis agreed to ninety days for the, umm, peace treaty negotiation and there was this settlement freeze —
DK: — that was supposed to last for ninety days.
KWS: But within the framework, it said there would be a transitional period which would begin at the end of three years, and the final status talks.
KWS: But it never talked about when —
DK: — which when it began.
KWS: — when it was going to begin.
DK: Yeah, mm-hmm.
KWS: And the answer is that the Israelis wouldn’t allow, wouldn’t allow them, I mean, didn’t want, didn’t want to put in the time?
DK: Well, it would only begin when, when the Israelis would only agree it would begin —when that’s the agreement was reached. They weren’t going to commit themselves to say that a five-year period or a three-year period would begin January 1, 1980, or something like that. No, the Israelis, there was never any question that the Israelis would agree to set a date upon which in five years would begin running. That, that date was once the agreement was reached.
KWS: Mm-hmm. Can I impose upon you a little bit longer?
KWS: Can I go back in time?
KWS: Can I go back to ’73?
DK: Okay, let me just, can I break for just one moment here.
KWS: Sure, absolutely.
[RECORDING STOPS AND RESUMES.]
KWS: I’ve learned that also in interviewing people that it happens with everyone.
KWS: That it — you get the generalities and then you go back and you weave. And what happens in the meantime, something happens inside the mind.
KWS: It unlocks doors. Umm, the ’73 war you were at the task force?
DK: I was, I was office director, before I became office director for, umm, Northern Arab Affairs — ARN it was called then — in which, it was Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Iraq in the uh, in, in August of 1972.
KWS: August of 1972 until?
DK: Until, well, ’til July of ’75.
KWS: Until July of ’75. Okay, so you were at ARN for three years?
KWS: When the ’73 war broke, where were you?
DK: I was in the ARN. I think I mentioned on the phone, my, my chief recollection is this —
KWS: You never saw the light of day.
DK: — I never saw the light of day for about a month.
KWS: Uh-huh. And what was the task for the task force?
DK: Well [laughs], it was, umm — what was the task? It’s sort of like asking what are you doing living? [Laughs.] We were there [laughs], we were there and we were monitoring — God knows. We were monitoring cable writing, memoranda, handling, umm, various things. I remember that um, the Bahrainis came in and wanted us to pull out of, pull the Mideast four out of Bahrain. And uh, there were some brief discussions about whether that should be done. And Roger Davies stepped over and said, “No.” He sent a cable back saying, “Absolutely not.” But uh, there are all sorts of things. I just have no, you know, I have no recollection except —
KWS: The war went on for three weeks.
DK: Well, the thing that is the closest recollection that I have is that everybody thought that the, uh, the Syrians and the Egyptians were mad. When the fighting broke out, I learned that the fighting, that the war had broken out, at a luncheon that the Lebanese ambassador was giving. We were in the residence of the Lebanese ambassador.
KWS: Kissinger was entertaining the foreign ministers in New York and eating with them.
KWS: And you were —
DK: I was with the Lebanese ambassador.
DK: And there were [laughs], there were, and there were various other, umm, various Arabs there and, uh, people around, you know, [unintelligible] certain kind of people from the State Department. I remember one of the Arabs saying at the end of it, “They must be mad. The Israelis, the Israelis would, you know, crush them right away.” And then, then, you know, of course, it turned out to be very different.
KWS: Right after the war, I guess, well, during the war, you’re dealing with things on a daily basis, you are dealing with everything from, you know, resupply and [Simcha] Dinitz —
DK: Well, all of that stuff was being handled by, by Kissinger. Maybe I worked on some of the detail, but I don’t know, but, uh —
KWS: Once the war was over —
KWS: — umm, what do you remember about how the war came to an end?
DK: Umm, uh.
KWS: [UN Resolution] 338?
DK: Umm, uh.
KWS: How it was drafted?
DK: Umm, well, [Joe] Sisco was doing, umm, so much of it. 338 was just one thing. The, uh, the thing that I remember, that I recall most, umm, vividly is that umm, after the fighting ended — and this was about the beginning of, umm, I guess this was in November — the, Kissinger wanted to, umm, to bring the Syrians in. And, umm, so the Syrian ambassador, who was brought down from New York — he was a retired general, their ambassador [actual title: Syrian Permanent Representative to the UN Haytham Kaylani]— there was no ambassador in Washington at that time —
KWS: Guy held both posts.
DK: What? No, no, there — No.
KWS: That’s right, he was just the UN.
DK: There were no relations.
DK: And then Syria —
KWS: That’s right.
DK: — went back to —
KWS: That’s right, that’s right.
DK: It was even more remote than Iraq. We established the interest section in Iraq in the, in the summer of ’72, but there was nothing in Syria. I was the first one to go into Syria and that was in December of ’73 to prepare Kissinger’s first trip there. Umm, we had nobody. He was an Italian, that first secretary, he was, uh, living in our embassy in the ambassador’s residence [laughs], in the U.S. ambassador’s residence. Anyway, this Syrian ambassador, the general-cum-ambassador, was brought down from New York for meeting with Kissinger. And Kissinger’s purpose was to explore the, umm, negotiations, and I remember this sentence, “Kissinger was such an egomaniac.” I haven’t read this book by the guy, you know, this biography that just came out, umm [unintelligible].
KWS: Patrick Seal?
DK: No, no. The biography of Kissinger, you know [Kissinger: A Biography].
KWS: Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Walter Isaacson.
DK: Yeah, right. I haven’t read this thing yet, but I wonder if any of this is in —
KWS: He’s my wife’s first cousin.
DK: Really? [Laughs.]
KWS: Managing editor of Time. Umm, grew up in New Orleans, worked on the Times-Picayune for many years. Superb, superb writer.
KWS: Umm, got a hold of incredible material, including, umm, telephone tapes, and —
KWS: The ’73 war is pretty close. And his resupply story is probably the best one yet written.
KWS: And I corroborate this with Janice Stein, who has just written an enormous amount on the ’73 war.
KWS: And I was surprised how well Walter did it —
KWS: — to be quite — I mean, to give you a parenthetical statement.
DK: Well, anyway, here is this Syrian ambassador in, in Kissinger’s office and I was called upon to accompany him and to take notes. And I remember Kissinger saying that his experience in the Vietnam negotiations had qualified him now, right, to launch, umm, uh, he said peace negotiations, I’m not sure.
KWS: He said this to the Syrian ambassador?
DK: Yeah, that’s right.
KWS: He said this to his face?
DK: Yeah. he said this to the Syrian ambassador, which surprised me, him saying this. But anyway, he said, “My, my experience in the Vietnam negotiations has qualified me to undertake these negotiations.” Well, he said amazing things in Damascus. I went out to Damascus to organize his trip there. I remember that Kissinger arrives, we go into town in a big motorcade to a, a, umm, a palace or someplace where they host important people and the Syrian foreign minister, [Abdul-Halim] Khaddam, gives a lunch for Kissinger. And Kissinger uses the lunch to tell all sorts of jokes and makes Sisco the scapegoat of the jokes. I mean, this was thing, Sisco was the fall guy on the jokes. And then, the lunch is over and so, we all, the Americans go in a room off to the side — and I almost made the greatest mistake of my career, but I didn’t. Kissinger stands there and looks out the window at this garden, and says, “It is my destiny to be brought into this place.” And I almost burst out laughing, but I didn’t [laughs]. I caught myself in time [laughs]/ There’s — fortunately, Sisco was standing there next to me, and I looked over at Sisco and I saw this absolutely straight face and [laughs] caught myself.
KWS: How many days were you there before they arrived?
DK: Uh, I don’t know.
KWS: They got there on the 15th.
DK: Well, it must have been a couple of days, at least. Umm, I, uh, drove, went into Beirut and then was put in a car and driven to the Syrian border and there, two people from the Syrian foreign ministry met me.
DK: And we drove into Damascus and they gave me lunch and I met this Italian, and I met with the people in the Syrian foreign ministry, and we worked out very quickly and easily all the arrangements for umm, uh, for, umm, Kissinger’s arrival and the visit and everything. And uh, somehow, I think it must have been by telephone. I telephoned, I guess, I guess I telephoned to Bob Oakley over in Beirut who was the political section chief. And he sent the cable out to Kissinger with what the arrangements were.
KWS: You did what April [Glasby] did.
DK: Well, that’s [unintelligible].
KWS: I mean, April did the same thing for her men in, in early November.
DK: In, in, umm, no, well, with the difference that there wasn’t anything, you know, to [unintelligible]. She had an interest section all along, in Cairo.
KWS: When did [Thomas] Scotes come on?
DK: After this.
KWS: He came out right after the, the talks?
DK: Well, yes. After umm, the, after Kissinger said that, then we all went off to Geneva, and umm, immediately after that the column went out to Damascus, to open the interest section.
KWS: You, you weren’t part of the Assad-Kissinger meeting?
DK: Well, that was, that was just, umm, that was Kissinger — or Kissinger’s staff aide or somebody — came to Sisco. I was there. I guess it was just the staff aide came to Sisco —
KWS: It would have been [unintelligible].
DK: — and said “Joe, would you be willing to take the notes for this?” And, and Sisco said, “You know, I’m in foreign service, so I’ll do anything.” Here he was assistant secretary, but — So Sisco went in to be the notetaker. It was — I remember we, we waited outside. and, uh, it was hours.
KWS: Five hours.
DK: Hours and hours and I remember Peter Rodman falling asleep.
DK: Well, well, we were outside. And Peter Rodman was dozing off, and I guess, all of us probably dozed off, but, uh, anyway, we waited and waited and waited —
KWS: Many of us have sat outside that room.
DK: [Laughs.] Okay, well, uh, so finally, uh, finally Kissinger came out and [unintelligible] had not. He thought — at first he thought that he had persuaded Assad to, uh, to go to Geneva and then, I guess it was only after we left, that he learned that Assad came and said he wasn’t going to Geneva. But anyway, then there is the question I was asked, if I wanted to go out and be the assistant, the interest section chief, and I certainly did not, and so —
KWS: You mean in, in, in Damascus?
DK: Yes, in Damascus, yes. In fact, Khaddam asked me, “Are you coming?” It was agreed, it was agreed there, in — during Kissinger’s visit that the interest section would be open. Umm, and uh, so, uh, anyway, Tom Scotes was my number two in the office of northern Arab affairs and he was quite needed to go. He is a very good Arabist and he went out and stayed there in Damascus.
KWS: Umm, did you go to Geneva?
KWS: You were in Geneva.
DK: I was at the Geneva conference in the hotel.
KWS: When did you arrive there? I mean, Geneva took place on a Friday, Saturday.
DK: Well, I —
KWS: Just tell me what you recollect.
DK: After, after — I did not leave with Kissinger and company. Umm, they went off, I think, to Cairo or some place, afterward, or maybe it was to Tel Aviv. But I stayed around to clean up something, I’ve forgotten what, and then I went to Beirut. And from Beirut — I mean, Sisco had said, “You come to Geneva.” So, from Beirut I booked a flight to, uh, to Geneva and arrived there. [To someone else] Yes? [to KWS] Excuse me, just a minute. No problem. Anyway, the conference had not yet started.
KWS: Sis— Sisco had told you to come.
DK: Yes, Sisco, Sisco told me to come, “You come to Geneva.” So I came to Geneva.
KWS: Any particular reason why he wanted you there? I mean, this [unintelligible].
DK: I guess he wanted me there, notetaker or something. He took me along —
KWS: But Sisco was assistant secretary?
DK: He was assistant secretary.
KWS: And he knew that you were in charge of ARN, so it would make sense.
DK: Yeah. Actually, yes. So, anyway, the conference had not started when I got there. We found a time I remember that we went over to look at the conference site and the big thing was “How is everybody going to be seated?” How the, the Syrians, rather [unintelligible] the Arabs didn’t want to be next to the Israelis.
KWS: That is correct. Fahmy certainly did not want to sit next to the Israelis.
DK: No, no. So, there was the whole big thing of getting the UN on one side. And the. And the Soviets were there and —
KWS: Dealing, and the empty chair —
DK: And the Americans and the Jordanians were there —
KWS: And then the empty chair and then the Israelis.
DK: Yeah, mm-hmm. So, I forgotten how there was the whole question of the Palestinians that was — that wasn’t worked out. The Palestinians were going to be part of the Jordanian delegation at that point [unintelligible].
KWS: The Palestinians — in fact, the majority — members of the Jordanian delegation were Palestinians.
DK: That, that was how it was then already.
KWS: And, and the PLO fudged that, umm, that anyone who, anyone who didn’t participate in the Geneva talks, umm, couldn’t participate in reconvening Geneva. But Kissinger had worked it out that the Palestinians would participate in a later stage.
KWS: And that was a letter of understanding that was passed between Kissinger and the Egyptians and between Kissinger and the Israelis.
DK: Yeah, I had forgotten that.
KWS: And that was, that’s how —
DK: Well, anyway, I just remember the, when we went there and the [unintelligible] concern was the seating arrangements, and, umm, but it was all phony. You know, it was just Kissinger’s, well, Kissinger’s little trick to get the, umm —
KWS: But no one knew that this was Kissinger’s trick. The Israelis —
DK: Sure they did.
KWS: Not the Israelis.
DK: Well, I —
KWS: You know, the Israelis hired a hotel for a year thinking that they are going to stay in Geneva and negotiate?
DK: Oh well, you know, they — but look —
KWS: I, I am not talking about, they, they had these grandiose expectations of what was going to be. They actually thought hard core negotiations were going to go on.
DK: Yeah, well. Maybe, maybe —
KWS: They even prepared peace treaties.
DK: Yeah, well, maybe it’s hindsight on my part, but as I recall, we knew at the time that this was just all for the show. But, umm, Sterner stayed on for a brief while with, umm, what’s his name?
KWS: Umm, [Vladimir] Vinogradov
DK: No, no, no. The ambassador, former ambassador, to Vietnam, umm —
KWS: Oh, Ellsworth Bunker, yes. Bunker, Ellsworth Bunker.
DK: Yes. Bunker was kept on. Sterner, Sterner was —
KWS: Bunker was appointed on December 13 as a permanent ambassador to the Geneva conference.
KWS: By the way, he died in office holding that position.
KWS: Did you know that?
DK: [Laughs.] No.
KWS: He was, he was never — I mean, that position was with his until he died. [Laughs]
DK: No, I didn’t know that [laughs.]
KWS: Yeah, never was, never was rescinded.
DK: But, but Sterner stayed around there with nothing to do. I remember him complaining that he had nothing to do there. Anyway —
KWS: That is when he came home to Vermont.
DK: [Unintelligible] Bunker may have been there part of the time and went back. But Sterner only stayed there a few weeks.
KWS: Thirty days. He said —
DK: Yeah, yeah.
KWS: [Laughs] — it was the worst thirty days.
DK: Yeah, well, alright. Well, in any case, to — as I recall, it was clear that this wasn’t, this thing wasn’t going anywhere and it was just a way of satisfying the Soviets and that they were included when they were going to be excluded.
DK: Maybe with the Soviets —
KWS: You knew that then as part of the American delegation that this was all a Kissinger —
DK: I think so. And this, this may have been what was a Syrian refusal to come. Maybe they have affected it in the sense that if the Syrians had come there might have been something going on. [Unintelligible.] But since the Syrians weren’t there, the only real party on the Arab side was the Egyptians. And so sure that the Jordanians were there, the Jordanians weren’t going to do anything. They were never going to get out in front of anybody.
KWS: You think the Syrians didn’t go because they didn’t want the Soviets to have a role?
DK: Oh no, no. The Syrians didn’t go because, umm, Assad, because Syria is the Mecca of Arab nationalism and uh, it just wasn’t — At that stage, it wasn’t possible for Assad to consider sitting down in the same room as the Israelis.
KWS: Was it also, did it have something to do with the fact that Assad knew that he wasn’t going to get anything?
DK: I don’t know. Umm, I don’t know that he knew he wasn’t going to get anything. That’s a, that’s a relative issue. Had he gone, he might have gotten something. But, this is what Kissinger kept telling him, “If you go, you’ll get something.”
KWS: But, but, Kissinger knew, as far as the Egyptians and the Israelis were concerned, that there was going to be a disengagement agreement because essentially, they had negotiated that at Kilometer 101.
DK: Mm-hmm. Well, all right, yes.
KWS: The point of it, the point of it is that Assad knew. Assad knew that the Egyptians and the Israelis had negotiated something.
KWS: But he had not negotiated anything and he wasn’t going to go unless he was going to get back not only something that was lost in ’73, but something that was lost in ’67.
DK: Well, he did, he did get it back. I mean, he did get it [unintelligible], he did get it, the Syrian — the Syrian disengagement agreement did come. But umm, but umm, I think it was just that, you know, too much for the Syrians to swallow. I mean, look, they hadn’t even had an American interests section in Damascus up until that time. And then all of sudden they are being asked, they are going to sit down, not only with the Americans, but with the Israelis and be part of the negotiating process.
KWS: Would you say that it was too much for them to swallow in terms of them being the epicenter of Arab politics, Damascus being the center —
DK: — the center of Arab extremism, and Israel.
KWS: Patrick Seale argues in his biography of Assad, umm, that one of the reasons he didn’t go was that Assad was feeling domestic pressures from the Ba’ath Party.
DK: Well, no doubt. Must have been [unintelligible], that must have been a consideration, but, I mean, that is part of the whole thing. You don’t, you can’t, uh, I mean, you are the most extreme on this issue, and then you go and sit down and talk all of a sudden. Syria has always been the bastion, the last bastion of Arab nationalism and extremism on the matter of Israel and the Palestinians.
DK: Anyway, uh. Well, umm [pause] so, well, umm —
KWS: You stayed on and Ellsworth came home.
DK: Yeah, umm, [unintelligible]. I, I was not involved, I was not on these trips, uh, for the disengagement agreements, you know, umm, you know about the umm, Jordanian and Israeli disengagement agreement that never happened.
KWS: No, I don’t.
DK: Well, after, after umm, the disengagement agreement between Israel and Egypt, we thought about [unintelligible] Israeli-Syrian disengagement agreement —
KWS: January 1974 is the — January 18th — is the Egyptian-Israeli agreement.
KWS: Syria, Syria is May 30th.
DK: The shuttle and all this.
KWS: Right and the thirty days.
DK: So then, Hussein, you know, he felt left out, and, uh —
KWS: Before the Syrian-Israeli or after? Or during?
DK: Well, I am not sure. I can’t, I can’t recall the date. But in any case, Hussein felt left out —
DK: — and he told Kissinger he had to have something too. And then so, work began in the department on all sorts of [unintelligible]. Wat Cluverius, who was the number two person over in the Israeli desk, was very heavily involved in this. In fact, he drew up a lot of this. Is he still in Rome with the Sinai, with the peacekeeping commission? I don’t know.
KWS: I will check. [Unintelligible.]
DK: Anyway, Wat, I am sure, would have a fairly clearer recollection of it than I do. He was more directly involved. But he was drawing up all sorts of, uh — because the West Bank was an Israel-Arab, Israel and Arab Israeli thing. I was not, um it was not part of my daily work.
DK: But I did work with him on it since Jordan was involved there. But he was, umm, involved in all sorts of carving up of the West Bank and its accord.
KWS: The Jericho Salient.
DK: But umm, the [unintelligible], this never went forward, umm, because, uh, Rabin had, umm, had sacrificed a lot to get other agreements. And this was the West Bank. Umm, you knew you were getting down to business. Just as the peace treaty was one thing, but the autonomy agreements were another. So, disengagement between Egypt and Israel, Egypt and Syria was one thing, but when you start talking about the West Bank, you really are hitting home. Umm, and so, Rabin couldn’t take it on and Kissinger wasn’t ready to press on it. But Kissinger was never ready to press the Israelis essentially [unintelligible]. They’d request [unintelligible].
KWS: But he was willing to go to the mat with them in March of ’75.
DK: Yes, but I mean things had really touched the heart. Sinai never touched the heart. Umm, Kissinger never, never really — Kissinger never defined, set out any [unintelligible] of an Arab-Israeli or even an Egyptian-Israeli peace.
KWS: Umm, after the signing of Sinai I, the Egyptian-Israeli accord of January ’74 —
KWS: Kissinger have any concern at all about Soviet involvement? Didn’t care? Just sort of left them hanging? This was going to be an American show? Umm —
DK: Well, that I, I can’t say specifically except that I know that Kissinger, that umm, that Kissinger’s tactic all along was to cut the Soviet Union out.
KWS: Mm-hmm. But in dealing with Syria, he must have been involved in, in March, April, in sort of touch with Scotes on, umm, first of all, the incredible artillery duels between the Syrians and the Israelis.
KWS: This fighting that went on, the skirmishing that went on in the Golan Heights, Syrian recalcitrance, reluctance to turn over the POW lists, umm absolutely cut Golda [Meir] to the quick. She was just, it just angered the living daylights out of her. Umm, and finally, umm, Kissinger was able to persuade, umm, the, the Syrians that, that something could be gotten in the Golan Heights if they negotiated. The question that I’ve always had in my mind is what role did the Saudis play with the oil embargo in pushing us to try and move on the Syrian-Israeli agreement? Or, was there ever a statement made by Kissinger saying to the Saudis, “Look, you are not going to tell me that I gotta do it because of the oil embargo, I am going to do this because it’s an American interest to do it.”
KWS: Now Quandt says that both reasons are accurate. That warned on the one hand, the Saudis did make it known to Kissinger that if an agreement was made with the Syrians, that somethings, — there could be some alleviation. Not the embargo, but at least a greater amount of oil would flow to the states. On the other hand, Kissinger made it quite clear to the Saudis that we were not going to be held hostage by Riyadh.
DK: Mmm. I don’t recall any of that to be quite honest with you.
KWS: You don’t recall. Okay. That is fine. Umm —
DK: Remember that my memories in ’74 and ’75 are mainly that we developed a crisis in Lebanon and problems there.
KWS: Uh-huh. [Pause.] Umm, last question, can you recollect what Geneva, what the conference itself was like, the atmosphere, uh, the press, um, the room, how the delegations handled one another? Umm, eye contact, I mean, any vignettes that —
DK: Well, all I recall is that it seemed very, very tense and very formal.
KWS: Tense and formal.
DK: And everybody gave speeches.
DK: Everybody got up and made a speech and I can’t recall even the tenor of the speeches particularly, but uh, umm, uh ,it was, it just seemed to be going through the motions.
DK: And this was — everybody gave a speech and set out his position. So, what is that? Umm, then it closed down and everybody went away and left, left Bunker and Sterner behind and the Israelis had a delegation. I mean, I mean, I recall that the Israelis had a large delegation, left a large group behind.
KWS: Well, Epi stayed for a couple of days. Epi Evron stayed.
KWS: But the Israelis sent an academic delegation, as I mentioned to you earlier.
KWS: Umm, and these guys were sent in October and early November to spread out through Europe. Shel Friedlander, for example, gave lectures in Switzerland, France and Italy on Israel’s merit and why Israel needed to be protected and Israel [unintelligible].
DK: Oh, so it [unintelligible].
KWS: It was a propaganda thing. The other thing the Israelis did was that they sent out a lot of the parents of the POWs who had not yet returned in order to give the parents something to do.
KWS: You know, these people were absolutely nuts —
DK: Yeah, yeah.
KWS: — and so the foreign ministry sent them all over, to England and South Africa, to the United States —
KWS: — and lecture series, and —
KWS: It also was a way of getting foreigners to see live Israelis after the three weeks of the war.
KWS: There is a fellow named [unintelligible]. He was head of information.
KWS: He had been in the Mossad for a bunch of years.
KWS: And he was in charge of all the logistics of Geneva. Umm, Meir Rosenne says he remembers being detailed by Abba Eban to draw a draft.
DK: Uh, mm.
KWS: I, I hope, umm, this chapter, the Geneva chapter, is about 90 percent finished and I hope it creates recollections. Umm, I’ll send you some of the chapter.
DK: Umm, yeah, well, I would be happy to read it, yeah. I would be happy to read it.
KWS: But only if it is with a critical eye.
DK: [Laughs.] Okay. All right.
KWS: Terrific, you’ve given me great names.
DK: Well, I, I —
KWS: Sherman and Cluverius are two people I —
DK: Yeah, definitely. George has his notes that are a gold mine, ’cause he was always busy taking notes. You know, because he was a reporter.
KWS: Wasn’t he also at some point, didn’t he end up in Cairo as sort of like a press officer or something?
DK: No, George was a reporter for The Star and then in ’72, in the fall of ’72, he took over as the head of NEA the public affairs office. And, umm, and stayed in that job until the summer of ’81 and then he went as consulate general. Then he entered the [unintelligible] foreign service. I guess he was a reserve. I don’t know. He transferred, and he became a regular foreign service officer. He went to Calcutta as consulate general. From there he went to Cairo as political counselor and then he went to New Delhi —
KWS: He was our control officer in Carter’s first visit to the Middle East in ’83. In Cairo.
DK: In ’83?
KWS: In ’83.
DK: Oh, when you were with the Carter Center, okay.
KWS: When I went with Carter in ’83 on our first Middle East trip, George was our control officer —
DK: Okay, well, he had just arrived there, I guess, because, yeah.
KWS: Did you know him from Calcutta?
DK: No, no, no, I knew him from NEA in ’72. From ’72 on he was in NEA.
KWS: Where is he now?
DK: He has just retired. Or maybe he’s retiring. He was, let’s see, I guess maybe he’s retired by now. He umm, he is in one of these programs where the department gives you six months where you don’t have to work to look for a job, but I don’t think he is really looking for a job. [Laughs.]
KWS: He is enjoying his six months, though [laughs].
DK: Anyway, and accumulating a little bit more of this $108,000 that these senior people are getting. But he, he lives in Maryland, he lives in Montgomery County out here, in either Chevy Chase or Bethesda. If he is not in the latest phone book, you can get him through information.
KWS: Well, I can get him through Kirby.
KWS: I mean, Kirby is my source because he’s got all of the diplomats. If I need anyone around the world who’s a former diplomat, Kirby finds him.
DK: Yeah, okay, well.
KWS: Scotes is in Athens, I think.
KWS: Scotes is in Athens.
DK: Oh, he has been there forever. Yes, He left, umm, well — After Damascus, umm, Kissinger liked Scotes and although Scotes made some sort of mistake just before a visit by Kissinger and was very afraid that Kissinger was going to fire him, but Scotes sent off a telegram in which he said it’s mea culpa and Kissinger forgave him and liked him. And so, they made him ambassador to Yemen and uh, he stayed there for about a year and half, two years. And he was only about 45 or 46. You know, you can’t retire in the Foreign Service until you are 50. But there’s a provision that an ambassador who has finished his term of duty and has not been given a new assignment within sixty days or ninety days, whatever it is, he is automatically out. So, Scotes wanted to get to retire and he had an offered from Pan Am and he wanted to retire and get his pension and didn’t want to wait until he was 50. So, he asked him that they not give him an assignment, and that triggered his, his retirement. He was able to retire in this manner. And not just, you know, not just out with his regular pension and if he worked for Pan Am and worked around the Middle East. I don’t know if he stayed with them until the end or not. They pulled out from the Middle East by the time they collapsed. But I don’t know what he is doing. I haven’t heard from him. Do you know what he is doing in Athens?
KWS: I wrote him in Athens about four months ago and never received a reply.
DK: Mm-hmm. It’s funny because Tom, when I knew him, in the, umm, ARN you know, he was, I think he was there when I arrived in, umm, August of ’72. Tom was the one who was very much against the whole ethnicity business. He was, he is the son of a, of a Greek immigrant who ran a restaurant or a laundry or something like that and umm, uh, whenever you would talk with him about ethnicity, it was a terrible thing; he was an American and, so, the first thing he does is go back to — whoops [unintelligible]. [Laughs.]
KWS: Don’t want to lose that.
DK: [Laughs.] Go back to Greece and live in Greece. [Laughs.] Anyway.
[END OF TAPE TWO]