According to the documents, which were declassified last summer, president Nixon was outraged by the Olympics attack and initially proposed both a strong, practical response - cutting off economic support to "any nation that harbors or gives sanctuary to these international outlaws" - and various symbolic gestures, including flying to Israel to personally attend the athletes' funerals.
However, his aides, and particularly then national security adviser Henry Kissinger, quickly talked him out of these ideas.
Kissinger proposed instead that the US "go to the UN and see whether we can get some international rules on harboring guerrillas and so forth." As his deputy, Alexander Haig, noted in a memo, Kissinger acknowledged "that no resolution would be likely to pass," in part because China would probably veto. Then secretary of state William Rogers also informed Nixon "that it would be impossible to get any kind of [UN] action." Kissinger explained: "This was true, but it would serve as a deterrent to Israeli action."
In other words, Kissinger wanted the US both to refrain from taking any meaningful action against anti-Israel terrorism itself, and to restrain Israel from taking such action by placating it with deliberately empty gestures. And he ultimately persuaded Nixon to adopt this course.
THIS, IT must be stressed, was the response not of an enemy, but of Israel's best friend - as became clear during the Yom Kippur War a year later, when invading Arab armies nearly wiped Israel off the map. Desperate for arms, Israel pleaded with its so-called allies, and Nixon responded with an airlift that ultimately helped Israel to win the war. The Europeans, in contrast, would not even allow the arms-bearing American planes to land in their countries for refueling.
Indeed, Kissinger understood that even empty gestures over Munich would be too much for Europe. He therefore suggested that Nixon issue a statement saying that he had "consulted with other governments" on the UN idea, but warned: "Frankly, I wouldn't consult because if you do it, they'll say no."
In short, Kissinger's empty gesture represented the maximum that Jerusalem could expect from the international community. Thus Israel had to fall back on whatever counterterrorism measures it could implement on its own, without international assistance. And targeted killings are one of these.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Kissinger Proved Worthless
Evelyn Gordon notes this in her op-ed:-