Books

The flimflam man

HUBERT DE SANTANA May 3 1976
Books

The flimflam man

HUBERT DE SANTANA May 3 1976

The flimflam man

THE SECRET CONVERSATIONS OF HENRY KISSINGER by Matti Golan (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, $10.50)

“Even the administration in Washington is against you,” Henry Kissinger told former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir during the 1973 Yom Kippur war. “I am your only friend.” But two weeks into the war, when the tide of battle had turned in Israel’s favor, Kissinger secretly flew to Moscow where he arranged a cease-fire without the knowledge or consent of the Israelis. When a furious Meir demanded an explanation, Kissinger said blandly that Russian jamming had disrupted communications on his jet.

Unmasking Henry Kissinger’s sleightof-hand diplomacy in this way caused Israeli journalist Matti Golan’s The Secret Conversations Of Henry Kissinger to be banned for four months in 1974 by the Israeli military censors. Prime Minister Itzak Rabin believed the book would wreak havoc with Israeli-American relations and, worse, that Golan had access to “top-secret” information from some high government source. Only after Golan had modified the book was it cleared for publication. Israel’s “Deep Throat” has not yet been identified.

Now that the excised book has been released it is difficult to see what the fuss was about. There is little in it that could be classified as “top-secret.” (For instance, there is no mention of Israel’s doomsday nuclear arsenal of 13 20-kiloton atomic bombs assembled during the Yom Kippur war for use as a last resort.) It is mainly a postmortem on the Israeli-Egyptian disengagement talks following the war. Golan exposes the broken promises and cynical manipulation that characterized Henry Kissinger’s role. He believes, for example, that Kissinger’s meddling actually delayed a settlement and that had Generals Abaron Yariv and Abdel Gamasy been left alone at Kilometer 101 they “might well have been able to reach the same agreement, on their own, that Kissinger arranged with so much media fanfare months later.”

Golan’s portrayal of Kissinger’s dealings in the rest of the Mideast is no less scathing. According to Golan, Kissinger was disparaging about adversaries and allies alike, describing Soviet diplomacy as “cowardly and inept,” and saying that all that had to be done to gain the cooperation of the Soviets was to “wave a seed of grain in front of their eyes.” To Kissinger, the Syrians are “strange creatures,” whose President Hafez Assad “thinks and acts differently from the way a man of Western civilization does.” Golan ends on a note of angry despair: “After two years of interminable haggling and thousands of miles logged . . . there is nothing concrete to

show.” But he is also confident time will recognize that Kissinger’s vaunted achievements in the Mideast have been chimerical. “What historians will be left with,” he says, “is only Henry Kissinger’s perfidy.” HUBERT DE SANTANA