The Saving Grace of Decisiveness

Assigned Reading: 36 Years Ago Today, Nixon Saved Israel — but Got No Credit
(FROM: Commentary Magazine)

A few excerpts:

Precise details of what transpired in Washington during the first week of the Yom Kippur War, launched by Egypt and Syria on October 6, 1973, are hard to come by, in no small measure owing to conflicting accounts given by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger regarding their respective roles.

What is clear, from the preponderance of information provided by those directly involved in the unfolding events, is that President Richard Nixon — overriding inter-administration objections and bureaucratic inertia — implemented a breathtaking transfer of arms, code-named Operation Nickel Grass, that over a four-week period involved hundreds of jumbo U.S. military aircraft delivering more than 22,000 tons of armaments.

“It was Nixon who did it,” recalled Nixon’s acting special counsel, Leonard Garment. “I was there. As [bureaucratic bickering between the State and Defense departments] was going back and forth, Nixon said, this is insane. . . . He just ordered Kissinger, “Get your ass out of here and tell those people to move.”

When Schlesinger initially wanted to send just three transports to Israel because he feared anything more would alarm the Arabs and the Soviets, Nixon snapped: “We are going to get blamed just as much for three as for 300. . . . Get them in the air, now.”

Haig, in his memoir Inner Circles, wrote that Nixon, frustrated with the initial delays in implementing the airlift and aware that the Soviets had begun airlifting supplies to Egypt and Syria, summoned Kissinger and Schlesinger to the Oval Office on October 12 and “banished all excuses.”

The president asked Kissinger for a precise accounting of Israel’s military needs, and Kissinger proceeded to read aloud from an itemized list.

“Double it,” Nixon ordered. “Now get the hell out of here and get the job done.”

An absolutely fascinating article, even more so for me because I’ve been meaning for some time now to learn what I was never told about former President Richard Nixon. I’m a product of public schooling, albeit great public schooling, but having attended elementary, middle and high school throughout the 1980s and 1990s, I’ve grown up with a bit of a revisionist view of Nixon’s presidency. I’ve learned a bit since then, but hardly enough.

This makes me want to go out a get a few biographies, and as for how it relates to today’s political and foreign policy picture, it sure puts the current administration’s waffling and wavering about support for the war in Afghanistan in perspective. The Nixon White House was reeling from Vietnam and from Watergate, and still managed to save a nation. We can’t even provide reinforcements to American servicemen and women being overrun by Taliban insurgents.



  1. Anonymous says:

    I heard detail of this.

    Nixon's mom, read him stories as a child from the Bible and told him one day, there would be a way he could be of help to israel and that he should do that when the time came.

    That time as he was president. and though in most americans eyes he goes down as a bad president, I applaud his choice to lose the title and be hated by many, for the chance to stand up for Israel.

    Their is a film "Against All Odds: In search of a miracle" by Bill McKay which documents amazing things in Israel's past, Nixon's choice to help was one of the items in the documentary. They run episodes on TBN and this website says soon on PBS

  2. Anonymous says:

    If you're out here, a trip to his library is truly fascinating.

  3. GATOR-1 says:

    Really, Jeff still in HS in the 90's…Wow. While I do realize that you are younger than I sometimes a perspective like that blows me away.

    You have such a wealth of knowledge and understanding for someone your age. It amazes the heck outa me!

    Myself I just happen to have been in HS when Nixon was the President. I cant say that I paid politics much attention back then but I do remember that I liked the man. It seemed no matter what got thrown at him he just kept leading.

    Growing up my entire life with the Vietnam War going on and my Dad being in the AF, I was quite pleased to see the accomplishments that the man made while he was in office.

    I was no longer at the mercy of the draft and the man found a way to get us out of that place. I believe that war was winnable on any given day but that the politicians kept getting in the way.

    Even at a young age the idea of a DE-Militarized Zone in the middle of a durn war simply didnt make sense to me.

    Mr Nixon had the nads to use what he had to get our troops out, he realized that given the "rules" he was not going to be able to Win and more Americans were going to die for something that they could never win.

    I even respected his decision to resign. He was "caught" in a lie and a real man owns up to it and takes the fall.

    Others in the same position as we know do not.

    But back to the subject, as I said I did not pay close attention back then and I NEVER would have even known this Historical fact had you not posted it. I thank you for that and it reinforced my adolescent ideas that the man was a good man.

    We always joked back then that the reason he resigned was because after admitting on TV that he "Was Not a crook" the political machine had no more use for him.

    So thanks for the history lesson young man and once again for this site.Get yourself graduated and keep up your patrotic work.

    I think Senator Schriber from South Carolina has a nice ring to it.

  4. Anonymous says:
  5. Gail B says:

    I CERTAINLY was not in HS when Nixon was president, but war news was not something that gave me any degree of comfort when I remember being afraid that someone was going to kill my uncle during WWII. There are plenty of history buffs eager to dig for info for you, Jeff.

    I totally agree with GATER-1:
    "You have such a wealth of knowledge and understanding for someone your age. It amazes the heck outa me!" And, the accuracy of your "gut feeling" is scary!

    I enjoyed this piece. My first husband (Tim) was political editor for a 52-county television station in Macon, GA. He told me that Nixon would have made one of the best presidents–if he just hadn't screwed up with Watergate! Nixon came close to having a nervous breakdown. Nixon came to Atlanta for something being held in a church. Tim told me how emotionally broken he was. Those were sad times.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I agree with "Anonymous @ 7:03 PM" that "Senator Schreiber from South Carolina has a nice ring to it".

    Now, if you could get right on that, Jeff, and replace Sen. Graham, it wouldn't hurt my feelings one bit.

    Old Bob


    Our troops in Afghanistan will sleep better now……

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Jeff for this article. I was not in high school when Nixon was president, but I certainly remember the events of that day. I liked Nixon and thought this was the beginning of the press attacks and the political slanting of the news to achieve an agenda.

    Later in life I read more about what John Kennedy and his family did to Nixon during the Presidential campaign. At this time Eisenhower was working on a plan to invade Cuba by using the freedom fighters – around 2,000 men being trained and armed by the US. This was right before a major presidential debate and JFK (at his request and at the urging of someone who hinted at the event to him)was briefed by the Secretary of Defense regarding the particulars. During the debate he raked Nixon over the coals for not doing anything against Cuba and then almost pointed to what was being done thus giving the Cubans a big hint. Nixon could not respond to his remarks as he would have revealed too much.

    Also, JFK and family bought off the mob, the unions, and pulled some of the same practices as ACORN during this election. According to what I read in the book "The Dark Side of Camelot" which was written from interviews from people who were there and from diaries and journals, Nixon won Illinois and won the election. The Nixon camp filed complaints of tampering and fraud, but JFK was already in office and had appointed Bobby Kennedy as Attorney General. It was his office who would pursue these allegations and he did not. This was a serious blow to Nixon.

    I believe history will take a kinder view of Nixon when more about his life and what he did for this country is known.

  9. Still a Patriot says:

    Hi Jeff -

    That was very interesting. I voted for Nixon in my first election. I thought of him then as the lesser of the evils. After Watergate, I became jaded & avoided politics altogether for many years.

    I later worked with a woman from Poland who cried tears of joy when she was able to become a citizen, & again voting in her first election. She made me feel ashamed for all I had taken for granted. None of us can afford to be complacent any longer.

    I agree – Senator Schreiber sounds wonderful to me!


  10. THE GOOD OL DAYS says:

    Never thought I would say this, but I really miss Nixon.

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