Step by Step in the Middle East
EDITOR'S NOTE: This investigative report by Edward Sheehan on Kissinger's step-by-step diplomacy in the Middle East draws for the first time on highly secret US government documents on the area. From the period of the October War, through the signing of the disengagement agreements, until Kissinger's successful clinching of the Sinai agreement of 1975, the reader glimpses Kissinger in private conclave with the major Arab and Israeli leaders involved in negotiations.
Sheehan, who is a Research Fellow at Harvard University, conducted extensive interviews with officials in the United States and Middle East to obtain the material for the article, which is reprinted by permission from Foreign Policy (March 1976), and will later be published in extended form as a book by Reader's Digest. He maintains that American diplomacy under Kissinger has created a "coherent Arab policy" for the first time. On the other hand, Sheehan notes, his style of diplomacy, despite tactical successes, has left the major issues of the conflict unresolved. There has been no American move to bring the Palestinians into the negotiations since the October War. Furthermore, the problem of an overall settlement has not been confronted; when in the spring of 1975, most US State Department officials tried to move towards implementation of the American conception of an overall settlement, this option was blocked by the domestic pressures of "Israel's American constituency." Sheehan notes: “If Kissinger -his capital and credibility spent with Israelis, Arabs and Congress alike -- cannot accomplish [an overall settlement], perhaps his successor could." But it is still unclear whether Sheehan, in this account of Kissinger's confidences, cautions and cajolery, is describing the first or the last acts of successful American diplomacy in the conflict.