Saturday, November 10, 2007

Feinberg IV

Finally, Johnson wanted to make sure that any policy he adopted didn’t harm him domestically.

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President Johnson: I’m friendly to these people, and I want to help them. But . . .

As our people see it, if they [the Israeli government] really, sincerely, genuinely feel that we oughtn’t to sell these planes to Jordan, and we oughtn’t to sell these tanks (we’re giving them as little as we can get by with; Nasser has got their feet to the fire)—well, we won’t do it. I’ll just say that, and I’m prepared to do it.

And I’m telling [Averell] Harriman to tell the prime minister that. Because I think it’s something that’s got to be settled with him . . .

Feinberg: With the prime minister of Israel?

President Johnson: Yeah. Yeah.

And now he’s [Harriman] going to say, “Now, you all decide this.”

We have indications from our Jewish population in the United States that they think that’s the course we ought to follow.

Now, our judgment is we oughtn’t to do it. Our judgment is we oughtn’t to let this little king go down the river. He’s got a million-and-a-half people, and he only controls a third of them—two-thirds [are] against him.

But he is the only voice that will stand up there. And if you want to turn him over and have a complete Soviet bloc, why, we’ll just have to—and we’ll get out of the arms business. We just . . .

And we think that . . . We’ll have to get out of supplying Jordan with money. And we think when we do that, it will cause pressure to be—when that story comes out—it will be on the whole $100 million that goes to Jordan, and Israel, too.

But we’ll fight that when we come to it. We’ll deprive Jordan of their aid. We’ll tell them, “No more aid, no more munitions. No more nothing. We’re not going to get into manufacturing munitions,” and so on and so forth. If that’s what they [the Israelis] think.

We think it would be better to give them [Jordan] as little as possible, and control it. And all of our defense people think it would be.

But I’m not prepared to take on the New York Times and [former White House counsel] Mike Feldman and everybody else. [Feinberg chuckles.] I’m going to let them make the decision.

But it’s got to be in or out. If we go in—[then] of course, we’ve got to be some help to Israel. If we get out, then we just got to say, “Well, we’re not taking part. We’re not going to supply arms to one side or the other. We’re just not going to be in here to sell a lot of munitions, for both of them.”

The only reason I’m helping Jordan is on account of Israel. Now, if Israel doesn’t—if Israel considers them their enemy, and not of help, then we just wasted 600 million [dollars, in military aid to Jordan].

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