Maybe, write a letter?

The maddening tale of a broken phone line on a peacemaking call.

sadat 88 (photo credit: )
sadat 88
(photo credit: )
Reading of the goings on at Annapolis, whose undercurrents and overtones of hatreds and plotting make Jacob and Esau look tame, I am reminded by association of another peace-making exercise brokered by the ever devious and shrewd US secretary of state Henry Kissinger who, after much arm-twisting, threat and tantrum, hustled prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat into signing an interim agreement in Sinai on September 1, 1975. Delighted at his success, the American president, Gerald Ford, immediately phoned Rabin in Jerusalem to express his congratulations. It was a four-minute call of unexceptional platitudes. He then telephoned Sadat in Alexandria. What follows is the verbatim record of that call, courtesy of the Presidential Papers of Gerald Ford: FORD: Hello. President Sadat? SADAT: Hello. This is President Sadat. FORD: How are you this morning? I wanted to call you and congratulate you on the great role that you played in the negotiations that have culminated in this agreement. SADAT: Hello? [Inaudible] FORD: Unfortunately, I don't hear you too well, Mr. President. I hope that my conversation is coming through more clearly. Let me express most emphatically on behalf of my government the appreciation for your statesmanship, despite adversity and some criticism, the spirit in which you have approached the need for an agreement. I am most grateful for the leadership that you have given, and look forward to continuing the work with you… SADAT: Hello? FORD: Hello. Can you hear me, Mr. President? SADAT: Hello? FORD: I am asking, can you hear me, Mr. President? SADAT: This is President Sadat. FORD: I am asking, can you hear me, Mr. President? SADAT: Not very well. FORD: I know that you and I recognize that stagnation and stalemate in the Middle East would have been potentially disastrous, and your leadership in working with secretary Kissinger and with the Israelis, all of us are most grateful for. And as we continue to work together, personally, as well as government-to-government… SADAT: Hello? This is President Sadat speaking. FORD: Yes, I can hear you, Mr. President. I hope you can hear me, Mr. President. SADAT: President Ford? Hello. FORD: I don't hear you too well, Mr. President. SADAT: Is that President Ford speaking? FORD: Yes, this is President Ford. SADAT: Go ahead, please. FORD: The connection, unfortunately, is not too good for me to hear your comments, Mr. President. Let me say, if I might, despite the difficulties, that Mrs. Ford and I hope that Mrs. Sadat and you and your children will visit the United States some time this fall. Secretary Kissinger has told me of the very warm hospitality that you have extended to him and Mrs. Kissinger, and we look forward to reciprocating when you come to the United States in the fall of 1975. SADAT: Hello? FORD: I regret that I can't hear you. The connection is very bad. I hope you can hear me and my comments from the United States. Mr. President, I understand that Secretary Kissinger is coming to Alexandria to personally deliver the documents for your initialing, and I have asked Henry to extend to you on that occasion the gratitude… SADAT: Hello? FORD: Hello, Mr. President. SADAT: Hello, Mr. President. FORD: I can hear you better now. SADAT: Mr. President, I hope you and your family are well. FORD: I am feeling very well, Mr. President, and I hope you are, too. SADAT: I want to thank you for your personal message [Inaudible]. FORD: I, unfortunately, could not hear as well as I would like the last comments you made. The connection from here is not, apparently, as good as I hope you have there, but… SADAT: I hear you quite well. FORD: The efforts of Secretary Kissinger and myself, we feel, were completely worth what we have done, but our efforts could not have been successful without your leadership and statesmanship. SADAT: Thank you, Mr. President, very much. FORD: We will see you soon, I hope. SADAT: We are looking forward to coming, with pleasure, and convey my good wishes to your family. FORD: And my best to yours, sir. SADAT: Thank you very much. FORD: I would just wish to add… SADAT: Hello? FORD: Hello? [Inaudible]. SADAT: Hello! Hello! FORD: I shall write you a letter. SADAT: Hello. At this point the line went dead.