"fear-ridden and crude-talking Nixon"
Respectfully, I have to agree with geopyg that I see nothing in any of this that suggests Nixon was "fear-ridden". As far as the "Crude-talking Nixon" is concerned, I think you'd find that in any conversations with a U.S. president, the only one in the room who ever uses Glengarry Glen Ross lingo is the president. This sort of 'jock talk' is almost a requirement of the president's job [certainly in the case of Truman, JFK and most especially LBJ], partly to show that the P is in charge [no one else in such presidential exchanges ever uses such language of course, in deference to P's office], but partly also, I think, presidents use such language in order to make those around the P feel they can can speak as freely as they want -- although rarely do any of the staff people ever resort to the sort of language they likely use when conversing with their own personal staffs in the P's absence. In my opinion, Kissinger isn't making policy. Nixon is just letting him speak, as a Jew, for what Kissinger believes is the best course of action, and Nixon, in basic agreement with K anyway, is doing his best to seem accommodating.
I seem to recall from some book on Nixon that he was given to initial gut responses (aren't we all?) and would verbalize them (and then caught on tape of course.) In my foggy memory there was something where they were going to make the guy that released the "Pentagon Papers" look really bad. Goofy stuff, like drug him and dress him up in women's clothing or something really off the wall like that. Probably was talking with aides like some of the posts get going on FR! ("If there's a subway bombing in New York we put underwear on Saddam's head and nuke Mecca!")
Haig aludes to that in this tape where he says "He always wants to do something" talking about his threat "to break relations with nations that harbor or give sanctuary to these guerrillas."
And then Haig gets a call 5 minutes later from Nixon talking about a more measured first step - going to the funeral.
Reading another thread on the "Golden Mosque" bombing it is interesting the same thing is going on to a degree (as is most foreign relations).
Nixon didn't want a strong Israeli response (after his knee-jerk reaction of "what do we care about Lebanon?" and "screw the Chinese". It sounded like he thought a large Israeli strike would give the arabs an excuse to strike back, and then leading who knows where in the global scheme.
I imagine the fears of our folks in Iraq is the Shittes using the Golden Mosque as an excuse to go on the rampage against the Sunnis. With our guys in the thick of it would be bad. And as much as it would be nice to just back off aways and let them fight it out among themselves and come back in and pick up the pieces - not sure how welcome we would be after abandoning them to the wolves - again.
And I imagine if we left then Iran would be "willing" to take our spot to help the Shittes.
From the last article I read it sounds like the rhetoric from both the Sunnis and the Shiites is calming down - so that's good I guess. (No Civil War this week for the Media and Liberals :(.