The Assistant Secretary of War (McCloy) to the Assistant Secretary of State (Long)

Dear Mr. Secretary: In accordance with our telephone convertion I am sending you herewith a memorandum which I prepared for General Marshall at his request, preparatory to his talking to several senators about the pending Palestine resolution.

I do not know what the General actually said to the Senators beyond his statement to me that he had followed the general facts and tone of this memorandum, so I assume that it can be safely treated as a basis for the remarks which he made.

Mr. Bloom, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House, has asked me to advise him informally of about what I would say if I were called upon to testify before his Committee, and I propose to testify in conformity with this memorandum.


John J. McCloy

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of War (McCloy) to the Chief of Staff (Marshall)

I believe the Secretary before he went away arranged with Wadsworth that an officer to be selected by you and I should attend an Executive Meeting of the Foreign Relations Committee of the House in connection with the pending Palestine resolution. It was originally [Page 575] arranged that this meeting should take place on Tuesday of this week but it has been postponed until Thursday. Mr. Wadsworth has advised me that the meeting will now take place some time Thursday morning.

In preparation for this meeting I have read the old resolution of 192242 and compared it with the pending resolution. I have also talked to some G–243 officers and gone over some reports, and I intend to testify in general along the following line:

The pending resolution deals with highly controversial issues in that it comes out for unlimited immigration into the area, a matter definitely in sharp issue, as well as for the establishment of a Jewish state as distinguished from a homeland. It also requires that the United States take “appropriate measures” to bring these things about. Our G–2 reports all indicate that there is a high degree of tension in Palestine between the Arabs and the Jews and that each side have substantial quantities of arms. Bombings have occurred in the Migration Offices maintained by the British Government in Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Any action which would tend to increase this tension or threaten an outbreak in this area would greatly compromise our military capacities. Among other considerations there are the following:

There are substantial Allied forces in that area which we are seeking to reduce and any outbreak at this particular time would be certain to pin down troops for garrison duty that are badly needed for replacement and other duty both in Italy and for other operations.
Our military forces are in contact with the Moslem world not only in Palestine but throughout the entire Mediterranean area and in many places further east. The Palestine issue is a source of more or less concern to all the Moslem population of the Near East and North Africa. The tribes in Morocco are restive and already disturbances have occurred there. These activities are mainly pointed against French dominion but it is known that German agents are active in the area and certainly will use the Arab-Jew issue to the limit in order to foment further disturbances if an opportunity presents itself.
We are dependent not only upon peace in the area but our lines of communication throughout Africa are to an important degree dependent upon the cooperation and goodwill of the Arab. His willingness to supply goods and services in furtherance of the Allied effort is a matter of real military importance.
The strategic supply routes to Russia via the Persian Gulf as well as the supply routes to the Far East run through Moslem territory and would be subject to constant threat of sabotage and disruption in the event of any disturbances or hostilities. There are Allied Moslem troops scattered throughout the area on whom we depend for active operations as well as supply. Such troops are in Italy at the present time and we intend to use them elsewhere.
The Near East is an important supply base for European operations. Any threat to it is a great military concern, particularly in respect of oil and aviation gasoline supply. The existing pipeline from Iraq to Palestine could be cut or damaged as it has been in the past. This naturally affects naval and military operations in the Mediterranean which depend on the Haifa refinery for their oil. The Abadan refinery at the head of the Gulf is the only Allied source of aviation gasoline outside the Western Hemisphere. The distances are great and the supply and installations in many places are highly vulnerable. It would require a substantial number of troops to protect them in the event of disorders.

I do not intend to exaggerate the consequences which would flow from the adoption of this resolution as I can not be certain that all these results will flow, but from the foregoing considerations I think it is quite apparent that from a military point of view we would much prefer to let such sleeping dogs lie.

I have debated whether to refer to the pending negotiations for the laying of an oil pipeline from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to the Mediterranean44 as there may be some controversial aspects to this question. However, Secretary Ickes45 indicated that the primary purpose of this new pipeline was to provide a reserve of one billion gallons of oil for the United States Army and Navy. I doubt that we could get very far with these negotiations if this issue is agitated in the United States. My rather strong inclination is not to bring this up, however.

The one thing that I imagine we will be pressed for will be to suggest a form of resolution which will not be provocative and which will not in our judgment induce the disorders that we fear. This is a matter on which I feel we should be most reluctant to express any view. What is provocative or unprovocative in the Palestine problem is a political matter on which the State Department rather than the War Department should speak. It has been pointed out to us by the State Department that this resolution does embody burning issues. What lesser position might be taken without offence is not a matter for military determination, but from a military standpoint I think we can and should say that we would be in favor of taking any steps which would postpone without prejudice to either side this issue for determination after the war when military considerations will be less acute.

The State Department has furnished us with a telegram conveying expressions from the Governor [Government] of Iraq to the effect [Page 577] that German agents in the area are using as propaganda against the Allied effort the existence of this resolution.

General Bissell is prepared to go up and give in very general terms the disposition of troops in the area and generally buttress by factual data statements made along the above lines.

I am going to emphasize that I am dealing with the matter purely from the point of view of military considerations and that is the limit of my competence.

I attach hereto a copy of the resolution together with a copy of Secretary Stimson’s letter to Senator Connally.45a

I would like to know how you make out.

John J. McCloy
  1. June 30, 1922, Congressional Record, vol. 62, pt. 10, p. 9799.
  2. War Department General Staff, Military Intelligence.
  3. For correspondence regarding the concern of the United States for the safeguarding and developing of petroleum resources in Saudi Arabia, see pp. 8 ff.
  4. Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior, and Chairman of the Government-organized Petroleum Reserves Corporation.
  5. Ante, p. 563.