The Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Henderson) to Brigadier General H. H. Vaughan, Military Aide to President Truman

My Dear General Vaughan: The President has been good enough to consent to receive at 11:30 this morning our Ministers to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria and Lebanon, as well as our Consul General to Jerusalem,2 who are in Washington on consultation. I am accompanying them.

I do not know whether you will see the President before he receives them, but I am giving you a little background information which might be helpful to him in talking with them.

These Ministers are very anxious, before returning to their posts, to get the President’s ideas with regard to what our overall policy in the Near East is to be in the postwar era. Following the First World War, the United States, to the deep disappointment and disillusionment of the peoples of the Near East, withdrew into isolation, assumed a role of mere observer in that area, and stood idly by while the western victors, particularly Great Britain and France divided the Near East into spheres of influence to suit themselves.

Since 1939 we have gradually developed a more active policy toward the Near East, which might be summarized as follows: [Page 11]

The United States considers, in its own interest as well as in that of the maintenance of world peace, that the countries of the Near East which have already attained their independence should continue to be entirely independent. The United States, therefore, takes appropriate steps from time to time with the purpose of strengthening them politically and economically and of supporting them in their refusal to accord a special position to any foreign power or to any group of foreign powers. The United States, furthermore, looks with sympathy upon the efforts of certain countries in the Near East to extricate themselves from commitments which they were forced to make before the beginning of the Second World War to various great powers giving those powers special positions and privileges which detract from the full independence of these countries.
It is clear that during the next few years the peoples of the Near East will move forward rapidly politically, economically and socially, and it is felt that it is important that this movement should be in the direction of Western democracies rather than in the direction of some form of autocracy or totalitarianism which would render sympathetic understanding and cooperation between that part of the world and the United States more difficult. Therefore, the United States Government has been taking steps to let the peoples of this part of the world know more about us and about our ways of life, of strengthening American sponsored educational institutions in the Near East, of encouraging Near Eastern students to come to this country, of welcoming to the United States leading personalities from these countries, etc.
We have been supporting the policy of the open door in the Near East with regard to investments and commerce. We believe that the policy of the open door is beneficial to us in our commercial relations and in the end will be beneficial to world peace.

Now that the war is over, our representatives in the Near East are anxious to have reassurances that, following the present World War, we shall continue to follow the policies outlined above and that we have no intention of becoming again a mere passive spectator in the Near East. We here in the Department have given such reassurances in this direction as are in our power to give. Anything that the President might say to them on this subject would be of great help to them and would give them more confidence in their dealings with the heads of the states to which they are accredited.

Sincerely yours,

Loy W. Henderson
  1. S. Pinkney Tuck, William A. Eddy, George Wadsworth, and Lowell C. Pinkerton, respectively. The recommendation that these Chiefs of Mission be received by President Truman was first raised by Mr. Henderson in a memorandum of October 16 to the Secretary of State and was endorsed by the Under Secretary of State (Acheson). In a memorandum of October 19 to Mr. Henderson, Mr. Byrnes stated: “If the President should see them it is certain that the newspapers would suspect that the conversations were being held here as a result of the promise of the President as to consultation. Certainly the President is not going to see them before November 6, and I think it would be equally unwise for me to do so.” In a subsequent undated memorandum Mr. Byrnes stated: “I will see them Nov 7th and will ask President to see them 8 or 9th.” (811.4611/10–1645). On November 9, the Deputy Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Allen) requested the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State and Chief of Protocol (Summerlin) to arrange for a Presidential appointment (890.00/11–945). No record has been found in Department files indicating that the Chiefs of Mission met with the Secretary of State. November 6, 1945, was Election Day.