The Acting Secretary of State to President Truman 9


My Dear Mr. President: You will recall that on July 11 we sent a telegram to the Secretary in Paris in which we informed him that in our opinion the United States should vote in favor of the admission of Trans-Jordan into the United Nations and asked for his concurrence. In that telegram we stated that it would be necessary for us to establish without delay our attitude in the matter and that we were sending a memorandum to you requesting your views.

I am attaching hereto a memorandum which discusses in some detail various factors involved in the problem and sets forth the considerations which cause the Department to feel that it would be in our national interests to support the application of Trans-Jordan for membership in the United Nations.

I would appreciate it if you would let me know whether you approve the course of action which the Department suggests. The matter may come up for discussion before the Security Council Committee on Membership within the next few days.

Faithfully yours,

Dean Acheson

Memorandum for the President

Subject: Position of United States with Respect to Admission of Trans-Jordan to United Nations.

The Kingdom of Trans-Jordan which was recognized by the British Government as an independent country on March 22 of this year, has [Page 415]applied for membership in the United Nations and the question has arisen as to whether or not the delegate of the United States to the Security Council should be instructed to vote for its admission. The decision which the United States Government takes with regard to this matter is certain to have considerable repercussions, both of a domestic and an international character.

Most of the Zionists and the supporters in the United States of extreme Zionism are opposed to the recognition of Trans-Jordan as an independent country and, therefore, to the admission of Trans-Jordan into the United Nations. On the other hand, Great Britain and the Arab world are extremely anxious that the application of Trans-Jordan for admittance shall not be rejected.

[Here follows discussion in some detail of the mandate for Palestine awarded to Great Britain by the Council of the League of Nations on July 24, 1922.9a]

It seems to the Department that in the absence of precedents, and in view of the possibility of various interpretations being placed upon the language used in the Mandate, in the American-British Convention,10 and in other pertinent documents, the Zionists can produce plausible arguments in favor of their position. The Department is of the opinion, however, that the position of the British from the legal point of view is the more sound. The Department also feels that in making its decision, the Government of the United States should consider the factual and international political aspects of the problem, not solely those of a legalistic nature.

Among these considerations are the following:

Trans-Jordan has been a separate and autonomous part of the Palestine Mandate since 1922, and those provisions of the Mandate which related to the Jewish national home have never been applied to territory East of the Jordan.11 The development of Trans-Jordan as an Arab state under a separate Arab government has resulted in the evolution of that territory in a direction quite different from that taken by Palestine proper. Even the most extreme Zionists have in [Page 416]the past apparently recognized the special and semi-independent position of Trans-Jordan within the Palestine Mandate, and they have not taken exception to Article 25 of the Mandate which sanctioned the exclusion of Trans-Jordan from the provisions relating to the Jewish national home. Furthermore, the population of Trans-Jordan is almost wholly Arab, and, so far as is known, contains no Jewish residents.
Great Britain has gone so far in setting up and recognizing an independent Kingdom of Trans-Jordan that it is not now possible for it to change its policy in this respect. Great Britain, therefore, apparently has no choice other than to support the application of Trans-Jordan for admission into the United Nations. If the United States should oppose the admission of Trans-Jordan, a rift would take place between Great Britain and the United States in the Middle East with a resultant weakening of the position of the Western Powers and a decline of Western influence in that area. Such a development would be extremely unfortunate in the present world situation.
The government of the United States may find it expedient to vote reluctantly for the admission into the United Nations of Albania and Outer Mongolia, countries which have no greater degree of independence than Trans-Jordan. The Philippines and India are already members of the United Nations. It would be difficult to explain to the Arab world why the United States in such circumstances should oppose the admission of Trans-Jordan, which is a member in good standing of the Arab League. In this connection, it might be pointed out that the British Embassy has furnished the Department with a paraphrase of instructions issued to Sir Alexander Cadogan on this subject. This paraphrase reads in part as follows:

[Here follows text quoted in fifth paragraph of telegram 3373, July 11, 4 p.m., to Paris, page 411.]

In view of the above considerations and of the over-riding political necessity of maintaining the peace and stability of the Middle East, it is recommended that the delegate of the United States be instructed to vote for the admission of Trans-Jordan to the United Nations.

  1. Notation: “Approved Harry Truman”.
  2. For the terms of the mandate see Foreign Relations, 1924, vol. ii, pp. 213220. For a discussion of the special character of the Palestine mandate, see Marjorie M. Whiteman, Digest of International Law, vol. i, pp. 630 and 631.
  3. The mandate of Great Britain with respect to Palestine came into force on September 20, 1923. On December 3, 1924 the United States concluded with Great Britain a convention (signed at London) defining the rights of United States nationals in Palestine; see Foreign Relations, 1924, vol. ii, pp. 212 ff., or 44 Stat, (pt. 3) 2184, or Department of State Treaty Series No. 728. For a discussion of the treaties or conventions concluded by the United States with the mandatory states defining rights of its nationals in the several mandated territories, see Whiteman, Digest of International Law, vol. i, pp. 618 ff.
  4. This separate status was established in Article 25 of the mandate agreement between the Council of the League and Great Britain; for text of this article, see Foreign Relations, 1924, vol. ii, p. 219. For a discussion of Trans-Jordan’s special status, see Whiteman, Digest of International Law, vol. i, pp. 630 and 631.