Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Merriam)7

Here are a few comments on the British memo which Engert8 brought back from London.9

As far as Soviet Russia is concerned, the memo is “dated.” It visualizes the possibility, as well as the desirability, of bringing Soviet Russia into the Middle Eastern picture on a cooperative basis. We were thinking along somewhat the same line a year ago. However, the development of Soviet Russia policy and methods in the Middle East, it seems to me, makes the passages relating to Soviet Russian participation sound over-simplified and over-optimistic.
There is quite a divergence between the way the British contemplate cooperation between the great Powers in the Middle East and the way in which we contemplate it. Presumably the Russians also have ideas of their own. The British have in mind cooperation [Page 7]on a basis in which they would lead and guide. Our own ideas, as I understand them, are along the line of free competition in trade and communications matters, complete liberty on the part of the independent countries of the Middle East to select advisers and experts, and, in general, a friendly vying among the Powers in the course of which each will put its best foot forward to help the Middle Eastern countries get ahead on a basis of complete respect for their independence and sovereignty.
G[ordon] P M[erriam]

[On March 21, 1946, the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee approved SWNCC 202/2 dealing with “Policy Concerning Provision of United States Government Military Supplies for Post-War Armed Forces of Foreign Nations”. The section on the Near and Middle East reads as follows: “In accordance with the United States’ firm political policy of aiding the countries of the Near and Middle East to maintain their independence and develop sufficient strength to preserve law and order within their boundaries, it is consistent with United States policy to make available additional military supplies, in reasonable quantities, to those countries.” For full text of the paper, including further discussion of the Near and Middle East, as well as of Afghanistan, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon, and Turkey, see volume I.]

  1. Addressed to the Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Henderson), the Deputy Director of that Office (Allen), and the Assistant Chiefs of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Jones and Satterthwaite).
  2. Cornelius Van H. Engert of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs.
  3. On December 7, 1945, Mr. Engert sent to Mr. Henderson his undated “Draft Memorandum on Britain and the Middle East”. He noted that the paper was based on notes loaned to him at London in October 1945 by a friend in the British Foreign Office and undoubtedly reflected the views of several members of the Foreign Office even though it was not an official expression of the wishes and hopes of the British Government. (890.00/12–745)