NEA Files: Lot 55–D36

Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of South Asian Affairs (Hare)1

top secret

Considerations in Support of Policy in Respect of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East Drawn Up After Consultation With the British Group

The following observations have been prepared by way of explanation and elaboration of the paper drawn up by the American Group. The following numbered paragraphs should be read in connection with the identically numbered paragraphs in the American paper:2

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1. Vital Character of Security of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East to the Security of the United States.

Should the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East fall under Soviet domination, a process of deterioration would thereby be initiated which, if not successfully resisted, would constitute a disastrous blow to the preservation of world peace under the United Nations and, as far as the United States is concerned, would result in our being forced back to the Atlantic, with consequent loss of ability effectively to bring to bear not only our political and economic strength, but also military force in the maintenance of the security of the area, and of the United States and of all states friendly disposed to us. In the specific case of the United States, this would mean a retreat to the Western Hemisphere and facing the prospect of a war of attrition which would spell the end of the American way of life. In the case of the United Kingdom, the maintenance of a Middle Eastern front would be essential in order that the British “home base” should not be isolated and subjected to the full impact of a Soviet attack directed from Europe. Viewed from the standpoint of international peace and security, Soviet dominance of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East would certainly spell the end of the United Nations in anything approaching its present form and concept.

2. Special Importance of Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Iran in the Maintenance of the Security of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.

Italy, Greece, Turkey and Iran constitute a bastion, in both the political and strategic sense, which, if breached, would create a situation, the virtually inevitable result of which would be Soviet domination of the entire Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. The foreseeable consequences of such an eventuality are set forth in the preceding paragraph.

3. Necessity for American Policy to Support the Security of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

In the light of the considerations set forth in paragraphs one and two above, a policy in the support of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, and particularly of Italy, Greece, Turkey and Iran, is essential not only to the security of the United States and of the United Kingdom, but to world peace and the survival of the United Nations. In view of the gravity of the situation, a policy decision is required without delay and in most clear-cut form. Time is fast running out and half measures serve merely to confuse and to render more dangerous an already explosive situation. This applies not only to the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East itself, [Page 578] but also to the fact that British policy-makers appear to be at a crossroads where, having once chosen the road which they decide to follow, it would be extremely difficult to turn back. We have been frankly told by the British that although the British Government has decided that the maintenance of the security of the Mediterranean and Middle East is vital to British security, they have not made plans to implement that policy and that one of the important reasons for their indecision has been the lack of knowledge of United States policy in respect of that area. They admit that they do not see how implementation of such a policy could be effective without strong American support. Since we are similarly minded regarding the necessity of British support in the preservation of the security of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, immediate planning and parallel policies are obviously necessary. Failing this, we should be examining other expedients and losing no time in so doing.

4. Implementation of Foregoing Policy.

The maintenance of a policy of assisting in the support of the security of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East within the framework of the United Nations necessitates a program of assistance for the whole area to meet foreseeable situations, both in time of peace and in time of threat to the peace or actual hostilities.

In time of peace, political and economic assistance to the countries of the area should be directed to the promotion of political and economic stability which will, on the one hand, act as a deterrent to Soviet infiltration, and, on the other hand, build up bonds of friendship with both the British and ourselves, based on the mutual interest of all concerned. The Arab states deserve particular mention in this connection because of the location there of strategically important oil and pipe lines, and of areas suited to the installation of bases for both forward defense and defense in depth. Fearing possible Soviet aggression, therefore, measures should be taken in time of peace to assure the maintenance in friendly hands of military bases in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East from which to operate in an emergency.

All possible peaceful means, including recourse to the United Nations, should be exhausted to meet any external threat to the security of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. However, in the event of failure of such peaceful means, it may be necessary to resort to use of force as provided under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. A policy of full support of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, and particularly of Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Iran, does not necessarily mean that machinery would be set in motion for the direct defense of the threatened area, but rather that counter measures would be taken wherever and whenever it may be determined [Page 579] that they could be most effective. In other words, whereas we propose to take a political stand against Soviet aggression on the Italy–Greece–Turkey–Iran front, it is not improbable that, in the event of the necessity of recourse to arms, our military effort might be concentrated elsewhere with a view to most effective use of the forces employed.

5. The Special Role of the British.

It is not intended that the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East should be regarded as a British sphere of influence. What is intended is that the British should continue to maintain primary responsibility for the defense of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East as part of an overall concept of resistance to Soviet aggression, and that, in order to implement that responsibility, the British should have bases from which to operate in time of emergency. The maintenance of such bases, together with the right of reentry in an emergency, requires in turn that the British should have mutually satisfactory political and economic relations of a long-term nature with the countries of the area, as a foundation for their military position. This type of relationship does not imply any necessity of exclusiveness; quite to the contrary, the attaining and preservation of any such relationship would certainly be prejudiced by any indication that it was not to the advantage of the Mid-Eastern countries concerned, or that any restriction on their political, economic, or cultural relations with one another or with other countries was involved. With specific reference to the United States, it would not follow that we should become a sort of Middle Eastern junior partner of the British, nor that we should be placed in the position of more or less blindly following the British lead. Rather, the basic nature of our relationship should be recognition of the common problem of desiring to maintain the security of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East; the assumption by the British of a special responsibility in meeting that problem; and a parallel effort to work together not only in our own interests but in the interests of the countries of the area and with every respect for their positions as fellow members of the United Nations.

6. Notification of Our Intention to the Soviet Union.

Any move to make our intentions known to the Soviet Government would almost certainly have to be informal and indirect, since direct notification to that effect might well have the contrary of the result intended.

Regarding the distinction between overt and indirect aggression, it is futile to attempt to distinguish between them since it is recognized that in either case Soviet success would spell the loss of the effective independence of the country or countries concerned. In this connection [Page 580] it might be stressed that, since in no country in the Middle East are Communist or Communist sympathizers to be found in large numbers, any coup resulting in a Communist controlled government could not be successful unless instigated and implemented from the Soviet Union or Soviet satellites. In deciding on the type of action to be taken in meeting these two types of aggression, on the other hand, a certain distinction would be necessary.

In the event of overt aggression, action would presumably be taken initially through the Security Council, but any undue delay or lack of effective action resulting from this procedure would probably necessitate recourse to action under Article 51. The possibility that such action would logically lead to the disruption of the United Nations must be faced.

Greater complication would be encountered in meeting indirect aggression because of difficulty in definition arising out of the wide variety of forms in which it might be encountered and concentrated and vigilantly sustained attention would be required with a view to countering, as far as practicable, every indirect act of aggression by appropriate counter action on our part. Such counter measures might, for instance, be fully as effective, possibly at times even more effective, if related to the satellites rather than to acts which could be attributed to the Soviet Union itself.

The essential considerations are (1) that we should not allow the indirect character of Soviet aggression to becloud our recognition of its significance, (2) that a carefully planned policy of counter action should be constantly maintained, and (3) that the implications of counter measures which we may take should be clear to all concerned.

  1. Draft No. 2. Mr. Hare noted that this paper was prepared as a supporting document and was cleared by Messrs. Henderson, Hickerson, and Villard but was not found necessary to use.
  2. The numbered paragraphs below do not coincide with those in the American Paper, supra, covering instead paragraphs numbered 2 to 7. This suggests that an earlier draft of the American Paper was prepared and that paragraph numbered 1 was added in the final version. The editor has been unable to find earlier versions of either the American Paper or of Mr. Hare’s memorandum in the Department files.