The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Iraq (Wadsworth)


No. 17

Sir: The Department has considered with care your report and recommendations concerning a proposed program for irrigation and other economic development projects in Iraq, as outlined in your memorandum of November 13, 1947 addressed to the Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs. For your convenience there is attached a copy of this memorandum, and of the letter of November 7, 1947, addressed to the Foreign Minister of Iraq by the Vice President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development,1 referred to under Point 13 of your memorandum.

Particular note has been taken of your report that in several important conversations which you had in Baghdad with the Iraqi Prime Minister prior to your return to the United States last September, you were informed of the Iraqi Government’s desire for broad collaboration with the British and American Governments in the formulation of a comprehensive and integrated overall plan for development in Iraq and for its earliest possible realization. In subsequent discussions in Washington participated in by important officials of the Iraqi Government as well as by yourself, including a meeting with the President and Vice President of the International Bank, the establishment of an Iraq Development Planning Board, with appropriate participation by British, American and International Bank experts was envisaged as the appropriate vehicle through which such collaboration might be afforded. It is noted in this connection that, as stated in the letter of November 7 by the Vice President of the International Bank, while the Bank could not consistently with its policy [Page 78] permit a member of its staff to serve actively on such a Board, “thereby becoming a party to the decisions of a body which would subsequently approach the Bank with a request for finance”, the Bank would be prepared, at its expense “from time to time to make available one or more members” of the Bank’s staff “for consultation at the board’s headquarters or at such other places as may be mutually agreeable”.

The question raised by your report and recommendations in these circumstances relates therefore to the readiness of the Government of the United States to participate at the request of the Government of Iraq and in collaboration with the Government of the United Kingdom, in aiding in the formulation and realization of an overall economic development program for Iraq through representation by American experts on the proposed Iraq Development Planning Board. In this connection it may be observed, as noted in your memorandum of November 13, that the British Government’s interest in economic development in Iraq and a favorable inclination toward Anglo-American cooperation in reference thereto, has been expressed more than once, notably in a memorandum winch the British Foreign Minister transmitted to the Secretary of State on March 20, 1947.2

With a view to the formulation of an appropriate instruction to you based on a broad consideration of the subject, the Department has consulted other interested agencies of this Government through the Cabinet Food Committee. On the basis of this consultation the Department is now able to advise you as follows:

The Government of the United States views with sympathetic interest and approval the desire of the Government of Iraq to formulate, and proceed to the realization of, an overall plan for economic development centered upon irrigation and other agricultural projects in the area of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, designed to expand food production, control floods, and in other ways contribute to improvement in the standard of living of the people of Iraq.
This Government would accordingly be prepared to give favorable consideration, at the Iraq Government’s request, to such measures of assistance for this purpose as may be practicable and appropriate. Specifically, it would be willing to consider the nomination of an American expert or experts, subject to such expert or experts being available, for service with an Iraq Development Planning Board as proposed. More precise determination of the American participation of this nature which would be found practicable and appropriate would of course have to await a specific request from the Iraq Government. It is assumed in this connection that timely consideration will also be given to enlisting, in appropriate circumstances, the assistance or advice of suitable international organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization.
It would be understood that the nomination of such American expert or experts could not imply approval in advance by this Government [Page 79] of whatever plans and program the proposed Iraq Development Planning Board might evolve. Such approval by this Government as might prove requisite for the support by it of any Iraq loan application to the International Bank would necessarily depend upon study and approval by the United States of technical and financial details of such final plans as may be presented.

It is the Department’s desire that you should, in such manner and on such occasion as you find appropriate, express to the Iraqi authorities the views of this Government as above outlined in continuation of the conversations you have had with Iraqi officials in Baghdad and Washington. In view however of the interest already expressed to this Government by the British Government in this general subject, in view further of the Iraq Government’s desire for Anglo-American collaboration with it in the formulation of its development program, and in view of this Government’s general policy of maintaining the maximum harmony of action and fullest interchange of views with the British Government in connection with Middle Eastern affairs, the Department considers it important that there should be a further exchange of views with the British Government prior to your communicating this Government’s views to the Iraq authorities.

Accordingly a copy of this instruction, together with its enclosures, is being communicated to the American Ambassador in London, with the request that he discuss the subject further with the appropriate authorities of the British Government and explore with them the desirability of similar and synchronized action on their part. It is anticipated that the British Government will welcome such procedure and instruct its representative in Iraq accordingly.3

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You should therefore prior to communicating to the Iraq Government the sense of this instruction, consult fully with your British colleague with a view to synchronizing your action with such harmonious action as he may be instructed to take. Should question or difficulty arise as to such synchronization or harmony of action you should communicate with the Department prior to taking the action authorized by this instruction. The Department will communicate to you such further instructions as may be necessary when a report is received from London in response to its parallel instruction to the American Ambassador in that city, a copy of which is enclosed for your information.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Willard L. Thorp
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. v, p. 503 and footnote 33.
  3. The Department, on March 29, transmitted a copy of instruction 17 and its enclosures to “Ambassador Douglas in instruction 121, noting that:

    “The particular action envisaged in the attached instruction to Baghdad was informally discussed with that official (Mr. Greenhill), and it was then thought desirable that the action proposed should await the completion of the so-called Haigh survey of Iraq irrigation possibilities outlined in the attachment to Mr. Bevin’s memorandum (of March 20, 1947) above-mentioned.

    “In view, however, of the return of Ambassador Wadsworth to his post in Baghdad, it is felt that authorization to him to make appropriate response should not be further delayed. It is believed, in the light of the earlier discussions above-referred to that the Foreign Office will welcome the opportunity for harmonious and synchronized British and American action in the circumstances. Accordingly, it is requested that the subject be discussed with the appropriate officials of the Foreign Office. By this means, it is desired to afford the Foreign Office opportunity to cause such instructions as may be deemed desirable, to be sent to the British representative in Baghdad with a view to discussion of the subject with Mr. Wadsworth and the taking of such synchronized action as may be found useful and appropriate.” (890G.6113/3–2948)

    London, on May 26, transmitted to the Department, British Foreign Office note E 4512/153/93 of May 16 to the American Embassy. The note deemed it “useless” to press the “care-taker” Government of Iraq to undertake development plans and considered that “The present crisis of affairs in Palestine would also render such action untimely.” The Foreign Office, however, welcomed joint United States-United Kingdom action to press the Iraqi Government to resume activity concerning development plans when a new and more stable government would be formed (despatch 1228, 890G.6113/5–2648).