PPS Files, Lot 64 D 563, Record Copies
Memorandum by Mr. Gordon P. Merriam of the Policy Planning Staff
1. To determine whether the North Atlantic Treaty should be extended to include Middle Eastern countries, and the possibility of creating one or more additional Article 51 treaties embracing the Middle East.
2. The countries considered for the purposes of this discussion are Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, the Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
3. The basic security considerations are summarized in the Annex attached.
4. It is clear from the material quoted in the Annex that the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East areas are regarded as of importance to the security of the United States to the extent that any potentially hostile power should be denied any foothold in these areas. Moreover, the U.S. should, as a matter of policy, assist in maintaining the territorial integrity of Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Iran and be prepared to make full use of its political, economic, and if necessary, military power for this purpose. The loss of Turkey would critically affect U.S. security interests in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East areas. Our security requirements and interests in these areas [Page 32]are similar to those of our potential allies and closely interwoven with those of Great Britain.
5. The foregoing paragraph must be considered in the light of the fact that the primary security interests of the United States outside the western hemisphere lie in the North Atlantic area. This fact is reflected by the North Atlantic Treaty. Nevertheless, the political and territorial integrity of the Middle East area as a whole, and particularly of certain countries in that area, are of such importance to U.S. security as to justify strenuous efforts in the political field, and such efforts in the economic and military fields as overall circumstances, and the situation affecting each country, justify and permit and as are non-provocative in character.
6. It has been decided that, for the present, it would be unwise either because of the limitations of our resources, or because of the provocation which would be caused to the U.S.S.R., or both:
- To send U.S. Forces to Greece, even as token forces;
- To construct medium bomber and fighter fields in Turkey with a view to use by U.S. Forces;
- To stock existing Turkish airfields with aviation gasoline to be held for use by U.S. Forces.
7. On the other hand, it is considered desirable to construct a suitable airfield in the Suez area which could be used by U.S. bombers.
8. The U.S. has had operating and access rights to Dhahran Airfield in Saudi Arabia.1 The agreement providing for these rights has expired, but it is being extended on a month-to-month basis during negotiations for its extension. Because of the arms embargo and the inability of the U.S. thus far to provide a quid pro quo by making available arms and equipment desired by Saudi Arabia, a long-term extension of U.S. rights at Dhahran is unobtainable at this time, and an endeavor is being made to secure a one-year extension pending further developments.
9. The U.S. has no rights, but experiences no difficulties, in the use of air and naval facilities in Greece.
10. The U.S. has access to the British-controlled Mellaha airfield near Tripoli, to the air facilities on Cyprus and in the Sudan, would presumably be able to use British-controlled facilities in Cyrenaica and Jordan in the event of hostilities and will probably have no difficulty in continuing to maintain and operate the communications center at Asmara in Eritrea. However, long-term ability of the U.S. to use military facilities in Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Eritrea depend upon the ultimate disposition of these territories.[Page 33]
11. Existing political circumstances make it impossible at this time for the U.S. to obtain military rights or to make military use of Egypt, Israel, Syria, Lebanon or Iraq. However, Syria and Jordan do not object to the U.S. Air Force overflying their respective territories for the purpose of servicing Dhahran. In the event of serious trouble with the U.S.S.R. it is not entirely certain that the U.S. could, on the basis of the consent of the countries concerned, make military use of Egypt, Israel, Syria, Lebanon or Iraq. Egypt and Iraq, however, could probably be used by the U.S. through the British, provided the latter succeed in maintaining their military rights in these countries.
12. All of the countries of the Middle East area above-mentioned have indicated at one time or another a desire to enter into a military alliance or other military arrangements with the U.S. or with both the U.S. and the U.K. The political and military realities of the U.S. situation prevent the negotiation of such arrangements. Moreover, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, none of the Arab governments could enter into an alliance with the U.S. at this time due to the deterioration of relations resulting from the Palestine question.2
13. Although the United States has exerted in the past, and will exert in the future, strenuous efforts to counter Soviet Russian expansionist ambitions in the areas by diplomatic means both within and without the United Nations, and by such economic and military aid as is justified by the circumstances and by U.S. capabilities, it is clear that so long as the policies of the U.S.S.R. remain essentially unaltered, the security situation of the area will remain precarious unless further steps can be taken to safeguard it. So long as a precarious security situation exists, or is felt to exist by the countries in the area, economic and social progress will be slow and uncertain and they will be promising subjects for revolution and for communist domination from within.
14. Further steps could take one or more of the following forms:
- Continuing along present lines, i.e. by unilateral diplomatic, economic and military support as determined by us on the basis of ad hoc need and availabilities, but refraining from any mutual commitment except as provided by the U.N. Charter, with such assistance and cooperation as other like-minded nations, particularly the U.K., can and will provide.
- Extension of the North Atlantic Treaty to include certain selected countries in the area.
- Creation of a regional pact, pure and simple.
- Creation of a regional pact linked to the stronger members of the North Atlantic Treaty system.
- Creation of a regional pact having some kind of association, or possibility of association, with the North Atlantic Treaty.
- Creation of a new U.N. procedure.
15. Continuing along present lines has the advantage of simplicity. The U.S. can select those countries in the Middle East it wishes to aid, and can control the nature and amount of aid it supplies to them. It has the disadvantage that our security measures and planning for the area cannot be intelligently or logically worked out on an ad hoc, country by country basis, but should be considered on an area basis. More specifically, adequate provisions for military use of a forward area such as Turkey cannot be made unless we are sure of facilities in depth to the south. This is particularly true in view of the fact that the establishment of adequate military facilities in the forward areas, prior to the actual outbreak of hostilities, would be provocative. South of Greece, Turkey and Iran we now depend upon sparse and tenuously-held British facilities. The acquisition or construction of adequate facilities to the south in countries under Arab sovereignty will be extremely difficult if not impossible so long as the U.S. maintains a policy of favoritism in regard to Israel, because of the unfriendliness and spirit of non-cooperation which that policy engenders in the Arab countries.
In sum, the circumstances require an area approach, the prerequisite of which is relations with all of the countries of the area which are characterized by friendship, trust and cooperation. This relationship formerly existed with the Arab countries but has suffered severe though not irreparable damage. Until the damage has been repaired, our task of supporting the integrity of the three northern countries of Greece, Turkey and Iran will be that of holding up an arch which lacks foundations. Furthermore, the relations between the various countries of the area must be on a sound basis. The Palestine question has caused the contrary effect.
- Extension of the North Atlantic Treaty to include selected countries in the area, a development ardently desired by Greece and Turkey, is an idea which is worth careful consideration. As an immediate possibility, however, it is necessary to reject it for two reasons: (1) By the inclusion of Norway and Italy, it is possible that the Treaty already takes in too much territory, existing circumstances considered; (2) The inclusion of Greece would throw the question of aid to Greek guerrillas into the NAP framework and risk magnifying the question into a crude and primary power issue. No NAP country can now afford to contribute actual power to this issue except the U.S. which is already doing so. Therefore, inclusion of Greece in the NAP would saddle the group with a problem with which it [Page 35]is not, as a group, capable of dealing at this time. It would be unrealistic to include Turkey if Greece were not included.
- Looking ahead, however, it is possible that the NAP group will take a strategic view of the Middle East essentially in accord with that now taken by the U.S. and U.K., and feel sufficiently strong in relation to the U.S.S.R. to implement that view by bringing selected countries into the NAP system. The countries selected might be limited to Greece and Turkey and in any case would almost certainly include them, and conceivably Iran. The forthcoming membership of Greece and Turkey in the Council of Western Europe may point in this direction.
- It would be unwise to include any Middle Eastern country in NAP unless Germany, or Western Germany, is friendly to the West. The NAP countries could not be under an obligation to rescue Greece or Turkey with an unfriendly Germany on their flank. It follows that any extension of the NAP system to the Middle East requires as a precondition, that Germany not be or become a major security risk.
- Two regional pacts already exist in the area. One is the Saadabad Pact (July 8, 1937) between Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. This Pact provides for non-interference, non-aggression, and consultation regarding all international conflicts affecting the members’ common interests. The other is the Pact of the League of Arab States3 (March 22, 1945) between Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen. It provides methods for settling disputes between the members and for their cooperation in political, economic and social matters. The weakness of the key provisions of both Pacts reflects the weakness of the members, singly or in combination. It follows that no important results for the security of the Middle East from external aggression can be expected to flow from the existence of these Pacts.
- The creation of a regional pact, pure and simple, similar to the NAP, of the Middle Eastern countries offers no solution, not only because of the discord among them which has been created by the Palestine question, but also because of deep-rooted suspicions which antedate that question and have been intensified by it. Moreover, and this is a fundamental difficulty, the area lacks a power center on the basis of which a pact could be built.
- The creation of a regional pact in the Middle Eastern area linked to the stronger members of the NAP—the U.S. and the U.K. in present circumstances—would place too heavy a commitment on those two countries, which must be entirely free to be the judges of [Page 36]what, if any, resources they can devote to the security of the area, and to select the recipient countries.
- Turkey and Greece would both dislike such an arrangement, believing that it would result in a diminution, through dilution, of the aid now being received from the U.S. They also fear that this arrangement would inject them into the Palestine imbroglio, and that their policy in this matter might well be in opposition to that of the U.S., which would be a highly embarrassing and worrisome situation. However, they might be willing to run these risks in return for a U.S. commitment.
- The Arab countries, while having a pervading fear of the U.S.S.R., have a closer and more immediate problem in Israel. They feel, in fact, that, they require protection from threats from three sources: the U.S.S.R., Israel, and each other. Moreover, protection by the U.S. and the U.K. applied with respect to Israel, and to the Arab countries in their relations with one another, would, in operation, probably run afoul of a basic difference in outlook, if not in policy, between the United States and the United Kingdom. The U.S. has supported and favored Israel, and endeavored at the same time to remain, on friendly terms with the Arab states. The U.K., on the contrary, places Arab relations ahead of relations with Israel, and has temporally departed from this policy only when necessary in the interest of Anglo-American relations.
- Israel seeks to follow a middle course in the West-East situation. While it desires assurances against Arab aggression, it would not at the present time accept them if it involved an anti-Soviet orientation.
- It is evident, therefore, that a regional pact linked to the U.S. and the U.K. would run into strong cross-currents and there is serious risk that it would end in becoming unmanageable.
19. Creation of a regional pact having some kind of relationship or possibility of association with the NAP, like the extension of the NAP to selected Middle Eastern countries, is not immediately practicable due to the lack of harmony and singleness of purpose in the Middle East described in paragraph 28 [18?] above. At a suitable stage in the future, however, when Western Europe is stronger and Germany or Western Germany is dependable and cooperative, and if the Middle East can be sufficiently pulled together, this formula offers interesting possibilities, which are:
- The two regional groups could be associated, or association made possible, in a way which would result in a far less rigid structure than would the case if the ME countries, or any substantial number of them, were included in the NAP.
- The association would not occur before the Middle East pact came into existence, which would place the onus and necessity upon [Page 37]the Middle Eastern countries to get on with the job of settling their own differences.
- There being no power center in the Middle East, the pact of itself would be non-provocative as far as the capabilities of the members were concerned. It could, however, contain phraseology visualizing and permitting, but hot requiring, assistance from like-minded nations or groups of nations to ward off attack and danger thereof. This would also be non-provocative, since action would be taken only, in case of provocation from the other side of the curtain.
- The association would permit full discretion on the part of the NAP group and members thereof, as to assistance to be furnished the Middle Eastern group.
- The NAP and Middle Eastern groups could be separate and distinct, or, depending on circumstances, certain countries such as Greece and Turkey and perhaps Iran could be members of both groups.
- It would be easier for some Middle East countries to invite outside assistance through a regional group than individually, though individual requests would not necessarily be excluded. Furthermore, the requests of individual countries would probably be moderated as the result of group consideration. There would also be advantage in group-to-group requests, i.e. by the Middle East group to the NAP group, or vice versa, thereby taking the onus off both the requesting and responding countries. Here again, if the NAP as a group did not see fit to respond favorably, it would be open to an NAP member to do so if it considered its interests vitally affected.
- The membership of a Middle East regional pact presents difficulties. Inclusion of India would probably make the group too large and unwieldy. On the other hand it would be unrealistic to include Afghanistan and Pakistan without India since the usefulness for security purposes of Afghanistan and Pakistan depends very largely on the facilities in depth to be found in India. Since Iran has obvious connections with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, two regional groups—Middle Eastern and South Asian—might be formed, Iran being included in both.
- Even if it should not prove possible to form one or more
pact groups in the Middle East-South Asia areas, the effort
would have valuable by-products in the following ways:
- It would tend to bring about a composition of the differences between the nations of the areas and so enable them to gain strength, particularly in the economic and social fields, to combat the internal communist threat.
- It would tend to unify the main lines of policy of the Western Powers which have important interests in the areas and avoid the danger of their working at cross-purposes.
20. There remains the possibility that existing machinery of the United Nations, not subject to veto, might be harnessed, consistent with the Charter, to contribute to general international security including the security of the Middle East. The suggestion is that the General Assembly might now, in advance of the outbreak of any major armed conflict (perhaps at the Assembly’s Fourth General [Page 38]Session in 1949), adopt a resolution which (1) declares the concern of the United Nations for observance of the law of the Charter, (2) recalls to the member states that the fundamental substantive obligations undertaken in the Charter do not lapse upon the inability or failure of the United Nations machinery to operate with full effectiveness, (3) reminds the members of their duty to support and defend the purposes and principles of the United Nations, (4) resolves that it is the sense and intention of the Assembly that, in the event of any member communicating to the Secretary General an assertion that an armed attack has occurred, a special session of the Assembly under Article 20 of the Charter will at once be called upon agreement of a majority of the members of the United Nations,* and (5) resolves that if the Security Council, concurrently meeting in continuous session, does not promptly take action to maintain or restore international peace and security, the General Assembly will make appropriate findings.†
The purpose of such action by the Assembly would be to make clear in advance that there can and will be a judgment of the international community on the facts of any situation in which armed attack is alleged and the Security Council fails to take adequate measures. Such a judgment would give guidance to the individual members of the United Nations as to whether armed attack has really occurred and who is the aggressor. The effect of such a judgment would be to marshal the moral and political strength of the United Nations in defense of the victim and in support of the law of the Charter. Pursuant to such a judgment, members of the United Nations would take appropriate action to restore international peace and security, perhaps having already consulted to coordinate their activities. In the event of armed attack which called into operation the provisions of the North Atlantic Treaty, or of a Middle East pact, or both, the deliberations of the General Assembly would be concurrent not only with those of the Security Council but also with those of the council established by Article 9 of the North Atlantic Treaty, or with procedure under a Middle East pact. This concurrence would have the advantage of affording to the Atlantic and Middle East Treaty states an accurate reading of general international opinion, and of indicating what action taken pursuant to the Treaties would command maximum support among the United Nations.[Page 39]
This proposal is believed entirely consistent with the Charter. Of necessity, the actions of the General Assembly would be general in character, and a good deal of freedom would be left to the member nations. The proposal appears practicable at the present time. It could make a significant political contribution to security as a deterrent, particularly in regions outside the Western Hemisphere and the Forth Atlantic area.
- For documentation on this subject, see pp. 1573 ff.↩
- For documentation on this subject, see pp. 594 ff.↩
- For documentation on the establishment of
the Arab League, see
Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. viii, pp. 25 ff.↩
- The General Assembly’s Rules of Procedure would require amendment to shorten the interval between the call for a special session and the first actual meeting of such a session. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- The action of the General Assembly, particularly any recommendations which it might decide to make, would come after the Security Council had completed its futile consideration of the case and voted to remove it from the agenda. See Article 12 of the Charter. But the Assembly could discuss during the Council’s deliberations. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. iv, pp. 46– 47.↩
- For the full text of
“The American Paper”, from which these extracts were
ibid., 1947, vol. v, p. 575. The American Paper was prepared in the Department of State in connection with “The Pentagon Talks of 1947” between the United States and the United Kingdom concerning the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. The talks took place in October 1947.↩
- The full text of the memorandum by
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, from which this extract
is taken, is printed as SANACC 358/8 in
Foreign Relations, 1948, vol iv, p. 191. For NSC 42/1, a report of March 22, 1949, by the National Security Council to President Truman, see p. 269.↩
- Dated May 16, p. 1009.↩
Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. iii, p. 933.↩
- See Appendix C to SANACC 360/14, p. 29.↩
- This reference is to NSC 42/1, March 22, p. 269.↩
- Not printed; it dealt with the preparation of a foreign military assistance program for fiscal year 1950. It noted that $100,000,000 of military assistance for Turkey and $200,000,000 for Greece had been approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on December 20, 1948; that Iran was receiving military equipment valued at $54,000,000 through a dollar loan to purchase surplus military property; and that the shipment of military equipment to Saudi Arabia was precluded by United States adherence to the Security Council Resolution of May 1948.↩
- Not printed.↩
- Not printed.↩
- Subject to confirmation by responsible government agencies. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- Preliminary studies indicate that in a more remote war, Middle East oil increases in importance and in ten years may be needed from D–Day on. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- Dated May 16, p. 1009.↩
- At his press conference.↩
- For the text of Secretary Acheson’s radio address on March 18, see Department of State Bulletin, March 27, 1949, p. 384.↩
- The full text of President Truman’s address is printed ibid., April 17, 1949, p. 481.↩
- Dated November 23, 1948,
Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. i, Part 2, p. 662.↩