S/ISA files: Lot 52–26: Middle East General1
Memorandum by the Chief of Program Staff, Mutual Defense Assistance Program (Bray) to the Deputy Director of Mutual Defense Assistance in the Department of State (Ohly)
top secret

[Subject:] Military Interest in NEA Area.

In the course of a conversation on other matters, Mr. Jernegan of GTI 2 mentioned to Mr. Wolf3 of my staff that Mr. McGhee4 had lately been discussing the general question of the NEA area with JCS. In the course of a session between Mr. McGhee and the Deputy Chiefs of Staff of recent date, Mr. McGhee was orally informed that the military strategic interests in the NEA area were now viewed as being almost negligible in light of interests in other areas.

It is doubtful that these views will be expressed in writing by JCS, and it is impossible to exactly repeat at third hand the connotation of the statement in light of the conversation which gave birth to it. However, the implications thereof appear to be in conflict with such JCS decisions as we are aware of.

It was stated that Mr. McGhee believes that if the military interest in these areas is diminished to this extent, then military assistance which the United States would offer to this area should be predicated not upon the strategic aims of the United States but rather upon meeting the political and psychological desires of the recipient countries. It might be added that Turkey was surprisingly included in the reported general statement by JCS.

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It is recommended that you explore this matter informally and orally with General Lemnitzer5 to determine whether there is present a diminution of interest by JCS in the NEA area. Such a diminution of interest could be stated in terms of priority or in other ways which would convey the same concept and yet not indicate a “writing off” of the area. Guidance as to Defense’s thinking along these lines appears essential if we are to shake the water out of the political, military and economic needs for military assistance in the NEA area.6

  1. The S/ISA lot files contain records of the Office of the Director, International Security Affairs, Department of State, covering the years 1949–1951. They form a part of FRC Acc. No. 62 A 613.
  2. John D. Jernegan, Director of the Office of Greek, Turkish and Iranian Affairs.
  3. Joseph J. Wolf of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program.
  4. George C. McGhee, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian and African Affairs.
  5. Maj. Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer, USA, Director of the Office of Military Assistance, Office of the Secretary of Defense.
  6. In a memorandum of February 6, Mr. Ohly informed Mr. Bray that he had taken up the question of military interest in the Near East with General Lemnitzer “who confirms this trend in JCS thinking. This trend does not represent a change in JCS evaluation of the importance of the area but rather results from the fact that higher priorities in other areas make it impossible to devote any very substantial portion of our limited military resources to this particular area.” Mr. Ohly added that this trend in military thinking would not be reflected in any special written document “but will be indicated in the general policy and objective paper for FY 1951 programs” (ISA/MDAP Files, Lot 52–26, Middle East General).