The Minister in Lebanon ( Pinkerton ) to the Secretary of State 1

No. 142

Ref: DepCircGram September 27, 1950, 4:05 p m2

Subject: Changed Attitude of Arabs and Israelis since Korean Crisis

In so far as Lebanon is concerned, the following appears to be the reaction to the Korean crisis:

(a) The Lebanese attitude towards the United States has definitely improved since the favorable turn of events in Korea. Nothing succeeds like success in Lebanon. Although the Lebanese themselves do not admire force for its own sake as much as do certain other Arab States, nevertheless their stock in trade is picking winners and trading with them. Up until June 25th the Lebanese Government and traders had observed with alarm the constant weakening of the United States and the policy of retreat which was apparently being followed almost everywhere except in Europe and Greece, Turkey and Iran. They were surprised and pleased at our prompt reaction to the invasion of South Korea, but as friends of the United States they were unhappy over the long retreat which took place there. Now that we are winning so decisively, the Government, the press, and almost all the Lebanese appear definitely more cordial to the United States.
(b) Because the United Nations’ success in Korea is essentially a success of the West, all the nations of the West have shared, although in a considerably lesser degree, in the improved Lebanese attitude which is most clearly evidenced towards America.
The Korean crisis has affected the thinking of the Lebanese towards Israel because of the United Nations’ part in the Korean war. The Lebanese had for the most part written off the United Nations as a debating society with certain social and cultural functions on the side. As a result of this summer’s developments in Korea, the Lebanese, to their surprise, find that the United Nations can be a strong and forceful instrument for preserving world order and settling international problems. The Lebanese, therefore, recalling the United Nations’ handling [Page 1111] of the Palestine problem, are asking themselves, “can the recently found strength of the United Nations be applied to bring about a general or limited agreement on the Palestine problem which will be satisfactory to the Arabs?”
Because it hopes that the United Nations can be pushed into taking a strong stand with the Jews, the Government and much of the press and public of Lebanon have now hardened their attitude on the question of a settlement with Israel, and will be disappointed if it turns out, as some of the extreme Arabs are saying, that “there is one United Nations’ law for Israel and another for the rest of the world”.
Since the United Nations’ success in Korea, the attitude of the Lebanese Government and people towards the USSR and Communists has hardened. A new campaign has been started to track down and arrest Party members, along with members of the P.P.S., which the Lebanese Government considers equally subversive; and a judge has been appointed to handle cases involving Communists, and Communist or fellow traveller groups are beginning to have more trouble with the police than has been the case for some time.

Unfortunately, however, it is doubtful if even this new campaign against Communists in Lebanon will be very effective. Due to the age old conflict between Christians and Moslems in Lebanon, the Government has refused to put all of the power for this anti-Communist-anti-P.P.S. drive into either Christian or Moslem hands. As it now stands the Lebanese Surete, under the direction of Emir Farid Schehab, a Christian, makes the investigations and recommends arrests. The actual arrest, however, is made by the Moslem police. This has already resulted in several cases in which Moslems with Communist records who were recommended for arrest by the Surete have not been detained long by the police.

Emir Schehab has indicated that he will try the system out for a month or so and if it does not work will seek a showdown looking toward a better arrangement.

Lowell C. Pinkerton
  1. Copies pouched to Tel Aviv, Damascus, Cairo, Jidda, Baghdad, Amman, London, and Moscow.
  2. Not printed; it requested Embassies and Legations in the Near East to comment on the general effects of the Korean crisis on Arab and Israeli attitudes (611.84A/9–2750).