The Chargé in Syria ( Clark ) to the Department of State 1
224. Deptel 1592, Sept 14 to Paris,2 Deptel 28 July 17 to Damascus,3 and related correspondence. We believe arms aid with some portion of it on grant basis is a necessary part of US approach to Syria at [Page 1082] present time. Record of last two years proves Syria will procure arms with whatever cost to constitutional ideals and development possibilities and that it will accord internal leadership to whoever can procure them and friendship to country which supplies them. It seems necessary for US to appropriate this necessity for whatever good can be gained for West and for whatever control can be exercised for good of Syria and ME.
We realize Syrian conception of purpose of arms is still primarily security against feared Israeli attack and only secondarily security against Communist aggression. But provision of arms will put US in position of influence which it does not now occupy and if we have the skill we may be able to use this position bring about an improvement in Syro-Israeli relations, not by frontal attack but by helping Syrians rescue themselves from inferiority feelings (Legtel 221 Oct 184) and thereby nihilism through the remedy of security as envisaged in milit component MSP and constructive activity as envisaged in economic aid component. We can exact quid pro quos in the administration of such assistance. We can regulate flow in accordance with response elicited. Important thing is to show evidence quickly in form of milit equipment. There is in our view a risk greater than any other here in allowing the present nihilism to drift towards a culmination which will be pro-Communist as well as anti-Israel. In the absence of an ideal solution we believe it better to attempt the method which may free Syrian constructive energies than it is to do nothing. This strikes us as the more worthy attempt since the marginal demand for a single aircraft or anti-aircraft gun is probably higher than for countries already integrated into mutual defense programs. An immed token offer by US wld enable experiment without jeopardizing ME peace.