611.82/1–2652: Telegram

No. 460
The Ambassador in Turkey (McGhee) to the Department of State1

top secret

673. I called on FonMin January 24 at his request. Referring to our talk January 19, in which we agreed desirability developing closest possible collaboration (Embtel 642, January 21),2 we first referred to certain matters re Korea (Embtel 660, January 24).3 FonMin then proceeded to state his views on various aspects international situation summarized below.

(1)
Unity of action versus Sovs. Imperative that democracies work in complete harmony, without competition among themselves or differences in policy objectives. Any difference would be exploited by Sovs to own advantage. Democracies must present resolute common front and not seek to compromise because of their own lack of preparation or thru fear of Sov reaction. Russians have not been deterred from aggression by such considerations in part, but only by lack in own preparations. It would be fatal display of weakness for democracies to give further ground at any point.
(2)
Weaknesses in West position. He stated principal weaknesses of democracies at present were:
(A)
Western European nationals trying obtain maximum benefits from US aid while making least possible contribution themselves. Moreover, they are permitting ideological considerations of own selfish interests influence them in resisting steps [Page 871]necessary build collective security. Opposition to inclusion Ger and Spain in Eur defense system cases in point. FonMin hoped US would continue explain necessity their inclusion.
(B)
Second point of weakness lay in ME and Asia. Rising nationalism in ME exploited by Commies utilizing also reactionary and chauvinistic elements. Situation greatly worsened, however, by pursuit West powers their own special interest which results in lack common policy. West powers must abandon “old methods” in dealing with states of area. Essential harmonize policies on basis friendship with ME states, which offers only chance obtaining their cooperation. FonMin recalled he had suggested to Brit year ago that they seek solution Egyptian problem along multi-lateral lines, similar to MEC. He reviewed again Turk attitude on Suez issue and reluctance raise it last year in SC. FonMin also felt we should have delayed proposing MEC to Egypt and should have made proposal at same time to other Arab States and in clearer terms. In future he felt there should be closer and earlier consultation among four powers. One should not be obliged to fol action given by others without prior consultation. He did not consider present four power consultations in Damascus satisfactory but contributed this more to uncooperative attitude reps on spot than to govts. It must be recognized that world is in transformation, that new spirit of nationalism must be taken into account. Democracies should be in best position understand aspirations ME people and gain their confidence. They must be shown Commies offer them nothing. From mil aspect ME states present no power, nor can any appreciable power be developed in them. Only real defense of ME is Turk Forces. We must, however, win friendship these nationalists to complement Turk Forces. FonMin summarized by stating that if democracies could not make good these weaknesses which he had enumerated, West had chance losing cold war. If weaknesses eliminated, we will, with help large US arms program now in progress, be quite safe within few years. In his judgment, Russia does not think she can win world by aggression, but only by subversion.

At FonMin’s invitation I responded to his remarks by stating that I agreed in its generality with almost everything he had said. In addition there were other elements which must be considered. One was the question of priority of agreed general objectives all over the world in the light of our limited capabilities, second was inevitable conflict between national and general interests (as in case of Brit Iran oil interests), and third was difficult question of tactics in achieving agreed objectives. While serious difficulties still remain, FonMin would, I was sure, agree that great progress had been made in West Eur toward creation Eur Army, integration Ger into common defense and with Schuman Plan. Invitation Turkey and Greece join NATO represented significant step forward, which would not only strengthen NATO materially but also morally in [Page 872]providing example of state like Turkey making great sacrifices to maintain high level of defense. Furthermore, Turk could make available in NATO councils benefit its experience in relations with USSR.

ME remains one of principal areas where important differences exist between powers because of conflict between natl and genl interests and inability thus far devise suitable tactics. I reviewed US relationship to ME and pointed out principal conflict in past between natl and the genl interest lay in Palestine. Since establishment Israel we had sought remove this conflict by earnest policy friendship and impartiality toward Israel and Arab states alike. I mentioned Aramco concession Saudi Arabia as our other important specific natl interest in area, but which I did not believe made four power agreement or relations with SAG or other ME states difficult. FonMin interjected that on contrary good relations between US and Saudi Arabia was asset for relations between West and ME.

Ref Syria and Lebanon I expressed view that Fr had allowed prestige considerations to stand in way complete four power harmony, but that this flowed largely from reactions of individuals on the spot. In Paris and Wash we had found Fr in harmony with common objectives.

Brit position more complicated. I did not feel it involved unduly question of prestige. Brit Govt and people accepted passing of colonialism as demonstrated in India and Africa. However, Brit had specific econ interests, such as oil interests in Iran, Iraq and Kuwait, which were of desperate importance to them at this time. Brit treaty systems with Jordan, Iraq and Egypt considered by ME states, rightly or wrongly, as relic of colonial era. In my judgment, Brit wld have been prepared abandon these treaty rights in normal times. Now, however, in midst of cold war, to do so wld invite instability in whole area and open invitation to Sov aggression or subversion. Nevertheless, treaties had served to produce national irritations, especially in Egypt, which had been aggravated by Commies to point of cancelling out their stabilizing effect. In light of this situation we had developed concept of multilateral approach, leading to MEC, as offering more acceptable basis for relationship of west with ME.

FonMin agreed with foregoing. He said ME indeed represented delicate situation and he did not propose any drastic measures be taken which wld upset stability. It was important that Brit prestige be built up and Suez defended.

I said that at some time I shld like explain in more detail background of tactics pursued in launching MEC. Most important thing now, however, was to give thought to how we can move forward to [Page 873]establishment MEC. FonMin agreed he repeated view expressed at our last mtg that this must be worked out together by four powers. Statements such Churchill’s to Congress,4 which appeared to change MEC concept by implying introduction of forces into area without agreement of ME states, were most unfortunate. He agreed evidence showed Churchill’s statement not clearly thought out and that Brit Govt has since sought to modify implications.

In conclusion I stated that at his convenience I shld like to discuss with FonMin (1) MEC, (2) situation in Iran, and (3) cooperation between our econ mission and his govt. He added Syria.

McGhee
  1. Transmitted in two sections.
  2. Supra .
  3. Telegram 660 reported on a conversation between McGhee and the Turkish Foreign Minister in which various British and U.S. plans for Korea were discussed. (795B.00/1–2452)
  4. Churchill addressed Congress on Jan. 17 during his visit to the United States for conversations with President Truman; see vol. vi, Part 1, pp. 693 ff.