No. 158
The Under Secretary of State (Smith) to the Secretary of Defense (Wilson)1


Dear Mr. Secretary: I understand in submitting to the Bureau of the Budget its estimates of the funds required for military assistance programs in Fiscal 1955, the Department of Defense made no provision for programs for countries of the Middle East other than Greece, Turkey, and Iran, and that this omission was explained on the ground that since FY 1954 programs for these countries had not yet been approved, it was impossible to forecast FY 1955 requirements.

I am disturbed by the implication that there will be no request for military assistance funds for the Middle East in the FY 1955 budget until the FY 1954 programs are firmed. In view of the delays which have already occurred in the development of the FY 1954 programs, and the number of additional steps which will be necessary before these programs can be firmed, the effect of this position, given the planned schedule for completing the FY 1955 budget, would be entirely to eliminate military aid for the Middle East.

I am confident that the Department of Defense does not desire this result. In your letter of August 17, 1953,2 you restated the concept of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which you informed us had been approved and adopted as the Department of Defense position, [Page 429] that military aid to the Middle East falls into two phases, of which the first would be intended primarily to establish a politico-military climate favorable for obtaining the participation of the individual states in planning for the defense of the Middle East, and the second would be designed to meet the estimates of requirements for Middle East defense made by some form of Allied military planning organization in collaboration with the Arab states.

It is obviously impossible to predict now, while the general character of first phase military aid programs is still under consideration within the Executive Branch, what progress these programs will make in the development of conditions which will permit the initiation of phase two. We have, of course, given up hope of effecting in the near future the establishment of a MEDO in the general form agreed to by the Western sponsoring powers. There are, however, other potential arrangements which might prove both easier to realize and more effective for purposes of Middle East defense. For example, there have been certain indications recently that it might prove possible to interest Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Turkey in a form of joint defense arrangement.

Although it cannot be said with certainty that the provision of United States military assistance will assure the ultimate development of this or any other satisfactory regional arrangement, it can be said that without United States military assistance it is certain that no such arrangement will develop. There will be other negative results of a failure to carry through in FY 1955:

Assuming that during the present fiscal year a Suez settlement is reached, the prospects of evolving some arrangement which would make the base available to the West on a long-term basis would be materially reduced.
The United States position in Saudi Arabia would be rendered more difficult and the possibility of securing additional rights at Dhahran air base would be further worsened.
Considering the encouragement which we have informally extended to Pakistan, the termination of military assistance to that country after a modest beginning in this fiscal year would leave us in a worse position than we were at the start. The political repercussions in the country would be extremely serious. At the least, we would have to renounce all idea of developing Pakistan into a centre of strength for the free world.

To avoid these negative developments, and to be in a position to further the positive political gains, we are confident we can register through the use of this year’s funds, we believe that additional funds of approximately the same order of magnitude as those requested by the Executive Branch for FY 1954 will be required for FY 1955. This is a judgment based principally on political considerations. If in the view of the Department of Defense it would be desirable [Page 430] on military grounds to begin a substantial build up in one or more of the Middle East countries (including Pakistan), additional funds will, of course, be required.

I am informed that the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff concerning the allocation of this year’s funds by services among the several Middle East countries is expected shortly. On this basis it should be possible to form a judgment as to the general magnitude and character of the programs which might be contemplated in FY 1955. I am hopeful that as soon as these data become available the Department of Defense will develop on an urgent basis an estimate for submission to the Bureau of the Budget. If there is anything which this Department can do toward facilitating such a submission, or if there appear to be reasons why such an estimate cannot be promptly submitted, I would appreciate your advising me at once.

I am forwarding a copy of this letter to the Director of the Foreign Operations Administration.

Sincerely yours,

Walter B. Smith
  1. This letter was drafted by Daspit and cleared by NEA, S/S, and S/MSA. A handwritten note at the end reads: “cc FOA Mr. Stassen thru S/MSA Nolting, S/MSA Mr. Nolting, NEA Mr. Daspit. Orig memo ret’d to NEA. Byroade.”
  2. Document 147.