Memorandum by the Acting Regional
Planning Adviser, Bureau of Near Eastern, South Asian, and
African Affairs (Hoskins) to the Assistant Secretary of State for
Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Byroade)1
- Re-appraisal of US Policies in the NEA Area.
All members of BOP—Office Directors and Staff Advisers—concur in the following statement.
Part I—Background Comments
- During the past year, as a result of a series of crises in the NEA area, there have been piecemeal re-appraisals of US policies relating to North Africa, Egypt, the Arab States and Israel, Iran and Kashmir.
- This memorandum is an effort to summarize the outstanding conclusions separately arrived at. It also permits us to appraise results to date and to suggest changes in policies which may be desirable for the future.
- Neither in the separate studies nor in this paper is there any intent to suggest an over-riding importance to any particular part of the NEA area as compared with any other Bureau. Clearly the “one world” concept of US policy must control and the problem is to fit NEA’s problems into their correct relative global importance within the over-all framework of US policies and capabilities.
- The most immediate problem of US relations with Greece and Turkey has been resolved by their adherence to the North Atlantic Treaty.2 Therefore, the further problems of these two countries will not be discussed in this paper. The general lines of US policy in regard to them are different from those that apply to other areas of NEA and in addition have been defined in considerable detail in NSC papers already approved.
- As to the remainder of the NEA area, it is difficult to
make generalizations that apply equally to all parts of such
a large and diverse area. There are, however, certain facts
of general application:
- There is a growing danger that important parts of the area may be lost to the free world and to the West not so much through overt action resulting in war, but through a more subtle operation which can eventually lose us the support of important parts of NEA through neutralism or through communist penetration by methods short of open war. China is an example that we are not anxious to see duplicated in the Middle East.
- There is also the danger of a real loss to the free world and especially to Western Europe which would result if key parts of this area from which Europe draws much of its raw materials went behind the Iron Curtain.
- There is the steadily declining prestige and position in the Moslem world not only of France and the UK, but also of the US. This decline has been taking place steadily over the past several years and is continuing to take place in varying degrees throughout the area.
- The decline in US prestige in various countries of the area is reflected in the UN. While the US has in the past enjoyed a considerable measure of support in the UN from the states of the NEA area (always with the exception of the Arab stand on any issue relating to Palestine), the sixth session of the General Assembly recently closed in Paris demonstrated an increasing unwillingness of the representatives of the states in the NEA area to support the views and recommendations of the US especially when questions involving the US and the USSR were at issue. These representatives, it became clear, were not anxious to align themselves with either party any more closely than they felt they were forced to do.
- Certain characteristics run like a thread through the whole area of NEA. In the social and economic fields, these are the disparities in wealth between a small rich minority on the one hand and the low living standards and poverty of the great majority of the people on the other hand. In the political field, there are two important developments that apply in varying degrees to the area as a whole—the rising tide of nationalism and the growth of neutralism reflecting to a dangerous degree in some NEA countries an attitude of “a plague on both your houses”, both the free world and the communist world.
- So far as North Africa and the Middle East are concerned,
friction with the West centers around two still burning
- Opposition and increasing distrust of the French
and of the British.
It is hard for many Americans, unless they have recently visited certain parts of this area, to realize how general and how deep-seated is the distrust and in some cases hatred for the British and French because of their past or present colonial policies and activities. This, for example, is especially true of the British in Iran and Egypt and of the French in Morocco and Tunisia. Unfortunately the US is increasingly being put in the same imperialist category. As a result, we must face the fact that today perhaps the greatest single obstacle to the advancement of US objectives in this area lies in the feeling that the US is a major source of power behind what are considered to be the continuing colonial policies or practices of the French and of the UK.
Distrust, at times bordering on hatred and contempt, of the US and of the UN for their responsibilities for the still unsolved Palestine problem.
Both Arabs and Israelis, for different reasons, reflect this lack of confidence. Both parties remain obsessed by three major issues still unresolved:
- —The approximately 850,000 Arab refugees from Israel who have not been integrated into the life of the neighboring Arab States in which they are now living.
- —The lack of peaceful settlements to replace the uneasy armistice agreements that still exist between Israel and her Arab neighbors.
- —The real fear that exists on both sides of “another round” in the Palestine war.
- Iran also remains an unsolved problem that can damage US relations not only with Iran and neighboring Middle East states but also with the UK as well. GTI is now working on and should have ready shortly a revision of the NSC paper on Iran, 107/2 dated 27 June, 1951 and of the Progress Report dated 5 August, 1951.3
- Our preoccupation with Europe and with such crisis areas
as Korea, Japan, Iran and Egypt, has already provided the
Communists with tremendous advantages in Asia.
We cannot afford to continue toward South Asia, especially India and Pakistan, the somewhat indifferent attitudes which have prevailed in the past. The loss of India to the Communist orbit would mean that for all practical purposes all of Asia would be lost, and [Page 207]this would constitute a serious threat to the security position of the US. Subversion of South Asian countries with a population of nearly one-half billion and known resources of scarce strategic materials such as manganese, monazite, beryl, mica and kyanite, of which we import substantial amounts, would affect our defense program most unfavorably. Communist successes in the recent national elections in India show clearly that time is running out. Skillful exploitation of bitterness resulting from hunger and poverty has enabled the communists to gain new power through constitutional means in addition to advances made by use of propaganda and terrorism.
As to Kashmir, on January 17, Dr. Graham, UN representative, reported to the Security Council that he had failed to reach agreement on de-militarization, a pre-requisite for holding an impartial plebiscite to determine the future affiliation of that state. Dr. Graham, on request of the Security Council, agreed to return to the subcontinent to make a final attempt and expects to report back to the Security Council by March 31, 1952. The US should give him all possible support in his attempt to settle this most difficult problem which otherwise may lead to disaster in the sub-continent.4
Nor is this the end. The present crises in Iran, Egypt and Tunisia, as well as the prospects of further difficulties in Palestine, Morocco and Kashmir unfortunately reflect more, not less, trouble ahead.
In developing further our policies we should take into account the increasing aid that Turkey, now that she is a full member of NATO, can lend to a more truly multilateral approach. In our own US interest we cannot afford to give even tacit backing to varying degrees of 19th century imperialism frequently linked to reactionary elements still in power in many countries in the area. Nor, on the other hand, can we afford to give indiscriminate support to all forms of nationalism especially of the extreme type that combines a demand for complete and immediate freedom with xenophobic opposition to every form or vestige of “foreign” interest.
- In essence our problem in NEA boils down to an attempt to
reconcile what are sometimes considered as two
- To continue US support of the UK and France vis-à-vis Russia without losing for the free world any important segments of NEA;
- Or, to put it another way, to keep the support and friendship of rising nationalism in the NEA area without undermining legitimate local positions of our two strongest allies in NATO, the UK and France.
- The conclusions and recommendations in Part II which follow suggest specific lines of action. These recommendations, it [Page 208]should be noted, do not pretend to offer a new or revolutionary line of policy from what has been pursued to date. They do suggest in certain instances a change of emphasis and to some degree a change of direction with the objective of reversing the decline in influence and prestige of the US and of the free world in the NEA area that has been indicated above.
Part II—Conclusions and Recommendations
The NEA area as a whole.
Despite our commitments elsewhere, since the US is hearing an increasing share of the burden of defense of the free world, the US must in its own interest take more initiative than it has to date in the determination of policies relative to the area.
- The decline and weakness of the UK and of France in various sections of NEA have left a growing vacuum which should, from a US point of view, be filled, as far as possible, by elements friendly rather than hostile to the free world.
This enlarged US role should not prevent us from supporting legitimate UK or French interests in the area especially when these assist in maintaining stability and thus reduce the demand for US forces.
The need for harmony with our Western allies must not blind us to the urgent need for reform in some of the colonial or foreign policies of our allies. While the loss of the colonial empires or of privileged positions of our allies in this area would represent to them a material loss as well as one in prestige, we should make clear that, in our opinion, there is little hope that repressive political, economic or social policies will allow them to retain these areas or these positions. In fact the evidence grows that the cost of attempting to hold special positions by force is too great, whether in Egypt, Tunisia or elsewhere. Force will not succeed and will divert already badly needed manpower from Western Europe and to that extent weaken the whole free world structure. Mr. Churchill has, for example, already made quite clear that the UK has diverted more forces to Egypt than she can afford to leave there indefinitely.
- The US should stress to Western Europe the
important advantages of retaining the voluntary
cooperation and friendship offered by NEA
independent countries such as Libya, Egypt, and
Iran, as well as of colonial or former colonial
areas even if the latter are now completely
separated from any past economic ties with the
If the antagonisms such as are growing against France in Morocco and Tunisia and against the UK in Egypt and Iran are allowed to develop further, these areas will become less useful supporters of the free world, even if they are not eventually lost completely by subversion to communism.
- It should be recognized, in line with Defense
Department’s theory, that the US is already
militarily over extended, and that, at least for the
cold war period, the major element needed to make US
policy in the NEA area more effective is not the commitment of large US
At the same time as a demonstration of growing US interest in the area, the US should give active support to the prompt establishment of the Middle East Command (MEC) and be prepared to supply a body of staff officers for its headquarters. Despite MEC’s slow start, NEA considers MEC a sound vehicle for strengthening the position of the free world in this area.
Without attempting a definite timetable for action, membership invitations might be considered in groups in the following order:
- The four sponsoring members with Egypt’s previous invitation left open for acceptance at any time, as it has been to date.
- The three Commonwealths previously approached, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa plus Pakistan and India in case either one wishes to join.
- The Arab States, including Libya.
- Israel and Iran.
- In support of our moral leadership, our major
contribution in this area should lie in the
technical and economic fields.
Assurances should be given to the states in the area that the US hopes to continue, as long as may be necessary, its technical and economic assistance to help improve basic social conditions and to help solve the complicated and difficult Palestine refugee problem.
- States of the NEA area must be made to realize the
fundamental advantages to all free world governments
of a stronger machinery of collective security.
Arab States, for example, must see, even though they are not members, the indirect advantages to their protection from Greek and Turkish membership in NATO. Even more direct advantages will be derived from a strong regional MEC in which they can participate. They must be reminded that effective cooperation for defense, not neutralism, is their best assurance against an outbreak of a third world war, or, if this occurs, of being overrun in the event of a third world war.
- In the field of growing nationalism, the US must
take fuller advantage of the almost automatic
assumption of many people of the area that the US is
sympathetic to people everywhere who are striving to
On the positive side we must make a more concerted and conscious effort to convince the peoples of the area and their governments that their long-term interests lie more with the [Page 210]free world and the West than with communism and the USSR. On the negative side we must remind them, by the experiences of Poland and Czechoslovakia, of Bulgaria and Romania, that the principles of freedom and self-determination which they seek are not likely to be obtained under a communist regime.
- US economic and social programs should aim at
assisting to the greatest extent possible present
governments in doing what the colonial powers are
charged with having failed adequately to do during
their periods of occupation—to improve economic and
social conditions of the average individual and to
increase political stability.
US policy must not only develop effective cooperative programs in the economic and social fields but must also see to it that their beneficial effects are felt by the masses of the people and not simply by a small ruling group.
Plans for TCA rural activities already planned should be continued. However, because the rising political forces in the area have their leadership and main support in the cities, provision should also be made in our programs for projects which will tend to associate the interests of these urban forces with our own and to develop their interests in political stability in their countries.
As regards particular areas of NEA, the following specific recommendations are made:
- Arab States and Israel
- The United States should take a more active interest in Near Eastern matters, particularly in areas where the activities of our NATO allies, Britain and France, are arousing the antagonism of the native populations. In particular, we should make clear the limits of our support of British and French policy in the area, and should press these two governments to modify their present anti-nationalist stands in the interest of easing negotiations for the solution of outstanding controversies.
- We should increase our efforts to reverse the trend toward neutralism on the part of the Arab States as between the Western states and the Soviet bloc.
- We should take impartial steps to strengthen
the Arab States and Israel to improve individually
and collectively their political and economic
stability and to increase their will and ability
to resist penetration by the USSR. This should be
- Prompt and effective implementation of technical, economic and military assistance programs.
- Strengthened USIE programs.
- Prompt establishment of the Middle East Command with US participation in staffing and training missions, and
- Intensified bilateral diplomatic activity aimed particularly at efforts to solve the Arab-Israeli problem.
The primary objectives of US policy towards Libya, Morocco and Tunisia are the maintenance of political stability and the security of US forces in these countries.
The attainment of these objectives in the two French protectorates is made more difficult by efforts of the French to suppress the growing nationalist movements in these areas. It has been emphasized to the French that we are not advocating immediate independence for these countries. We believe, however, that a rapproachement between the French and the North Africans can be achieved only by adopting and implementing sound and forward looking programs of political reforms which will meet the legitimate demands of the Moroccans and Tunisians for increasing participation in the administration of their countries; that such programs be geared to an announced and carefully planned progressive timetable setting forth the progressive stages of evolution towards self-government; and that France is the nation to guide Morocco and Tunisia towards self-government. We should state that if programs of reforms for Morocco and Tunisia are adopted and continue to be implemented by the French we shall give appropriate support to these programs and use our influence with the Moroccans and Tunisians to insure their cooperation in the implementation of such programs. Our support of France’s policy towards North Africa in the various organs of the UN should be contingent on France’s performance in carrying out their announced programs in North Africa.
Africa South of the Sahara
Our objective in Africa south of the Sahara is to urge the responsible European powers to press the political, economic and social advancement of the people of Africa at the maximum practicable rate.
Insofar as possible, colonial powers should be urged not to allow considerations of prestige or economic privileges to place an unnecessary brake on the increasing momentum which will inevitably be gained in the process of advance. To the extent that progress is made toward this objective, we should support the efforts of the European powers to carry out their commitments under Chapters XI and XII of the UN Charter.
The US should maintain its efforts to induce the British and Iranians to modify their positions regarding settlement of the oil problem and should continue its efforts to arrive at a concert [Page 212]of views with the UK with respect to proposals which, while protecting basic Western interests, might make possible an early negotiated settlement.
If a settlement proves unobtainable, we should try to concert our views with the UK as to the course of action needed to prevent the continued deterioration of the situation and to reverse present trends. An agreed view may be impossible, however, because of the different estimates of the Iranian situation. In that event the US may be compelled to act independently on any forms of assistance if in the light of all relevant considerations such a course is decided to be in the best interests of the free world.
As to South Asia, while continuing consultations with the British on ways and means by which US–UK policies and actions can be better coordinated, we should:
- Provide such amounts of economic aid to South Asia, especially India and Pakistan, as will assist economic progress in the area and bring about rising standards of living to help insure essential political stability.
- Continue to increase the effectiveness of the USIE operations, maintained at approximately the present level of expenditure.
- Make available under Section 408(e) of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949, insofar as practicable, military supplies, equipment and services requested by India and Pakistan on a reimbursable basis.
- Increase the degree and scope of consultation with South Asian governments, especially on Asian problems and encourage them to consult more frankly with us.
Mechanics of Procedure
As to the mechanics of procedure to assist in attaining the desired closer coordination with the UK and with France, two specific steps are suggested:
- First the attainment within the Department, and then with other interested government departments such as Defense, of a greater degree of agreement on US policy toward NEA countries. This might consist in an acceptance of the Conclusions and Recommendations of this memorandum which might be used as the basis for initial discussions with EUR, to which they have already agreed, looking toward a larger measure of departmental agreement.
- After (a) has been achieved, a plan to hold
three-power discussions at the Assistant Secretary
level with UK and French Foreign Office officials
as needed but not less often than once a year. On
SOA issues the
French would be omitted from these discussions.
In certain of these meetings the inclusion of interested British commonwealth representatives might also be considered. [Page 213]These discussions are conceived of as dealing primarily with policy matters and therefore are in addition to the diplomatic exchanges on the operating level which already occur daily both in Washington and abroad.
This memorandum was sent to Byroade by Hoskins in his position as a member of the Board of Policy Planning (BOP), which, presumably, was an NEA board composed of Office Directors and Staff Advisers. The source text was in the Department of State files attached to a memorandum from Hoskins to Bruce, dated May 12, not printed. The May 12 memorandum suggested that if Bruce were too busy to read the whole paper, he at least read paragraph 14, “since this contains the suggestions for the mechanics needed to make progress on the issues and policies discussed earlier in this memorandum.”
The memorandum continued: “Since coming down here I have been impressed with the delays and difficulties which result from unreconciled points of view within the Department. These differences in turn have handicapped the Department in working effectively with Defense and with other Departments of the Government as well as in some of our diplomatic negotiations with the UK and the French. So if you still agree on the necessity for greater agreement within the Department and especially between EUR and NEA, I hope you will urge Messrs. Matthews, Perkins and Byroade to adopt the procedure recommended in paragraph 14 of this memo.” (611.80/5–1252)
On May 12, the memorandum printed here was transmitted to the Chiefs of Mission in the NEA area. Their comments, none printed, are in Department of State files 611.80 and 780.00. For a revision of this memorandum, dated July 25, see Document 81.↩
- For documentation on this topic, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. iii, Part 1, pp. 460 ff.↩
- For documentation on this topic, see volume x.↩
- For documentation, see vol. xi, Part 2, pp. 1162 ff.↩