S/S-NSC files, lot 63 D 351, “NSC 129 Memoranda”

No. 71
Statement of Policy Proposed by the National Security Council 1

top secret
NSC 129/1

United States Objectives And Policies With Respect To The Arab States * And Israel


1. The objectives of the United States with respect to the area comprising the Arab States and Israel are:

To overcome or prevent instability within these countries which threatens Western interests.
To prevent the extension of Soviet influence and at the same time to strengthen Western influence.
To insure that the resources of the area are available to the United States and its allies for use in strengthening the free world.
To strengthen the will and ability of these countries to resist possible future aggression by the Soviet Union.
To establish within the community of nations a new relationship with the states of the area that recognizes their desire to achieve status and respect for their sovereign equality.

general considerations

2. The area comprising the Arab States and Israel is of great political and strategic importance because of its geographic position, its natural defensive barriers, its sites for military bases, its position with respect to transportation routes, its petroleum resources and installations, the fact that it is a center for powerful world-wide [Page 223] religious groups, and the effects of its alignment on the prestige of the Western powers and on the policies of other countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

3. These political and strategic factors are so important to the overall position of the free world that it is in the security interest of the United States to take whatever appropriate measures it can, in the light of its other commitments, to achieve the objectives stated above.

4. Currently, the danger in this area to the security of the free world arises not so much from the threat of direct Soviet military attack as from acute instability, anti-western nationalism and Arab-Israeli antagonism which could lead to disorder and eventually to a situation in which regimes oriented toward the Soviet Union could come to power.

5. Current acute situations requiring United States initiative are:

(a) the controversy between the U.K. and Egypt, and (b) continued Arab-Israeli tensions.

policies and courses of actions

The Area as a Whole

6. The United States should take an increased share of responsibility toward the area, in concert with the U.K. to the greatest practicable extent, and where appropriate also in concert with France and Turkey, on the basis that:

The United States should be prepared to play a larger role in safeguarding Western interests in the area, particularly by attempting to facilitate political settlements among the nations of the area and between them and the Western nations, and by providing appropriate economic, technical and military assistance.
The United States should, however, endeavor to persuade other nations, particularly the U.K. to provide such armed forces as may be necessary and appropriate to defend Western interests in the area.
The special United States-Saudi Arabia arrangements now existing should continue.

7. With respect to the Middle East Command (MEC), the United States should:

Continue its efforts to establish the Command as a means of increasing the stability and strengthening the defense of the area.
Make every appropriate effort to obtain at least token force contributions to the Command from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and when practicable from Pakistan.
Seek to obtain the participation of the states in the area in a Middle East defense arrangement.
While maintaining flexibility as to the commitment of U.S. forces for the local defense of the area in the event of general war, be prepared to reenforce political and psychological measures in the area by assigning U.S. token forces in a Middle East defense arrangement if U.S. willingness to take this action is seen to be the key to the establishment of such an arrangement and to the settlement of the dispute between the U.K. and Egypt.
Be prepared to participate in the integrated staff of the MEC.

8. The United States should seek to create an atmosphere which will facilitate obtaining base rights where required within the area, and upon the threat of and during general hostilities, the right to operate forces in the territories of the various nations of the area.

9. As a means of diminishing the threat posed by nationalistic demands for the elimination of Western interests and by political instability in the area, the United States should make the fullest practicable use of psychological and political programs (including special political measures) and of economic and military aid programs and technical cooperation to influence the process of political change into channels that will effect the least compromise of Western interests and will offer the maximum promise of stable non-communist regimes. The United States should direct these programs and measures along the following lines:

To support or develop those leadership groups in the area which offer the greatest prospect of establishing political stability oriented toward the free world.
Place increased emphasis on measures designed to have an early and stabilizing effect upon urban groups.
To improve or, where advisable, assist in the construction of such facilities, especially in the field of transportation and communications, as are capable of direct contribution to regional defense requirements.
Continue technical cooperation programs designed to improve the living standards and level of health and education of the rural population, including actions leading to solutions of problems of land tenancy and credit.

The U.K.-Egyptian Dispute

10. With respect to the U.K.-Egyptian dispute, the United States should:

Continue to concert with the U.K. in developing proposals which might make possible an early negotiated settlement.
Continue its efforts to induce the Egyptians to reach a settlement which will protect basic Western interests.
If necessary to secure a settlement, let it be known that the United States is prepared to take the action set forth in paragraph 7 d above.

Arab-Israeli Disputes

11. The United States should utilize all feasible and appropriate means to resolve the issues which prevent the abatement of Arab distrust of Israel and resulting animosity toward the United States. To this end the United States should promote and encourage, without partiality as between Israel and the several Arab states but consistent with strategic considerations:

Progress toward a solution of the refugee problem in the area.
Settlement of local Arab-Israeli disputes, such as boundary problems, questions of water rights, and establishment of financial and economic arrangements between Israel and the Arab States which would permit the resumption of commercial intercourse within and through the area, uninterrupted flow of petroleum products, and uninhibited operation of and access to internal and international surface and air transport facilities.
Modification of Israeli immigration policy in order to reduce possible pressures within Israel for expansion to accommodate the influx of population.

12. The United States should continue the policy set forth in the Tripartite Declaration of May 25, 1950, as follows:

The Governments of the United Kingdom, France, and the United States, having had occasion during the recent Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in London to review certain questions affecting the peace and stability of the Arab states and of Israel, and particularly that of the supply of arms and war material to these states, have resolved to make the following statements:

The three Governments recognize that the Arab states and Israel all need to maintain a certain level of armed forces for the purposes of assuring their internal security and their legitimate self-defense and to permit them to play their part in the defense of the area as a whole. All applications for arms or war material for these countries will be considered in the light of these principles. In this connection the three Governments wish to recall and reaffirm the terms of the statements made by their representatives on the Security Council on August 4, 1949, in which they declared their opposition to the development of an arms race between the Arab states and Israel.
The three Governments declare that assurances have been received from all the states in question, to which they permit arms to be supplied from their countries, that the purchasing state does not intend to undertake any act of aggression against any other state. Similar assurances will be requested from any other state in the area to which they permit arms to be supplied in the future.
The three Governments take this opportunity of declaring their deep interest in and their desire to promote the establishment and maintenance of peace and stability in the area and their unalterable opposition to the use of force or threat of force between any of the states in that area. The three Governments, should they find that any of these states was preparing to violate frontiers or armistice lines, would, consistently with their obligations as members of the United Nations, immediately take action, both within and outside the United Nations, to prevent such violation.

  1. NSC 129/1 also includes a memorandum for the NSC by the Executive Secretary; notes to the NSC by the Executive Secretary; a Statement by the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Turkey on the Middle East Command, dated Nov. 10, 1951; and an NSC Staff Study on “United States Objectives and Policies With Respect to the Arab States and Israel”; none printed.

    The Statement of Policy printed here was adopted by the National Security Council, together with the Acting Secretary of the Treasury, in NSC Action No. 629, at the 115th meeting of the NSC on Apr. 23, 1952, with the President presiding. The President approved it on Apr. 24, 1952, and ordered its implementation by all appropriate executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government under the coordination of the Secretary of State. (S/S-NSC files, lot 63 D 351, “NSC 129 Memoranda”; S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) files, lot 66 D 95, “Policies of the Government of the United States of America Relating to the National Security, vol. V, 1952”)

  2. For the purposes of this paper, the Arab States include Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. United States Policy toward Iran will be covered in a separate report constituting a revision of NSC 107/2. [Footnote in the source text. NSC 107/2 and its revision are scheduled for publication in volume x.]
  3. See Appendix A. [Footnote in the source text. Appendix A was the statement by the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Turkey, Nov. 10, 1951, stating the principles guiding the four governments in their intention to establish the Middle East Command. For documentation on this topic, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. v, pp. 243 ff.]