PPS files, lot 64 D 563, “Chronological, 1952”

No. 74
Memorandum Prepared by the Policy Planning Staff1

top secret


To consider what measures might be taken to bring about an improved prospect for defense security in the Middle East between now and 1955.

[Page 233]


Even though the strength being created under NATO may be inadequate as against the requirements, strength is being built, and when coupled with our NATO commitments now extended to Greece and Turkey and the steps being taken to link Yugoslavia with Western defense, they offer a considerable deterrent to aggression in that theater.

In the Far East, our intervention in Korea has brought at least a temporary check to the progress of aggression in that area. The requirements for increasing Japanese strength, improving the capabilities on Formosa, and of stabilizing and then improving the situation in Southeast Asia can be roughly foreseen, although they may be extremely difficult of realization.

In the Middle East, however, the general picture appears to be one of such continuing weakness as to constitute an invitation to a shift in the theater of primary pressure if further Communist progress were to be successfully blocked in other areas.

The defense of the Middle East is primarily a U.K. responsibility. As we understand it, however, capabilities available to the British are wholly inadequate to defend the Middle East against Soviet aggression and it appears doubtful that they are adequate to provide the minimum requirements for even the shortest line of defense east of the Suez Canal.

The only indigenous forces in the area, aside from the Turks, which appear to have any useful capability at present are the Arab Legion and the Israeli, and these are apparently of very limited utility. Such strength as is at present assured to the U.K. from the Dominions is not only too little but would probably arrive too late.

Without suggesting any derogation of U.K. responsibility for the defense of the area, it would appear that the U.S. will have to provide more assistance and bring its influence to bear if we are to look forward to a significant strengthening of the situation in the Middle East.

Our influence and assistance might take several possible forms:

In connection with our obligations to provide for the security of Australia and New Zealand, influence with these two Dominions so that they will create forces and make them available in time of peace, or sufficiently promptly after the outbreak of war to be effective;
Influence with the Union of South Africa so that they will provide more substantial forces than they are at present willing to assign to the Middle East, and emphasis on the importance to their own security of successfully defending in the Middle East;
Influence with the Turks, coupled with supply assistance as practicable to increase Turkey’s capability of contributing to the defense of the area outside of Turkey;
Influence with Pakistan, coupled with supply assistance as practicable to increase Pakistan’s capability of contributing to the defense of the Middle East, and continued efforts to secure a settlement in Kashmir to this end;
Influence with the Arab States, Israel and Iran, coupled with supply assistance as practicable, to:
Increase the effectiveness of Egyptian forces for the maintenance and defense of the Suez bases, in the event of an Anglo-Egyptian settlement;
Improve the effectiveness of the Israeli forces, and increase their size as Arab forces are increased;
Develop additional forces comparable to the Arab Legion where that is feasible, and in any case plan with the Arab States for effective guerrilla resistance;
Continue military assistance to Iran, and, in the event of improved political conditions there, seek the creation of forces capable of undertaking defense as well as security tasks.
Assistance either to the U.K. or directly in meeting the air deficiency which now appears to exist.

We would appreciate having the views of the JCS as to (1) the relative importance and time phasing from their viewpoint of strengthening the Middle Eastern defense situation; (2) the relative importance from the military viewpoint of the objectives for which we might use our influence and assistance as outlined above; (3) the degree to which the use of atomic weapons against the mountain passes into the area would permit the defense of substantial portions of the Middle East even under present conditions.

  1. Sent to Maj. Gen. C. P. Cabell, Director, the Joint Staff, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by Director of the Policy Planning Staff Nitze on May 26. It was to be used by H. Freeman Matthews, Deputy Under Secretary, as the basis for discussion with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at a meeting on May 28. The meeting was twice postponed, to June 4 and June 11, and was finally held on June 18; see Document 76.