10. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Lebanon 1

1072. Beirut’s 766 and Ankara’s 858.2 Lebanese Embassy has been pressing Department for clear statement on US views on Middle East defense, current debate over defense policy Arab States and attitude which Lebanese could constructively assume.

Department today advised Ambassador Malik as follows:3

Department has already stated publicly it welcomed proposed Turkey-Iraq agreement as constructive development. We see it as step toward building up realistic defense organization which may eventually include Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and also certain other Arab States.
After defense organization has further developed we foresee distinct possibility that Lebanon, and other Arab States located in what in military terms is “rear area” behind “Northern Tier” States, could assume important role in relation to defense organization. Under these circumstances, and if Lebanon should desire associate herself with such organization, we would be disposed give every consideration to strengthening her defenses as well as those of other Arab states, including Egypt, which might similarly desire associate themselves with realistic defense plans.
Development of such realistic defense arrangements, together with improvement in Arab-Israel relations, is essential to effective US contribution to area defense. We cannot dissipate resources in support for uncoordinated forces nor can we assist and encourage Arab-Israel arms race with resultant increase in area tensions.
We recognize constructive value of Arab League in contributing to welfare Arab States in economic, social and technical fields. Unfortunately, however, Arab League collective security pact does not constitute type of effective defense organization we consider necessary. It does not contain adequate strength within its own membership nor does its policy seem to permit relations with neighboring countries which could provide effective support. We do not foresee US Government ever likely be able extend military aid to ALCSP or any member [Page 14] state for purpose of strengthening ALCSP as such. Same reasoning would apply to any successor organization having same general objectives and character.
It is possible that under certain circumstances we might make partial exception to policy stated above by furnishing military assistance to Egypt. Such exception however would be more apparent than real, since Egypt already has ties with West through Anglo-Egyptian Suez base agreement and assistance furnished her would be intended to strengthen defense of Suez base. We would of course have to have normal military assistance agreement with usual guarantees against aggressive use of equipment and assurances of cooperation for collective defense.
As to what course Lebanon should follow in current discussions over Arab defense policy, we of course cannot give advice; Lebanon should determine for herself her course in light her own best interests as she sees them. For our part we hope Lebanon will not associate herself with any effort make things more difficult for Iraq, and that Lebanon will so act to leave open possibility her own association with developing defense organization in future.

Embassy may if appropriate repeat this information to Chamoun.

Embassies London, Ankara and Baghdad should inform respective governments Department’s views, and state these expressed to Lebanese Government.

If Embassies Damascus and Amman questioned as to our attitude they may reply along lines foregoing. Embassy Cairo should exercise its own discretion re use this information.

Embassy Baghdad authorized in its discretion inform, Nuri we believe early action on treaty best method countering Egyptian maneuvers.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786.13/2–355. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by, Fritzlan, cleared with Defense, and approved by Jernegan who signed for Hoover. Repeated to Amman, Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo, Jidda, Tripoli, London, Ankara, and Tel Aviv.
  2. Neither printed. (Ibid., 786.13/2–355 and 674.82/2–255, respectively)
  3. A memorandum of this conversation between Ambassador Malik and Jernegan is Ibid., 780.5/2–455.