183. Editorial Note

On January 5, President Eisenhower presented to the Congress his proposal for United States military and economic cooperation with those Middle Eastern nations desiring such assistance. Speaking before a joint session, the President emphasized the importance of the Middle East to the United States and warned of the danger posed by international communism to the area. According to the President, there were three “simple and indisputable” facts:

  • “1. The Middle East, which has always been coveted by Russia, would today be prized more than ever by International Communism.
  • “2. The Soviet rulers continue to show that they do not scruple to use any means to gain their ends.
  • “3. The free nations of the Mid East need, and for the most part want, added strength to assure their continued independence.”

The President noted that the United Nations could always be helpful in protecting the independence of small nations, “but it cannot be a wholly dependable protector of freedom when the ambitions of the Soviet Union are involved,” Therefore, the President maintained, a greater responsibility now devolved upon the United States. In order to make more evident U.S. willingness to support the independence of the freedom-loving nations of the area, the President proposed that the basic U.S. policy toward the Middle East should find expression in joint action by the Congress and the Executive. Specifically, the President proposed that the Congress authorize the following U.S. actions:

Cooperation with and assistance to any nation or group of nations in the general area of the Middle East in the development of economic strength dedicated to the maintenance of national independence;
Programs of military assistance and cooperation with any nation or group of nations in the region that desired such aid;
Employment of U.S. armed forces to secure and protect the territorial integrity and political independence of nations requesting such aid against overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by international communism; and
Employment, for economic and defense military purposes, of sums available under the Mutual Security Act of 1954 as amended, without regard to existing limitations.

In regard to this last point, the President indicated his intention to seek in subsequent legislation the authorization of $200 million to be available during each of fiscal years 1958 and 1959 for discretionary use in the area, in addition to the other mutual security programs. For text of Eisenhower’s address, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957, pages 6–16.

Later that day, Representative Thomas S. Gordon, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, introduced as House Joint Resolution 117, A Joint Resolution to Authorize the President to Under-take Economic and and Military Cooperation with Nations in the General Area of the Middle East in Order to Assist in the Strengthening and Defense of Their Independence. The resolution provided for the authority that the President sought. House joint Resolution 117 was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and hearings were held between January 7 and 22. For the record of the hearings, see Economic and Military Cooperation with Nations in the General Area of the Middle East, Hearings Before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, Eighty-Fifth Congress, First Session, on H.J. Res. 117 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1957).

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On January 9, the same resolution was introduced into the Senate as Senate Joint Resolution 19 by Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Theodore F. Green, acting on behalf of himself and Senator Alexander Wiley. The resolution was referred to the Committees on Foreign Relations and Armed Services jointly. Hearings were held before the two committees beginning on January 14. For the record of the public hearings held between January 14 and February 11, see The President’s Proposal on the Middle East, Hearings before the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, Eighty-Fifth Congress, First Session, on S.J. Res. 19 and H.J. Res. 117, parts 1–2 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1957). The record of the Executive Sessions held between January 28 and February 13 is printed in Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Executive Sessions Historical Series), Volume IX, pages 87–408.