83. Letter From Foreign Secretary Macmillan to Secretary of State Dulles1

Dear Foster: I have just got back from Bagdad and hasten to give you my impressions. First of all I would like to say how much I admire the way you have handled Sharrett in Washington. I think there really is a chance now of making some progress towards a settlement. I was impressed by the general Arab view both in Iraq and in the Lebanon in favour of a settlement of some kind. This is a new point of view because up to now they have always been against anything approaching a settlement in the hope that as the years went on they might get strong enough to liquidate Israel altogether. Partly because of the Russian intervention and the fear of Communism and partly because of a realisation among the more sensible leaders that these extreme ambitions are unrealistic, I believe they are now ready to accept the fact that they will have to live with an Israel state. Roger Makins is in touch with the State Department over the next step. Both Anthony and I feel that we ought not to lose the present impetus. The sooner we get the negotiation going on Trieste lines the better. It is a tremendous satisfaction to me and my colleagues that we are working in such harmony with you as to purpose and method.

Now about Bagdad. You will have heard from Gallman about the meeting. He made a notable contribution and his presence there, with that of Admiral Cassady, gave great encouragement. Although he had to limit himself to “observations”, those that he made were very much to the point. The meeting was a great success and the presence of the four Prime Ministers has undoubtedly made an impression.

I realised, as I had not done before, the special importance of the Pact in relation to Communist propaganda today. What the Russians are really saying to the countries of Asia is this: “Your contacts with Western thought and influence have brought you nothing but humiliation. They are exploiters, colonialists, imperialists, and have no real basis of understanding with you”. Thus they are preaching active [Page 206] communism to some nations in Asia (both the Middle and the Far East) and anti-Western neutralism to the rest. Their method is to exploit the latent xenophobia of all these peoples and the natural jealousy of less advanced powers for the great Western and Christian civilisations.

The Pact therefore is of special importance, because it is a real partnership, on a basis of equality, between Western countries and Moslem Asian countries. Moreover since it includes a leading Arab State, Iraq, it makes a convenient link with the Arab world, now so important to us. I have discussed all this here with Anthony and we have decided that we must go all out in support of the Pact and make it a reality. This will involve a permanent secretariat of a modest kind and a budget. It means doing our utmost to get new Arab entrants, for Nuri’s position cannot be comfortable while he is alone. So we are going to do everything we can to induce Jordan to come in. We may have to pay quite a price but we shall make an immediate effort to achieve this.

There is, however, one feature of the situation which I had not at all understood until I went out, and which I believe is new since you were in the area. It is this. The Russians are developing a tremendous activity and trying by every means to win the support of all states who are not definitely committed. To do this they are making use of all their normal methods of propaganda and of course shamelessly exploiting nationalist and anti-Israeli sentiments. But I was assured by all my colleagues at Bagdad that this effort is being everywhere assisted by the large subsidies which the Saudi Arabians are making to every form of subversive and anti-Western activity throughout the area. Chamoun in Beirut went so far as to say that the Saudi agents who are distributing literally millions of dollars are in daily touch with the Communist agents as to how they can best distribute their money in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. This is particularly irritating when one considers that all this money is the result of Western skill and enterprise.

What then, can we do? May I earnestly ask you to consider whether you would not now decide to become a full partner of the Pact? Even if you cannot do this in a treaty form, you could possibly become a member by congressional resolution in the way which you explained to me. Your adherence would make a certainty of success of what is now somewhat doubtful. It would be a message throughout the whole area and have the same kind of effect as when NATO was formed after the fall of Czechoslovakia and the powers of the New World came into full partnership with Europe. You will remember that this settled the hesitations of many European waverers.

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The second problem is that of Saudi Arabia, [2 lines of source, text not declassified]. This raises of course very difficult problems [6 lines of source text not declassified]. You and I, of course, know all the old difficulties and suspicions. But I think the Middle Eastern position is so serious that we must use our influence to get the same kind of cooperation here as we have established in other parts of the world. It is too big an issue for us to act separately. You will of course reply, what about Buraimi? But I am quite prepared that this should be open for discussion between us just as frankly as the rest of the problem.

In spite of the difficulties, the very successful cooperation which we achieved over the Iranian oil question shows what can be done when we act sincerely together. I have had a talk with Winthrop about all this today and told him that I would be sending this message to you through him.2

Yours ever,

Harold Macmillan
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 780.5/11–2955. Secret. The salutation and closing of the letter are handwritten. Forwarded to the Department of State in despatch 1233 from London, November 29. The text of the message was transmitted to the Department of State in telegram 2170, November 25. (Ibid., 780.5/11–2555)

    In telegram 2173, November 26, Ambassador Aldrich transmitted a report of his conversation with Macmillan on November 25 during which they discussed the contents of Macmillan’s message. Aldrich reported that Macmillan had emphasized that it was of the highest importance that the United States adhere to the Baghdad Pact as soon as possible. Aldrich recommended, “I believe we should do everything possible to act favorably on suggestions made in Macmillan’s message including joining Baghdad Pact as soon as possible.” (Ibid., 780.00/11–2655)

  2. Dulles’ response was transmitted for delivery to Macmillan in telegram 3132 to London, December 5, printed in vol. XIV, p. 820. Regarding the Baghdad Pact, Dulles responded: “An immediate move to expand the Baghdad Pact would probably deny us Nasser’s cooperation. Therefore, I think we should wait a little before trying to bring in Jordan and Lebanon. If we are not successful in Egypt, we should endeavor to secure the adherence of those two states as soon as possible.

    “US adherence to the Pact would probably have to be coupled with a security guarantee for Israel.”