218. Letter From the Representative at the United Nations (Lodge) to the Secretary of State1

Dear Foster: In discussing the Suez Canal situation with you on Tuesday,2 I raised with you the following two-point plan as a basis for a Security Council resolution, assuming that this matter gets into the Security Council and we must make a move of our own:

Egyptian sovereignty to be recognized, and Egypt to operate the Canal on the basis of keeping it open to all;
If stoppage of the Canal should occur, this would be regarded as a threat to the existence of the user nations, thus enabling them to apply sanctions as a matter of self-defense.

This is very rough and needs considerable refinement. It is perhaps a “working paper” idea on which a finished product could be based.

It seems to me that Nasser could hardly object—because how could he object to arrangements providing for punishment for doing something which he swears he will never do? If he did object he would lay himself open to the suspicion that he did in fact intend to block the Canal, since he would, under the provisions of my idea, be obtaining the two things that he says he wants most—sovereignty and the operation of the Canal as an adjunct to his sovereignty. The British and French, on the other hand, would get something they badly need—a moralistic basis for using force.

I believe you said that Nasser had already objected to a proposal of this kind. The question that arises in my mind is whether such a proposal was put to Nasser linked with a strong reaffirmation of Egyptian sovereignty. While Nasser may have objected to the threat of sanctions, would he do so if Egyptian sovereignty and operation [Page 495]of the Canal were guaranteed? I raise this again with you in the thought that, should the matter come to the Security Council, this might provide the basis for a resolution which could be accepted all around.3

Faithfully yours,

Cabot L.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/9–1356. Secret. a marginal notation by Bernau reads: “Sec saw”.
  2. Reference is to a telephone conversation between Lodge and Secretary Dulles on September 11. a memorandum of conversation, transcribed at the Department of State by Bernau, is in the Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Telephone Conversations.
  3. In a letter of September 17, Dulles informed Lodge: “I believe that further careful thought should be given to what you propose, but, for the time being, I do not see how we could expect your proposal to meet adequately the fears of the users of the Canal, and thus attain British and French support in the Canal. Perhaps after the forthcoming London talks we will have a better idea of the likelihood and feasibility of successful UN consideration of this critical problem. For the present, it would appear that the chances of any fruitful Security Council action are limited, but it may be desirable to explore possible Council action under Article 40 of the Charter.” (Drafted by Ludlow; Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/9–1756)