226. Editorial Note
On September 17, Robert Bowie informed Secretary Dulles in a memorandum that papers on seven contingencies, prepared by the Middle East Policy Planning Group in response to President Eisenhower’s directive of August 9 (NSC Action No. 1593; see footnotes 8 and 9, Document 72), had been completed and that copies of the papers had been forwarded to the Office of Defense Mobilization. Bowie added that although the papers had been reviewed by Assistant Secretary Rountree for the Department of State and by Gordon Gray for the Department of Defense, they were to be considered studies and not policy papers. (Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 66 D 487, Egypt)
The seven contingency papers were as follows:
- “The Committee of the Majority of the London Conference on the Suez Canal Meets with the Government of Egypt”. The paper envisioned the possibility that the Government of Egypt would reject the majority position, but would attempt to operate the Suez Canal satisfactorily. It recommended continued negotiations with Nasser accompanied by an intensive diplomatic effort to gain world support for the Western position and continuation of economic measures already in effect against Egypt.
- “The Government of Egypt Refuses to Consider the Basic Principles of the Statement of the Majority of the London Conference on the Suez Canal.” The paper envisioned that Nasser would reject the proposals and convoke a large international conference to discuss the Canal. It recommended that the United States oppose the holding of the Conference, but restrict its course of action to measures short of the use of military force. The latter included an enhanced diplomatic offensive coupled with increased economic and psychological measures.
- “The Suez Canal Situation Is Referred to the UN in the Absence of Military Action.” The paper recommended that the United States seek to avoid the introduction of a substantive resolution in the Security Council, which would probably be vetoed, and to urge instead the creation of a subcommittee of the Council to deal with the question or to provide for the intervention of the Secretary-General.
- “UK and France Initiate Military Action against Egypt Despite US Objections.” The paper recommended that the United States provide political and logistical support to the United Kingdom and France and to pledge United States intervention in response to other third party intervention. The paper rejected such options as [Page 510]condemning Great Britain and France, remaining neutral, or engaging in direct military participation.
- “The Government of Egypt Interferes with Free Passage through the Suez Canal.” In this eventuality, the paper recommended that the United States use the full weight of its diplomatic influence to induce the greatest possible number of nations to protest the Egyptian action, that the United States impose maximum economic pressure upon Egypt, including the rerouting of ships around the Suez Canal and aiding the British and French to do likewise, and that the United States provide political and logistical support if Great Britain and France acted militarily.
- “The USSR Makes New Military or Politico-Military Moves in the Near East.” The paper noted that this would require a decision whether to risk World War III or to acquiesce in a British-French retreat before Soviet pressure. The paper maintained that such a decision lay beyond the competence of the Middle East Policy Planning Group.
- “The Panama Canal Becomes Involved in the Suez Canal Situation”. The paper recommended that the United States strongly resist any attempt to link the two questions.
A complete set of the final papers is ibid., Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, CF 772. Earlier drafts and the final versions of some of the seven papers, as well as memoranda of discussions held during the relevant MEPPG meetings and other pertinent memoranda are ibid., S/P Files: Lot 66 D 487, Egypt and S/S–NSC Files: Lot 66 D 148, Suez NSC Action 1593b. Attached to Bowie’s memorandum to Dulles of September 17 is a chit, dated September 24, from Macomber to Bowie, which reads: “The Secretary did not have a chance to read through the attached. On the plane ride to London, however, I did show it to Mr. Phleger who read through the papers fairly carefully.”