435. Memorandum of a Conference With the President, White House, Washington, October 30, 1956, 4:25 p.m.1


  • Dr. Arthur Flemming
  • Colonel Goodpaster

Mr. Flemming said he would like to review briefly with the President the oil situation likely to result from the operations in the Suez area.2 The President said he was inclined to think that those who began this operation should be left to work out their own oil problems—to boil in their own oil, so to speak. They would be needing oil from Venezuela, and around the Cape, and before long they would be short of dollars to finance these operations and would be calling for help. They may be planning to present us with a fait accompli, then expecting us to foot the bill. He said he is extremely angry with both the British and the French for taking this action unilaterally and in violation of agreed undertakings such as the Tri-Partite Declaration of 1950.

Dr. Flemming said he thought we should not help the British and the French in these circumstances unless they ration their consumption of oil. He said that the studies by his group indicate that we should have no problem for satisfying our own requirements. The President said he saw no reason for us to ration oil in that case.

The President said that by tomorrow he thinks we are likely to be getting requests for help. After discussion, he suggested that Dr. Flemming look into the possibility of fleet oilers (which does not incur dollar costs) to help meet the British shipping problem, if we [Page 874] should decide to do so. The British could pay us in pounds for the expenses incurred.3

Colonel CE, U S Army
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Eisenhower Diaries. Top Secret. Drafted by Goodpaster on October 31. The time of the meeting is from the record of the President’s Daily Appointments. (Ibid.)
  2. After consulting with Hoover earlier that morning, Flemming conferred with Assistant Secretary of the Interior Wormser and Hugh A. Stewart, Director, Office of Oil and Gas, Department of the Interior. These officials had told Flemming that the Plan of Action, developed for the U.S. Government by the Middle East Emergency Committee, could be put into effect at any time. It was agreed, however, that in line with the strategy of the current administration no indication of this fact should be given. It was also recognized that the turn of events set in motion by the Israeli invasion of Sinai altered many of the political and economic assumptions predominant at the time that the Plan of Action was developed in August. (Memorandum from Staff Secretary Joseph F. Vaughan, Office of Defense Mobilization, to Albert Toner at the White House, October 30; Eisenhower Library, White House Central Files)
  3. Following this conversation, Sherman Adams telephoned Secretary Dulles. Their conversation went as follows: “The Governor said Flemming was there with him and also Goodpaster. Flemming thinks he needs a small operating group to take count of the stock from time to time on what happens to the Middle East oil situation. Adams said they would like to convene a group tomorrow composed of the Secretary, or his designee, Radford probably, Wilson, Robertson, Seaton, etc. Adams asked if the Secretary wanted to name Hoover. The Secretary said yes that Hoover knew the situation better than he did.” (Ibid., Dulles Papers, White House Telephone Conversations)