48. Message From the Secretary of State to the President1

Dear Mr. President: We are working here most intensively. I have talked privately with Eden, Salisbury, Macmillan and Pineau. There is little doubt in my mind but what the present determination of both the British and French is to move into the Canal area with force unless Nasser renounces his determination to operate the Canal on a national basis and accepts international control. I am not sure from their standpoint they can be blamed as they feel, probably with reason, that if Nasser gets away with his action, this will stimulate comparable action throughout the area which will end British and French positions in Middle East and North Africa, respectively. I believe I have persuaded them that it would be reckless to take this step unless and until they have made a genuine [Page 111]effort to mobilize world opinion in favor of an international solution of the Canal problem. However, when it comes to the details of applying this principle they are inclined to procedures which I fear will in fact alienate world opinion.

I am trying to hold up instructions from the Canal Company to its employees to quit at once which would automatically disrupt traffic. I pointed out that if the disruption of traffic comes about through British and French action, then there would be little sympathy in US for sacrifices to make good the resulting deficit of petroleum in Europe. I am trying to have the conference broadly based and not loaded in favor of the Western powers. Also I am trying to get enough time so that there can be reasonable diplomatic preparation for the conference. It is hard going in all of these respects and at noon today I cannot foresee the result in detail. We shall probably have to compromise in some respects but I hope for a result which will provide the time and a setting favorable to counsels of moderation and a maximum chance for a peaceful international solution.

I hope to start back sometime tonight.

Faithfully yours,

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.86/8–256. Secret. Transmitted Priority and eyes only for Hoover to the Department of State in Dulte 2 from London, August 2, 2 p.m., which is the source text. It was received at 9:57 a.m. Hoover forwarded the telegram to the White House; a copy is in the Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Dulles–Herter Series.
  2. Dulte 2 bears this typed signature.

    Eisenhower’s response was transmitted in Tedul 9 to London, August 2: “Many thanks for your message. You are proceeding exactly in accordance with my convictions, and we can all hope that you will achieve a program that can marshal world opinion behind it. With warm regard. DE” (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, CF 727; copy also in Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Dulles–Herter Series)