The publication Foreign Relations of the United States constitutes the official record of the foreign policy of the United States. The importance of publishing the complete and comprehensive documentary record of U.S. diplomacy was set forth in an order by Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg on March 26, 1925, and supplemented and revised by Department of State regulations in the Foreign Affairs Manual. (2 FAM 1350–1353)

The Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, is directed by the Foreign Affairs Manual to collect, edit, and publish the authoritative diplomatic record, including papers from other concerned government agencies. (1 FAM 857) Official historians of the Department of State seek out relevant official foreign affairs documentation in other agencies and documentary repositories bearing on subjects documented in the volumes of the series. The topics to be documented are determined by the Editor in Chief of the series in concert with the compilers of individual volumes.

Secretary of State Kellogg’s order, as codified in the Foreign Affairs Manual, remains the official guidance for editorial preparation of the series:

“The editing of the record is guided by the principles of historical objectivity. There may be no alteration of the text, no deletions without indicating the place in the text where the deletion is made, and no omission of facts which were of major importance in reaching a decision. Nothing may be omitted for the purpose of concealing or glossing over what might be regarded by some as a defect of policy.” (2 FAM 1352)

Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, Volume XVI

The documentation in this particular volume was collected and selected by Dr. Nina J. Noring of the Office of the Historian from the Department of State’s centralized and decentralized files and the records of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library. Dr. Noring also examined selected records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff deposited at the National Archives and Records Administration and obtained a small amount of additional documentation from the [Page IV] Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. For a complete listing of particular collections consulted, see the List of Sources.

Dr. Noring observed the following criteria in selecting documents for inclusion in this volume:

The U.S. decision-making process: The central focus of this volume is the process of U.S. foreign policy formulation and execution, as it serves to illuminate the key decisions made during the Suez Crisis and in regard to U.S. policy toward Egypt and Israel. To this end, documents have been included such as: memoranda of conversations held at the highest level of the U.S. Government; National Security Council and Department of State policy papers and memoranda discussing policy options; intelligence reports on which policy decisions were based; communications with foreign governments; and policy recommendations and analyses sent by U.S. missions abroad. In order to examine more fully the decision-making process, drafts of documents that were never formally executed and early drafts of key communications are also included.

Multilateral policy execution: Documents were selected to emphasize U.S. communications and interaction with Egypt, Israel, France, and the United Kingdom. U.S. interchanges with the Soviet Union over the Suez Crisis also receive full treatment, as do U.S. attendance at the First and Second Suez Conferences at London and deliberations at the United Nations. In addition, documentation is included that provides an overview of the U.S. diplomatic strategy that took into account the concerns of more than 20 other countries. Exchanges with these countries are frequently condensed in annotation or treated in summary form in the Special Suez Reports prepared by the Department of State’s Executive Secretariat during the crisis.

Relations with Israel and Egypt: Documentation has been included to record the key issues under discussion between the United States and Israel, including the rise in tension between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries, during the period prior to the outbreak of hostilities on October 29. U.S. discussions with Egypt during this period were consumed by the Suez Canal question. Following the Arab-Israeli war, documentation is presented concerning U.S. interest in the Arab-Israeli peace process. Minimal coverage is given to developments within Egypt and Israel, as reported by U.S. Embassies, that do not bear directly on the crisis.

Crisis diplomacy: Detailed coverage has been given to the period of hostilities, October 29–November 7, 1956, in order to trace the U.S. response at times on a minute-by-minute basis. Again the main focus is on U.S. relations with Egypt, Israel, France, and Great Britain, but documentation is also included to indicate the multilateral [Page V] nature of the crisis, the dangers of Soviet involvement, and the role such nations as Canada played in helping to resolve it.

Intelligence operations: A special effort was made to determine what intelligence information was available to the United States concerning the military intentions of Israel, Great Britain, and France. Special reports of the Watch Committee were obtained from the Central Intelligence Agency and these are printed together with reports from the U.S. Government’s Intelligence Advisory Committee. Also printed is a detailed retrospective, prepared in the Department of State and reviewed by the Central Intelligence Agency, which examines the entire question of what information on this subject was available to the United States at the time. While Dr. Noring did not have access to the full range of documentation on U.S. intelligence operations and the diplomacy of the Suez Crisis, the available intelligence records allow for an extensive and balanced compilation on this aspect of the diplomacy of the crisis.

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time. Incoming telegrams from U.S. missions are placed according to the time of receipt in the Department of State, rather than the time of transmission; memoranda of conversations are placed according to the time and date of the conversation, rather than the date the memorandum was drafted. When a source text does not indicate a particular date or time of day, the editors have used the President’s and the Secretary of State’s daily appointment records, internal and other documentary evidence, and at times the logic of events to determine, as closely as possible, the precise placement of the document. There are two major exceptions to the order of placement: documentation on the First and Second Suez Canal Conferences at London is arranged chronologically according to London time.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the Editor in Chief and the Chief Technical Editor. The source text is reproduced as exactly as possible, including marginalia or other notations, which are described in footnotes. Obvious typographical errors are corrected, but other mistakes and omissions in the source text are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an omission in roman type. Brackets are also used to indicate text that has been omitted by the compiler because it deals with an unrelated subject. Ellipses are inserted to replace material that remained classified after the declassification review process. Ellipses of three or four periods identify excisions of less than a paragraph; ellipses of seven periods spread across the [Page VI] page identify excisions of an entire paragraph or more. All ellipses and brackets that appear in the source text are so identified by footnotes.

The first footnote to each document indicates the document’s source, original classification, distribution, drafting information, and, in the case of telegrams, the time of receipt in the Department of State. The source footnote also provides the background of important documents and policies, indicates if the President or Secretary of State read the document, and records its ultimate disposition.

Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in this volume, indicate the location of additional documentary sources, describe diplomatic reportage and key events, and provide summaries of and citations to public statements that supplement and elucidate the printed documents. Information derived from memoirs of participants and other first-hand accounts, available when this volume was originally compiled in 1979, has been used where possible to supplement the official record.

Declassification Review Procedures

Declassification review of the documents selected for publication is conducted by the Division of Historical Document Review in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Department of State. The review is made in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, and the criteria established in Executive Order 12356 regarding:

military plans, weapons, or operations;
the vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, projects, or plans relating to the national security;
foreign government information;
intelligence activities (including special activities), or intelligence sources or methods;
foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States;
scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to the national security;
U.S. Government programs for safeguarding nuclear materials or facilities;
cryptology; and
a confidential source.

Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State and of other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and communication with foreign governments regarding documents or information of those governments. The principle of declassification review is to release as much information as is consistent with contemporary requirements of national security and sound foreign [Page VII] relations; some documents or portions of documents are necessarily withheld.

Dr. Noring compiled this volume under the supervision of Editor in Chief John P. Glennon. M. Paul Claussen provided initial planning and direction. Lynn Chase and Bret D. Bellamy of the Historian’s Office prepared the lists of sources, names, and abbreviations. Rita M. Baker, Chief of the Editing Division of the Historian’s Office, performed the technical editing. Barbara Ann Bacon of the Publishing Services Division (Paul M. Washington, Chief) oversaw production of the volume. Do Mi Stauber prepared the index.

William Z. Slany
The Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs