1. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State2
2335. From Ambassador. I made courtesy call today on Malik and arranged presentation credentials President January 14.3
Foreign Minister launched into familiar pattern well known to Department of how long he had waited for concrete manifestation of a US policy toward Middle East. He said all he got was “the same stale old things”.
I inquired if he regarded US assurances to assist free countries of Middle East to maintain their independence as either stale or old. Malik admitted he had received such assurances very recently from Secretary and Under Secretary.
Minister then lamented incapacity of west to deal with danger of Communist subversion. He added Communists had perfected their techniques since 1948 and western world had done nothing about it.
I rejoined that on basis of my recent observation in East Asia I could not completely agree with his analysis. I said Philippines were a brilliant example of a new country younger than Lebanon in terms of independence which had met an intensely dangerous internal Communist uprising with complete success and had put down subversion [Page 2]in a highly effective manner. I did not see why similar techniques if accompanied by resolution would not work elsewhere. I pointed to statement in my proposed address to Chamoun quoting proverb “courage makes the heart great”.
Malik hastily averred present government was filled with resolution and bravery but did feel exceedingly anxious over threat from neighbors. Minister said, “We have reached conclusion there cannot exist on one side a pro-western Beirut and on other side a Soviet dominated Damascus”. He also said he had positive proof Egyptian and Syrian Governments were determined to overthrow present regime in Lebanon. When he lamented degree of Syrian subversion inside his country I asked why Lebanon could not try counter-subversion and he agreed that best defense is attack.
Minister affirmed that reliance on US assurances was “rock upon which he stood” and left plain inference our assurances had in some cases not been followed by positive action. We believe he has in mind such requests as those for armored cars for gendarmérie and other items in countering subversion upon which as yet no US action has been taken.4
At conclusion of interview, Malik said he wanted long talk with me to discuss general US position in Middle East. He asked if I could see him next Tuesday afternoon following presentation of letters to Chamoun.
It seems to me if these Pirandello characters are in search of a policy we should give them one. I would suggest for Department’s consideration that at next interview I tell Malik:
- We reaffirm support for any free nation resolute in determination to defend its integrity and independence.
- If Syrian or Egyptian subversion can best be met by counter-subversion we shall be prepared to offer ways and means.
- So far as aid program for Lebanon is concerned, since by every index Lebanese economy is sound, aid must be based on political effect within overall framework of seeking maintain independence this republic.5
- As for broader US policy toward Middle East, which so engages Malik’s fretful attention, it is to resist Soviet encroachment; to work with our friends in area to change attitudes of regimes presently sympathetic to Soviet infiltration; and that
- The Lord helps those who help themselves.6
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.80/1–958. Secret. Also sent to Amman, Ankara, Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, and Jidda.↩
- McClintock had just arrived in Beirut. He succeeded Ambassador Donald R. Heath, who left Lebanon on January 4.↩
- In a January 8 memorandum to the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff took note of political unrest and subversion in Lebanon, which they felt was sponsored by “leftist, pro-Egyptian, radical nationalists in Lebanon, with probable outside Egyptian and Syrian support”. To help meet this threat, they recommended provision of military equipment, including armored cars, anti-aircraft guns, and a tank, to the Lebanese Army. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 62 A 1698, 091.3 Lebanon; included in the microfiche supplement)↩
- Before he left Lebanon, Ambassador Heath observed, in telegram 2236 from Beirut, January 2, that the pro-Western government of Lebanon had, in effect, staked its political life on being able to obtain substantial additional aid from the United States. Heath urged that consideration be given to providing such aid, and noted that a refusal to discuss additional aid might bring about the downfall of the Chamoun government, and the emergence of a successor government which would likely not be pro-Western. (Department of State, Central Files, 783A.5–MSP/1–258; included in the microfiche supplement)↩
- In telegram 2810 to Beirut, January 13, the Department of State responded that it concurred in the line taken with Malik and considered it particularly opportune to emphasize to the Lebanese Government the necessity of taking resolute action to protect its security. The Department accepted McClintock’s outline for the next conversation, except for point 2, which McClintock was instructed to omit. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.80/1–958)↩