123. Memorandum for the Record of a Meeting, Department of State, Washington, July 14, 1958, 9:30 a.m.1


  • Meeting re Iraq


  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Berry
  • Defense
    • General Twining
    • Mr. Rockwell
    • Mr. Murphy(briefly)
    • Mr. Henderson
    • Mr. Reinhardt
    • Mr. Macomber
    • Mr. Sanger
    • Mr. Mathews
    • Mr. Greene
    • Mr. Quarles
    • Mr. Sprague
    • CIA
    • Mr. Allen Dulles
    • [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]

The group discussed the possible effects of intervention and non-intervention in the Middle East, with particular reference to Chamoun’s request (Beirut’s 358).2 As a first action Mr. Berry suggested, and General Twining agreed, that the delivery of F–86 aircraft and other military equipment to Iraq should be suspended at once. Note was also taken of King Saud’s messages (Jidda’s 46 and 47).3

Mr. Allen Dulles noted that the situation which would greet U.S. forces on arrival in Lebanon might be quite different from that pertaining now. He also noted that the loyalties of the Iraqi Army are not yet clear, although it seems likely that the army will follow the coup group and that Iraq would probably then withdraw from the Baghdad Pact, followed by Iran.

There was general agreement that the effects of the United States doing nothing would be:

Nasser would take over the whole area;
The United States would lose influence not only in the Arab States of the Middle East but in the area generally, and our bases throughout the area would be in jeopardy;
The dependability of United States commitments for assistance in the event of need would be brought into question throughout the world.

General Twining felt that in these circumstances we had no alternative but to go in. It was noted too that we would not go into just Lebanon but would have to be prepared to go into the whole area; this might involve a “division of labor” with the British (going into Iraq and Kuwait), and possibly the Israeli (moving into West Jordan), and the Turks (who might be disposed to move into Syria).

General Twining said that the Sixth Fleet is already moving east from the central Mediterranean and that the United States military can meet their planned schedule of landings which would get the first battalion landed twelve hours after the order is given.

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Mr. Quarles attached great importance to having a United Nations or other “umbrella” under which to operate so as to give adequate moral sanction to our action. Mr. Macomber noted this would be important in terms of Congressional reaction here and that there would be a disposition in some political quarters to equate Western intervention in the Lebanon–Iraq situation to the 1956 intervention in Suez.

Mr. Reinhardt felt that the scale of Western intervention would in great part determine the nature and scale of Soviet reaction. Mr. Henderson and the Secretary agreed with him that intervention involves the risk of general war. Mr. Henderson felt that we would face the risk now as well as any time although he noted that at least in the beginning part of the non-Communist world would be unfriendly to us.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 787.00/7–1458. Secret. Drafted by Greene. The meeting took place in advance of a 10:50 a.m. meeting at the White House with the President; see infra.
  2. Document 121.
  3. Telegrams 46 and 47 from Jidda, July 14, conveyed King Saud’s urgent request for military intervention by the Baghdad Pact Powers to reverse the coup in Iraq and to prevent a similar occurrance in Jordan. (Department of State, Central Files, 787.00/7–1458; included in the microfiche supplement)