132. Message From Prime Minister Macmillan to President Eisenhower 1

I was very glad to hear your voice on the telephone tonight,2 and I hope you understood what I was trying to say in spite of the difficulties [Page 235] of talking on the open line. I am sure you are right in feeling that the situation in the Middle East generally, justifies and indeed demands, urgent action.

Intervention in the Lebanon in response to Chamoun’s request is certainly made much more necessary by what has happened in Iraq. No doubt you will justify it in the United Nations and to the world in general as action against interference both from Egypt and from Syria against the independence of another state. We shall certainly give you full support in any action you decide to take.
What I was trying to say on the telephone was that the action you contemplate must not necessarily have great repercussions. It will set off a lot of trouble. The installations at Tripoli cannot be immediately protected, and will probably be destroyed, and all the pipelines through Syria will be cut. There may also be attacks on other oil installations throughout the whole area, all of which will inflict great loss upon the international companies and particularly upon us who depend on sterling oil. I have talked this over with my colleagues and we are quite prepared to face these risks if it is part of a determination between us both to face the issues and be prepared to protect Jordan with the hope of restoring the situation in Iraq. With regard to the Persian Gulf which you mentioned, we have already taken preliminary steps and I hope we shall be able to handle this ourselves. Of course I understand your difficulties with Congress and there is also the United Nations which will have to be handled. I also understand that you must seek the necessary authority step by step. But what I would like to feel is that it is our joint intention, not merely to be content with rescuing Lebanon (not very important in itself) but to face the wider issues together.
Now with regard to the Lebanon expedition. I think you are right in feeling that our 3, 700 men should be held in reserve: they may very soon be needed elsewhere. We will of course give the fullest public support here and in the United Nations and through all our friends in the Commonwealth and in friendly countries with whom we have influence. I want you to feel that we are completely with you in this enterprise. If you decide that you do not want us for the Beirut expedition, will you please let us know at once. One minor point. It occurs to me that it might be wiser for you to inform the Canadians yourselves. It also, I think, might be wise for you to inform India. We would of course send our own messages to these two countries and to the other Commonwealth countries.
To sum up. I should like to feel that you agree with me that in the new situation the Lebanon cannot be looked at by itself. Indeed if these events had not happened in Iraq we would probably be carrying on the policy on which we were working together up till today; that is to hope for a political settlement in the Lebanon and a gradual quietening [Page 236] down of the situation. Now Lebanon is only part of a much wider crisis. But, if you decide to go into the Lebanon realising all that is involved, we will give you every support. I am sending you a separate message about Jordan.3
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, International Series, Macmillan–President 6/58–9/30/58. Top Secret. The source text is the copy of the message as received by the British Embassy from the Foreign Office and conveyed to the White House on July 14. It included an instruction to the Embassy to convey the message as a personal message from the Prime Minister to the President, and to give a copy to the Secretary of State. On July 15, Minister Hood conveyed to the President a dated and more formal text of this message, and the accompanying message concerning Jordan, with signature lines bearing Macmillan’s name. (Ibid.)
  2. See supra .
  3. Document 172.