137. Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation Between the President and the Secretary of State, Washington, July 15, 1958, 8:40 a.m.1
The Secretary of State called the President—8:40 AM. The Secretary said that he had had quite a little talk with Lord Hood last night on messages from the Prime Minister.2 The British are greatly concerned that we should commit ourselves to act with them in Jordan and possibly Iraq. The Secretary last night told Hood that he could not possibly give him an answer on that last night and that, further, the President would not want to give any answer without careful check [Page 242] with the military and area advisers. The Secretary said that the British were particularly concerned with the Iraq business because they have tremendous investment in oil there and in nearby Kuwait.
The Secretary went on to say that as far as Lebanon was concerned, we were on pretty solid ground—that there was a large segment of the population on our side there. In the other countries the thing might blow up—for instance, what would you do with the refugees in Jordan? The Secretary finally told Lord Hood that he could not possibly give them an answer until the latter part of the day.
The Secretary reiterated that Lord Hood wants a commitment that we (the British and the Americans) will stand together on this situation. The Secretary says we cannot give them a blank check. He said that if the British were worried about the oil situation, if the Iraq pipe line is destroyed, that we would of course help them meet their shortages.
To intervene militarily would introduce problems that we have not even considered.
Dulles said that King Hussein had asked if we (and the British) would be willing to intervene if we were called on. The British think he should be asked to call on us right away. The President said he did not think so. Dulles said the British do not want the situation to drift. The President said we all agreed what we should do in Lebanon—we have studied that carefully.
Dulles said he had sent over a statement to be issued as soon as the planes reach Lebanon (which should be within 15 minutes). Dulles asked if the President had given thought to whether he would go before Congress—and the President replied he was going to talk to the staff this morning. Dulles said it was very hard to tell how to play it— there are some advantages and some disadvantages in going before the Congress. The latter makes a much greater affair of the action, looks like a declaration of war.