138. Editorial Note

At 9 a.m. on July 15, President Eisenhower released a statement to reporters at the White House, timed to coincide with the landing of the first elements of the Marine units at Beirut, which announced and explained the basis for the U.S. military intervention in Lebanon. The statement outlined the request from President Chamoun for military support, and indicated that a contingent of U.S. forces had been dispatched to Lebanon in response to the request in order “to protect [Page 243] American lives and by their presence there to encourage the Lebanese government in defense of Lebanese sovereignty and integrity.” (White House Press Release, July 15; American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1958, pages 959–960)

When the U.N. Security Council met later that morning, in response to a U.S. request, Representative Henry Cabot Lodge laid out the background of the U.S. intervention in Lebanon, and stressed “the sole purpose of helping the Government of Lebanon at its request in its efforts to stabilize the situation, brought on by threats from outside, until such time as the United Nations can take the steps necessary to protect the independence and political integrity of Lebanon.” Lodge pointed out that the tense situation in the Middle East had been exacerbated by the coup in Iraq and by persistent efforts to subvert the Government of Jordan. Together those developments had jeopardized “both the independence of Lebanon and that of any Middle Eastern state which seeks to maintain its national integrity free from outside influences and pressures.” U.S. forces, Lodge stated, would remain in Lebanon only until stability was restored or until the United Nations assumed “the necessary responsibilities to insure the continued independence of Lebanon.” (USUN Press Release 2956; ibid., pages 960–964)

Later in the day, Lodge introduced a draft resolution calling for the United Nations to take over the defense of Lebanon. (Ibid., pages 967–968) President Eisenhower also sent a special message to Congress on July 15 to explain the United States intervention in Lebanon. (White House Press Release, July 15; ibid., pages 965–967) In the evening of July 15, the principal radio and television networks carried an address from President Eisenhower to the nation in which he expanded upon the rationale for intervention in Lebanon outlined in his initial statement that morning. (White House Press Release, July 15; ibid., pages 969–972)