140. Memorandum of a Conference With the President, White House, Washington, July 15, 1958, 11:25 a.m.1
- General Twining
- General Goodpaster
General Twining said that the landing operations in Lebanon have gone well. The second Marine battalion will land beginning at dawn tomorrow, and the third one will begin landing by nightfall. The two battle groups in Germany can land within twelve hours, on call from Admiral Holloway. This will give us a very respectable force in the area.
The President said that the United Kingdom wants to get us to commit ourselves now to clearing up the whole mid-East situation, and this gives him a good deal of concern. General Twining said that he and the Chiefs are strongly of the view that going into Lebanon was the right thing to do—otherwise we would lose our whole position. The President said that he too thinks it was the right thing to do, so long as the action rests on moral ground. If, however, our only argument is economic—saying that the life of the western world depends upon access to oil in the Middle East—this would be quite different, and quite inferior to a purpose that rests on the right to govern by consent of the governed. The President said he is giving deep thought to finding a moral ground on which to stand if we have to go further. He also referred to a question in the Congressional meeting yesterday—as to whether the impetus action comes solely from Nasser, or through him from the Soviet Union. The fact is that he is so small a figure, and of so little power, that he is a puppet, even though he probably doesn’t think so.[Page 246]
General Twining next said that the Joint Chiefs of Staff think that they should put SAC on increased alert. He was in agreement on all measures except the one of deploying our tanker aircraft into forward positions. This would be a very major operation, and could well occasion a good deal of alarm. The President thought there would be merit in dispersing our tankers at the present time. After further consideration he said he felt we should send a few of them forward. General Twining asked whether this could be limited to the continental United States, but the President said he would like to see some contingents sent overseas, including Great Britain. General Twining said they also consider that the Air Defense Command should be put on increased readiness. This would not attract so much attention. The President approved this action.
General Twining next referred to the two divisions (one Army and one Marines) which have been placed on alert in the United States for movement to Europe or the Mediterranean area. To proceed with loading them out would call for the Navy to charter vessels, and this again would give notice of an operation of major scope. Part of the Marine Division could be loaded on the Navy’s own transportation, but the remainder of it and all of the Army division (the 101st) would require chartered vessels. In addition, a part of the 82nd Division is ready for quick airlift to Europe if directed. The President first suggested keeping a careful roster of shipping that is in position to be quickly chartered, and used for this purpose. He agreed that if the ships were chartered now, this action would give alarm. He said he would like to see a study by the Chiefs as to just what would be involved, but recognized that anything of major proportions would create a bad psychological impact at this moment.
General Twining said that, if orders are given now, the Marines could be loaded and ready to move within ten days without substantial disruption. The President approved this action, but told General Twining not to charter vessels for the 101st Division as yet—but rather to plan such an operation. He agreed that all of these units could be placed on alert, leaves cancelled, etc. In response to a question by the President, General Twining said that some 400 transport aircraft could be pulled off MATS activity in order to move elements of the 82nd Division if so directed. (In checking over the foregoing with me, after leaving the President’s office, General Twining indicated that he would defer any chartering of ships at least until tomorrow, so as to avoid adding any impact from that action to the situation created by the initial landings.)
Brigadier General, USA
- Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Eisenhower Diaries. Top Secret. Drafted by Goodpaster.↩