16. Letter From Secretary of State Dulles to Foreign Minister Malik1

Dear Mr. Minister: Reports have come to me2 of continuing discussion within Lebanon as to the basic relationship between our countries, with particular regard to the policy expressed in the Joint [Page 26] Congressional Resolution of March 9, 1957,3 and the joint communiqué of March 16, 1957.4 In view of this discussion and of the fact that we attach such high value to our friendly relations with the Lebanon, I thought it might be useful to share with you a few thoughts on this question.

The Middle East Resolution (Eisenhower Doctrine) is until repealed a standing offer by the US—an offer to be accepted if and as Middle East nations so desire. It authorized the President within the limit of available appropriated funds to cooperate in the development of economic strength. It authorized the President to undertake military assistance programs with any nation of the area “desiring such assistance”, and in specific circumstances to come to the aid of a Middle East nation which might be the victim of aggression. The authority of the act is in no way dependent upon adherence by any other nation to the terms of the act or to US policy toward the Middle East area or any parts thereof.

In the implementation of this Resolution, the United States has, I believe, been able to contribute significantly to the efforts of countries in the area to strengthen their security and safeguard their national integrity. The states which, like Lebanon, expressed satisfaction with the Resolution undertook no obligations as a result thereof. For example, as I wrote you on November 6, 1957,5 Lebanon is not required to come to the assistance of the United States in the event of hostilities between the United States and any country. Neither is Lebanon committed to collaborate with the United States in the solution of specific problems affecting the Middle East. The relationship between us is based on the principles of the United Nations Charter and our desire to see the Lebanon maintain its national independence and sovereignty and resist aggression, direct or indirect.

We are not unaware of statements currently being made in the Lebanon to the effect that the relationship with the United States, insofar as it concerns the Joint Resolution, has come to involve some sort of a burden for the Lebanon in the present situation in the Near East. That this should be the case is furthest from our purposes and desires. We would not wish, I assure you, to be in any way responsible for a burden being placed upon a country with which we have such close and friendly relations and which we hold in such high regard. I [Page 27] know that the Government and people of Lebanon will reach such decisions as they may deem appropriate in this matter, but I wanted you to have our views because I believe that the friendship between our two countries is such that full and frank examination of every aspect of our relationships can only be constructive.6

Sincerely yours,

John Foster Dulles7
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783A.5–MSP/4–2958. Confidential; Niact. Drafted by Bergus, Rockwell, and Dulles and cleared by Rountree, Dillon, and Dulles. Transmitted to Beirut in telegram 4107, April 29, which is the source text.

    In telegram 4106 to Beirut, April 29, the Embassy was informed that the letter was being sent in view of the possibility that the Lebanese Government might repudiate its adherence to the Eisenhower Doctrine. At the same time that McClintock delivered the Secretary’s letter, he was instructed to inform Malik that his request for additional aid had received the highest level of consideration within the Department, but unfortunately funds to meet such a request were not available. (Ibid., 783A.5–MSP/4–2858; included in the microfiche supplement)

  2. See footnote 2, Document 13.
  3. For text of the Middle East Resolution, commonly known as the Eisenhower Doctrine, which was adopted by the Senate on March 5, by the House of Representatives on March 7, and approved by the President on March 9, 1957, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1957, pp. 829–831.
  4. Reference is to the communiqué issued at Beirut at the conclusion of the visit by the President’s Special Representative, Ambassador James P. Richards, to discuss the implications of the Eisenhower Doctrine. The communiqué defined common purposes shared by the United States and Lebanon. For text, see ibid., pp. 835–836.
  5. Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XIII, pp. 220221.
  6. McClintock reported, in telegram 3627 from Beirut, April 30, that he had seen Malik that morning, conveyed the Secretary’s message, and made the démarche instructed in telegram 4106 (see footnote 1 above). Malik agreed with McClintock’s suggestion that it was in the interest of both countries to keep the issue of economic assistance separate from the question of the Eisenhower Doctrine. McClintock noted that Malik was disappointed that the United States could not provide additional aid, but realized that the long delay on the part of Lebanon in submitting the request was a major factor contributing to the negative response. (Department of State, Central Files, 783A.5–MSP/4–3058; included in the microfiche supplement)

    Malik replied to Dulles’ letter on May 11 with a lengthy letter in which he discussed the danger of “anti-Lebanese, anti-Western and anti-American” forces operating in Lebanon in an effort to undermine the Chamoun government. He pointed to the importance of large-scale, long-term assistance from the United States to ensure Lebanese stability, and noted his concern over the impact on the Middle East of an ill-conceived rapprochement between the United States and the UAR. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.80/5–1258)

  7. Telegram 4107 bears this typed signature.