179. Memorandum of a Conference With the President, White House, Washington, July 16, 1958,11 a.m.1


  • Secretary Dulles, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Reinhardt, Mr. Rountree, Mr. Cumming, Mr. Allen Dulles, Secretary McElroy, General Twining, Mr. Sprague, General Persons, General Goodpaster

[Here follows discussion of the decision to send Deputy Under Secretary of State Robert Murphy to Lebanon as the President’s Political Representative.]

Mr. Dulles then went on to say that the Jordanian situation is rapidly becoming extremely dangerous. We have information of a [Page 309] planned attack against King Hussein on July seventeenth.2 A severe petrol shortage exists, because the Jordanians are not getting their normal supplies from Iraq, and have no storage. Mr. Rountree said we are studying the airlift of packaged POL, but are unsure whether we will get Saudi Arabian clearance to fly it in from that direction. We will plan to use the Aqaba base, but this will be slow in developing. The suggestion was made of obtaining POL for Jordan from Israel; he said this would be very dangerous, and would have to be approached most carefully. Mr. Allen Dulles suggested that Israel might turn it over to the United States or United Kingdom who in turn could convey it to Jordan.

The President said he is concerned that, if the Armed Forces we are supporting in the area are unreliable and seditious, we really seem to have nothing on which to base our action. He emphasized the need for one or more good radio stations in the area. Mr. Murphy suggested setting up a “black Iraqi” radio in Turkey. Mr. Rountree thought a short-wave station could be opened in Jordan, and that it might be possible to move the USIA radio ship up to Beirut. The President stressed the need to identify ourselves in the area with nationalism. We need to get some clever and convincing people from the populations and to carry the message that their progress lies in association with the West. Allen Dulles said he would get some of his people to work on this.

The President referred to a report from a Senator earlier in the day that the Voice of America had sought a statement from him, and might well be seeking statements from others opposing the President’s action. He thought this was very unwise and asked Secretary Dulles to look into the matter. He stressed that he feels the Voice of America should be used to put out our official story.

Secretary Dulles informed the group that Selwyn Lloyd would be arriving the following day; the question was whether the situation in Jordan would hold until his arrival.

[Here follows discussion of support for Iran and Turkey.]

General Twining said that if there is any military action contemplated with respect to Jordan, either by ourselves or the British, the Defense Department needs to be advised. The President said he knew of no basis on which we could move in, and Mr. Dulles thought we should wait to see what the British are doing, and talk to Selwyn Lloyd. [Page 310] The President commented that the British may be planning to move in light of the threat to Hussein. Secretary Dulles said this intelligence came from the British who gave a digest of it to Hussein. He said he assumed the British would go in by air, and Mr. Reinhardt confirmed this, adding that they will need logistic reports from us. General Twining thought the British should get their forces in at once, but Secretary Dulles said he had no enthusiasm for British forces going in. Lebanon has not been swept by pan-Arabism, but in Jordan and Iraq, pan-Arabism could sweep the country very quickly. To his question as to whether Jordan would welcome the British, Allen Dulles thought there were ties going back to the old Arab Legion which would tend to create a good relationship, even though the legion has been scattered. (At this point Mr. Macomber and Mr. Dillon joined the group.)

Secretary Dulles next took up the point as to whether we should press Hussein to make a call for the British to come in. Mr. Allen Dulles thought we should not do so. Secretary Dulles believed that if any troops were sent in they should be British, although we might provide air logistical support. Mr. Allen Dulles wondered if we could send a couple of planes into Amman from Dhahran so as to be able to pick up the King if that should be necessary. General Twining agreed to make this arrangement.3

The President said that the strategic action in the circumstances would be to turn Israel loose on Egypt, thus going for the head of the snake. This did not seem possible, however. He thought we should strengthen Turkey and Iran but did not feel we could send our troops further than Lebanon. Secretary Dulles said that if Iraq were to drop out of the Baghdad Pact, he thought there would be good reason for our joining. It would be premature to do this today, but the action should be considered soon.

[Here follows discussion of the pending Mutual Security appropriation and the broad implications of the Middle East crisis.]

Brigadier General, USA
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Eisenhower Diaries. Top Secret. Drafted by Goodpaster. The full text of this memorandum is scheduled for publication in volume XII. Another memorandum of this conversation was prepared by Reinhardt. (Department of State, Central Files, 783A.00/7–1658)
  2. Two reports were received on July 16 indicating that Nasser had instructed his agents in Jordan to assassinate Hussein and overthrow the Jordanian Government on July 16 or 17. (Telegrams 47 and 54 from Tel Aviv, July 16; ibid., 785.00/7–1658) Secretary Dulles characterized this intelligence as important in a conversation with Allen Dulles on the morning of July 16, and Allen Dulles indicated that a flash warning had been sent to King Hussein. (Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Telephone Conversations; included in the microfiche supplement)
  3. At 11:05 p.m. on July 16, Admiral Burke, Chief of Naval Operations, cabled the Commander of the Sixth Fleet: “Stand by to evacuate King Hussein from Amman with two COD planes and appropriate air cover.” (CNO telegram 29527 to COMSIXFLT, July 16; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Files; included in the microfiche supplement)