192. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State1
496. From Murphy. After witnessing landing this morning of additional marine contingent at Yellow Beach McClintock and I had thorough discussion all aspects situation with Admirals Holloway and Brown. I can assure Department excellent coordination is established between Embassy and military command. Holloway could not be more cooperative and understanding. He expresses complete confidence in McClintock whose advice he seeks.
Ambassador and I then called upon Osseiran, President of Parliament. I vigorously contested misstatements of fact in his message to press and SC as well as his own private assumption that Lebanon Parliament is sole representative of Lebanese people. I pointed out US Government had responded to an appeal from the duly constituted government and President of Lebanon for friendly aid. It was invidious for Osseiran to charge President of US with having violated Lebanon’s [Page 327]sovereignty by our landing of troops when we had acted only in response to an appeal from the constitutionally responsible authorities in Lebanon.
All Osseiran could summon as an answer was that he thought most of Parliament was against our landing and that in any case Lebanese Government should have consulted Parliament before it requested US intervention. I expressed respect for his opinion but said I understood this as his personal opinion rather than that of the Parliament. We pointed out for record that present Lebanese Government enjoys a vote of confidence from all of Parliament; that Cabinet by a unanimous vote on June 16 authorized Chamoun to ask for friendly military assistance; and that we had responded accordingly. I urged that he qualify his message to President and retract the charge that there has been a violation of Lebanese sovereignty.
Because of other appointments Osseiran’s lengthy review of situation had to be suspended but he is calling on me at 6 p.m.
We next called on Prime Minister Solh, who gave a lengthy review of how Chamoun in particular and pro-western elements in Lebanon in general had arrived at their present crisis. Solh in our presence gave a directive for a message which Malik should file with SC setting forth constitutional right of Lebanese Government to ask for our landing here. He ridiculed the Osseiran charge of violation of Lebanon sovereignty.
At one p.m. I received General Chehab. He gave me a frankly oriental expose of Lebanese politics and of his concept of Lebanese army role in keeping Moslem and Christian factions from fighting one another. General was frank to admit there had been extensive intervention from UAR and for first time in McClintock’s experience, gave details of how in past few days direction of revolt comes from Damascus. (Chamoun has also given us Arabic text of telephonic intercepts2 showing that Damascus is giving direct orders in clear to Saeb Calaam and other rebel leaders in the Basta.)
General Chehab was in complete ignorance of US resolution filed with SC,3 saying that opposition elements had told him they hoped US forces could withdraw from Lebanon in favor of a UN police force. I told General this is exactly what our resolution meant. Chehab said this would be of utmost use to him not only with opposition leaders but in enlightening his own troops. We suggested he pass word to opposition that they should get in touch with their Syrian-Egyptian-Russian clients to forestall a Soviet veto on our resolution. I doubt if this will have any effect on USSR; it has already had effect on Chehab and will, I think, have effect on Lebanon military.[Page 328]
I am glad to report that liaison arrangements between General Wade of Marine Corps and General Chehab are progressing satisfactorily. Wade has informed Admiral Holloway that all of Chehab’s military advice has been sound. Chehab told us he was now sure his officers and men would cooperate with US forces and proposed on his own initiative he arrange a social reception between his staff and Holloway’s staff.
Last night we had discussed with Chamoun possibility of removing certain traitorous officers from Chehab’s “état-major.” This morning Chamoun told McClintock he had discussed this with Chehab who swore he would undertake personal responsibility for future conduct of all his officers. Chamoun himself suggested advisability of going slow on grounds that a rapid removal of general staff would be expedited by enemy propaganda as under American instigation. Chehab told me incident day before yesterday4 did not reflect a conspiracy but was a “spontaneous movement” with confidence of some Christian officers but motivated largely by Moslems who were quite prepared to die at their guns as a symbolic gesture of defiance. He insisted, however, this was now a flash-in-the-pan and that future there would be no recurrences of such in subordination. (Fact is Chehab himself did not know how far his staff and subordinates had gone in preparation to fire on American column. First he knew was when McClintock requested him—Embtel 4285 —to go out to the guns.)
Chehab said he wished very much US units could be accompanied by Lebanon units and gave every appearance sincerity in saying there would be complete cooperation with our military. As a sign of progress, he did not flinch when we told him an army battle group would arrive by air tomorrow.
We pressed him for action quelling revolt, Chehab was not optimistic. Prime Minister had asked me to intervene with General to crush resistance in the Basta by indigenous means. Chehab’s reply was a shrug of the shoulders and a long disquisition on how his army would disintegrate if he used violent means against the rebels. It was clear this General contemplates no decisive military action and looks hopefully for some internal political solution.