2. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State1
2415. Yesterday I made an extensive tour d’horizon conducted by Malik following presentation of credentials to President Chamoun that morning. During course of two hour conversation, I made three points authorized Deptel 2810.2 I found Malik much less querulous than during preceding interview: he was reflective, calm and objective. He made extensive observations area-wise which are reported Embassy despatch number 372.3
Coming to problems of Lebanon, Malik placed them in four categories:
Lebanon in forthcoming elections will face crisis in determining who will lead republic during the forthcoming critical years. In a country of such delicate balance and of such conflicting creeds and currents of ambition, leadership was of vital importance. Courage was first quality to be sought.
This comprised whole gamut of association between Lebanon and US with aid of paramount importance.
Free World Cooperation within Lebanon to Meet Joint Problems:[Page 4]
Malik here mentioned hope US, UK, France and other free world elements would better coordinate their efforts, not only at top but particularly on working level in order to assure that all assets were lined up in joint effort against Communist and Soviet threat.
Minister referred to successful encroachment by Communism in Lebanese press and its increasing effect in Sidon, Beirut, Tripoli and Jordan. He was likewise worried about Communist attraction among intelligentsia. He said, “If you can capture minds of the fifty young men who will rule Lebanon in years to come, you will have made a real victory”.
In response to his reanalysis and to his once more reiterated complaint US had no policy in Middle East or, at least, since time of President’s last illness and advent of Sputniks had shown signs of vacillation, I said I had not discerned any weakening of resolve on our part to help free Arab nations remain free. Simply because a policy was simple did not mean it lacked vigor or that we lacked will to carry it out. Also, I did not feel it necessary to shout policy slogans from house tops in order to convince our friends where we stood.
On Lebanese-American relations, I said matter of leadership was paramount. This was, however, an indigenous problem and one where Lebanese must help themselves, keeping in mind their own salvation from perils to be faced would primarily be by their own effort.
On aid, I repeated substance paragraph 3 Deptel [Embtel] 2335,4 saying that so far as I was concerned, in a country such as Lebanon, aid would be primarily designed for its political impact both in and outside this country. Malik concurred with enthusiasm, saying it was folly to concentrate on lifting up health standard or building roads if eventually Communists should take over country. He cautioned me, however, to be exceedingly discreet in revealing political motivation of our aid program lest it be misconstrued by our enemies. He suggested I confide directly to President Chamoun my views on how our aid operation should be conducted and to let Prime Minister and a few select leaders know our intentions obliquely.
Malik concluded interview by a parable [garble]. He said he had had a talk with General Chehab, C-in-C, Lebanese Armed Forces, who, in casting about for solution of Lebanese problems, came up with astonishing assertion that “best thing for Lebanon would be to have a US High Commissioner”. Malik said no one could have more patriotic motives than General Chehab, but he felt deeply that strongest power of free world should take responsibility for formulation of policy and operations to achieve that policy in the Levant. With France a strong power, he would opt for a French leader in Lebanon, or, if British were [Page 5]strong (and if he trusted them, which he did not), a Britisher. However, Americans were both honest and above all, strong. Malik concluded his parable by saying he wished above all US policy would assume a bolder and more daring form, although Lebanon was ready to accept responsibility for running risks and for taking action which only native patriotic elements could undertake.
I said I did not doubt American policy could be both imaginative and bold, but it would seek expression through indigenous elements and thus, in fact, the Lord might help those who [help] themselves.