205. Memorandum of a Conference With the President, White House, Washington, July 20, 1958, 3:45 p.m.1


  • The Vice President, Secretary Dulles, Mr. Herter, Mr. Rountree, Mr. Reinhardt, Mr. George Allen, Mr. Allen Dulles, Secretary McElroy, General Twining, Mr. Irwin, Mr. Hagerty, General Goodpaster

Secretary Dulles began the review of points needing consideration or discussion. We have thought the Japanese resolution2 in the United Nations could be the basis for our next steps regarding the Middle East situation. If the Soviets veto it, we would still go ahead under action the Secretary General will suggest. He proposed to the President a statement for public release to the effect that we wish, despite Khrushchev’s message,3 to continue with efforts in the United Nations. The President approved the statement with minor editing after considering and dropping as not feasible for inclusion a reference to our desire to remove our forces from Lebanon.4

The President said he felt we have not yet seen an avenue out of our over-all problem in the Middle East in light of the Arab sympathies toward Nasser—which are probably greater than we thought existed. Mr. Allen Dulles said that we have an immediate demand upon us to reassure governmental leaders—the mob scene in Baghdad has scared them very badly. The President thought there were many thoughtful comments and observations in Nehru’s message to him—even though it reflected an erroneous assumption that there had been no mass infiltration into Lebanon. He had also seen an estimate that 90% of the Christians, but only 20% of the Moslems, in Lebanon wished to remain independent. He stressed his view that we should have moved quickly on the Vice President’s proposal to establish radios in Libya and Sudan, but these proposals were obstructed through denial of funds by the Congress for USIA.

[Here follows discussion of the President’s desire to improve informational programs in the Middle East, the approach to take to the new government in Iraq, and general Middle East concerns which had been discussed with Foreign Secretary Lloyd during his visit to Washington.]

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Secretary Dulles said the German Ambassador had been in to see him, and that Ambassador Bruce had called by telephone. The Secretary had told Grewe we were not at all pleased with the lukewarm support given to us at NATO. The Germans were concerned as to where we go beyond Lebanon, and the Secretary had told the Ambassador we are not going beyond there. He thought that an assurance to our friends will quiet them down. Secretary Dulles asked how large a force we have in Lebanon. General Twining said we will have 10, 000 when the second battle group arrives—we have about 7, 000 now. Mr. Dulles said he thought it was desirable not to send in any more. Mr. Allen Dulles said there are three million barrels of oil stored at Sidon. The Secretary thought perhaps we should move up to guard this oil (although this will have bad connotations). He said he had asked Murphy for his recommendation. The President recalled that Chamoun had suggested moving the Marines into additional areas.

General Twining said that Admiral Holloway has a plan for expansion. The consensus seemed to be against expanding the forces or the area of deployment in Lebanon.

Secretary Dulles next said that the British are getting into a dangerous situation in Jordan. They cannot leave without the situation collapsing, and are in trouble with the Israelis who are objecting to their overflights. Ben-Gurion has sent a very sharp letter on this. Mr. Herter said the Israeli objection is that the British have been overflying without clearance. General Twining commented that the situation in the area is almost impossible; there is nothing that anyone can rely upon. Mr. Rountree said that one reason Faisal denied us clearance for overflights is that there were press leaks that we were overflying Saudi Arabia. The President thought that the Nasser elements, having taken Iraq, would find Jordan a weakness. For the West to save Jordan may be largely a “beau geste.” Mr. Allen said that the big problem is that when we pull out of Lebanon the British will be in trouble in Jordan. Secretary Dulles said that, for this reason, the British are not anxious for a UN solution to the problem in Lebanon, and U.S. withdrawal from that area. Mr. McElroy said that the Israelis have given us overflight clearance for POL to Jordan, in the sense of not interfering with our flights, although reserving the right to object. Secretary Dulles said he thought the Israelis and British could also work this out, if the British will confine themselves to narrow corridors, fly high, and give advance notice.

The Vice President asked as to what our thoughts are with regard to recognition to Iraq. Secretary Dulles said we must think of the impact on the Turks, the Pakistanis and the Iranians. They would greatly resent any quick recognition on our part. Also, recognition would amount to acceptance of the dissolution of the Arab Union.

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The President said we must consider what our mode of action, or form of approach, should be on the Persian Gulf problem. We have talked about supporting the British, but this does not necessarily mean sending in a combat team.

Secretary Dulles said that Hammarskjold is saying that if others accept the Khrushchev proposal for a meeting, he would also go. The Vice President stated that if Hammarskjold agrees to do so, this action would finish the United Nations in terms of any ability to deal with cases involving the large powers. Secretary Dulles said that King Hussein has asked us to send troops into Iraq. Mr. Rountree reported that we have turned down this request. Mr. Dulles said we must remember that the King was very courageous, and saved the whole situation in the Middle East a year ago. The President commented that we do not have as good a case for going into Jordan as for going into Lebanon. Also, it is very questionable whether we should get into the position of supporting Kings against their people. Secretary Dulles thought we should stay out of Jordan, and Mr. McElroy agreed. He added, however, that we are committed to giving logistic support. The Vice President asked whether it would be proper for us to have any contact with the Iraqis at the present time and the Secretary told him that our Ambassador is still there and is in contact with them.

Secretary Dulles next handed to the President a first draft of a proposed reply to Khrushchev.6 After minor editing the President discussed at length with the group the implied acceptance in the message of having a meeting of Heads of Government under UN auspices. The Vice President suggested instead referring to a Summit Meeting, leaving the present situation to the United Nations. Secretary Dulles also commented that we must avoid anything that would indicate acceptance of the Soviet premise that the problem is one of U.S. aggression against Lebanon. There was general agreement that the notion of a hostile confrontation of the President and Khrushchev at a UN meeting would have no value, and great harm. Also, we do not wish to be jockeyed into the position of having to attack Nasser publicly in the United Nations. The Vice President suggested that Lodge should stress hard that Khrushchev’s proposal would weaken and in fact vitiate the United Nations. There was consensus that the draft should be reworked to indicate that the United States would welcome a resumption of the negotiations, halted by the Soviets, for a Summit Meeting—and that the Middle East, among other problems, could be

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considered there. With regard to the present problem, the United Nations should continue to deal with it as expeditiously and with as much support as possible.

Brigadier General, USA
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Eisenhower Diaries. Top Secret. Drafted by Goodpaster on July 21. The full text of this memorandum is scheduled for publication in volume XII.
  2. See Document 195.
  3. See Document 200.
  4. For text of this statement, issued on July 20, see Document 200.
  5. See footnote 2, supra.