207. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State1
568. Pass USC and DOD from Holloway. London pass to CINCNELM Rear Echelon from Holloway. During conversation this morning with Chamoun, Admiral Holloway and myself President outlined recent requests he had made to General Chehab:
- That Lebanese Army undertake offensive operations to clean out Basta and at least to immobilize threat against communications in the Chouf.
- Failing such action by Lebanese Army, that Chehab agree to two battalions of Gendarmérie (1000 men) supported by army artillery and aviation, to be used for these offensive operations.
President said so far as US forces were concerned he would be highly appreciative if they could be deployed along frontier to seal off further Syrian infiltration. He quoted General Chehab as warning such action by our troops might in fact increase such infiltration, but that Chehab would have “no objection” if American forces were so deployed.
Admiral Holloway pointed out that without expressing any opinion on this request from President it would be clearly impossible for American forces to be deployed along frontier so long as their line of communications were threatened from the Basta. Admiral Holloway indicated it was sine qua non for the Basta to be liquidated. He told President of his conversation yesterday afternoon with Chehab (Embtel 554)2 and of his readiness to consider a joint operation with Lebanese forces against the Basta.
Admiral Holloway likewise reported to Chamoun encouraging progress which has been made with Chehab and tangible signs of increasingly effective cooperation not only between Chehab and Holloway but at all echelons.[Page 353]
I asked Chamoun if he had made any suggestions to Chehab for purging his senior staff. President said he was still offering suggestions to this end but clearly indicated his advice fell on negative ear. Both Admiral Holloway and I urged on President danger of taking any step which might push Chehab to resignation as we both felt his presence is increasingly effective cooperation between Lebanese and US military.
Conclusions: (1) We do not feel US deployment along Syrian border either necessary or wise.
(2) Key is reduction of the Basta as this will bring an end to revolution and eliminate reason for further Syrian infiltration and therefore any requirement for US deployment on frontier.
(3) We feel by patient improvement of relations with Chehab and his staff, even admitting grave deficiencies of that staff, Admiral Holloway will be able to negotiate Chehab into a position of positive action with or without US forces. Similar Fabian methods of persuasion with Chehab may also make it possible to bring about needed staff changes.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783A.00/7–2158. Secret. Priority. Repeated to USUN and London.↩
- In telegram 554 from Beirut, July 20, McClintock reported on a meeting at his residence between Chehab and Holloway which illustrated the growing cooperation between U.S. and Lebanese forces. Chehab felt that the presence of the U.S. troops had discouraged Lebanese insurgents, who were, in his view, no longer willing to respond to Syrian instigation but were actively seeking a political solution to the crisis. Chehab was eager to establish joint military-police shore patrols, and discussed joint planning to facilitate the movement of U.S. forces in the country, but he was not prepared to undertake operations to eliminate the opposition stronghold in the Basta. ↩