214. Letter From Prime Minister Macmillan to President Eisenhower1

Dear Friend: As you may know, since we responded to King Hussein’s appeal last Wednesday2 we have flown something just over 2, 000 British troops into Jordan. They have settled down well and their presence has helped to stabilise the position and prevent Jordan going the same way as Iraq.

Both our Representatives in Jordan have now been told by the Prime Minister that if we are to continue to hold the position against the threat of subversion it is essential to increase the forces on the ground. The Prime Minister has appealed for this. It is clear that unless reinforcements are sent there is a real danger that a coup may take place under our very noses. I believe that this is a moment of crisis for Jordan and for our whole Middle East policy. What is needed is less military than political reinforcement. For this I believe the essential thing is that you should send in some American troops to be alongside ours on the ground. Not only would this increase the military strength of the forces in Jordan, but it will have an extremely favourable political effect, since it will be a visible proof of our support for Jordan’s independence.

At the same time we must face the problem of supply.

Our troops in Jordan have supplies of food and oil for approximately 12 days together with ammunition for a few days local operations. We have been building up these stocks as fast as we can to a level where we should have some margin for ordinary consumption and for emergencies.

As you know, however, all our supplies have to be brought in by aircraft which have to overfly Israel. We are having great difficulty with Ben Gurion about this and he himself is in political difficulties with his colleagues and the Opposition. At the moment, we are continuing to fly our supplies in since we have not yet been formally asked to stop, but we are really dependent on Ben Gurion’s good will and his ability to carry his people with him. I have sent him personal [Page 367]messages, which I hope will help him in his difficulties. Meantime, the Israelis have cut down the time during which overflying is permitted to nine hours out of the twenty-four, nearly all of which are during the night. We are urgently exploring alternative supply routes, including Akaba, but there are difficulties about these which will take time to overcome.

When we first went into Jordan we had our eyes open. We did so relying on the moral support, which you have freely given us, and upon your promise to give us logistic aid.

We have already asked Foster if you could take over the air lift from us and fly in essential supplies in American aircraft. I am sure that the Israelis would raise much less political objection to your aircraft overflying them, and your Globemasters are so much bigger than any of our aircraft that the job could be done with far fewer sorties.

To sum up, I think we have reached a turning point in Jordan. If we are to hold the position, the forces on the ground should be fortified by the visible presence of your troops. We must also ensure the safety of their supplies, and both for political and logistic reasons I am sure that you are in a much better position to do this than we are. I hope that you will be able to do this. It would be disastrous for both you and us if we were forced to withdraw before some settlement has been ensured which will preserve the independence of Jordan.

With warm regards,

Yours sincerely,

Harold Macmillan3
  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204. Top Secret. Conveyed to the White House on July 22 under cover of a note from Lord Hood which indicated that the message was personal for the President from the Prime Minister. Hood also conveyed a copy of this message to Dulles along with a personal message to Dulles from Foreign Secretary Lloyd, in which Lloyd emphasized the urgency of Macmillan’s message and asked for Dulles’ support. He argued that it was vital to “hold on” in Lebanon and Jordan until satisfactory agreements were achieved in both places. “Otherwise our prestige will be fatally affected in every non-Nasser Arab country.” (Ibid.; included in the microfiche supplement)
  2. July 17.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.