218. Editorial Note

President Eisenhower’s response to Chairman Khrushchev’s message of July 19 was delivered to Soviet Ambassador Mikhail Menshikov at 6:15 p.m. on July 22, and was simultaneously released to the press. (Memorandum of conversation between Dulles and Menshikov, July 22; Department of State, Central Files, 396.1/7–2258) The text of the letter is printed in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1958, pages 560–564, and American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1958, pages 995–999. A draft of the letter, with Eisenhower’s handwritten revisions, is in Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, Meetings with the President.

In his response, Eisenhower stated: “I am not aware of any factual basis for your extravagantly expressed fear of the danger of general war.” He rejected Khrushchev’s characterization of the United States intervention in Lebanon as “aggression”, and argued that it was not aggression to help a small nation maintain its independence in the face of expansionist and aggressive forces supported by the Soviet Union. The United States accepted the Soviet call for an international discussion of the crisis in the Middle East, but Eisenhower stated that such discussions should take place within the established framework of the U.N. Security Council, which are already seized of the problem. He noted that the Security Council could broaden its considerations to include the agenda proposed by Khrushchev, and that any member of the Council could be represented by a head of government or foreign minister if it chose to do so.