364. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State1
2236. Over week has passed since quiet withdrawal last American troops from Lebanon and predictions of certain Christian Cassandras remain happily unfulfilled. While majority Christians, many Shiites, and even some Sunni, would have preferred to see troops remain, we do not believe we have lost many friends in process. Uneasiness certainly remains in Mount Lebanon, and many Christians are quietly hiding guns where they can be easily found, but in absence of trouble criticism of American “do nothingness” has largely vanished.
Former opposition after initial trumpetings of joy over departure “imperialist aggressors” has had little further to say. However, this refrain will undoubtedly return from time-to-time in future, particularly in connection with continuing flow of propaganda from Baghdad trials.
There can be little question but that presence American forces kept Lebanese crisis from erupting more violently. At this juncture it seems to us our landings had indirect effect of forcing insurgents into cooling-off period. Left to own devices they might well have let emotions run away with common sense. As it was after insurgent leaders had second look at UAR, particularly Syria, sovereign Lebanon looked better again. Many observers also feel presence our forces contributed to Moslem acceptance present compromise Cabinet despite inclination reap fruits of what they considered their victory.
Despite fact basic issues which provoked Lebanese crisis remain unresolved, we believe effects of our action will continue to be felt for long time to come, both in Lebanon and elsewhere in Arab world. As present government cautiously feels its way through difficult problems [Page 627] of internal security and external relations, memory of landings will encourage some, act as brake on others, and in general continue to induce spirit of compromise so necessary to existence of Lebanon.
In a broader strategic sense US landing was an eminently successful exercise in limited war. We believe it served to check both Soviet and Nasserite aspirations, while at same time heartening our friends in free world. It is significant that none of standard indicators of so-called “imperialist aggression” was associated with American landing. I am discussing propaganda aspects of this fact in a letter sent today to Director Allen of USIA,2 with copy for Assistant Secretary Rountree.