375. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State1

1531. Department pass ICA/Washington. Embtels 14702 and 1494.3 I have now completed my calls on members of new Karame cabinet4 and am able to make an interim report on manner in which GOL will probably approach issue of further US aid.

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Most vociferous of the Ministers and at same time most generalized in his thinking was Foreign Minister Oueini, who made a strong plea for continued technical assistance, for PL 480 wheat, and for certain unspecified items of grant aid which would indirectly bear on GOL projects for increasing productivity and raising standard of living. However, Haj Hussein has, through illness, been largely out of touch with other members of cabinet, and among his colleagues I found a much more realistic and restrained evaluation of future possibilities in field of US assistance. No one, including President, Prime Minister, Minister of Public Works, Minister of National Economy and Minister of Agriculture seemed to expect very much, although they had an almost pathetic and certainly to me alarming assumption that I could somehow manage to produce a few more white rabbits out of the shrinking Washington hat. In general, however, I found a philosophical acceptance of fact there will be no grant aid from US except possibly in realm of military hardware; and a cautious hope that through PL 480 Lebanon’s actual and very serious deficit in wheat could partially be met while at same time funds from sale of PL 480 wheat could be put to work in depressed sectors of population and economy. Ministers with technical departments, e.g., Public Works, Agriculture and Economic Affairs, likewise expressed interest in technical assistance as for example in engineers from Bureau of Public Roads, experts in agriculture, and aid in developing a sensible program for tourism.

In consequence, I think we are off to a fairly good start, and that there will be no major disappointment either in public opinion or in more informed government circles if US aid in future to Lebanon is modest in proportion and eclectic in application. However, I have strong recommendations to offer on four main points:

Once painstaking and objective study of wheat problem has been made by Minister of Agriculture, USOM/L and Embassy economic section, every effort be made to provide some form of PL 480 wheat assistance. Our concrete specifications under this head should be forthcoming next week, if necessary studies can be completed in time.
Military hardware program, specifics of which were submitted under cover my letter5 October 26 to Deputy Assistant Secretary Hart be speedily implemented by DOD.
If as I hope Lebanese Government initiates a campaign for reducing trade barriers in Arab World (and I should not be surprised after my conversation this morning with Minister of Economic Affairs Takla that President Chehab himself may make a statement along these lines November 22), that from a very high quarter in U.S. Government there be sympathetic support for such a Lebanese initiative. I have recalled to various Ministers that President Eisenhower in his [Page 647] talk with Karame September 216 adverted to his speech of August 13, 1958,7 and had inquired what was Arab reaction to these proposals that they pool their efforts toward a common goal. On November 1 in a local TV broadcast, but without referring to Eisenhower–Karame conversation, in response to a question as to what I thought as to steps trending toward Arab unity, I cited President Eisenhower’s 6-point program of 19587 and expressed surprise that apparently no Arab government had responded to this generous initiative. If now, as I hope, Chehab does say something about need of greater economic cooperation among Arab governments, it would seem appropriate for perhaps White House or Secretary of State to say that we, too, feel as a matter of policy (e.g., Dillon’s recent speech at GATT) that measures toward reducing trade and transit barriers by Arab governments are in accord, not only with U.S. views, but are a reflection of a major world trend toward reduction of trade barriers.
Coming now literally to “Point Four,” as indicated in my talks with ministers they are anxious that our Point Four operation for providing technical services and expertise be continued. I would say that with present government, especially with such technically qualified Ministers as those now in Agriculture, Education and Economic Affairs, we are in fortunate position of being able to control such requests as may be made with a view to optimum use of such skills and advice as USOM/L with ICA/Washington support can offer. Accordingly, I should like to have authorization to respond sympathetically to such requests for technical aid as may be forthcoming.

Of course we have made no commitments locally with respect to any of four foregoing recommendations, but I feel that such a program, if met affirmatively from Washington, would go far to put our aid relationships with Lebanon on a modest but sound basis. Certainly we have come a long way from Malik’s aerial promises of “unlimited, unconditional U.S. aid.”

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 883A.00–TA/11–359. Confidential.
  2. In telegram 1470 from Beirut, October 28, McClintock reported that he had forestalled an attempt to bring up the question of U.S. aid levels by raising, instead, the issue of the need to work to liberate trade. (Ibid., 483A.86/10–2859)
  3. In telegram 1494 from Beirut, October 30, McClintock reported on a meeting with Prime Minister Karame in which Karame expressed gratitude for the sympathetic hearing which had been given to the case he made with officials in Washington on the need for continuing U.S. aid for Lebanon. He was particularly concerned about the situation created by the wheat crop failure in Lebanon and asked McClintock to consult with the Minister of Agriculture. (Ibid., 883A.49/10–3059)
  4. A new Lebanese cabinet was appointed on October 8. Karame remained Prime Minister and the cabinet was expanded from four to eight members.
  5. Not found.
  6. See Document 373.
  7. See Document 269.