49. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Lebanon1

4482. We share your deep concern over dangerous effects of continuing political stalemate and specifically re likelihood that initiative may pass to opposition and that when this occurs Chamoun may seek to play what he may consider his trump card of foreign military intervention.2 We understand from British that you and Middleton were to see Chamoun today and believe that you may already have taken opportunity to recall to him one of conditions stipulated in connection with our statement re sending US forces, i.e., that crisis transcends issue of presidential election or future of any particular person and that Chamoun will not push his candidacy should this appear seriously to divide support which should be counted upon to preserve [Page 74]integrity and Western orientation of Lebanon. We also said we considered that Western forces should not be lightly requested or other than under most compelling necessity to meet a situation where integrity of Lebanon is genuinely threatened and where its own forces do not suffice for protection. We believe you should make clear to President we have of course assumed in above circumstances Lebanese security forces would be exerting maximum effort to defend independence of Lebanon. He should be under no misapprehension that US forces can be counted upon to intervene in circumstances where Lebanese forces are unwilling to fight.

We think you should in manner which you believe will be least likely adversely affect Chamoun’s attitude, yet which will leave him in no doubt our concern, make clear to him that he does not have blank check re sending of Western forces. He should be disabused of any confidence he may have that he can refrain from taking decisive action to dissolve continuing political problem because he can count upon foreign forces to back him against domestic opposition.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783A.00/5–2358. Top Secret; Niact; Limited Distribution. Drafted by Rockwell and cleared by Rountree and in substance by Dulles. Repeated to London and Paris.
  2. In telegram 4151 from Beirut, May 23, McClintock reported on a conversation with Chehab which reinforced McClintock’s conclusion that a dangerous stalemate existed in the wake of the failure to establish a consensus government around Chehab as Prime Minister. Given the stalemate, McClintock felt the “only course” was for him to work with the British Ambassador to help promote a prompt solution. The danger he saw was that “as Chamoun’s position crystalizes, particularly under impact of Security Council debate, he may seek to cash in on blank checks we, British and French have issued.” (Ibid.; included in the microfiche supplement)