75. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Lebanon1
4779. Eyes only McClintock from Secretary. I am concerned that situation developing in a way which may pose for us a very awkward problem. You will recall that our 4271 and 4482 May 13 and May 23 respectively2 indicated that we would be prepared to intervene militarily “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.” 4482 further requested you make clear to President our assumption that “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.”
It is our impression that the Lebanese forces are in fact adequate to deal with the situation particularly now that UN has intervened, but that they are not making a maximum effort to defend the independence of Lebanon because of internal factionalism. We also foresee danger that Chamoun and Government may call for our military assistance when in fact situation could be dealt with if the Lebanese forces under General Chehab were wholehearted in their effort to do so.
We believe that if there is any question of our being called upon we are entitled to get reassurances as to the attitude of the Lebanese forces as it would be one thing that we should move in militarily to cooperate and another thing to have to fight Lebanese forces or meet their opposition or lack of cooperation. Presumption of our 4271 and 4482 was that the Lebanese forces were doing their best and that we would be relieving them so that they could more effectively conduct the active fighting.
We do not want to be in a position of seeming to give General Chehab a veto over our action but we would think it indispensable in some way to get dependable reassurances as to the probable reaction of General Chehab and the forces under him.[Page 119]
I would appreciate any suggestions you may make as to how to deal with this problem and in the event that there is not time for a further exchange of views between us, you may feel that you have discretion to deal with it as you deem best.