82. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Lebanon1
4790. On basis telephonic instructions from Chamoun 10:30 a.m. this morning Beirut time, Malik has given Dept informal paper reciting claims UAR assistance to insurgents, including report that parachutists seen dropped from Syria on Lebanese territory, and asking whether US will intervene at once militarily to help Lebanon maintain its independence, if President and GOL ask it to do so.2 He states reply will be reported to Cabinet this afternoon.
Rountree told Malik US position this regard unchanged and stated hope Chamoun is in touch with you on question since you fully and currently informed. He stated he did not see how we could give to Malik answer susceptible transmission by open telephone, particularly since as Malik knew our willingness to intervene would be based upon certain assumptions which had been discussed with President Chamoun. Malik agreed and suggested that he inform Chamoun that reply will be given through you.
You may inform Chamoun that our position regarding military assistance in Lebanon has not changed. Certain facts, however, should be recalled.
One, the primary purpose would be to protect American life and property while at the same time assisting the GOL in its military program for the preservation of the independence and integrity of Lebanon. We believe that any request from Lebanon should be couched in terms of the inability of Lebanon to perform both the function of preserving its own independence and of protecting foreign life and property; including several thousand Americans, and therefore the US is requested to perform the latter function. You will recall that our 42713 stated that any “request should be couched in the terms indicated”. We went on to say that once the troops are there they would in fact serve to help to protect the independence of Lebanon.
A second factor is as pointed out in our 4482,4 namely, that we must be able to count upon the Lebanese security forces themselves exerting maximum effort to defend the independence of Lebanon and that there would be friendly cooperation between its forces and any US forces there.[Page 129]
A third element is the fact that the GOL has just sought and obtained a UN Security Council Resolution to station observers in Lebanon. This is in the process of being carried out and the US would find it very awkward to act while it was still uncertain that this UN action would be inadequate and where the responsibility for collapse of UN effort would be generally attributed to US.
Before we can make a definitive response we shall need Chamoun’s assurances and observations on these points and also we shall seek a Baghdad and Amman answer as to their reactions, as indicated para. 3 our 4271. In the meantime our forces are held in a state of instant readiness.
There is no disposition on our part to retreat in any way from the position set forth in 4271. It is necessary to verify some of the assumptions of that cable and to pay some respect to the UN effort which Lebanon itself invoked and with the results of which it professed to be satisfied.
With respect to this last matter, we suggest that minimum would be the convocation of Security Council again in emergency session with a GOL report that an obvious effort is being made to thwart UN action by stepped-up campaign to destroy Lebanon independence before UN can properly organize its observation teams and that in consequence situation has so deteriorated that Lebanon is unable to discharge its dual responsibility to protect its own independence and to protect foreign life and property. It is therefore inviting certain countries whose nationals have important life and property in Lebanon requiring protection to assume this responsibility so that the forces of Lebanon can concentrate with the help of the UN observation team on preserving Lebanon’s independence. There might also be need for emergency GA action.
We assume you recall our 4390.5