92. Memorandum for the Record by the Secretary of State’s Special Assistant (Greene)1

There was considerable discussion of the political and military consequences of U.S. intervention in Lebanon and of U.S. nonintervention if the Government of Lebanon requests it. The military orders are three: to protect U.S. property, to assist the Lebanese authorities in maintaining their position, and to restore those authorities if they are overthrown. The first of these may in large part provide a U.S. constitutional basis for intervention but it involves the dilemma that intervention for this purpose smacks of imperialism.

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The Secretary noted that the internal situation is highly confused and that there are two and perhaps three political forces at work each trying to get Lebanese military support. Whatever these facts, however, if we temporize when confronted by a request by the Government for military assistance, the almost immediate result will be erosion of confidence in us in other countries in the area and indeed in the world. We cannot take refuge in the “internal affairs” explanation because the Communists are using internal subversion throughout the area. At the same time, if we do go in even with Arab, e.g. Iraq and Jordan, participation, the governments of those countries will immediately be subjected from within to Communist inspired “anti-imperialist” pressure and will probably eventually fold up. Thus it can be argued that the present governments of the other Arab States will go down the drain whether we go in or not; it would just be a matter of timing.

Mr. Rountree and General Twining noted that we would probably then be confronted with spreading of the fighting; would we or should we be prepared to intervene elsewhere? Query: Should we thus get trapped into fighting the UAR and Nasser outside of UAR territory?

On Congressional consultation there is still another dilemma. If we consult the Leadership before receiving a request, the consultation will leak back to Lebanon and provoke the request. Mr. Macomber thought the top four leaders could safely be taken into confidence and would probably approve intervention. Intervention in support of the United Nations will be more palatable in the Congress.

What to do and how to do it in the United Nations was left to further discussion. The Secretary thought it better, given our constitutional problem and the dilemma that poses, to pitch our intervention in terms of support of the United Nations. He asked that further study be given the attacked draft of a statement2 in conjunction with further study of strategy in the United Nations.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783A.00/6–1758. Secret. This memorandum records a meeting that took place in the Secretary’s office. Participants included Dulles, Herter, Rountree, Rockwell, Wilcox, Sisco, Macomber, and Greene from the Department of State; Allen Dulles and Norman Paul from CIA; and Quarles and Generals Twining and Picher from the Department of Defense.
  2. The attached draft statement, prepared by Dulles, announced the introduction of U.S. Marines into Lebanon to protect foreign lives and property, and to enable the Government of Lebanon to preserve its independence and integrity. The statement indicated that the U.S. move would be closely coordinated with the United Nations, and that U.S. forces would be removed from Lebanon as soon as the reasons for their introduction had been corrected.
  3. Shortly after this meeting, the same people reconvened in Herter’s office to consider the possibility of action in conjunction with the United Nations. The consensus of the second meeting was that military intervention should not take place until a Security Council resolution calling for the establishment of a U.N. armed force was introduced and predictably vetoed by the Soviet Union, and preferably not until the General Assembly, convoked under the Uniting for Peace provisions, had made a recommendation to send such an armed force to Lebanon. (Memorandum for the record, June 17; Department of State, Central Files, 783A.00/6–1758; included in the microfiche supplement)