95. Editorial Note

In briefing the National Security Council on June 19 on significant world developments affecting U.S. security, Allen Dulles offered the following assessment of the situation in Lebanon:

“Turning to the situation in Lebanon, Mr. Allen Dulles said that Beirut was quiet last night after a day of sporadic fighting. President Chamoun had apparently panicked on the night of June 16 and had secured from his cabinet written permission to call for the intervention of U.S. and U.K. troops if he thought such intervention necessary. Recovering his poise, President Chamoun had since decided not to make use of the permission given him by the cabinet. However, Chamoun still feels that the Chief of Staff, General Chehab, could break the back of the rebel resistance if he would move vigorously. He is not moving very vigorously, continued Mr. Dulles, and it now appears that a group of army officers is engaged in a plot directed against both General Chehab and the rebels. This officer group had planned a coup to occur on the night of June 17. The coup had not come off and might not come off. Such a coup would not be anti-western in its results and might indeed actually be pro-Western because it was the objective of this military group to get rid of General Chehab and to institute a stronger military leadership for the Lebanese armed forces. Meanwhile, the Iraqi and Jordanian authorities feel that our intervention will prove necessary. Indeed, they themselves may intervene.

“Mr. Dulles went on to say that the Damascus radio was very active in behalf of the rebels in Lebanon and that there was strong evidence of a highly confidential nature that the United Arab Republic was providing tactical direction to the rebel forces in Lebanon. Mr. Allen Dulles concluded his comments on this subject by prophesying a series of difficult days ahead for the U.S. There seemed to be some evidence that Hammerskjold had been in touch with Nasser which could prove to be a serious matter if true.” (Memorandum of discussion [Page 156] at the 369th Meeting of the National Security Council, prepared by Gleason on June 20; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)