169. Paper by the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Gray)0


Mr. Allen Dulles has briefed the Council almost every week with respect to the deteriorating situation in Iraq. Recent reports from the Ambassador and other sources paint a picture of rather complete gloom in that the trend seems to be towards a Communist government without any arresting factors in sight.

The Planning Board spent considerable time discussing this situation on Tuesday1 and I am afraid I am unable to report to you any unanimous view of the Board although all members are deeply concerned about the situation.

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The State Department has reported that from its point of view the policy statement with respect to the Near East is adequate and that the problems are operational problems. Other members of the Board agree with the State Department that no particular purpose would be served in bringing the matter before the Council this morning.

On behalf of myself and one or two other members of the Board, I should like to express the same kind of frustration that must be felt by everyone here. I feel constrained to point out that our primary objective in the Near East is the denial of the area to Soviet domination. Nevertheless, we sit and watch unfolding events which seem to point inevitably to Soviet domination of Iraq, acknowledging, I am afraid, an inability to do anything about it. It is almost like watching a movie whose end we will not like but which we are committed to see.

I have no more of a solution this morning to present to you than I had to present to the Planning Board on Tuesday. However, it is perfectly clear that the paragraphs in our Near East policy relating to Iraq would not be written today as they were approved several months ago.

(Read Paragraph 39)2

Par. 39b is no longer applicable and 39a was not written against the background of a probable Communist takeover. Similarly, pars. 39c and d seem bland and unrealistic in the light of today’s situation.

I feel that I would be derelict in my own duties to the President and to the Council if I did not point out a situation in which we may be failing to meet a bedrock objective.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, White House Office Files, Project Clean Up, Iraq. Top Secret. In his covering memorandum to members of the NSC Planning Board, Gray wrote that he was not certain he would raise the question of Iraq at the April 2 NSC meeting, but if he did, he “would plan to speak from the attached note.”
  2. The discussion at the NSC Planning Board on March 31 was summarized in a memorandum from Gray to Major General Wilton B. Persons, Assistant to the President, April 6. Gray reported that members of the Board “seemed disposed to share the view of the State Department that no new policy guidance was necessary.” Gray did not agree. (Ibid., Staff Secretary’s Records, Gordon Gray I)

    In an April 1 memorandum from Gerard Smith to Rountree, Smith recounted a discussion at an OCB luncheon on April 1 in which the Board and Gray also discussed this paper on Iraq. Smith recalled Gray’s frustration over Iraq and his fear that it would soon fall to Soviet domination. Smith believed that as CIA and Defense also felt like Gray, he should raise with Rountree whether the OCB should discuss Iraq. (Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 67 D 548, Chronological File)

  3. See Document 51.