177. Memorandum From Vice President Nixon to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Gray)0

After our recent meeting1 I had some thoughts which might be profitable to consider in developing any particular course of action. These ideas all suggest that we use caution in any endorsement of Nasser and his present operations.

  • First, it is obvious that the Soviets have some really expert personnel in the Middle East and are able to coordinate their actions in Iraq and the UAR. In addition, they undoubtedly have plans calling for the replacement, elimination or control of Nasser if he begins really to hurt their plans, although at the present his propaganda works to solidify Iraqi groups into the Communist popular front in that country.
  • Second, we have worked hard with the Turks, Saudis and Iranians to prevent Iraq from joining the UAR, and to make an “about face” now could damage our reputation for integrity, particularly after our use of troops in Lebanon.

For these reasons, the wisest plan may be for us to follow a parallel but separate course as long as Nasser continues to berate the Communists publicly, always being prepared to part ways cleanly, quickly and expertly if he changes or if we wish to change. In short, we must be able to exploit his anti-Communist effort without in any way having to agree to deeper commitments.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/PNSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, Iraq, The Situation, NSC Action 2068. Top Secret. Executive Secretary Lay transmitted this memorandum to the heads of the agencies whose representatives were on the interdepartmental group on Iraq, the Secretaries of State and Defense, and the Directors of Central Intelligence, the U.S. Information Agency, and the International Cooperation Administration.
  2. See Document 176.