3. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Rountree) to Secretary of State Dulles0


  • NSC 5801: “Long-Range U.S. Policy Toward the Near East”1


NSC 5801 is intended to replace NSC 54282 which was approved by the President on July 23, 1954. NSC 5801 represents a new effort to set forth our policy toward the Near East and attempts to reflect the many changes which have taken place in the area over the past four years. Significant changes of emphasis in the paper may be summarized as follows:

General: NSC 5801 attempts to reflect the undisputed position of Free World leadership in the area held by the United States and our greater involvement in intra-area affairs. The presence and position of the USSR is also recognized.
Arab Unity: The paper is based on the assumption that it is to the U.S. interest to encourage constructive efforts in the area to create indigenous strength in what is now a divided and weak Arab world. Accordingly, it recommends courses of action such as proclamation of U.S. support for the ideal of Arab unity and quiet efforts to strengthen the ties among Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.
The Palestine Problem: A difference of opinion arose within the Planning Board as to the tactics of handling the Palestine problem which is reflected in paragraph 30.3 A group led by Defense insists upon the importance of a U.S. initiative at this time. State has proposed language designed to provide necessary flexibility for the U.S. to deal with the Palestine problem in a manner and under circumstances consonant with our interests in the area and in the light of the developing situation. The substance of a Palestine settlement recommended is based on your speech of August 26, 1955.4 At the suggestion of other agencies a suggestion (paragraph 30f, page 19)5 has been added that a settlement should [Page 5] include some limitation of Israel immigration. This is couched in such permissive terms as not, we believe, to cause us future difficulty. A further difference arose within the Planning Board as to the future roles and missions of UNTSO and UNEF. State felt that these should be expanded, if circumstances favored it. JCS feels that if a successful initiative to solve the Palestine problem were taken, it would be unnecessary to expand these United Nations roles (paragraph 31).6
East-West Conflict: NSC 5428 was couched in terms of U.S. efforts to organize the entire area for defense against Communist aggression and subversion. NSC 5801 recognizes that there is substantial public opinion within the area which makes this objective probably unattainable for a very considerable period. The paper reflects our policy of supporting present indigenous defense arrangements but recommends against adhering to the Baghdad Pact at the time. It suggests that we resist Soviet efforts to obtain acknowledgment of their interests in the area and consider Soviet proposals for the area only if they would result in a substantial limitation of Soviet activity and no more than comparable U.S. concessions. This paragraph (No. 43), as presently drafted, appears self-contradictory, and we recommend clarifying language below.
“Neutralism”: The paper recognizes the emergence of “neutralism” in the area over the past four years, suggests that it will be a permanent factor in the Near East political arena, and makes recommendations as to how we can best come to terms with it in the pursuit of U.S. objectives in the area.
Economic and Military Aid: The economic aid recommendations differ from the previous document primarily in their emphasis on promoting regional development. It is recommended that we be prepared to increase economic aid if necessary. With respect to military aid, the emphasis is more on holding such programs to the absolute minimum acceptable level. The possibility of extending reimbursable military aid to a “neutralist” country, where this is consonant with our overall interests, is left open.


That you recommend that the Council adopt NSC 5801.
That you support the State versions of paragraphs 30 and 31 on the Palestine dispute.
That you suggest that the first sentence of paragraph 43 be redrafted to read: “Resist Soviet proposals for agreements designed to obtain explicit and formal acknowledgment of the Soviet presence and interests in the area.”
  1. Source: Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5801 Memoranda. Top Secret. Drafted by Bergus and concurred in by Dillon, Walmsley (who wrote he had “no objection to UN aspects”), and Jones.
  2. Dated January 10. (Ibid.) For the paper as approved, see Document 5.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. IX, Part 1, pp. 525536.
  4. See Document 4.
  5. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, September 5, 1955, pp. 378–380.
  6. The text of paragraph 30f of NSC 5801 is identical to the text of 30f of NSC 5801/1.
  7. See Document 4.
  8. Dulles did not indicate approval or disapproval of any of the recommendations.