32. Letter From Secretary of State Dulles to President Eisenhower0

Dear Mr. President: I have your memorandum of July 23 with the two memoranda about the Middle East.1 These contain interesting ideas, although nothing to which we have not already given much thought. The problem is posed by Mr. Robinson’s point (1) that “we must shake Nasser loose from his convictions that his only friends are the Soviets”.

Nasser counts as “friends” those who help him to achieve his ambitions. These ambitions include at least a truncation of Israel and the overthrow of present governments in Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Tunis, Libya, the Sudan, Saudi Arabia, etc., and their replacement by his stooges. The Soviet Union, being free of ties and commitments in the area, can and does help Nasser to achieve these extravagant goals, believing it will be the ultimate heir. We cannot honorably help him in these respects. Therefore, we cannot be his “friends” as are the Soviets.

Of course, Nasser would be glad to get help from us as well as from the Soviet Union. But that would, I fear, lead him to merely move on, and not to moderate his ambitions. He is not a moderate kind of person. Nor is he interested in consolidating what he has, but in going from one political success to another.

That is what makes the problem so difficult. We are basically wholly sympathetic with Arab nationalism if it means a constructive and productive unity of the Arab peoples. Unfortunately, Nasser’s brand of Arab nationalism does not seem to be leading to that. He has done little in Egypt to improve the welfare of the people. He has done nothing in Syria. He tends to require an unending series of political successes but not pause to consolidate constructively.

Faithfully yours,

John Foster Dulles2
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, White House Correspondence. Confidential. Personal and Private. Drafted by Dulles and cleared by Rountree and Berry.
  2. In this short memorandum, Eisenhower sent Dulles what he described as “two-thought provoking memoranda; each of the authors, apparently independently, has arrived at practically identical conclusions and recommendations.” The first memorandum was from O. Preston Robinson, Editor of Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah. The second was by Professor Elie A. Salem, Middle East Studies, Johns Hopkins University. Both recommended better understanding of and sympathy for Arab nationalism and better relations with Nasser. (Ibid.)
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.