38. Memorandum for the Record0

At the Planning Board meeting on August 1, 19581 there was reference to the Council discussion of the Planning Board’s paper “Issues Arising Out Of The Situation In The Near East”.2 Mr. Smith said he hoped that the Council discussion would not be regarded as having finally disposed of the question of accommodation with Arab Nationalism, permanently ruling out any adjustment of U.S. policy in this direction. He said that he thought what the Secretary of State opposed so strongly was the suggestion that the U.S. should make friends with Nasser, thus by implication acceding to certain of his policies including the overthrow of pro-Western governments in the area.

Mr. Smith said he believed it would be possible to develop recommended policies within the broad area of working with, or utilizing, pan-Arab nationalism which the Secretary would approve. The main problem is to oppose Nasser only in ways which do not strengthen his hold on the Arab nationalist movement and which are likely to lead to long-term results in the interests of the U.S. In some cases it might be in our interest to promote policies which would coincide with Nasser’s immediate aims. Self-determination for the Arabs, under present circumstances, is an example of a policy in this category.

There was discussion of the unfortunate choice of the word “accommodation” as a description for proposed U.S. policy in the area because this has a connotation of “giving in to” or “coming to terms with”. It was generally agreed that what was meant by accommodation was in reality simply not continuing to oppose frontally. Mr. Smith agreed that there is a semantics problem here and that this word probably has had an effect on the Secretary’s thoughts on the issue.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/PNSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, Near East, U.S. Policy Toward (NSC 5820). Top Secret. Drafted by Howard Furnas of the Policy Planning Staff, who was also the Department of State Alternate Assistant to the NSC Planning Board.
  2. See Document 37.
  3. Document 35.