4. Memorandum of Discussion at the 352d Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and agenda item 1.]

2. Long-Range U.S. Policy Toward the Near East (NSC 5428;1 NIE 30–2–57;2 Memo for NSC from Acting Executive Secretary, subject: “Military Implications of Joint Resolution 117 on the Middle East”, dated June 27 [26], 1957;3 Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, subject: “Military Implications of Joint Resolution 117 on the Middle East”, dated July 16, 1957;4 NSC Action No. 1753;5 Memo for NSC from Acting Executive Secretary, subject: “U.S. Military Capabilities to Meet Situations Arising in the Middle East”, dated August 5, 1957;6 NSC Action No. 1771;7 NSC 5801;8 Staff Study on NSC 5801;9 Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, subject: “Long-Range U.S. Policy Toward the Near East”, dated January 20, 195810)

General Cutler briefed the Council at very great length and in great detail on the contents of the proposed new statement of policy toward the Near East. (A copy of General Cutler’s briefing note is filed in the minutes of the meeting, and another copy is attached to this memorandum.)11

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Thereafter, General Cutler called attention to the most significant split in views in NSC 5801, which occurred at the beginning of paragraph 30, reading as follows:

Defense–ODM–JCS Proposal State Proposal
“30. As a matter of priority, take action toward achieving an early resolution of the Arab-Israeli dispute. To this end develop proposals, for submission by the United States directly or through the UN or through a third party, under which the parties to the dispute can work toward a peaceful and equitable settlement differences.” “30. Constantly explore the prospects and possibilities of an effort by the United States directly, or by a third party inspired or encouraged by the United States, to persuade the Arab states and Israel to work toward a settlement along the lines of the Secretary of State’s speech of August of their 26, 1955.”

The President inquired, with respect to the State proposal, whether the subparagraphs of paragraph 30, which outlined the specific terms of a proposal to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute, were in general consonant with the settlement proposed by the speech of the Secretary of State on August 26, 1955. General Cutler replied in the affirmative, and then explained why the Joint Chiefs of Staff favored the left-hand version of the introduction to paragraph 30, and why the State Department felt that its proposal was more realistic.

The President agreed that the version on the left-hand side was certainly more affirmative in tone, but he expressed the opinion that if the subparagraphs of paragraph 30 were acceptable, as they appeared to be, to both sides, he would prefer the State version rather than the Defense–JCS proposal, because the State version provided the greater flexibility in any attempt to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute.

General Cutler then called on General Twining to express any further views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Twining replied that he had nothing to add to the written views of the Joint Chiefs in favor of the version of paragraph 30 on the left-hand side. General Cutler then called on Secretary Quarles.

Secretary Quarles said he must admit that in paragraph 30 the Defense Department appeared to be meddling in the affairs of the State Department. Nevertheless, the Defense Department felt that it was so urgent to settle the Arab-Israeli dispute that a strong initiative by the United States was required. Our national policy on the Near East should be shaped by the concept that this was an area where World War III could very well commence. Moreover, our military authorities cannot guarantee to hold military actions in the Near East to small limited operations once war began. If everyone is prepared to accept this general [Page 8] concept, Defense would agree to the version of paragraph 30 favored by the Department of State.

Secretary Dulles asked if he might speak to the general problem of Arab-Israeli tensions. Certain considerations on this subject were of such a nature that they were not presented to the NSC Planning Board. Thus the state of Israel was in fact the darling of Jewry throughout the world, and world Jewry was a formidable force indeed. The views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and of the Department of Defense on the subject of a settlement, as well as the letter which Secretary Dulles had received from Secretary Quarles in December (peremptory in tone), were simply not realistic. This Administration had gone further in trying to moderate the policy and position of Israel, and to show greater sympathy for the Arabs, than any previous U.S. Administration. On the other hand, there were certain courses of action which simply could not be followed, from the domestic political point of view. When the state of Israel had been established, both the Department of State and the Department of Defense had been in agreement that the establishment of Israel, in the circumstances, would inevitably lead to the situation in the Near East which now confronts us. Nevertheless, the warnings and advice of the Departments of State and Defense had been ignored.

The best proof of the potency of international Jewry is that the Soviet Union, while constantly hinting to the Arab states that it will agree to help the Arabs to dismember Israel, has never actually come out publicly with such a statement of support. The Soviets rely on hints, and they are playing the game very cautiously despite the great prize which they could win in the Near East if they supported the destruction of Israel. Accordingly, if the USSR doesn’t dare to tackle this situation forthrightly, other nations must approach the problem with care too. Among all of our allies, not a single one would support the policy toward Israel which the Arabs are demanding. There is no situation in the world to which this Administration has given more thought than the Arab-Israeli dispute. There are very grave problems to be faced. There is no greater danger to U.S. security. Perhaps, indeed, the USSR will ultimately get control of the Near East; but, in any event, there has been no tendency whatsoever to minimize this danger in the State Department over the last ten years. Secretary Dulles went on to say that he had searched his mind for a formula for ending Arab-Israeli hostility which had some prospect of sticking. In fact, he had presented one such formula in his speech of August 26, 1955. Neither side—the Arabs or the Israelis—would budge one inch from its position in order to approach the terms of this particular formula. The situation was tragic and disturbing. We are confronted with a clear threat to the security of the United States, and we cannot present a clean-cut practical solution. Accordingly, we are in fact reduced to following the old British formula of “muddling [Page 9] through”. For this formula it can at least be said that it has worked after a fashion and has enabled us to maintain friendly relations thus far with Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. In short, while the situation was precarious, it was not presently desperate.

Secretary Dulles then commented that Hammarskjöld had just come back from the Near East with a thesis for settling Arab-Israeli hostility which Secretary Dulles said he would like very much to be able to believe in, but found it hard to do so. Hammarskjöld argues that if we can bring about a union of the Arab states and end the insecurity in which the Arabs continually feel they live, then a mood of confidence would arise and the problem of Israel would become a secondary matter of a mere boundary dispute rather than a primary matter—that is, a threat to the security of the Arab nations. Secretary Dulles repeated that he found it extremely hard to accept the validity of Hammarskjöld’s reasoning. If, indeed, the Arab nations did achieve unity, would the consequences be those suggested by Hammarskjöld? Or, on the contrary, would a united Arab state feel itself strong and secure enough to destroy Israel? Moreover, a unification of the Arab states might make Western Europe’s situation with respect to oil even more serious than it now was. If the policy on the supply of oil from the Arab states to Western Europe were made uniform as a result of the unification of the Arab states, [2 lines of source text not declassified] the threat to the vital oil supply of Western Europe from the Near East would become critical. There were thus dangers in Hammarskjöld’s thesis, though he is continuing to work on it.

Secretary Dulles went on to point out that one cannot always predict Soviet actions. It would appear that the Soviets have a free and open field in the Near East into which they could rush; but in point of fact, they have not moved in on the Near East as rapidly as they are capable of. They joined in the foundation of Israel and for a considerable time thereafter the Soviets backed the Israelis. Then they modified their policy and assumed a neutral position between Israel and the Arab states. Then, three or four years ago, they changed again, and adopted an out-and-out pro-Arab position. In brief, the situation in the Near East was too uncertain to permit us to say that we are doomed because at this time we cannot perceive a clear-cut and immediate course of action to settle this great problem of Arab-Israeli hostilities.

General Cutler explained the Planning Board’s view of Arab unity, pointing out that the Planning Board recommendation would apply to unification only of the Arab states within the Arab peninsula. The Planning Board felt that if we could achieve such a unification, the interests of the United States would be better served if and when the present pro-Western Arab regimes fell. Secretary Dulles replied that he was not saying that the State Department opposed moves in the direction of Arab [Page 10] unity; but the State Department wanted to be very careful that we did not end up by uniting the Arab states against the United States and the West.

The Vice President commented that he thought that the State Department version of paragraph 30 was adequate. On the other hand, anyone who has visited the Near East or studied the area must certainly have reached the conclusion that the major immediate problem there was the problem of the Arab refugees. On this problem the Vice President said he urged a new look and the allocation of new resources and money if they were needed. Solution of the refugee problem, the Vice President thought, was the thing to concentrate on at the moment.

Secretary Dulles replied that in point of fact the Under Secretary of State was giving his special attention currently to trying to devise an answer to the Arab refugee problem, and he accordingly invited Secretary Herter to comment. Secretary Herter observed that every approach thus far made to the Arabs on ways and means to solve the problem elicited no response whatsoever. While the Israelis had indicated a willingness to make some concessions to start solving this problem, they naturally do not want to put all their cards on the table at once.

Mr. George Allen said that he well understood the frustrating character of all attempts to solve Arab-Israeli tension. Nevertheless, he had one suggestion to throw out, which the members of the Council, he feared, might find rather shocking at first sight. The question of further Jewish immigration into Israel was perhaps an even more difficult aspect of Arab-Israeli hostility than the question of the Arab refugees. Could we consider, accordingly, a position that the United States will not support any further immigration into Israel except in instances where religious persecution of Jews is shown to exist? The Zionists of the world would not be happy with such a U.S. position, but middle-of-the-road Jews throughout the world would probably give this position considerable support. Most of the Jews who at the present time desire to emigrate and go to Israel come either from Morocco and Tunisia or else from areas behind the Iron Curtain. There is no religious persecution of Jews in Morocco and Tunisia, and the Jews within the Soviet Union at least suffer no more religious persecution than Christians. Accordingly, Mr. Allen thought his proposal worth consideration. If we took up a policy of opposing further immigration of Jews into Israel we would, of course, have to follow up this policy by refusing tax exemption to contributions made by Americans in support of organized immigration into Israel.

Secretary Dulles expressed the belief that we could not end such tax exemptions without recourse to an Act of Congress, and he and his State Department colleagues believed that there was no possibility of the Congress passing an act to end tax exemption on contributions made on [Page 11] behalf of emigrants desiring to settle in Israel. This proposal, in point of fact, had been studied for a long time in the State Department. Secretary Dulles then pointed out that the Israelis have recently applied to the Export-Import Bank for a large loan designed for developmental purposes in Israel. The Bank has advised the State Department that the Israeli loan request is a borderline case, and the Bank will be prepared to grant the loan if the State Department says that such a course of action is advisable. On the other hand, Secretary Dulles had told Ambassador Eban that the State Department thinks it unwise to help Israel to develop additional lands and resources if the newly-available land is to be devoted to helping new immigrants into Israel rather than helping refugees already there. If the Israelis would agree that such a loan would be used to assist the existing population, it would probably be in the interests of the United States to grant the loan. Ambassador Eban has stated that he would talk to Prime Minister Ben-Gurion about our views on this loan, but we expect a negative response from Ben-Gurion. In short, the State Department would like to make this loan conditional on the adoption by Israel of a new over-all immigration policy with perhaps some help to the Arab refugees. On the other hand, we doubt very much whether our hopes are a real possibility in an election year.

In response to Secretary Dulles’ expression of pessimism, the Vice President pointed out that if the Administration made a real issue of this matter, it would win in Congress in the long run. The Vice President expressed himself as opposed to granting the Export-Import Bank loan to Israel unless it were part and parcel of a new over-all immigration policy by Israel.

Admiral Strauss asked if he might comment. He stated at the outset that he was not a Zionist and, on the contrary, he had opposed the creation of the state of Israel. He still made no contributions to the support of Israel, his contributions being confined to assisting the Arab refugees in Israel. Nevertheless, he believed that perhaps the Secretary of State was under the misapprehension that all Jews in the world were strongly behind the Israeli state. This was not so. The creation of Israel had managed to save the lives of two or three million Jews. Mr. Allen’s point—that Jews desiring to emigrate to Israel came from countries where Jews were not persecuted for their religion—was not quite accurate. It overlooked the fact that in countries like Morocco and Tunisia economic persecution of Jews stemmed directly from the fact that they were Jews. Thus, if we try to limit immigration into Israel and to impede philanthropy in support of this immigration, we would not only lose the support of all Zionists, but we would also lose the broad support of all philanthropic people as well, unless we could find alternate havens of refuge for persecuted Jews. At the moment, Admiral Strauss said he could see no such alternate havens.

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Mr. Allen pointed out that his proposal did not contemplate merely preventing further immigration of Jews into Israel. This course of action would be balanced by other courses of action to make an acceptable package.

(At this point in the meeting—10:10 a.m.—General Cutler pointed out that Secretary Quarles would have to leave the meeting presently to go to Capitol Hill, and that before Secretary Quarles left he would like to read to the Council the record of action on “Priorities for Ballistic Missiles and Satellite Programs” which the President had recently approved. For discussion of this item, see the next agenda item.)

General Cutler then asked the Council to direct its attention to the two other splits in NSC 5801. The first of these occurred in the first sentence of paragraph 31, which he read as follows:

“Seek to maintain the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO) and the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) [and possibly expand their missions]*12 until such time as major differences between Israel and her neighboring states have been resolved and the likelihood of armed conflict has been significantly reduced.

“* JCS proposes deletion.”

General Cutler explained briefly why the Joint Chiefs of Staff were opposed to an attempt to expand the missions of the United Nations Emergency Force, and why the State Department believed that such an expansion would be desirable. In further explanation of the views of the Joint Chiefs, General Twining pointed out that the nations which had originally been interested in the UNEF at the time of the Suez controversy did not seem interested any more. Secretary Dulles commented that he doubted whether any significant expansion of the mission of UNEF was likely or that it would be likely to undertake new tasks. On the other hand, it might be desirable to expand the mission of UNEF to the point that the UNEF could be stationed on both sides of hostile borders rather than being confined, as now, to the Arab side of the border. Secretary Dulles paid tribute to the valuable service which the UNEF had performed in the past. General Cutler suggested language which met the Secretary of State’s point and which was agreeable to the other members of the Council.

General Cutler next directed the Council’s attention to the remaining difference of view, which occurred in paragraph 44, reading as follows:

“When pro-Western orientation is unattainable, accept neutralist policies of states in the area even though such states maintain diplomatic, trade and cultural relations with the Soviet bloc (including the receipt of military equipment) so long as these relations are reasonably [Page 13] balanced by relations with the West. Be prepared to provide economic and [reimbursable]*13 military assistance to such states in order to develop local strength against Communist subversion and control and to reduce excessive military and economic dependence on the Soviet bloc.

“*Defense and Treasury proposal.”

After General Cutler explained the opposition of Defense and Treasury to providing grant military assistance to the states of the Near East, the President commented that in point of fact we do give military assistance to certain nations with whom we have no military agreements. To that extent, at least, we provide grant military assistance to neutral nations.

On the other hand, Secretary Dulles stated that he was inclined to agree with the proposal made by the Joint Chiefs of Staff that we decide to provide such aid on a case-by-case basis. We should remember, for example, that we might want to provide small amounts of grant military aid to Yemen if doing so offered a chance of changing the present direction of Yemen’s policy.

The President then suggested revised wording for paragraph 44.

The National Security Council: 14

Discussed the draft statement of policy on the subject contained in NSC 5801; in the light of the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thereon, transmitted by the reference memorandum of January 20, 1958.
Noted the statement by the Vice President as to the urgency of dealing with the Arab refugee problem.
Adopted the statement of policy in NSC 5801, subject to the following amendments:
Page 18, paragraph 30: Include the State proposal in the right-hand column.
Page 20, paragraph 31: Substitute for the bracketed phrase and the footnote thereto, the following:”, with possibly a limited expansion of their missions,”.
Page 24, paragraph 43: Revise the first sentence to read as follows: “Resist Soviet proposals for agreements designed to obtain explicit and formal acknowledgment of the Soviet presence and interests in the area.”
Page 24, paragraph 44: Substitute for the last sentence and the footnote thereto, the following: “Be prepared to provide assistance, on a case-by-case basis, to such states in order to develop local strength against Communist subversion and control and to reduce excessive military and economic dependence on the Soviet bloc.”

Note: NSC 5801, as amended by the action in c above, subsequently approved by the President; circulated as NSC 5801/1 for implementation [Page 14] by all appropriate Executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government; and referred to the Operations Coordinating Board as the coordinating agency designated by the President.

[Here follow agenda items 3–6.]

S. Everett Gleason

[Attachment] 15

Briefing Note by the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Cutler)


The Planning Board has been studying the Near East area (involving 11 nations) since September, at ten meetings. In no case that I remember have we been at more pains to inform ourselves. We have made full use of eight National and Special Intelligence Estimates, have prepared and discussed comprehensive economic and military compilations, and have considered an excellent Staff Study prepared by the State Department against this background (and which has been issued under a separate cover).
Current trends in the Near East are unfavorable to Western interests; US and Western influence has declined, while Soviet influence has greatly increased. Let me summarize from the General Considerations the beliefs generally held by Arabs today:
(Para. 2.) Many Arabs believe that the US is seeking to protect its interest in Near East oil by supporting the status quo and by opposing political or economic progress.
(Paras. 2, 8.) Many Arabs believe that the US seeks to maneuver the Arab states into a position where they will be committed to fight in a world war against the Soviet Union, in the face of traditional Arab reluctance to any sort of commitment.
(Para. 2.) Many Arabs believe that the USSR , on the contrary, favors the goals of Arab nationalism and is willing to support the Arabs in their efforts to attain these goals without a quid pro quo.
(Para. 6.) Many Arabs believe that their interests are best served by a competition between the Free World and the Soviet bloc, rather than by the exclusion of either.
(Paras. 6, 3.) Many Arabs believe that Israel poses a greater threat to Arab interests than Communist imperialism; and that Israel must be, if not destroyed, at least contained and isolated.
(Paras. 3, 4.) Many Arabs believe that, while the Soviets support the Arabs against Israel, the US gives Israel more aid through public and private channels than it gives to all Arab states, thus making it possible for Israel to maintain a powerful military machine; that the US supports the Israeli position on the Arab refugees and on immigration of Jews into Israel.
(Paras. 5, 8.) Many Arabs believe that, in the face of the Arab ideal for Arab unity, the US desires to keep the Arab world disunited in order to dominate the area, and is committed to work with “reactionary” elements to that end. Both the Baghdad Pact and the American Doctrine are interpreted as having this motivation.
(Para. 11.) Many Arabs identify the US with the “colonial” and “ex-colonial” powers in the area. (The UK in the Persian Gulf and Aden; France in Israel and Algeria.)
(Para. 13.) Many Arabs believe that unfair arrangements with the oil companies and a Western desire to keep the Arab world as a source of raw materials and as a market for Israel prevent achievement of higher Arab living standards; that the US has the resources to perform economic miracles in the Arab countries if only it desired to do so.
Against such a background of mistaken and prejudicial Arab beliefs, these primary problems stand out in this ancient crossroad of civilization:
How and where to find enough indigenous strength—political, economic and military—upon which to build an effective resistance to Communist penetration; and how to deal with the Communist penetration which has already occurred in the area?
How to resolve the overriding Arab-Israeli dispute?
And, related to this last question, how to solve the Palestine refugee problem?
Our draft statement of policy recognizes these primary problems. While it goes further than the old policy in trying to meet them, some may think that it does not go far enough.
As to the first problem—how to find strength in the area upon which to build in order to counter Communist penetration and how to deal with the penetration which has already occurred—the policy guidance mentions three basic elements:
US support for the ideal of Arab unity, with discreet encouragement for ultimate union of Arab countries in the Arabian peninsula.
Greater emphasis upon the political and economic aspects of our policy, less upon the military.

Resistance to agreements with the USSR which would explicitly recognize the Soviet presence and interest in the area; but qualified acceptance of neutral policies on the part of Arab states.

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You will find these matters covered on pages 15–17, where I wish to call your attention to paras. 21, 23, 24, 25, 26. Also on pages 24 and 25, from which I will read paras. 43, 44, 45.

The Bloc has recently offered further credits to Yemen, raising to $61 million its total bid for control of Yemen. In view of this situation, I should like to read the paragraph on Yemen which is included in the country paragraphs at the end of the paper (para. 52 on page 28).

As to the second problem—how to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute—you will find general guidance on principles and a general proposal on procedure, but not action steps to solve the problem. Turn to page 18, where I ask you to look with me at paras. 30, 36, 38, 39 and 40.

As to the problem of the Palestinian refugees, the guidance suggests the continuance of existing programs and further study rather than a decisive course of present action. Turn to page 22, where I call attention to para. 37.

(A recent issue of the London Economist, commenting on the failure of certain UN governments to provide, or even promise, bare minimum funds needed to continue the Palestine Arab refugee program, gloomily prophesies—“for want of less than $1 million, a virtually guaranteed explosion in the Near East this year.”)

That the Planning Board has in some cases been able only to recommend the need for a solution, and a procedure to follow, instead of a substantive policy guiding to a solution, is frustrating. We recognize the difficult problems in the area and the difficulties involved in finding new answers to them—including the difficulty of changing policies to which we have been committed. But I wonder whether we must not soon seek out new measures in the political and economic fields which would take more account of the aspirations and beliefs of the Arab peoples rather than reflect too much our fears for them of the Communist threat (great as that threat is).
Mr. Randall finds the proposed policy satisfactory from the standpoint of foreign economic policy.

The Department of Agriculture has no objection to the two paragraphs (56–57) on agricultural surplus disposal.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Gleason on January 23.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 3.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XII, pp. 594611.
  4. See ibid., p. 935, footnote 8.
  5. See ibid., footnote 9.
  6. See ibid., p. 573.
  7. See ibid.
  8. See ibid.
  9. See footnote 1, Document 3.
  10. Prepared by the Department of State, entitled “Long-Range Policy Toward the Near East,” January 15, 1958. (Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5801 Memoranda)
  11. This memorandum from Lay to the NSC transmitted the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, January 17, on NSC 5801. (Ibid.)
  12. Printed below. The minutes of all National Security Council meetings are in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, Official Meeting Minutes File.
  13. Brackets in the source text.
  14. Brackets in the source text.
  15. Paragraphs a–c and the Note that follows constitute NSC Action No. 1845, approved by the President on January 24. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)
  16. Top Secret.