41. Memorandum From the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Murphy) to Acting Secretary of State Herter 0

Dear Chris: I hesitate to burden you with another memorandum, but I have included in succinct form in the attached memorandum some thoughts regarding a Middle East settlement. The present opportunity would seem to be the best that has presented itself for a long time to make progress in this complicated problem. If we could settle on the lines of a program for the area, we might have some chance of success. Without a well defined line I should think our chances of losing out would be very much enhanced.


[Enclosure] 1

Memorandum Prepared by the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Murphy)

From numerous conversations with a variety of personalities and information from other sources in the Middle Eastern countries visited by me during the period July 16 to August 12,2 the following thoughts emerge:

A temporary if precarious balance of power has been achieved between the determination manifest by the United States and United Kingdom in the deployment of military forces on the one hand, and the [Page 144] popular dynamism of Arab unity as symbolized by Nasser on the other. This breathing space should be utilized to launch a program which will promote a constructive era and peace and stability in the area.
Propaganda. The United States should make an effective effort to appeal to the Arab masses, to their desire not only for better economic conditions and especially their craving to be treated with dignity and as equals.
Lebanon. Coincident with the phased withdrawal of U.S. forces, and the establishment of law and order, some form of international guarantee of the independence of Lebanon should be provided.

Jordan. This is the focus of the present danger in the area. The untenable position of the U.K. forces in Jordan requires that we carefully synchronize our withdrawal in Lebanon with theirs if possible. [10-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]

[1 paragraph (2-1/2 lines of source text) not declassified]

[3 paragraphs (21 lines of source text) not declassified]

Middle East Neutralization. With any success in dealing with the immediate problem of Jordan, the Conference could propose a neutralization of the area. [2-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] A more ambitious program might include guarantees of the boundaries of the U.A.R., Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf Sheikdoms. An inherent feature of the program would be the establishment of a form of international control of arms in the area.
A treaty would establish the Middle Eastern settlement. Its provisions could deal not only with the political features of the area but the economic and financial as well. It would contemplate large scale economic development and raised standards of living.
Iraq. It may well be that the present group in power may prove to be a transitory Kerensky type element. At first blush I believe a treaty of neutralization of the area would appeal to them especially in the light of their recent protestations. Iraq would disappear from the Baghdad Pact. That in itself would promote stability in the area.
Saudi Arabia. There seems little question that Saudi Arabia is moving toward neutralization.
Israel. If Israel’s borders were assured perhaps the Israelis would favor a regime of neutralization plus guarantees of frontiers.
Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. Obviously nothing in the foregoing relates to the neutralization of these countries.
Oil. The basic consideration of the United Kingdom is the guaranteed control of its present Persian Gulf oil rights. It wants the backing of the U.S. power to protect these rights. U.S. privately owned rights in that area are of major importance. The British hope for some form of US-UK manifesto of joint intention to defend those rights. A suitable decision [Page 145] on that question so vital to U.S. national security should be made prior to the convening of a Middle East Conference.
Nasser. This difficult personality is the core of much present day anxiety and effervescence in the Middle East. A psychological study, a complex of emotion, personal charm, and crusading ardor, Nasser has been at times the subject of American sympathetic support and at others the target of our antagonism based on our belief that he is guilty of duplicity and subversive activity in other Arab countries. There is no doubt that for many he symbolizes Arab unity and collective security, and that he has inflamed the imagination of millions of Arabs. Perhaps a vice of our policy is that we have never decided to go all out in a purpose to destroy him as a menace to peace, or to build him up (as has the USSR) in the hope that he may prove in the end a useful element which could be contained.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.80/8–1558. Top Secret.
  2. Top Secret
  3. Eisenhower dispatched Murphy to Lebanon to act as a coordinator between Lebanese and U.S. officials and to make a general assessment of the Middle East situation. For his role in the Lebanon crisis and his visit to Jordan, see volume XI. Murphy also visited Israel, Iraq, and the United Arab Republic. For Murphy’s discussions in Iraq, see Document 132. For documentation on his visits to Israel and Cairo, see volume XIII. Murphy wrote about his Middle East assignments in Diplomat Among Warriors (Garden City, NY, Doubleday & Co., 1964), pp. 397–416.