50. Memorandum of Discussion at the 384th Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and agenda items 1–3.]

4. U.S. Policy Toward the Near East (NSC 5801/1; NSC Action No. 1973; SNIE 30–3–58; SNIE 30–4–58; Memo for NSC from Acting Executive Secretary, subject: “Factors Affecting U.S. Policy Toward the Near East”, dated August 19, 1958; NSC 5820; Memos for NSC from Executive Secretary, subject: “U.S. Policy Toward the Near East”, dated October 141 and 24, 1958;2 NSC Action No. 19993)

In the course of briefing the Council on the changes made in the text of NSC 5820 by the Planning Board in the light of last week’s Council discussion of this report, Mr. Gray emphasized that the revised paragraph 36–a illustrated the general approach which the paper as a whole took to the controversial issue of how best to deal with Nasser. Mr. Gray read paragraph 36–a in which the Council indicated its satisfaction and concurrence. Revised paragraph 36–a reads as follows:

“36. a. Seek to normalize our relations with the United Arab Republic. Recognizing that U.S. accommodation with Nasser would contain elements contrary to U.S. interests, deal with Nasser as head of the UAR on specific problems and issues, area-wide as well as local, affecting the UAR’s legitimate interests, but not as leader of the Arab world.”

(A copy of Mr. Gray’s briefing note is filed in the minutes of the meeting, and another is attached to this memorandum.)4

Mr. Gray then called attention to paragraph 14–d on page 9 of NSC 5820, reading as follows:

“d. Nevertheless, if it is determined that U.S. objectives in the area would be advanced thereby (as might be the case if area states were to be prevented from becoming wholly dependent on Soviet bloc sources for military equipment), [provide limited military aid, grant or reimbursable.] [provide military aid in amount and type appropriate to meet the situation.]”5

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He pointed out that most members of the Planning Board preferred the language in the first bracket, whereas the Joint Chiefs of Staff preferred the language in the second bracket. Because this was the only remaining difference of view in the paper, Mr. Gray explained the positions taken by the two parties, and thereafter called on General Twining for further elucidation of the position of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on this difference.

General Twining explained his view and that of the Chiefs, that if we really proposed to keep the Soviets out of the Middle East, which was one of our major objectives, we should do whatever was necessary to secure this objective. Whether our aid was limited or otherwise would depend on the circumstances.

The President expressed his preference for the first version, containing the term “limited”, because it seemed to him that the use of the term “limited” was consistent with what the United States always sought—namely, to avoid getting in the middle of nations competing for our arms. By and large the President expressed the thought that the differences in language in paragraph 14–d constituted a distinction without a difference.

Secretary Dulles commented that as far as the difference in language in paragraph 14–d was concerned, State was quite prepared to take either version. After all, the United States never did provide unlimited aid to any nation. On the other hand, our aid is always limited in some degree, and of course the term “limited” did not mean insignificant. The President suggested that the problem might be met by adding language to state that we would provide military aid in the amount necessary “to comply with our best interests.” Mr. Stans, Director of the Bureau of the Budget, indicated certain anxieties as to the budgetary implications of the JCS language, and stated he preferred the first version, calling for the provision of limited aid. Mr. Stans pointed out that it was always possible for the Government to authorize exceptions to the provision of merely limited aid if the circumstances warranted.

Mr. Gray expressed the view that the members of the Planning Board had not intended the term “limited” to be synonymous with the word “token”.

Secretary Quarles then suggested that the Council agree to take the second version, adding some such phrase as “in the minimum amount necessary to meet the situation.” The Council agreed to this proposal.

Mr. Gray next called attention to paragraph 27, on pages 15 and 16 of NSC 5820, dealing with U.S. courses of action in the event of renewed Israeli-Arab armed conflict. Mr. Gray expressed the opinion that in view of Mr. Allen Dulles’ warning of the possibility of a new outbreak of hostilities between Israel and the Arab states, the Council should be [Page 184] particularly aware of the policy guidance on this subject in paragraphs 27, 28, and 29, which he proceeded to read, as follows:

  • “27. In the event of major Israeli-Arab armed conflict not coming within the American doctrine, the United States should be prepared to take the following concurrent actions against the state or states which are determined by a United Nations finding or, if necessary, by the United States, to be responsible for the conflict or which refuse to withdraw their forces behind the Palestine Armistice line of 1949:
    • “a. Raise the matter in the United Nations with a view to halting the aggression.
    • “b. Discontinue U.S. Government aid.
    • “c. Embargo U.S. trade.
    • “d. Prevent the direct or indirect transfer of funds or other assets subject to U.S. control.
    • “e. Seek a United Nations resolution calling on all states to desist from sending military materiel and personnel to such state or states.
  • “28. Take the following actions either before or concurrent with measures outlined in paragraph 27:
    • “a. Urge other countries, as appropriate, to take action similar to that of the United States.
    • “b. Make every effort to secure United Nations sanction and support for all such actions.
  • “29. Because the actions in paragraphs 27–28 above may not be sufficient to end the hostilities promptly, be prepared to take appropriate military action against the aggressor. Such action should be taken through the United Nations, although unilateral action by the United States might be required.”

The President pointed out that these paragraphs emphasized the serious problem which might face the United States in attempting to determine who precisely was the aggressor in the event of a war between Israel and the Arab states. Secretary Dulles agreed with the President that it would indeed be very difficult to define the aggressor, particularly if the Kingdom of Jordan disintegrated. In short, an Arab-Israeli war would probably not develop in the way that the aforementioned paragraphs seemed to anticipate.

Mr. Stans called particular attention to the first sentence of paragraph 27, pointing out that if war occurred, Israel would almost certainly move beyond the Palestine Armistice line of 1949 and would, accordingly, be the aggressor. Secretary Dulles thought that Mr. Stans had made a good point.

The President turned to General Twining and asked him if the Joint Chiefs of Staff had ever war-gamed a situation in which the Egyptians and Syrians had moved against Jordan and the Israelis had replied by attacking first Syria and then Egypt. General Twining replied that the [Page 185] Chiefs had not undertaken such a war game, but would be glad to look into it. The President cautioned that he did not wish an elaborate report, but merely a short memorandum on the subject. General Twining added that his views coincided with those of the President, that the Israelis could again defeat their enemies if war broke out in the Near East.

Secretary Dulles, reverting to the point that Mr. Stans had called attention to earlier, suggested that it might be wise to strike out of the first sentence of paragraph 27 the lines relating to the refusal to withdraw forces behind the Palestine Armistice line of 1949. Agreeing with the Secretary of State’s proposal, the President added that of course no armistice line would exist between Jordan and Israel if the Jordanian state collapsed. Over and above this, the present phraseology seemed to the President too precise and narrow a definition of the aggressor. He suggested deletion of this phraseology.

Mr. Allen Dulles commented on the phraseology of paragraph 41, dealing with Yemen, reading as follows:

“41. Seek to improve the U.S. position in Yemen, as opportunities present themselves, through such measures as the establishment of resident diplomatic representation, the rapid implementation of a few sound development projects with impact value, and the encouragement of U.S. private economic activity. Seek through cooperation with other appropriate states to restrict Soviet penetration. Seek to lend good offices to the extent possible to improve United Kingdom–Yemen relations.”

He pointed out that the Russians and Czechs had secured a strong foothold in Yemen. As a result, he felt it possible that certain tribal elements might well stage a revolt against the Imam, who had permitted this Communist infiltration. Thus a quite critical situation could develop. Mr. Dulles felt that the paragraph gave adequate guidance [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].

Finally, Mr. Gray suggested that the Council take a good look at paragraph 38, on pages 20 and 21 of NSC 5820, with regard to U.S. policy toward Jordan, reading as follows:

“38. a. Recognizing that the indefinite continuance of Jordan’s political status has been rendered unrealistic by recent developments and that attempts on our part to support its continuance may also represent an obstacle to our establishing a working relationship with Arab nationalism, seek, in the context of constructive efforts by the UN and individual states, to bring about peaceful evolution of Jordan’s political status and to reduce the U.S. commitment in Jordan.

“b. Bearing in mind that an abrupt change in Jordan’s status would be viewed generally as a political defeat for the West, be prepared in the interim, for essentially political reasons, to provide necessary assistance which might be used for economic development, budgetary support, and military assistance. Seek to transfer to Jordan’s Arab neighbors major responsibility for economic support of Jordan if at all possible.

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“c. Make every effort to avoid conflict between the Arabs and Israel as a result of an abrupt change in Jordan’s status.

“d. Encourage such peaceful political adjustment by Jordan, including partition, absorption, or internal political realignment, as appears desirable to the people of Jordan and as will permit improved relations with Jordan’s Arab neighbors. Seek to insure the peaceful acquiescence of Israel and of Jordan’s Arab neighbors in any such adjustment.”

Mr. Gray said he felt that this was pretty strong language, especially in paragraph 38-d. On the other hand, of course, no one seemed to be suggesting that Jordan could continue to exist in its present form and structure.

The National Security Council:6

Discussed the draft statement of policy on the subject contained in NSC 5820, as revised by the NSC Planning Board pursuant to NSC Action No. 1999–b (revisions transmitted by reference memorandum of October 24, 1958).
Adopted the statement of policy in NSC 5820, as revised, subject to the following amendments:
Page 9, paragraph 14–d: Delete the bracketed phrases, substituting therefor the following: “provide military aid in minimum amounts and of the type appropriate to meet the situation.”
Page 15, paragraph 27, lines 6 and 7: Delete the words “or which refuse to withdraw their forces behind the Palestine Armistice line of 1949:”
Noted the President’s request that the Joint Chiefs of Staff make a brief report to him, giving a current appraisal of comparative Arab-Israeli capabilities in the event of hostilities.

Note: The statement of policy in NSC 5820, as amended and adopted, subsequently approved by the President; circulated, together with the Financial Appendix and Annex B thereof, as NSC 5820/17 for implementation 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.

The action in c above, as approved by the President, subsequently transmitted to the Secretary of Defense for appropriate implementation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Gleason on October 31.
  2. See footnotes 18, Document 49.
  3. The October 24 memorandum contained the revisions to NSC 5820 made by the Planning Board as directed in NSC Action No. 1999.
  4. See footnote 13, Document 49.
  5. Attached but not printed.
  6. Brackets in the source text.
  7. Paragraphs a–c and the Note that follows constitute NSC Action No. 2003, approved by the President on November 4. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)
  8. Document 51.