69. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Policy Planning (Mathews) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Jones)0


  • S/P Views on the Baghdad Pact

In response to your oral request, I send you this brief statement of S/P’s views on the Baghdad Pact.

Since the Iraqi coup a year ago and particularly since Iraq’s recent formal withdrawal from the Pact, earlier notions of building upon Iraq’s membership to expand the Baghdad Pact further into the Arab world have been abandoned. It is recognized that of the remaining regional members Turkey looks primarily to NATO for support and Pakistan to SEATO. The Pact is increasingly coming to be regarded as a device to bolster and support one member—Iran. The other members now argue that the US should adhere to the Pact and/or agree to a more formal military structure in order to improve the confidence and morale of the Shah and his supporters in Iran.

If it is the judgment of the US Government that Iran needs greater assurance of US support, S/P believes that the proper course is to enter into a bilateral treaty of alliance and guarantee with Iran. Provision of these assurances through the Baghdad Pact seems unnecessarily [Page 228] cumbersome and likely to have important adverse consequences for US national interests.

S/P foresees the following adverse consequences of either US adherence to the Baghdad Pact or US agreement to a combined military command structure under the Pact:

The regional members, particularly Iran and Pakistan, would expect and demand substantially increased military aid from the US. Given the prevailing trend of Congressional opinion, substantially increased military aid is hardly likely to be forthcoming, with resultant disappointment and recriminations on the part of the regional members.
Whether or not increased US military aid were forthcoming, the regional members would be encouraged to give even more attention to military strength at the expense of economic progress. The prospect for Iran and Pakistan appears bleak indeed unless their governments give much higher priority than they have in the past to effective measures to bring about economic improvement.
US relations with other area states would be seriously damaged. Iran and Pakistan make no secret of their view that the Baghdad Pact should deal with alleged threats from their area neighbors as well as the USSR.1 India would regard US adherence or agreement to a command structure as an unfriendly act and anti-US elements in India would be strengthened. Afghanistan might well feel impelled to even closer relations with and greater dependence on the USSR. Our efforts to rebuild normal relations with Iraq would be jeopardized. New suspicions of our intentions would be aroused in the UAR.

In view of the present extent of US involvement in the Baghdad Pact, a collapse of the Turkey–Iran–Pakistan alliance would be a blow to the US.2 It is necessary, therefore, that the US continue to support the alliance. S/P believes that this support should be increasingly directed toward economic projects with a Pact coloration.

  1. Source: Department of State, PPS Files: Lot 67 D 548, Near and Middle East, 1959–1961. Secret.
  2. There was an exchange of views between the Department of State and U.S. Embassies in the Baghdad Pact regional member states on whether the pact should initiate contingency planning against Soviet-inspired aggression—either direct or indirect—from Afghanistan and Iraq. As a result the Department concluded that such planning would be a mistake since it would introduce into Baghdad Pact military planning the “Pandora’s Box” of intra-area disputes. In addition, knowledge of such planning would surely leak out. (Telegram 704 to Kabul, repeated to Karachi and Tehran, June 18; telegram 2806 from Karachi, June 23; telegram 2582 from Tehran, June 30; telegram 22 from Baghdad, July 2; telegram 23 from Kabul, July 9; and telegram 200 to Iraq, also sent to Kabul, Karachi, Tehran, and repeated to Ankara and London, June 22. (Ibid., Central Files, 780.5/6–1859; 780.5/6–2359; 780.5/6–3058; 780.5/7–259; 780.5/7–959; and 780.5/7–2259, respectively)
  3. Ambassador Warren was a strong proponent of the view that the Baghdad Pact was at a critical stage and might well disintegrate unless positive steps were taken. (Despatch 788 and telegram 216 from Ankara, June 11 and July 21; ibid., 780.5/6–1159 and 780.5/7–2159)