304. Memorandum From the Department of State Executive Secretary (Brubeck) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)0

SUBJECT

  • Article in June 25 New Republic Re Nasser

The article in the June 25 New Republic, “Courting Nasser”, in which the President has expressed an interest, is filled with distortions and [Page 745]untruths. The policy it attacks is a mockery of what in fact is our policy toward the UAR and the Near East generally.

Contrary to assertions in the article, all Presidential correspondence with Nasser was fully staffed throughout the government.1 We have never, of course, sought to “humor Nasser’s aspiration to be the key figure in mid-eastern politics”. We consulted with Nasser with regard to the Syrian crisis but certainly did not seek his “go-ahead” before recognizing the Syrian regime. Our timing and tactics paid handsome dividends in preserving our relations with the UAR and getting us off on the right foot with the new Syrian government.

United States assistance to the UAR in food, technical assistance and industrial loans has been tied closely to Embassy Cairo’s recommendations although details of our recent loans in support of the UAR’s IMF-backed stabilization program were worked out here with the UAR Minister of Economy. Our policies have been based on careful appraisal of our national interests and not the inspiration of any single individual. Nasser’s role in the Congo shifted to full support of the Adoula government when he became convinced that it was an independent one. We have no evidence of his playing a provocative role among the Mau-Mau (dead as an organization for several years). The canard that he showed willingness to deny the canal to Portuguese and Dutch ships in the Goan and West Irian crises is based on wholly unsubstantiated press stories. Nasser has gone in for anti-Iranian propaganda but we are working on a plan whereby both the UAR and Iran would cease simultaneously their mutually hostile radio broadcasts.2

We have not expected our policies to put Nasser at the end of a short string or induce him to abandon his neutralist policy nor to give up all ideas of a prominent role in the Arab world. Our objectives are not in this context.

We have expected, however, a number of things which are occurring—increased UAR concentration on its internal development with a growing inclination to leave aside touchy area problems, or, as Foreign Minister Fawzi has put it, “place in the icebox” the Arab-Israel dispute. We have been gratified by the consistent tapering off of anti-U.S. material in the Cairo press, by UAR endeavors to mend its fences with the Western governments and by a gradual thaw in our whole range of contacts with the UAR, from Ambassador Badeau down through our political officers in Cairo. The UAR is developing a stake in good relations with the United States and the West. The scope of the dialogue between [Page 746]us is expanding and the fabric of our ties is being strengthened. We expect disagreements may arise but we are convinced, too, that our present approach is gradually expanding our influence in Cairo with a consistently moderating impact on Nasser’s whole outlook.

Several of our Near Eastern Ambassadors reported at the recent conference in Athens nervousness among Near Eastern governments and leaders that we might be making Nasser our “chosen instrument”. But after full discussion our Ambassadors agreed that our present course toward the UAR was the one best calculated among available alternatives to serve the United States interest.

J.T. Rogers3
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.86B/6–2162. Confidential. Drafted by Thacher and cleared by Talbot.
  2. Attached but not printed is a “Chronology of Substantive Correspondence and Oral Messages Exchanged Between President Kennedy and President Nasser.”
  3. Documentation is in Department of State, Central File 686B.88.
  4. Jordan T. Rogers (S/S-S) signed for Brubeck above Brubreck’s typed signature.