Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume XVII, Near East, 1961–1962

  • Nina J. Noring
General Editor:
  • Glenn W. LaFantasie


The primary focus of the documents in this volume is on the foreign policymaking process of the U.S. Government, including documentation illuminating policy formulation and major aspects and repercussions of its execution. Emphasis is placed on official memoranda that reveal policy positions, show differences within the U.S. Government over policy formulation, summarize developments and positions regarding an issue, contain intelligence or military assessments, and describe decisions or actions taken at the National Security Council. Some key instructions sent to diplomatic posts in the region are included when they demonstrate the details of the execution of foreign policy. Memoranda of conversations with foreign leaders both abroad and in Washington were selected to provide additional information on the origins and impact of foreign policy decisions. The major topics and issues covered in volume XVII are as follows:

1. Interagency review of U.S. policy toward Iran and the U.S. decision to support a program of reform in that country. This topic received the greatest amount of coverage in the volume because of the extensive attention given to it by the highest levels of the U.S. Government and because the decision to support a program of economic and social, but not political, reform and to throw complete U.S. support behind Iranian Prime Minister Ali Amini had important ramifications for subsequent U.S.-Iranian relations. Records of discussions with the Shah, especially during his June 1964 visit to the United States, are included.

Additional documentation dealing with the interagency review and containing additional details relating to U.S. economic and military assistance programs in Iran is included in the compilation on Iran in the microfiche supplement.

2. Policies toward and efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute. Documentation is included describing U.S. policies and positions toward the numerous issues of the Arab-Israeli dispute. The most extensive coverage is given to U.S. support for and involvement in an initiative to resolve the Palestinian refugee question conducted by Joseph Johnson, who was a special representative of the U.N. Palestine Conciliation Commission.

Other issues include incidents of violence and violations of the 1949 Armistice Agreements, the Jerusalem question, Arab-Israeli differences over distribution of the waters of the Jordan River, matters relating to refugees and to Palestinian political organization, the Arab boycott of Israel, the question of direct negotiations between Israel and the Arab states, Arab treatment of non-Israeli Jews, location of foreign Embassies in Israel, and Israeli border questions. Documentation concerning U.N. General Assembly and Security Council consideration of Arab-Israeli issues and on interactions between U.S. domestic politics and U.S. Arab-Israeli policies is also included.

3. U.S. efforts to improve U.S. relations with President Nasser of the United Arab Republic. An important focus of the volume is the policy discussion and debate within the U.S. Government concerning the possibility of improving U.S. relations with Nasser. This policy review addressed questions of U.S. economic assistance to the United Arab Republic and whether to invite Nasser on a State visit to Washington. U.S. policy concerning economic assistance to the United Arab Republic is a major subject, but specific economic assistance programs are not covered in detail. The volume includes reports of conversations between U.S. officials and Nasser, important intelligence assessments concerning Nasser and his country, records of the most important correspondence between Presidents Kennedy and Nasser, and material showing the interest of key White House aides in improving relations with Nasser and President Kennedy's views on this subject, as well as some reporting on political developments within the country and on Nasser's relations with other Arab countries and Iran.

4. Israeli security issues. Among the most important issues covered in the volume is the background to the U.S. decision in August 1962 to supply Israel with the Hawk missile, the first major weapon system provided to Israel by the United States. Another issue documented in the volume is U.S. concern over Israel's nuclear reactor at Dimona. Little coverage is given in this volume to U.S. economic assistance to Israel or to political developments within Israel, although some additional documentation on these topics is included in the microfiche supplement.

5. The withdrawal of Syria from the United Arab Republic.

U.S. officials were concerned that Syria's withdrawal from its union with Egypt in September 1961 might lead to a general Near East war with disastrous ramifications for U.S. interests. The editor has selected substantial documentation on the U.S. response to this event, primarily handled through diplomatic channels, including the available White House documentation. Special attention was also given to the formulation of U.S. policy toward the new Syrian Government.

6. The Kuwait crisis of 1961. The editor has included documentation on the reaction of the United States during the brief crisis that developed when Iraq reasserted claims to Kuwait at the time of Kuwait's independence from the United Kingdom.