12. Memorandum From the Department of State Executive Secretary (Brubeck) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)0
- Pattern of United Arab Republic Activities as Related to United States Economic Assistance
In response to a request from Mr. Feldman, there is enclosed an informal balance sheet giving in chronological order what we regard as recent favorable developments in our relations with the United Arab Republic as opposed to unfavorable developments.1 We have arbitrarily chosen as the point of departure, the tapering off of United States-United Arab Republic policy differences over the Congo in the spring and summer, 1961, since the Congo affair was the only major dispute to mar the process of “normalization” of relations with the United Arab Republic that began with the resumption of United States economic assistance in 1959. We feel these listings may be useful in comprehensively illustrating the degree of progress made in pursuing the action program charted by the Administration.
The balance sheet treatment naturally contains inevitable over-simplifications. Many of the issues listed, if examined in detail, might reflect both favorable and unfavorable elements or uncertainties regarding the future. Moreover it is clear that not all of the favorable developments are entirely attributable to our assistance program. Somewhat more adequate treatment of certain of the situations mentioned is contained in memoranda previously forwarded to you to which references are cited in the enclosure.
Even more importantly, the balance sheet is limited to tangible developments and thus does not reflect adequately the change in atmosphere and tone of our discussions with United Arab Republic leaders. The latter may well be of greater significance to our interests in the long-run. If the Department were to be asked to point to the most significant gain in our relations with the United Arab Republic since economic assistance programs were resumed in 1959, it would say that the progressively increasing disposition of United Arab Republic leaders from President Nasser down the line to consult and be consulted, to be more [Page 25]forthright in discussing issues and exploring solutions to problems, deserves high priority. Whereas formerly we faced a wall of suspicion and reserve, we are gradually working into a position of being able to get sympathetic hearings for our views and to elicit reasonably frank and genuine responses. While still unable to agree with the United Arab Republic on a number of issues, the dog-in-the-manger attitude of past years appears to be giving way to a disposition at least to work toward solutions of problems. In our view this provides a measure of guarantee for the future, even if the hoped-for solutions do not materialize, since the process of solution-seeking itself insures a degree of tranquility and stability.
We recognize that this is still a very fragile and uncertain relationship which might easily be broken by a hasty or ill-considered action, whether on the United Arab Republic’s part or on ours. Extreme care must thus be exercised to avoid undue expectations. In his June 21 letter to President Kennedy, President Nasser displayed a willingness to "keep differences within limits not to be exceeded.” The precise boundaries of these limits, which naturally might change with time, can only be determined by continuing the process of consultation which our assistance program has made possible. Establishment of a consultative atmosphere, albeit an intangible gain, is in our opinion a persuasive argument in favor of continuing the program of action we have charted.
We are cognizant, of course, that there have also been some disadvantages to this action program. It has aroused uneasiness in Israel and among some of our Western allies who are suspicious of Nasser. It has also aroused deep concern among anti-Nasser Arab leaders who believe, despite our assurances to the contrary, that our assistance makes Nasser appear in the area as our “chosen instrument” and to advance his personal objectives and his “Arab Socialist” policies. However, we expected this reaction when we decided to undertake the program, and we do not believe that it is likely seriously to affect our position in the area, especially as it becomes clearer to the complainants that our assistance to the United Arab Republic in no sense implies that we are abandoning them.