221. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State (Ball) and Secretary of Defense McNamara0

Ball—We had some information last night indicating there may be coups in Jordan today if it didn’t occur during the night. We’d like to have a serious look at what we do with the Sixth Fleet and also the evacuation plans for Americans, etc. I didn’t know whether you knew about it yet or not.

McNamara—I didn’t. I’ve been going over the cables, but I haven’t come across that.

Ball—You won’t find it in the cables. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] The thing is that this could precipitate into an Israeli move too, so that we may be in for some real trouble. I’m going to meet with the President at 10:15 on this. I’m not sure it wouldn’t be a good idea if you or one of your people—

McNamara—I’ll be happy to come over. 10:15 at the White House. We’ll look into the situation in the meantime and find out what we can do. What kind of arrangements if any are you thinking about.

Ball—I just got into this thing myself. The situation is that it would appear to be an army or military coup done with the complete knowledge of the UAR. To what extent it may result in a government by them if it succeeds is something that’s hard to tell at this moment. It’s all a part of that whole business that’s been going on in Iraq and Syria. The real problem is whether the Israelis will sit still.

McNamara—Suppose they didn’t?

Ball—Then there’s a real question as to what we do to keep this thing from really—

McNamara—Wouldn’t we try to get the UN in?

Ball—Yes, we’ve got some plans for that.

McNamara—Would we intervene as a UN force?

Ball—The thing would have to go in the Security Council immediately, and then there would be question as to whether they should try to put some kind of presence out there.1 The reason I called you is to have somebody look at the whole question of deployment, etc. and see what we might have to do fast either if there were some basis for our intervention or secondly on an evacuation for the American nationals there.

McNamara—I’ll have it by 10:15 meeting.


  1. Source: Kennedy Library, Ball Papers, Jordan. No classification marking.
  2. At 9:10 a.m., Ball telephoned Cleveland to alert him to the possibility that something might happen in Jordan that day and that the United States might need to go to the U.N. Security Council. (Ibid.)