355. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1

SUBJECT

  • Israel-Jordan This Week

We’ve moved this week into the second phase of our effort to put together the pieces after Israel’s 13 November raid. Hussein is still on top of his security situation. Although the army has stuck with him in putting down demonstrations, morale is still a serious problem. We must now show enough movement in improving Jordan’s defenses to satisfy his military over the longer term.

He sent his army commander, General Khammash, here Monday2 with a stupendous $200 million request for equipment, army expansion [Page 697] and budget support. Secretary Rusk and I have both received him3 in an effort to make Hussein feel he is getting a fair hearing.

We will have to whittle Khammash’s request down to keep Hussein from ruining Jordan economically, but we probably can’t get off scot free. We’ll have to put together some kind of package and will try to gear it to streamlining existing forces and improving border control. We don’t agree with Hussein that this is chiefly a military problem because we don’t believe—as he does—that the Israeli attack was the first step in grabbing West Jordan. We are holding Secretary McNamara in reserve to sell our final proposition to Khammash when we have a clearer idea what we can do.

The Israelis have recovered their composure enough to take us to task mildly for supporting last week’s UN Security Council censure of Israel. They claim the UN action gives a blank check to the Arab governments backing the terrorists. We’re pressing them to beef up their own border control effort and to help improve the UN machinery there. They’re willing to talk about improving their own system, but we’ll have to press hard before they will be willing to see the UN beefed up. Nevertheless, we still feel the least that ought to come out of this mess is a system that will be a serious deterrent to continued terrorism.

We will be back to you with a formal proposal later.

Walt
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. VI. Secret.
  2. November 28.
  3. For Rusk’s meeting with Khammash, see Document 352. No record of Rostow’s meeting with him has been found, but a December 1 briefing memorandum from Wriggins and Saunders to Rostow is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Jordan, Vol. III. A December 1 memorandum from Wriggins and Saunders to Rostow concerning Macomber’s meeting with Khammash that morning is ibid., Name File, Wriggins Memos. A memorandum of a November 30 meeting between Townsend Hoopes and Khammash is in the Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 70 A 6648, 400.3295 Jordan.