25. Record of Meeting1


  • Under Secretary of State, Chairman
  • Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • Gen. Brown, for the Chairman, JCS
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • Director, United States Information Agency
  • Administrator, Agency for International Development
  • Under Secretary of the Treasury
  • Counselor of the Department of State
  • Staff Director
  • Mr. Battle—NEA
  • Ambassador Holmes
  • Gen. McDonald
  • Gen. Orwat, JCS
  • Mr. Hoopes, ISA


Record of Discussion and Agreement of 21st Meeting of September 14, 1967

[Here follows discussion of administrative matters.]

C. Holmes’ Study

Chairman thanked Ambassador Holmes and his group for work they have done in preparing this useful input into general USG consideration of policies and actions in Middle East over coming years. He asked that this discussion concentrate on Soviet threat aspect and Ambassador Holmes’ projected consultation in NAC. Chairman mentioned that instructions to Ambassador Holmes for his NAC consultation were circulated to SIG members for information and that State would clear these in normal course. IRG/EUR will undertake to coordinate the “sanitized” version of Holmes’ Report which would be authorized for circulation to other NATO partners.

Ambassador Holmes presented his report and rather than repeating contents of report, concentrated on answering comments and criticisms he had received. He emphasized that the report had started out in March to estimate the situation in the area and particularly Soviet [Page 63] activity but that the emphasis of the report had changed after the outbreak of hostilities in June. He wanted to stress that the report had not intended to conclude that the sole or main aim of Soviet policy was to out-flank NATO. Rather, it was the intention of the drafters to indicate that Soviet activity in the Middle East was an expression of historic Soviet policy—an attempt to break out to warm water ports. He recalled that this had been Soviet aim at Potsdam and in later confrontations. He said that there had been Soviet gains since 1955 when the first Czech arms deal was announced, mentioning latest evidence in shipment of 400 tanks and 120 aircraft to Algeria. The report, he said, makes no claim to correlate the decline in Western influence with the increase in Soviet activity. They see no Soviet blueprint for what has happened in the area, but rather the Soviet Union has set out to move in where it could, and it has had some successes. He said that while the study may have over-emphasized Soviet ability to achieve dominance, they had pointed out certain blocks to Soviet activity in the form of radical nationalism and moderate leadership. He felt that they could not deal with all aspects of the problem and suggested that more work could usefully be done on trends in the area.

He ended his presentation by saying he felt it was important for US to take whatever actions necessary to blunt Soviet penetration and that it is prudent to regard the threat as of maximum potential in deciding what actions might be taken. He hoped that out of consideration of this report and further activity would come agreement on a set of objectives—a strategy (quite separate from any initiatives) that would be a guide and doctrine, particularly for our overseas posts.

Various members of the SIG made the following suggestions and comments, as of use to Ambassador Holmes in his consultations in NATO and as guidelines for future study within the Government:

Without appearing to over-emphasize likelihood US might in calm way suggest that NATO military authorities take a look at the implication for NATO of possibility Soviets might at some future date put forces in study area. Thought was expressed that Soviets might have come close to this in Syria in June.
In attempting to convince Europeans of importance Soviet activity, analysis should be more along lines Ambassador Holmes’ oral presentation to SIG, in sense that it recognizes this is not just Soviet-Western clash in area, but that indigenous political forces play major role. In fact, these forces call in Soviets and encourage East-West competition as way of establishing their own independence. Our emphasis should be more on supporting the moderate, independent forces, rather than just obtaining influence.
We should examine the role of propaganda in recent Middle East Crisis and consider further what we and NATO countries can do in [Page 64] future to improve and coordinate our propaganda. (USIA has recently prepared a report on this which might be useful to Ambassador Holmes and Ambassador Cleveland.)
Although Holmes’ Report indicates it unlikely Soviets will want bases in area, fact is Soviets have had operational access to facilities in area and intelligence community might wish to evaluate this access as a factual input into NATO study. Also use of Soviet instructors.
We also might prepare as much information as possible on the Soviet role in triggering recent events for discussion with our NATO allies.

In addition, SIG members agreed study should continue on various gaps noted in the report and on the initiatives suggested. The Chairman directed the IRG/NEA in coordination with IRG/AF, to prepare an analysis on the trends in the area which would give a better view of what obstacles there might be to Soviet action in terms of indigenous activity by radical nationalists or moderates. (This report should be completed by November 1 and a SIG meeting scheduled to discuss it.) He also directed the IRG/NEA and IRG/AF to canvass immediate actions which we might be able to initiate in the study area even with present limited resources. (This should be completed by November 1.)

Three other actions were requested:

A policy should be developed by IRG/NEA in cooperation with IRG/AF which provides guidance for our future arms transfers to the area and puts in some framework the recent requests for arms shipments and our proposed responses. (This should be completed by October 15.)
We should have a better assessment of our oil interests by the IRG/NEA in cooperation with the IRG/AF and whether or not the threat to these interests can be minimized. (This should be completed by November 15.)
We ought to have a better study of Soviet capabilities (political, military and economic) by the intelligence community—including the amount of resources the Soviet Union might be likely to devote to the area. This should be compared with the on-going costs in external resources needed by such major countries in the area as the UAR and Algeria. (This should be done by October 1.)

It was agreed that there should be further discussions in the SIG on these subjects and that sometime in the near future it might be useful to schedule an NSC meeting or meetings for the purpose of airing these issues.

I will send separate individual action memos based on the above.

AA Hartman
Staff Director
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/NE (Critchfield) Files: Job 80-00205A, Box 6, Soviet Presence in ME; Events Surrounding 1967 ME War. Secret. Drafted by Staff Director Arthur A. Hartman on September 18.