27. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Near East-South Asia IRG Meeting
  • Friday, 5 January 1968
  • NSC Draft on U.S. Policy Objectives
  • Near East-South Asia 1968
Assistant Secretary Battle dispensed with further review of the draft NSC Middle East paper, accepting as essentially accurate the assertion that we do not have a comprehensive Middle East policy and that U.S. Middle East policy during the past year had been a patchwork of reactions to crises—Yemen and South Arabia in early 1967, the Athens Coup in April 1967, the Gulf of Aqaba in May followed by the Six-Day June War, Cyprus and the Vance Mission, King Constantine’s abortive 13 December coup and, completing the circle, a year-end focus on the Yemen. Although the IRG/NEA had concluded in late 1966 that an updated Middle East policy was an urgent requirement, 1967 had [Page 69] slipped by without real accomplishment. A single IRG/NEA meeting on the Holmes Study2 had been inconclusive. The IRG had never met to consider the IRG paper on NEA policy prepared by a small group chaired by Stuart Rockwell.
Reaction to the paper I had drafted and tabled on 4 January 19683 was that it represented a balanced and streamlined statement of policy but probably exceeded our capabilities. Also, it did not highlight the problems the NSC would have to deal with in 1968. Assistant Secretary Battle said that he had no problem with the substance of the paper; he thought the policy proposed probably came close to the minimum U.S. action required to preserve U.S. interests but that it almost certainly exceeded the means which would be available.
There was a lengthy discussion of the consideration the IRG should give to anticipated Congressional and public attitudes, domestic politics and limitations on resources in formulating foreign policy for consideration by the SIG, the NSC and the President. Throughout the meetings on 4 and 5 January 1968, the State NEA officers tended to be excessively negative and defeatist in this respect. Several of us, including Mr. John Campbell of State (who is updating a State position on the Holmes Study), argued that the IRG should, within reasonable limits, present the senior policy-makers with a realistic description of the minimum U.S. effort required to protect U.S. interests without attempting to pre-judge what was specifically feasible in terms of politics and resources.
Assistant Secretary Battle expressed particular interest in the concept of regional cooperation and solidarity and growing European and Japanese involvement in fields that had been dominated in past years by the U.S. and the U.K.
It was agreed that Mr. Campbell would develop an inventory of U.S. assets and liabilities opposite each of the proposed policy measures. Where major shortfalls in our ability to carry out the policy proposed were revealed, the policy-makers would have clearly and separately identified (a) the specific policy proposal, (b) the assumptions concerning political and material resources required to carry out the policy and (c) the assumptions concerning political and material resources available.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Assistant Secretary Battle (a) instructed the IRG Secretary, Sidney Sober, to draft a new version of the NSC paper drawing on comments made during the 4 and 5 January 1968 IRG meetings; (b) instructed Mr. Campbell to combine the paper I had submitted with his own efforts to distill something from the Holmes Study and to adopt the formula that the IRG had evolved for dealing with the growing problem of dwindling American resources for conducting foreign policy in the Middle East.
The IRG/NEA meeting on 8 January 1968—the third in the current series—will deal mainly with financial and technical problems related to longer-term aid to India and Pakistan.
A copy of the initial draft I had circulated on 4 January 1968 which was discussed in the IRG on 5 January 1968 is attached. It has no status as either an Agency or an IRG/NEA document. While it provoked a scattering of nitpicks and a few substantive disagreements on isolated elements, I think it probably represents a solid consensus of what the principals of the IRG/NEA feel should, in 1968, be U.S. Middle East policy. There is a majority view, however, that the means to carry out this policy will not be available.
James H. Critchfield 4
Chief, Near East and
South Asia Division
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 80 R-01580R, DCI Ex. Reg. Files, IRG. Secret. Copies of this document with its attachment were distributed to the DCI and seven other offices in the CIA.
  2. Document 22.
  3. Attached but not printed. Critchfield stated that the major U.S. policy objective in the Near East and South Asia in the next year was to preserve the peace while supporting the development of regional solidarity, stability, and independence free from any dominant great power influence. The problem was how to limit the spread of Soviet and Chinese influence while simultaneously keeping the intra-regional conflicts below the threshold of conventional warfare.
  4. Printed from a copy that indicates Critchfield signed the original.