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Abstract

The Eisenhower years marked the beginning of direct US activism in the Middle East. In the eyes of US policy makers in the 1950s, the Western oil interest was too vital for Washington to abandon to uncertainty. Nationalist forces were rising in the region — and though not simple handmaidens of the Soviet Union, were steeped in antagonism toward the West. One of the chief causes for this antagonism was the US commitment to Israel — a signal undertaking of the previous Administration. Eisenhower was left the task of trying to reconcile that commitment with the need to still Arab discontent. At the same time, the irreversible decline of British power created a political and military void that only the United States could fill.

Keywords

Middle East Gaza Strip Suez Canal Jewish State Military Assistance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Report prepared by State Department Office of Intelligence Research, ‘The British Position in the Middle East’, 2 October 1952, DDRS, (78) 415A.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
  3. 3.
    State Department briefing for the president, ‘Bermuda Meeting — December 4–6, 1953: Memorandum on Relative U.S.-U.K. Roles in the Middle East’, 27 November 1953, DDRS, (77) 237E.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Memorandum of conversation with the president, 21 November 1956, DDRS, (78) 451A.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    For a description of the proposed functioning of the Middle East Command, see negotiating paper by steering group on preparations for talks between the President and Prime Minister Churchill, ‘Middle East Command’, 4 January 1952, DDRS, (77) 67E.Google Scholar
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    JSPC 883/78, see note 6 above; Joint Chiefs of Staff memorandum, ‘Logistic Support of Our Strategy in the Middle East’, 12 August 1955, DDRS, (78) 367B.Google Scholar
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    [State Department?] memorandum to Eisenhower, DDRS, (78) 283A, note 6 above; Eden talks, Washington, 30 January–1 February 1956, memorandum of conversation, 30 January 1956, DDRS, (78) 283B; memorandum of conversation with the president, 20 December 1956, DDRS, (81) 391B.Google Scholar
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    See JCS comments on Iraq in memorandum, ‘Logistic Support of our Strategy in the Middle East’, note 7 above; see also Dulles’s remarks on the ‘unstable and weak situation in Iraq’ in State Department memorandum of conversation with the president, 15 June 1958, DDRS, (81) 371B. The State Department intelligence report, note 1 above, adverted to a shift of power from the ‘feudal oligarchy’ to an ‘emerging middle sector’ of Iraqi society, which had grown with the spread of secular education and urbanisation. This shift, the report asserted, was ‘part of a broad historical process, encouraged by factors which are integral to social and economic development’.Google Scholar
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    Briefing sheet prepared by the Joint Middle East Planning Committee for the Joint Chiefs of Staff special meeting, 18 February 1957, DDRS, (79) 375A (quote); report by the Joint Middle East Planning Committee to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ‘Military Action in Relation to the Jordanian Situation’, 19 February 1957, DDRS, (79) 375A; memorandum prepared in Office of Chief Naval Operations for the Secretary of the Navy, ‘Financial Crisis in Jordan’, 20 June 1957, DDRS, (70) 376A.Google Scholar
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    National Security Council Memorandum, ‘U.S. Policy Toward the Near East’, 4 November 1958, NSC 5820/1. Military action to protect European oil supplies was suggested only as a last resort and with the recognition that ‘this course … could not be indefinitely pursued’.Google Scholar
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    The correspondence is printed in Department of State Bulletin, 29 (20 July 1953): 74–7.Google Scholar
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    Eisenhower, The White Years: Waging Peace, 1956–1961 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1965) p. 266.Google Scholar
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    Briefing Notes by Allen Dulles, Meeting at the White House with Congressional Leaders, 14 July 1958, DDRS, (79) 12D (quote); Department of State to all US Diplomatic Posts, 14 July 1958, DDRS, (77) 134G; Department of State to US Embassy, Paris, 14 July 1958, DDRS, (76) 101H.Google Scholar
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    Memorandum of conference with the president, 24 July 1958, DDRS, (77) 355A. The Lebanon affair ended on a note of irony. In early June, President Nasser had contacted the United States with a three part formula for pacifying Lebanon: a) Chamoun would serve out his term (which expired on 28 September); b) Lebanese army commander General Fuad Chehab would become president; c) the opposition would be granted amnesty. Washington forwarded the proposal to Chamoun without endorsement, for as Dulles explained in a cable to Beirut, the United States would not ‘become accomplice with Nasser’ in anything the Lebanese government did not want. Chamoun obliged by ignoring Nasser’s initiative. Now, after the intervention in July, US envoy Robert Murphy brokered a settlement remarkably similar to the Nasser plan; a) Chamoun would finish out his term; b) the Chamber of Deputies would elect General Chehab to succeed him; and c) the new regime would pursue a policy of conciliation. So with respect to Lebanese internal politics, the outcome of the intervention was a solution that might have been achieved five or six weeks earlier with the co-operation of archenemy, Nasser. Moreover, Eisenhower had never fully appreciated the moderating role played by General Chehab. A Christian like Chamoun, Chehab had refused to order the army into offensive action against the Moslem rebels for fear of splitting his troops on religious lines and igniting full-scale confessional war. For Eisenhower, however, Chehab was derelict in his duty and should have been fired. Had the firing occurred, and a more aggressive commander put in Chehab’s place, Murphy might not have achieved such success in sponsoring the political settlement that Nasser had largely devised; Department of State to US Embassy, Beirut, 11 June 1958, DDRS, (81) 371A; State Department report of the history of the Lebanon crisis prior to 25 June 1958, DDRS, (76) 100J; Meeting at the White House with Congressional Leaders, 14 July 1958, note 34 above.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Minutes, bipartisan leadership meeting, 12 August 1956, DDRS, (76) 217B.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
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  41. 41.
    Eisenhower to Dulles (in Paris), 12 December 1956, DDRS, (76) 217D.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Eisenhower diary entries for 11 January and 8 March 1956, in Ferrell, The Eisenhower Diaries, pp. 307–8, 318–9 (quote).Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Eisenhower diary entry for 28 March 1956, Ferrell, The Eisenhower Diaries, pp. 323–4; memorandum by Dulles to the president, ‘Near Eastern Policies’, 28 March 1956, DDRS, (80) 302B (quote).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© William Stivers 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Stivers
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaFrankfurtGermany

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