U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
95/01/17 Foreign Relations, Vol XVII, 1961-63, Near East
OFFICE OF THE HISTORIAN
Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs
United States Department of State
January 17, 1995
Encouragement of economic and social reform in Iran and a sharpened interest in U.S. policy toward Israel are two of the many important issues documented in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Volume XVII, Near East, 1961-1962, the latest volume in the Department of State's Foreign Relations series. The volume documents U.S. policy with respect to the countries of the Near East during the first year and a half of the Kennedy administration, through June 1962. The record of U.S. Near East policy through December 1963 will be presented in the forthcoming Volume XVIII.
An interdepartmental review of policy toward Iran, reflecting Kennedy administration concern about Iran's internal stability, concluded that unrest among the burgeoning middle class was the greatest potential threat to Iran and that the solution was a strong and effective program of economic and social reform. During the Shah's visit to the United States in April 1962, President Kennedy and other U.S. officials urged him to undertake such a program, which the Shah expressed willingness to do.
An important shift in U.S. policy toward Israel was foreshadowed by discussions within the Kennedy administration preceding the decision in August 1962 to sell the Hawk missile weapon system to that nation, a step that was eventually to lead to the United States replacing France as Israel's major arms supplier. At the same time, Kennedy's concern about nuclear proliferation led him to urge Israel against development of nuclear weapons and to press for inspection of Israel's nuclear reactor at Dimona.
U.S. policy toward the United Arab Republic and its President Gamal Abd'al Nasser was the subject of much internal debate within the administration. Plans were developed to expand U.S. economic aid to the UAR in order to improve relations with Nasser, but Kennedy resisted proposals from the Department of State and White House aides to invite Nasser to visit Washington.
The volume also includes material on U.S. support for a British airlift to support Kuwait against a brief threat of an Iraqi invasion and U.S. support of an initiative by the United Nations Palestine Conciliation Commission to conduct indirect negotiations, which were unsuccessful, between Israel and the Arab states toward a resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem.
This volume, prepared by the Department of State's Office of the Historian, is one of 25 print volumes and 6 microfiche supplements documenting the foreign policy of the Kennedy administration. The Office of the Historian has prepared a summary of the volume. For further information, contact Harriet Dashiell Schwar at (202) 663-1130 (fax: (202) 663-1289).
Copies of volume XVII (Department of State Publication No. 10172; GPO Stock No. 044-000-02388-1; ISBN 0-16-042029- 6) may be purchased (postpaid) for $37.00 ($46.25 for foreign orders) from the U.S. Government Printing Office.
Order from: Superintendent of Documents P.O. Box 371954 Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954 Telephone: (202) 512-1800 Fax: (202) 512-2250
Foreign Relations of the United States 1961-1963, Volume XVII Near East, 1961-1962
(This is not an official statement of policy by the Department of State; it is intended only as a guide to the contents of this volume.)
Since 1861, the Department of State's documentary series Foreign Relations of the United States has constituted the official record of the foreign policy and diplomacy of the United States. Historians in the Office of the Historian collect, arrange, and annotate the principal documents comprising the record of American foreign policy. The standards for the preparation of the series and the general deadlines for its publication are established by the Foreign Relations of the United States statute of October 28, 1991 (22 USC 4351, et seq.). U.S. policies during the administration of President John F. Kennedy are the subject of 25 print volumes and 6 microfiche supplements. Volumes in the Foreign Relations series are published when all necessary editing, declassification, and printing steps have been completed.
The documents in this volume are drawn from the centralized indexed files of the Department of State, the decentralized lot files of the Department's Executive Secretariat, and Bureau, Office, and Division lot files. In addition, the editors made extensive use of the Presidential and other papers at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts. Most of the documents were originally classified. The Historical Documents Review Division of the Department of State in concert with the appropriate offices in other agencies and foreign governments carried out their declassification.
The following is a summary of the important issues covered in the volume. Parenthetical citations are to numbered documents in the text. For additional copies of this summary or more information on the volume, contact Harriet Dashiell Schwar at (202) 663-1130 (fax: (202) 663- 1289).
U.S. interests in the Near East during the first 18 months of the Kennedy administration were many and varied, but two issues stand out as having a lasting importance for the history of U.S. involvement in the region: (1) the U.S. decision to continue support for the Shah of Iran, while urging him toward a program of economic and social reform (the White Revolution) as a means of dealing with unrest in Iran; and (2) the U.S. decision to supply Israel with the Hawk missile weapon system, actually completed in August 1962, which began the process that led to the United States replacing France as Israel's major arms supplier.
Iran: Toward the White Revolution
The internal stability of Iran and the viability of the Shah's regime became a major concern for U.S. policymakers relatively early in the Kennedy administration. Administration analysts identified Iran as one of seven "double-threat" countries, that is, countries facing a potential external threat from Communist aggression because they bordered on the Soviet Union or the People's Republic of China, and a potential internal threat from serious domestic instability. (169) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Lyman L. Lemnitzer expressed his strong concern to Secretary of State Dean Rusk shortly after the inauguration. In Lemnitzer's view, the loss of Iran to the Communist bloc would be a serious blow to U.S. security interests. He urged that planning be undertaken to study feasible courses of action, political and military, for dealing with emergencies in Iran. (4)
The consensus emerging from reviews in the Department of State, the Embassy in Tehran, Department of Defense, and Central Intelligence Agency and from a special mission to Iran by Ambassador at Large Averell Harriman was that the Shah's regime faced no immediate threat to its existence, but that over time, severe internal unrest, centering mainly in the emerging middle class, could produce a sudden upheaval in the country. This course of events, and not the remote possibility of a Soviet invasion, posed the most immediate threat to U.S. interests. Even Department of State assessments noting the need to continue the previous administration's relationship with CENTO stressed that solving Iran's social and economic problems should be of equal concern to the organization as its military program. The solution, almost all agreed, was a strong and effective reform program that would deal with the underlying causes of unrest. Advocates of the Shah, such as Harriman, emphasized that the Shah could not be coerced into a reform program, but even Harriman agreed that the United States could wield significant influence with the monarch. (16, 20-22, 26-27, 29-30)
U.S. movement toward a more concrete program was triggered by the outbreak of riots in Iran emanating from a teachers' strike in early May 1961. On May 5, President Kennedy met with the National Security Council (NSC) to discuss the situation in Iran, and ordered the formation of a special Task Force to study the crisis and offer recommendations. Simultaneously, events in Iran forced the Shah to reshuffle his government. On May 7, he named former Ambassador to the United States Ali Amini, a noted critic of his regime and reputed reformer, as Prime Minister. (41)
Recommendations proposed by the Task Force, discussed at an NSC meeting on May 19 and subsequently approved by the President, called on the United States to make "a major effort to back the new Government in Iran as the best instrument in sight for promoting orderly political, economic and social evolution in Iran, and for averting serious and damaging political developments." The United States was to encourage Amini discreetly in his efforts to solve Iran's political problems and construct a broad political synthesis and was not to favor any incipient military coup that might emerge against his rule. The United States would also provide economic support for Iran's long-range economic planning and maintain current force levels for the Iranian military. The NSC deferred a decision on how the United States would react to a Soviet military attack on Iran but directed that military studies be undertaken on the subject. (46, 49-52, 61-62)
Despite this action plan and specific U.S. financial moves to stem Iran's severe financial and budgetary problems, Iran's internal problems seemed to escalate. By August, U.S. officials were acknowledging that Amini maintained only a tenuous position of leadership and faced substantial political opposition to his rule. On August 4, NSC Staff member Robert W. Komer impressed upon President Kennedy his conviction that "the continued slide toward chaos in Iran could result in as great a setback as in South Vietnam." Amini had been unable to develop a middle-class backing that would help withstand ongoing National Front demonstrations and mass protests demanding his removal and free elections. Komer argued that Iran, like Vietnam, required crisis measures. He urged that the Task Force be ordered to report and bring forward proposals on how the United States could help Amini succeed. (90, 93)
Again, the Task Force reviewed the situation, consulting extensively with Ambassador to Iran Julius C. Holmes and receiving the first-hand report of its Chairman, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Phillips Talbot, on his visit to Tehran. Both Holmes and Talbot emphasized the almost impossible situation that Amini had inherited, the solid nature of his reform program, and the possibility that with time support for it might emerge. Both agreed that Amini was correct in his opposition to elections. The decision of all was to stick with Amini and his reform program as the only viable alternative. As Komer put it, the choice was in favor of a "controlled" revolution rather than an uncontrolled one. (94, 97-98, 102, 105)
By October 14, the Task Force report, which contained an analysis of the current situation, recommended an increase in U.S. resources in support of Amini, and provided a status report on the May 19 recommendations, was ready for transmission to the White House. In a covering memorandum, Secretary Rusk advised that the Task Force had now completed its work and could be disbanded. The report was never sent. (127)
On October 17, Ambassador Holmes urgently informed the Department of State that Amini confronted serious difficulties. Holmes' lengthy assessment revealed that the Shah had given strong indication that he intended to dismiss Amini, assume personal rule in Iran, and succumb to pressures to call elections in the near future. Holmes asked for and received authorization to weigh in heavily with the Shah against this course. Assurances of increased economic assistance were given at this time, but not military assistance. Holmes and British Ambassador to Iran Sir Geoffrey Harrison held several sessions with the Shah. On November 13, the Embassy in Tehran reported that the Shah had accepted Amini's continuance in office and agreed to proceed with reform. The Embassy also advised: "There will be no elections before the Iranian new year in March and probability they will be postponed further." (129, 133-135, 138)
The final Task Force report, sent to the White House on January 18, 1962, reconfirmed the original May 19 recommendations. The report came out strongly behind the continued rule of Amini, noting that opposition criticism within Iran was "irresponsible and destructive." The report also endorsed proposals by a separate Military Assistance Steering Group that were near completion to reduce Iranian military forces from 200,000 to 150,000. A decision on the actual amount of military assistance for Iran remained outstanding. (168-170)
The intention to shift the emphasis of U.S. assistance from the military to the economic area met with resistance from Ambassador Holmes. On January 22, Holmes, in a strongly worded letter, predicted that the Shah would never agree to reduce his military force in exchange for the small amount of modernization funds to be allotted Iran under the Military Assistance Steering Committee's proposal. He noted that the proposed military aid level would alienate the Shah, with dire consequences for the whole U.S. program for economic and social reform. On March 7, the Shah himself took up the cause and threatened to withdraw as Commander in Chief of Iranian forces if he did not receive sufficient U.S. military assistance. He expressed his concern that the United States did not appreciate the importance of Iran, and lamented that he could not discuss this matter personally with President Kennedy before his visit to the United States scheduled for the fall. (172, 181, 207)
Holmes' appeal did induce the Department of State to obtain from the White House agreement to move up to April the Shah's visit to Washington. The Ambassador's proposal that the multi-year MAP package offered to Iran be raised from the $300 million proposed by the Military Assistance Steering Group to $425 million, however, remained in abeyance. While Holmes was summoned to Washington to defend his proposal, the Department of State and the Agency for International Development formed ranks behind a compromise level of $330 million. (208-209, 215, 218-220, 224)
Some sympathy for the Shah's security concerns had already been raised. Military estimates indicated that Iran could protect itself from attacks by Iraq and Afghanistan, but admitted that it would be helpless before a Soviet onslaught. For some time it had been acknowledged that U.S. forces in the region could do little to help in the short term against a Soviet attack. During a planning session on April 9, a decision was made to accept a proposal by Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, which Holmes supported, to readjust the content of the MAP package and use different cost estimates to enhance the attractiveness of the package to Iran, while keeping the $330 million level. (228, 231, 238-240)
On April 12-13, 1962, during a State visit to the United States, the Shah of Iran and his entourage held extensive meetings with President Kennedy, Secretary Rusk, and Secretary McNamara. U.S. officials emphasized the need for economic and social reform in Iran. The Shah expressed his agreement with reform. He appeared unhappy at not being included in the formulation of the MAP package, and withheld his formal agreement to it. Holmes expressed confidence, however, that once the U.S. Military Planning Team began its work in Iran, the Shah would go along with the conclusions. (243-248, 252, 265)
The visit, however, did little to alleviate the immediate economic chaos that afflicted Iran. Reports in early June indicated that Amini was unable to deal with the Iranian budget crisis and was on his last legs, and that the Shah felt no obligation to support him. (284, 292, 294-295)
Israel and the United Arab Republic: The Road to the Hawk
According to historians, John F. Kennedy brought to the Presidency both a desire to improve U.S. relations with the Arab world, particularly with United Arab Republic (UAR) President Gamal Abd'al Nasser, and a conviction that his narrow election victory was owed to the support of Israel's key supporters within the United States, the American Jewish community. Documentation at the Kennedy Library and the Department of State, however, shows that the administration moved slowly to establish a new policy toward these countries, accepting the traditional U.S. approach to the Arab-Israeli dispute pursued during the Eisenhower administration.
Ironically, the first major Near Eastern problem confronting the new administration was a source of contention with Israel: how to deal with the Eisenhower administration's conclusion in December 1960 that Israel's nuclear reactor at Dimona was much larger than Israel had previously admitted. The Israeli Government gave categorical assurances that the reactor was strictly for peaceful purposes, that Israel had no plans to make nuclear weapons, and that Israel would be agreeable to an unpublicized inspection of Dimona by scientists from a "friendly" nation. Although on January 31, outgoing Ambassador Ogden R. Reid assured President Kennedy that Ben Gurion's assurances could be accepted at face value, the new administration decided to pursue the inspection option. (2, 3, 5, 6)
On February 3, Israeli Ambassador Avraham Harman was informed that the United States accepted Ben Gurion's statements and accepted his offer for American scientists to visit Dimona. A crisis within the Israeli Government, during which Ben Gurion threatened to resign, delayed setting a date for the inspection. But the Department of State continued to raise the issue, and ultimately, Israel agreed to the visit of two American scientists from the Atomic Energy Commission to Dimona on May 18, 1961. (7, 28, 31, 53, 123)
Meanwhile, U.S. relations with the UAR continued the ebb and flow of the Eisenhower years. On February 8, Secretary Rusk met with UAR Ambassador Mustafa Kamel for the first time, and both expressed a desire to improve relations between their countries. In a remark that would be remembered by U.S. officials for months to come, Kamel commented that the Arab-Israeli dispute should be "put in the refrigerator," a welcome sign from the U.S. perspective. The following month, when instructions were sent to outgoing Ambassador G. Frederick Reinhardt for his final conversation with Nasser, the Department of State directed that Reinhardt link continued U.S. aid with the UAR doing something about the anti-American rhetoric flowing from the Egyptian media. (9, 23, 58)
A series of developments in April propelled the administration toward its first initiatives in regard to Israel, the UAR, and the Arab- Israeli dispute. On April 13, Israeli Ambassador Harman indicated Ben Gurion's desire to meet with Kennedy during his private visit to the United States in May in order to discuss security questions and Israel's atomic energy program. Although the Department of State, fearful of repercussions in the Arab world, sought to dissuade the administration from agreeing to the meeting, Special Counsel to the President Myer Feldman, who functioned as the White House's informal liaison with the American Jewish community, interceded to gain White House approval for a meeting in New York on May 30. (32, 35)
By late April, Department of State concerns over American-Arab relations had intensified. During an extended session of the U.N. General Assembly, U.S. opposition to Arab proposals for the appointment of a U.N. custodian to keep guard over Arab property in Israel had met with a negative Arab reaction. In an effort to help meet the demands of a General Assembly resolution requesting the Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC) to take action on the Palestine refugee question, and to show renewed U.S. commitment to resolution of the Arab-Israeli problem, the Department of State on April 28 proposed to President Kennedy that the United States seek the appointment of a PCC Special Representative to pursue a settlement of the refugee problem based on repatriation and/or resettlement.
Following Kennedy's approval of this proposal, one week later, the Department of State proposed that the President send letters to six Arab leaders that would explain the administration's Near East policy and help launch the PCC initiative. The Department's memorandum noted the increasing tendency of Arab governments to view the new administration as anti-Arab, and spoke of the need to mitigate Arab repercussions over the Ben Gurion meeting. Kennedy approved the letters, which were sent on May 11. But when the Department of State then proposed that consideration be given to a Nasser visit to the United States, White House aides held up the memorandum's transmission to the President. (32, 34-36, 38, 40, 42, 45, 47-48)
Kennedy's first and only meeting with Ben Gurion was held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on May 30, and was considered a success by both sides. Ben Gurion renewed his previous assurances regarding the Dimona reactor. When Kennedy asked if the United States might tell the Arab nations that the inspection had failed to uncover any trace of nuclear weapons production, Ben Gurion responded: "You are absolutely free to do what you wish with the report. If you feel you should publish it, we have no objection." Ben Gurion also used the opportunity to raise the issue of a possible U.S. security guarantee for Israel and to renew Israeli requests that had already been made to the new administration that the United States supply Israel with the Hawk Missile system.
In response, Kennedy repeated the argument made by the State Department several months previously that the United States did not want to be responsible for introducing a new category of weapons into the Near East, as it would fuel the arms race in the region. The President did, however, agree to keep the matter under review. Kennedy raised the proposed PCC refugee initiative and asked whether this did not offer an opportunity. When Ben Gurion said the initiative would fail, Kennedy responded that the United States would prefer to have the responsibility of disagreement rest with the Arabs. Ben Gurion then said that the initiative was "worth trying." (12, 15, 55-57)
Following the meeting, Ben Gurion told the press that he and the President were in agreement on the Palestine refugee initiative. But Ben Gurion's satisfaction was short- lived. On June 1, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai E. Stevenson explained more specifically to Ben Gurion the U.S. views on repatriation, and Israeli officials were soon complaining that Stevenson had told Ben Gurion something different than the President. Department of State officials confirmed that Stevenson was speaking for the U.S. Government. (59-60)
The Ben Gurion meeting prompted White House aides to raise the question of whether an initiative to improve relations with Nasser might be fruitful. Deputy NSC Adviser Walt Rostow became the leading advocate of a policy to develop a long-term economic development relationship with the UAR that would build good will and enable the United States to temper Nasser's activities in numerous areas. Rostow maintained that Kennedy was anxious to get closer to Nasser, and supported a proposal first raised by UAR Ambassador Kamel for a multi-year P.L. 480 arrangement between the two countries. The Department of State memorandum proposing consideration of a Nasser visit was sent to President Kennedy on June 9. (58, 63-64)
But by July, the President was showing his irritation that initiatives taken in May were not bearing better fruit. Following receipt of a response to Kennedy's May 11 letter from King Saud, in which the King reiterated his traditional views on Israel in most scathing language, Kennedy demanded of Rusk to know whose idea it had been to send the May 11 letters, as the response had been so sour. Rusk reassured the President that the ideas behind the initiative had been sound and that the letters had served a useful purpose. The initiative toward Nasser was held in abeyance, awaiting Nasser's response to the May 11 letter. (81, 83, 86)
The warmth and friendly tone of Nasser's response, delivered to the White House on August 30, created a positive impression within the administration. Action on the proposed visit, however, was then delayed because the lead time involved was too great. White House scheduling could not accommodate Nasser until the spring, and it was felt that Nasser's unpredictable behavior might cause an embarrassment in the interim. Privately, President Kennedy did agree that he would see Nasser in New York if Nasser attended the General Assembly session; but Nasser did not attend. (103, 107)
Nasser's decision to avoid bloodshed during the breakup of the United Arab Republic in late September 1961 elicited a warm oral message from President Kennedy. A Department of State assessment made after the crisis, however, continued to emphasize the odds against a change in Nasser's behavior, although it did support an expansion of U.S. economic assistance to the UAR. The Department still maintained that the central thrust of any initiative toward the UAR should be a Nasser visit to Washington and a meeting with Kennedy. (110-119, 128, 141)
Efforts to expand U.S. economic assistance to the UAR moved forward in early December when, through meetings between Rostow and Kamel, the UAR agreed to accept an international consortium and a high-level planning adviser from the United States. The Embassy in Cairo was then instructed to begin discussions with Nasser on a multi-year P.L. 480 agreement. (144, 147-148)
On December 8, NSC Staff member Komer threw his support behind a shift in U.S. policy toward Nasser, in which the substantial amount of economic assistance to the UAR that the United States was currently considering would be used to create a vested interest for Nasser to pursue better relations with the United States. The objective would be to convince Nasser to turn inward and deal with his domestic problems rather than continue to cause trouble in various parts of the region. Komer proposed that a special U.S. emissary be sent to Nasser and that Nasser be invited to Washington.
On January 10, Secretary Rusk sent to President Kennedy a detailed Action Plan for the United Arab Republic that projected an expansion in various forms of U.S. assistance in order to develop a relationship of economic cooperation, and again came out in favor of an invitation to Nasser. The President agreed that Ambassador at Large Chester Bowles should visit Nasser and report on the chances for a firmer relationship, and that Harvard economist Dr. Edward S. Mason should be sent to assess the UAR economy. (149, 159, 163-164, 171, 174-175, l78-179, l88)
Kennedy remained quite reluctant, however, to approve the Nasser visit and was reported not very enthusiastic about the whole initiative. On January 23, Komer addressed the President's question on "what do we get out of the approach to Nasser." Komer also recommended that Kennedy meet with chief aides concerned with the initiative; but the meeting evidently never took place. By January 31, Komer was admitting that it was best not to currently press the visit with the President. Bowles' favorable report on his mission and reiteration of the recommendation for a Nasser visit had no impact. On March 2, knowing that the President looked with disfavor on the proposal, Secretary Rusk withdrew the Department of State's recommendation to invite Nasser to Washington. (173, 179, 182, 184-185, 193, 195, 205-206)
Proposals for greater economic ties to the UAR, however, went forward. Mason's mission to the UAR proceeded in March, and in April, UAR Minister of Economy Abdel Moneim Kaissouni visited Washington for extensive and productive discussions with U.S. and International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials. (201-202, 210, 254-257, 266) The consensus of NSC Adviser McGeorge Bundy and Komer was now to wait and see what this forward movement would produce in U.S.-UAR relations. Komer, who in March had objected to the State Department's withdrawal of support for a Nasser visit, now felt that a visit would be "premature." In his words, "Aside from exacerbating already sensitive domestic Jewish feelings, it wouldn't gain us much at this stage." (264, 270-271)
During this period, U.S. relations with Israel proceeded without major incident. Israel regularly raised questions relating to its security and particularly the Hawk missile, but the administration continued to take no action on the Israeli request, rather keeping the matter under advisement as Kennedy had promised Ben Gurion. At Feldman's urging, the administration decided to maintain Israel's current level of economic assistance, despite cuts being made elsewhere.
Traditional U.S. positions relating to various aspects of the Arab- Israeli dispute continued to provide areas of friction between the two governments. U.S. actions that had led to the defeat in December 1961 of the so-called Brazzaville resolution in the U.N. General Assembly, which called for direct negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, were particularly irritating to Israel and to Israel's supporters in the United States. Another point of contention was the U.S. practice of dissuading governments that had recently established diplomatic relations with Israel from opening Embassies in Jerusalem. Until the spring of 1962, however, the administration stood firm on these issues, and successfully deflected a Congressional movement to adopt a resolution supporting direct negotiations. (105, 123, 132, 143, 145-146, 153, 167, 190)
Then, in March, a violent Israeli reprisal raid against Syrian positions along Lake Tiberias set off a chain of events that led to a reorientation in U.S. policy. Much to Israel's displeasure, when Syria brought the matter before the U.N. Security Council, the United States supported an April 9 resolution condemning the Israeli action. The Department of State, anticipating that the U.S. vote could have negative domestic political repercussions, had sent a detailed explanation for the proposed action to the White House, which approved the draft resolution that became the basis of the final Security Council vote. By April 11, President Kennedy was expressing strong irritation over the amount of pressure he was receiving on this subject, and demanded to know how it had been handled. The Department of State responded by preparing lengthy chronologies and an explanation for the White House. But the incident had made an impact. (227, 243, 251)
Israel continued to press its case regarding Lake Tiberias sovereignty and general treatment by the United States. On April 30, Israeli Embassy Counselor Mordechai Gazit, during a discussion of the ongoing economic assistance initiative to the UAR, proposed to Komer that President Kennedy write Ben Gurion a letter containing security guarantees. At the same time, the Department of State began preparing drafts of U.S. notes to Israel that would provide assurances regarding U.S. support for Israel's water carrier project, which Israel claimed was threatened by the U.S. position on Lake Tiberias. After weeks of drafting and discussions, however, no consensus on the content of these notes could be reached between Department officials and Feldman, who now appeared to have assumed a leading role in dealing with Israel. By late May, Feldman was bombarding the State Department with a host of requests for memoranda and explanations on Arab-Israeli issues. (259, 261, 280, 283)
Pressure increased even further with the visit during the third week of May of Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Shimon Peres, who held high-level discussions at the Departments of State and Defense and the White House on Israel's security situation and need for the Hawk missile. On May 28, Israeli Ambassador Harman followed up on these issues during a lengthy meeting with Secretary Rusk. At approximately the same time, several Department of State papers written in response to Feldman's requests reached the White House. They contained defenses of traditional U.S. positions on the Jerusalem question and other areas of friction with Israel. (273, 275, 277-278, 280-281)
On June 1, Secretary Rusk instructed that the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs to prepare memoranda regarding U.S. policy toward Israel, particularly on security matters, the Hawk missile, and U.S. policy on Jerusalem. On June 7, Talbot presented a paper on Israel, which 3 days later was rejected by Rusk in a terse memorandum that pointed to fallacies in the argument against the Hawk deal. On June 13, President Kennedy sent a letter to Prime Minister Ben Gurion containing assurances regarding Israel's security and its water project. On June 18, Rusk indicated during a staff meeting that the United States should not appear to oppose in principle direct peace negotiations between the Arab countries and Israel. Shortly thereafter, the Department reversed its practice of registering opposition to direct negotiations in Congressional correspondence. (290-291, 293, 297, 308)
On June 15, Talbot, who was in Athens attending a meeting of Near East Ambassadors, cabled the conference's view that the Hawk deal should be postponed for 2 years. But the die had evidently already been cast. Although State Department requests to the Bureau of Intelligence and Research and to the Department of Defense to provide assessments of Israel's security situation were still outstanding, on June 22, Komer informed McGeorge Bundy that both State and Defense favored selling Hawks to Israel. (296, 299, 306)
Kuwait: In late June l961, at the time Kuwait gained its independence from the United Kingdom, Iraqi leader Abdul Karim Qassim reasserted old claims that Kuwait was a province of Iraq, thereby implying a threat to Kuwait's independence and security. After Iraq began to move troops forward and in response to a request from Kuwait, the United Kingdom airlifted troops into Kuwait to defend it from a possible Iraqi attack. The United Kingdom fully consulted with the United States prior to this action, which the United States supported both privately and publicly in the United Nations. The United States directed its naval force, Solant Amity, then off Mozambique, to reverse course and head for Kuwait. The order was rescinded after it became clear that the United Kingdom did not need assistance. The United States supported the replacement of British with Arab forces in Kuwait after the immediate crisis had ended. (66-67, 70-73, 75-80, 84, 89)
Breakup of the United Arab Republic: In late September l961, Syria rebelled and broke off its union with Egypt, which had been known as the United Arab Republic. The United States, fearing that the action might trigger a general Near East war, was particularly concerned about possible Jordanian actions if Nasser sought to suppress the rebellion by force. When Egyptian troop movements were detected, the United States kept close watch over Egyptian ports. The United States, however, refrained from remonstrating with Nasser and was pleased when Nasser decided to avoid bloodshed. The United States waited until some other Arab states and the Soviet Union had recognized Syria and then, after explaining to Nasser its decision, proceeded to recognize an independent Syrian regime. (109-111, 113-120)
Palestine Refugee Initiative (Johnson Plan): The United States supported the appointment of a Special Representative of the PCC to conduct indirect negotiations between Israel and the Arab states toward a resolution of the Palestinian refugee question based on resettlement and/or repatriation. After several months of seeking the appointment of a Special Representative who was not a U.S. citizen, the United States threw its weight behind the appointment of Joseph Johnson, a friend of Dean Rusk and Director of the Carnegie Endowment.
Johnson held talks in the region in September 1961 and May 1962. He acted independently but consulted and reported to Department of State officials on a regular basis. His formulation of a proposed basis for a settlement, prepared prior to his second trip to the region, was worked out in consultation with Department of State officials. Although he refused to get discouraged, Johnson made little progress. In November 1961, the Israeli Knesset rejected any sizable repatriation to Israel, while the Arab states remained unwilling to deal with Israel or accept a meaningful resettlement. (38, 40, 85, 91-92, 96, 100, 126, 136, 139-140, 153, 187, 213, 237, 250, 253, 258, 260, 263, 267-268, 272, 289) Office of the Historian Bureau of Public Affairs December 1994
Office of the Historian Bureau of Public Affairs December 1994