Executive Sessions Of The Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Together With Joint Sessions With The Senate Armed Services Committee:
(May 23, 1967)
Statement of Honorable Dean Rusk Secretary of State; Accompanied by William Macomber, Assistant Secretary of State For Congressional Relations
Secretary Rusk. Yes, Mr. Chairman, unfortunately we do.
I would like to take up immediately the Near East situation because that is in a very dangerous position, and I should go into considerable detail here in executive session.
The present chapter really starts with a stepped-up series of raids along the Israeli frontier primarily by the Fatah organization, a terrorist group organized basically in Syria, but these raids were also delivered across the Lebanese territory into Jordanian boundary.
I might say that our information is that both Jordan and Lebanon have taken very severe measures in an attempt to stop these Fatah raids, but we cannot say the same thing about Syria.
These raids themselves led Israel, the Israeli government, to make a statement that if they continued Israel would take action against Syria. That, in turn, stimulated the Syrians to a high state of excitement and caused Nasser or, at least, was the occasion for Nasser to move additional forces into the Sinai Peninsula.
Normally he has about 30,000 troops in the Sinai area. At the present time he probably has about 50,000 there, so he has reinforced his troops and moved them forward up toward the Israeli frontier.
That itself created a situation of tension because Jordan, Syria and Lebanon called up their forces and alerted their armed forces, and seemed to indicate that the Arabs would act together if Israel attacked anyone of them.
Nasser Demands Withdrawal of U.N. Forces
The next step in the episode was Nasser's demand that the United Nations Emergency Force withdraw from the Egyptian-Israeli border. That force had been established, you will recall, by action of the General Assembly. We ourselves have supported it for a period of about ten years. Nasser based his position on the notion that a sovereign country has the right to require that foreign forces leave and that the United Nations forces could not remain there without his consent, and he was withdrawing his consent.
U Thant, acting on which he considered to be the authority of the Secretary General, precipitately accepted this demand from Nasser.
Senator Symington. What was that demand? I did not catch that.
Secretary Rusk. That the United Nations Emergency Force withdraw from Egyptian territory.
Now, we took strong exception to that. We did not think that was a wise thing to do under those circumstances. We did not think it was necessary for U Thant to move that rapidly.
We felt that he should have instead gone to the General Assembly and, if not to the General Assembly, then at least to the Security Council to refer that question to the Assembly or the Council before he issued instructions to the United Nations force to withdraw, and the situation on the ground was delicate in the sense that the United Nations force was not capable of fighting. It could not defend itself; it was lightly armed. It did not have a mission of waging hostilities, so that there was no question they could have been pushed out if Nasser decided he was going to use his own armed forces to push them out or to force them to concentrate in a particular area pending evacuation.
Nevertheless, we thought that the General Assembly, at least, could bring pressures to bear on the situation, could use procedures such as sending a commission into the area which would tend to put a poultice on the fever, and try to resolve the matter without further inflammation.
Israel was, of course, very much disturbed by the action taken by U Thant, and by the removal of the U.N. forces.
Israel Prohibited U.N. Forces on Its Territory
You will recall that Israel has never permitted U.N. forces on its own territory. It took that view back after Suez on the ground that Israel was a sovereign state and that foreign forces should not be permitted to locate themselves there. That original position of Israel tended to strengthen Nasser's argument that as a sovereign state he had the right to require them to withdraw.
But we felt that U Thant's handling of it was much too quick and inept, and that he would have been better advised to take the matter up with one of the two constituted bodies of the U.N. dealing with such questions.
The most recent development----
The Chairman. Were they there at the invitation of the U.A.R.?
Secretary Rusk. By agreement with U.A.R., Hammarskjold-Nasser agreement, in fact, worked out on the basis of a General Assembly resolution.
A HIGHLY PROVOCATIVE STEP
Then yesterday, President Nasser was up in the Sinai making a speech to his troops, and in his speech he declared that the Strait of Tiran was being closed to ships carrying the Israeli flag.
This is a highly provocative step because the support of Aquaba is a major port for Israel; it is a principal supply port. It is their principal contact with Africa and Asia.
It is a thriving city. Several hundred ships a year come in there from all over the world, and Israel has made it known privately that this was, and indeed in the Knesset just two days ago, that this is a Casus Belli, that Israel would have to resist this by force.
We are not completely sure that Nasser's speech to his troops was a considered judgment of the Egyptian government as such. It might have been, he might have been moved by the occasion to go beyond what he might have done had he given it more considered thought. But nonetheless he has done it, he has said it, and this precipitates the issue in a very important way.
Looking at the general situation there, it is our view that no one of the governments involved there, with the possible exception of Syria, seems to want a major military engagement. We are not at all that certain today about Nasser because of his action on the Strait which is, as I said, a very provocative matter.
We are quite sure that Lebanon and Jordan do not want any part of an engagement here, and it has been our view up until last night that, on the whole, this situation could be kept under control unless some major incident by irresponsible elements triggered something which the governments could not feel they could take or accept without some sort of counter action. In other words, the situation was subject to action by the Fatah organization or by elements of the Palestine Liberation Army, who are present in such places as the Gaza Strip.
THE PALESTINE LIBERATION ARMY
Shukairy, the head of the Palestine Liberation Army, has been making very inflammatory speeches lately, and on one occasion he had the Chinese Communist Ambassador with him, and referred to him as being his companion.
Now, we have been in close touch with----
Senator Hickenlooper. Excuse me, where does the Palestine Liberation Army get its supplies?
Senator Lausche. I did not hear your question, Bourke.
Senator Hickenlooper. I said where does the Palestinian Army get its supplies and equipment?
Secretary Rusk. I would suppose primarily from Egypt.
Senator Mansfield. He said from China. How he gets it I do not know.
Secretary Rusk. It may get it from China, but I would think the small arms come from Egypt. They are not a heavily armed group, but they could be a nuisance.
Senator Symington. Where are they located?
Secretary Rusk. Chiefly in the Gaza Strip. They are spread among the Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, Jordan and Lebanon. We estimate there are about 8,000. But we have been in touch with all of the governments concerned, including the Soviet Union, Britain, France, the other members of the Security Council, the states with troops in UNEF and, of course, with Israel and Arab capitals in the area.
SOVIETS ARE TAKING A MODERATE VIEW
The Chairman. What response did you get from the Soviet Union?
Secretary Rusk. There is a very great interest to us as to the attitude of the Soviet Union.
The Chairman. What response did you get?
Secretary Rusk. I would have to say, Mr. Chairman, that in their discussions with us they seemed to take a moderate view. But two of the Arab states, Syria and Egypt, are saying that they have been told by the Soviets that the Soviets would support them against the imperialists. So now we are talking with them further to date.
By the way, I hope we can keep some of these procedural steps private because it could affect what happens on the other end.
We are seeing the Russians again, both in New York and in Moscow today. At the moment, the members of the Security Council are meeting informally at the Danish Mission in New York to consider the situation and the possibility of a Security Council meeting perhaps later today or in the morning.
I think U Thant would prefer that the Security Council not meet until he has had a chance to talk with Nasser. But the situation is so inflammatory that it may be that the members of the Security Council would feel that they ought to begin to meet before U Thant gets back or before they hear from U Thant. That is our own view, by the way, and I think the British and Canadians feel that way, and I think some of the others are of that inclination.
ISRAEL COULD TAKE CARE OF ITSELF
Senator Lausche. What is our government's appraisal of Nasser's honest judgment in the matter?
Secretary Rusk. We have thought that he would realize, unless he has some major secret weapon or military capacity of which we are uninformed, that he would be in deep trouble at least in the short run in an all-out engagement with Israel.
Our own estimate is that in a short engagement the Israelis would take care of themselves very handily against the forces that are now opposed to them, but we are not sure that Nasser thinks that.
Senator Lausche. Up until now Nasser has been pictured as not wanting to become involved, but probably being coerced by the Syrians.
Secretary Rusk. I think there is a good deal to that, Senator. I think that in terms of the Israel-Arab issue as such over a period of time he has been one of the more moderate in terms of wanting a military engagement. But, of course, he probably also feels that with the challenge to Syria, which is the way they interpret the Israeli statement that Israel would attack Syria if these terrorist raids continued, he may feel that his position as head of the Arab world, as he sees it, is at stake here and that he would have to demonstrate that he is prepared to make good on that Syria-Egyptian alliance.
The most immediate question, of course, is the Strait. My guess is that Israel would use force to keep that Strait open, and the international maritime countries will have to consider among themselves what their attitude is toward it.
Our view has been all along, and this has been true since the settlement of the Suez affair, that that Strait is international waters, and that it should be opened to shipping of all countries.
CONTACTS WITH BRITAIN AND FRANCE
Senator Lausche. Secretary Rusk, I interrupted you. You were talking about your contacts with the different nations at this time.
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
Senator Lausche. I do not think you finished your thought.
Secretary Rusk. I think that the British, for example, are very much concerned about the use of force to close that international waterway and, further, they feel themselves committed to the support of Israel if there is a clear aggression against Israel, working primarily, in the first instance, through the United Nations.
France follows the same general policy, reflected in the tripartite statement, although they prefer to deal with this question not on a tripartite basis, hopefully on a quadripartite basis, including the Soviet Union and the Security Council. But in any event not restoring the tripartite declaration of 1950.
I think at this point----
The Chairman. I did not get that last. What did you say?
Secretary Rusk. Let me remind you, Mr. Chairman, of what the tripartite declaration of 1950 said:
The three governments, the United States, the U.K. and France, take this opportunity of declaring their deep interest and their desire to promote the establishment and maintenance of peace and stability in the area, and their unalterable opposition to the use of force or threat of force between any of the states in that area. The three governments, should they find that any of these states, was preparing to violate frontiers or armistice lines, would, consistent with their obligations as members of the United Nations, immediately take action, both within and outside the United Nations, to prevent such violation.
MACMILLAN AND KENNEDY STATEMENTS
Now, just yesterday, George Brown said on television in Britain that he felt that the tripartite declaration had been substituted for by----
The Chairman. Substituted for by--what do you mean?
Secretary Rusk. By Prime Minister Macmillan's statement of 1963. In other words, that it had been replaced by Prime Minister Macmillan's statement in 1963.
Senator Mansfield. Applicable just to the U.K. or to the tripartite group?
Secretary Rusk. The U.K.'s participation in the tripartite declaration had been overtaken by Prime Minister Macmillan's declaration of 1963.
Senator McCarthy. Which said what, Mr. Secretary?
Secretary Rusk. That was based upon a May 8 statement by President Kennedy. The question was:
Mr. President, do you consider the situation in the Middle East, the balance of power there, to have been changed as a result of recent developments, and what is the U.S. policy towards the security of Israel and Jordan in case they are threatened?
President Kennedy said:
I don't think that the balance of military power has been changed in the Middle East in recent days. Obviously there are political changes in the Middle East which still do not show a precise pattern and on which we are unable to make any final judgments. The United States supports social and economic and political progress in the Middle East. We support the security of both Israel and her neighbors. We seek to limit the Near East arms race which obviously takes resources from an area already poor, and puts them into an increasing race which does not really bring any great security.
And this is his conclusion on that:
We strongly oppose the use of force or the threat of force in the Near East, and we also seek to limit the spread of communism in the Middle East which would, of course, destroy the independence of the people. This government has been and remains strongly opposed to the use of force or the threat of force in the Near East. In the event of aggression or preparation for aggression, whether direct or indirect, we would support appropriate measures in the United Nations, adopt other courses of action on our own to prevent or to put a stop to such aggression which, of course, has been the policy which the United States has followed for some time.
Now, that was on the 8th of May. On the 14th of May Prime Minister Macmillan was asked----
Senator Aiken. What year?
Secretary Rusk. 1963.
Prime Minister Macmillan was asked whether he will publicly associate Her Majesty's Government with the recent officially declared United States policy to the effect that, should Israel or any of the Arab States appear to violate frontiers or armistice lines, the United States of America would take immediate action both within and outside the United States to prevent such violation.
And the Prime Minister said:
Yes, sir. I am glad to endorse the President's statement. Her Majesty's Government is deeply interested in peace and stability in this area, and is opposed to the use of force or the threat of force there as elsewhere in the world. We are equally opposed to the interference by any country in the internal affairs of another whether by the encouragement of subversion or by hostile propaganda. I cannot say in advance what action we would take in a crisis since it is difficult to foresee the exact circumstances which might arise. We regard the United Nations as being primarily responsible for the maintenance of peace in the area. If any threat to peace arises, we will consult immediately with the United Nations, and will take whatever action we feel may be required.
TRIPARTITE AGREEMENT NOT AN OPERATIONAL INSTRUMENT
Senator Lausche. How does that differ from the tripartite agreement?
Secretary Rusk. In the first place, it would mean that Britain and France do not look upon the tripartite declaration as an organic three-power operational instrument at the present time. After all, that came before the Suez, and there have been some complications.
Senator Aiken. Do we?
Secretary Rusk. I beg your pardon?
Senator Aiken. Do we?
Secretary Rusk. I think again the policy which President Kennedy announced or reaffirmed in May 1963 is, for all practical purposes, identical with the policy of the tripartite declaration:
In the event of aggression or preparation for aggression, whether direct or indirect, we would support appropriate measures in the United Nations, adopt other courses of action on our own to prevent or to put a stop to such aggression which, of course, has been the policy which the United States has followed for some time.
A DECLARATION RATHER THAN A COMMITMENT
Senator Aiken. If one party of a tripartite understanding disagrees with the other two, the one party goes ahead representing the whole?
Secretary Rusk. I think the policy situation is that France, Britain, and the United States have since the tripartite declaration or since Suez reaffirmed the underlying policy of the declaration. But I do not think that the British and the French are prepared to operate on this policy simply as a tripartite matter.
The Chairman. This morning's paper----
Senator Mansfield. It appears to me that a declaration is quite different from a commitment, very different. I see no commitment there. It is just a declaration of what might be done.
Secretary Rusk. I think it was a declaration of policy, and I think that is what I called it.
Secretary Mansfield. But no commitment.
Secretary Rusk. There was no treaty commitment.
Senator Clark. But you do not foresee the British or French troops going in there, do you, under any circumstances? Maybe U.N. That is pretty remote.
Secretary Rusk. This is a problem which everybody has got to think hard about. It depends, of course, on the circumstances and who does what to whom and how the matter develops.
AN AGREEMENT THE RUSSIANS WOULD ACCEPT
Senator Clark. Do you think there is any possibility of persuading Israel not to attack Syria and to permit a U.N. force to go back in the Gaza Strip, perhaps half on their side or half--let me finish----
Secretary Rusk. Excuse me, Senator.
Senator Clark [continuing]. If Egypt would agree to leave the Straits open? What, in your judgment, would be the Russian reaction to something like that?
Secretary Rusk. I think if Egypt were to agree to leave the Straits open, and Israel were to agree to accept U.N. or international forces in Egypt, I think the Russians would probably accept it.
Senator Symington. Mr. Chairman, we have a meeting of the Central Intelligence Agency committee, as you and Senator Mansfield know, and I would like to get over there before the meeting is over. I have questions I would like to ask as chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over that area, and I would like to request the regular order until the Secretary finishes.
The Chairman. Maybe we had better. If the Secretary would wind up his preliminary statement on this subject. Should we proceed to questions after the Middle East and leave Vietnam for later?
Senator Symington. I would hope so.
POSITIONS TAKEN BY AMERICAN PRESIDENTS
The Chairman. Do you have anything more to volunteer before we have questions on the Middle East?
Secretary Rusk. I think, Mr. Chairman, I might say on what has been said as a matter of policy since President Kennedy's press conference of May 8, 1963, that President Johnson said in a joint communique with Prime Minister Eshkol:
He (President Johnson) reiterated to Prime Minister Eshkol U.S. support for the territorial integrity and political independence for all countries in the Near East and emphasized the firm opposition of the U.S. to aggression and the use of force or the threat of force against any country.
Again, on August 2, 1966, he said:
As our beloved, great, late President John F. Kennedy said on May 8, 1963, as a declaration of the leader of this country and as spokesman for this land: `We support the security of both Israel and her neighbors * * * We strongly oppose the use of force or the threat of force in the Near East * * *
We subscribe to that policy.
So what I have read to you this morning has been the essence of what the different Presidents have said.
I have some statements here that I could put into the record, including President Truman's, President Eisenhower's, during that period. But the most recent ones are the statements by President Kennedy which President Johnson reaffirmed.
THE SITUATION COULD GET OUT OF CONTROL
I think the key question here for us to be thinking about, and I do not come here today with recommendations on it but in hopes that we can get some expressions of opinion in the committee, as to what the attitude of the U.S. and other countries in the West ought to be if there is a major onslaught by the Arab countries against Israel. I mean, that is the most serious contingency and one which we cannot completely brush aside although, as I said earlier, some of you were not here when I said it, I do not think that the governments of the area, as governments, are particularly hankering for large-scale military operations.
I have the impression they are prepared to have their coattails pulled and held in position. But they are the victims of possible incidents and emotions, and the situations could move out of control.
I will be glad, Mr. Chairman, to stop at this point because I know members have comments or questions they might wish to ask.
The Chairman. I think maybe we will move along on that. I only have two or three questions.
GOING IT ALONE
I want to make it, I want to try to be very precise about our policy with regard to this tripartite agreement. Would we today enforce that if the British and the French are not willing to, by our own forces? I want to ask later about the U.N., but first on that subject, is this our policy?
Secretary Rusk. I would not be able to tell you what the President's decision on that would be. You see, our policy has been stated on the public record. We have spent all of our time thus far urging calm upon everybody, Israel, the Arab States, the Soviet Union, and have been working very strongly in the Security Council--they are meeting now, as I told some of you who were here earlier--in an informal meeting to take up this question.
That is a question on which I am sure the President will be in touch with the leadership if any decision had to be made on that point. We are hoping to avoid that question if we possibly can by holding the situation under control in the Near East.
The Chairman. Well, just as a comment, if we should undertake to do that we would be hard put to find forces to go it alone in this area at the present time, wouldn't we?
Secretary Rusk. I do not think the question of going it alone would come up. My guess is that----
The Chairman. If it did.
Secretary Rusk. This would have to be a matter of general action by a considerable number of countries, not ourselves.
THE NEED FOR INVOLVING THE U.N.
The Chairman. I do not want to take much time--I would like to urge that here is a case that if ever the U.N. should be brought in, this is it. It does not directly involve the major countries. You intimated you would like some advice or at least you would not resent any advice from this committee--that this is an example of where you should go the limit in involving the U.N. as far as you can.
Secretary Rusk. We would agree to that, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman. All the way.
Secretary Rusk. I would say we do not know how much of a need we have to lean on as far as the Secretary General is concerned because he has not been very staunch in supporting the position and the action of the U.N. in a number of these situations.
The Chairman. Much more important, I think, are the Russians, what their attitude would be.
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
The Chairman. And I do not know what they replied to you either. I imagine they would be willing if they get any kind of consensus.
Secretary Rusk. Could I leave this off the tape, Mr. Chairman?
[Discussion off the record.]
The Chairman. Senator Mansfield?
AVOID UNILATERAL ACTION
Senator Mansfield. I am pleased with the reaction, Mr. Secretary. I certainly hope that this country does not act unilaterally in the Middle East. We have enough troubles in Vietnam now, more than enough.
Is there an agreement between, a security arrangement between France and Britain with Israel in addition to anything you have mentioned so far?
Secretary Rusk. We do not know of any specific and direct tripartite agreement between Britain, France, and Israel. It might have come after the Suez affair. We just do not know of one, if one exists. I would doubt it.
Senator Mansfield. I am pleased to note that you place the emphasis on the U.N., and the U.N. is taking it up; that you are carrying on conversations with the Soviet Union, and I would place more credence in what you have been told than what the Egyptian newspapers carried.
MIDDLE EAST RESOLUTION
What is the status of the Middle East resolution of 1961?
Secretary Rusk. That is so far as I know still law, but its applicability here, I may have to say something different later if we examine it further, but on the face of it, it would seem that its applicability here is somewhat fuzzy because that resolution was applied to countries under Communist domination.
Senator McCarthy. When you went into Lebanon there was no Communist domination in there.
Secretary Rusk. That is right; in Lebanon and Jordan.
Senator Hickenlooper. Which Middle East resolution?
Senator McCarthy. The Eisenhower doctrine.
Senator Mansfield. 1961. The Middle East resolution.
Secretary Rusk. The Middle East resolution was under President Eisenhower. That was the resolution on the basis of the----
Senator Mansfield. I mean 1957.
Secretary Rusk. That was the resolution on the basis of which we put some forces into Lebanon.
Senator Mansfield. Mr. Secretary, if I can go on, and I am just going to be brief. I would express the strong personal feeling, and that is all I can express, that the President does not act unilaterally in this area. Pressure is exerted on the U.K. and the French, who have vital interests there in one form or another, to take the lead outside the United Nations. We should do all that we can to simmer this down because I think that basically the statements made by Colonel Nasser are provocative and inflammatory. Morally he is in the wrong, that he made a mistake in requesting that the United Nations Emergency Force be withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, and I would hope that something could be done to bring about an accord on the suggestion made by Prime Minister Eshkol of Israel to the effect that they both withdraw their forces back----
Senator Symington. Mr. Chairman, I cannot hear the Senator.
Senator Mansfield [continuing]. From a certain area from the border.
The Chairman. Let us have order, please.
Senator Mansfield. The one thing I want to emphasize, speaking personally, is I hope we do not become involved unilaterally.
The Chairman. I want to associate myself with those remarks.
Senator Morse. So do I.
The Chairman. Are you through?
Senator Mansfield. Yes.
The Chairman. Senator Aiken?
Bourke, do you want to ask a question before you leave?
Senator Hickenlooper. I have to go to this other meeting.
The Chairman. Do you have any questions?
NO COURSE OF ACTION PRESENTED
Senator Aiken. What you have been suggesting, Mr. Secretary, is a suggestion for unilateral action if it is desirable?
Secretary Rusk. No, sir; I have not presented anything.
Senator Aiken. I missed the first ten minutes.
Secretary Rusk. I have not presented any course of action this morning. I am consulting with the committee; trying to bring the committee up to date on the situation; to give you a feel of the various governments we are in touch with; to tell you that this is being discussed right at the moment by the members of the Security Council at an informal meeting; and also to let you know that about an hour ago U Thant was supposed to have arrived in Cairo to talk to Nasser, and we feel that it would be useful to spread the situation out in as much detail as possible and get the reactions of members of the committee to it.
DISMAY OVER REMOVAL OF U.N. FORCES
Senator Aiken. Why was U Thant in such a hurry to get the U.N. forces out of the area?
Secretary Rusk. Quite frankly, we do not know. I think that he was advised that as a legal matter----
Senator Gore. What was the question? I could not get that question.
Secretary Rusk. The question was why was U Thant in such a hurry to get the forces out.
Senator Gore. Yes.
Secretary Rusk. I expressed earlier our dismay that he did act with such speed here. But I think he was advised as a legal matter if Egypt wanted those forces out of Egypt they had a right to request that they go out. They were the host country, a sovereign country, and that these forces could be there only with Egypt's consent.
Our view was this was action that should be taken by the General Assembly. It was just not a unilateral action by Egypt. Those forces are there by agreement with Egypt, and this agreement should not be broken unilaterally by the country, the host country, without full opportunity for the United Nations to act on its side of the agreement.
Senator Aiken. It almost looks as if he had advance information that this demand was going to be made.
Secretary Rusk. I would be inclined to doubt that, but I cannot be sure of it; I could not be sure of it.
Senator Aiken. Or else he was a very fast thinker.
Secretary Rusk. I have the impression that his Soviet Deputy strongly urged him to accede to Nasser's request immediately.
Senator Aiken. The Soviets never did approve this peacekeeping force there.
Secretary Rusk. That is correct. This is the only peace-keeping force established by the Assembly. As you know, the Soviets have taken a strong view in any event they should not do this.
Senator Aiken. Yes, and Yugoslavia took the lead in asking to have the force maintained.
Secretary Rusk. So did Canada.
Senator Aiken. Against the opposition of Russia.
Secretary Rusk. That is correct.
Senator Aiken. Yugoslavia and Canada.
Secretary Rusk. And Yugoslavia has some troops there as part of the force.
IF ISRAEL SHOULD FALL
Senator Aiken. However, if Israel should fall, her entire interests in the Middle East would be jeopardized, wouldn't they, sir?
Secretary Rusk. I think, sir, that the picture of the Israelis being driven into the sea is a picture that I just think people just cannot contemplate.
Senator Aiken. No.
Secretary Rusk. The whole world cannot contemplate that.
I agree with Senator Mansfield on the unilateral aspect of this. But this is not a phenomenon that the world can sit for, it seems to me.
Senator Aiken. You get any indication that France and England would consider it their problem?
Secretary Rusk. We are in touch with them now. I can tell you that their own views are pretty strong at the present time on this matter. But I would not want to try to be precise about it because we are talking further with them today, this morning. There is a cabinet meeting in Britain going on, I think, at the present time.
Senator Aiken. Strong in what direction, that they want to put their own forces in there or they want the United States to do that for them?
Secretary Rusk. No, this is a matter that everybody has to be interested in.
Senator Aiken. You think they would be----
Secretary Rusk. I think the chances are that they would be, but I do not want to speak for them on that point because our own President has not fully been informed, and does not himself have a conclusion to recommend to you at this time. This is an opportunity for me to be able to reflect to the President at lunch today the views expressed at this table by this distinguished committee, and I would be very glad to have any views anyone would wish to offer on this because this is on a day-to-day basis, maybe even an hour-to-hour basis.
The Chairman. Senator Morse?
MIDDLE EAST RESOLUTION AND SOVIET INTERVENTION
Now I come to the 1957 resolution which has been mentioned here which says:
“Furthermore, the United States regards as vital to the national interest and world peace the preservation of the independence and integrity of the nations of the Middle East. To this end, if the President determines the necessity thereof, the United States is prepared to use armed forces to assist any nation or group of such nations requesting assistance against armed aggression from any country controlled by international communism,” as you pointed out, Mr. Secretary, ``Provided, that such employment shall be consonant with the treaty obligations of the United States and with the Constitution of the United States.''
I think it takes that resolution out of the applicability to the instant case, because you are not involved here, unless Russia gets in, you are not involved here, in my judgment, with the Communist aspect of the resolution.
Senator McCarthy. Will the Senator yield at this point? But this was used for the Lebanon intervention, and there was no threat of intervention of international communism there.
Senator Morse. I know. But I am only citing what the other countries will say what the purpose was and what it was other countries particularly approved of there.
But now I come, and you may have talked on it before I got here, and if you did I am sorry to be redundant. You do not know it, but I am in this very serious railroad emergency here that somehow we still have got to face up to a lot faster than we are facing up to it here on the Hill. That is why I was late.
TRIPARTITE AGREEMENT INOPERATIVE
But am I correct in my recollection that Great Britain and France and the United States have not a security pact but we have an agreement among the three of us in which if there is a threat of war in the Middle East we will act in concert against the aggressor. Is there such a thing?
Secretary Rusk. Senator, I think it would be saying too much to say that Britain and France look upon the tripartite declaration of 1950 as still being operative. As a matter of fact, the Foreign Minister of Great Britain said on television just last night that he thought that the tripartite declaration had been supplanted by Prime Minister Macmillan's statement of 1963 which I read to the committee.
Senator Morse. Which I missed.
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
Senator Lausche. May I see that?
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
Senator Morse. There is no obligation on the part of France or Great Britain to act in concert with us in case----
Secretary Rusk. Senator, let me say that the tripartite declaration was a joint declaration of policy, as Senator Mansfield pointed out.
Now, the question is does their policy remain approximately the same. I think it is very important that matters of this sort not be commented upon or quoted outside by anybody because we are in a very delicate situation, and I do not want to speak for other governments.
It is my present view that the policies of Britain and France are in accord with the tripartite declaration of 1950; that is, they consider this is a very serious matter.
As you know, France and Israel have had very close ties, and Britain has given their support to Israel and is very much concerned as a maritime power about the attempt to close the Strait of Tiran leading to the Port of Aqaba. So I would have to shade it a little because I cannot speak for either one of those governments.
My impression is today, after a week of intensive consultation, as a matter of policy they still are in the framework of that policy which was announced in the tripartite declaration.
NOT A CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION
Senator Morse. Do we consider we are under any international understanding, obligation other than the tripartite understanding of 1950 to help Israel or any Arab state that might be attacked?
Secretary Rusk. I think, sir, if you could borrow from Senator Lausche at some stage the statement in the press conference made by President Kennedy in May 1963, he, as late as 1963 reaffirmed the underlying policy of the tripartite declaration, and President Johnson later referred to the May press conference and said that he supports that policy.
Senator Morse. That was my understanding.
Secretary Rusk. For this is a matter of policy. It is not a matter of treaty commitment. It is not a matter of contractual obligation.
Senator Morse. It is not a treaty. It is really not a matter of signed agreement either, going back to 1950, but it was a restatement of a commitment there that linked with France and Britain at that time.
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
Senator Lausche. Wayne, would you yield so that I could read into the record what the operative words are of the 1950 declaration?
Senator Morse. Yes.
Senator Lausche. The three governments, should they find that any of these states was preparing to violate frontiers or armistice lines, would consistently with their obligations as members of the United Nations, immediately take action, both within and outside the United Nations, to prevent such violation.
What those words mean I will not try to interpret at this time.
Senator Morse. That is what I am talking about, around this question that I am asking, and I have got my answer that France and Great Britain as of now apparently will not consider themselves bound by the 1950 agreement, but we do not know.
Secretary Rusk. But seem to be pursuing the same attitude or policy reflected in that agreement.
Senator Morse. That is right.
But as far as we are concerned, based upon the Kennedy statement of 1963 and the subsequent Johnson statement, we still consider that we have some obligation to try to get a war stopped by some joint action on the part of England and France if they would join us.
Secretary Rusk. Yes, I think it might be worth, since we are putting certain things in the record--this is the mid-fifties--President Eisenhower stated in a press conference:
I would recommend that the U.S. join in formal treaty engagements to prevent or thwart any effort by either side to alter by force the boundaries between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
That is November 1955.
Then in January 1957 he said in a speech to Congress, in a State of the Union Message:
We have shown, so that none can doubt, our dedication to the principle that force shall not be used internationally for any aggressive purposes and that the integrity and independence of the nations of the Middle East should be inviolate.
A MORAL OBLIGATION
Senator McCarthy. Will the Senator yield at this one point? I accept that we have a moral obligation and we have four or five statements by a series of Presidents. But the only formal obligation that you still think is our obligation is within the United Nations.
Secretary Rusk. The general treaty obligations of the United Nations Charter.
Senator McCarthy. No other treaties.
Secretary Rusk. Of course, they apply here, but no other treaties apply to this problem.
Senator McCarthy. Just Presidential statements and the Eisenhower doctrine which is our unilateral obligation, and there is nothing left of the tripartite agreement except our statement we would support it.
Secretary Rusk. And the enunciations of policies by what amount to four Presidents.
Senator McCarthy. Yes.
CONVERSATIONS WITH GOLDA MEIR
Senator Morse. I will ask, Mr. Secretary, to be permitted to make this statement. The last official contact I had with the tripartite agreement was in December 1965 when, under the President's request, I took my delegation home by way of Israel. We had a series of conferences over there, and two of those conferences were with Golda Meir. Frank will recall that in our conference with Golda Meir, a very long conference, both of them long conferences, we were talking about the criticisms we were getting from Israel concerning military aid in the Middle East.
She expressed quite a bit of concern, as I remember. It is my recollection, I remember Frank Lausche said to her very frankly--these were not his exact words, but I paraphrase him, and I think he will agree, accurately, he said, ``Mrs. Meir, I am at a little loss to understand your concern because you know that you have our pledge that we will come to your assistance if you are attacked.''
She said, ``Yes, Mr. Senator, I know.'' This, of course was in reference to the tripartite agreement. She said, ``Yes, I know,'' but, she said, ``I am not so sure that there would be any Israel left by the time you came to our assistance.''
What Frank was talking about was we have taken this position in the Middle East. We are not going to stand by if either the Arab countries or Israel is attacked. Is that a fair recollection of the conversation?
Senator Lausche. No. I think my point was, I said ``Why are you complaining because our government has fully informed you about the aid that we were then sending into Jordan at Eilat, Aqaba, we were there, and it was said, `Look across the bay and you will see ships unloading equipment.' ''
Well, I had been previously told that our government told Israel that we were giving this aid and that Israel knew about it, and the excuse for giving it was that unless we gave it Russia would. I cannot confirm----
Senator Morse. I do not want to take the Secretary's time other than in that conversation you were also--and I thought you made a very good point--you also told her that you did not see why she was so concerned because she knew that if a war did break out that under existing international understandings that we would come to her assistance in case they were attacked.
Senator Lausche. I do not think I went that far.
Senator Morse. She said, ``My concern there wouldn't be an Israel left by the time the attack took place.''
Anyway, I will exonerate my friend from Ohio from being the one that raised the point. I know the point was raised in the discussion.
But my point is at that time she was then still foreign minister. At that time she recognized, she thought they had an understanding with us, and I think with Great Britain and France, too, that we were not going to be letting her be attacked, aggressed upon, but she was concerned with whether or not we would get to their assistance fast enough. I just cite that point.
The last point I wanted to ask you is, you know, that this matter will be a matter of discussion all over the entire Senate. Have you any advice to us as to how we can be of greatest help to the State Department and to the White House in any public discussions that may break out on the floor of the Senate this afternoon?
U THANT NEEDS STIFFENING
Secretary Rusk. There is one point that occurs to me, Senator, and that is to emphasize the responsibilities of the United Nations for peacekeeping in this area, because U Thant may need some stiffening on this point, and I may know before the meeting is over whether they agreed to actually call a formal meeting of the Security Council.
Mr. Macomber, would you be in touch with the office when Ambassador Goldberg calls back?
So I would think that would be one point that could be very helpful.
Secondly, general advice to all hands to keep calm in this situation. You see, Israel is in a very, very difficult geographic position, and Mrs. Meir's comment to you in that conversation is relevant here. They are surrounded by Arab States who declare periodically or publicly their hostility towards Israel.
They have not got much wriggle room in there. Therefore, they feel that they have got to bristle like a porcupine to fend off these neighbors if anything ever starts, so they tend to be a little jumpy. This is partly because of the military problem of space.
We have urged them to be extremely cautious and patient here in regard to these boundary incidents in this situation, and that Israel make it quite clear that if anything happens here it is not Israel's responsibility; that this is a clear aggression from the outside.
Just yesterday the Prime Minister proposed that there be a neutral withdrawal of forces between the Israel-Egyptian frontier. That was a most sensible and sober suggestion to make.
CLOSING THE STRAITS OF TIRAN
But again I am concerned about this morning, about the effect on Israel by the announcement by Nasser that he was closing the Straits of Tiran. That is an extremely serious thing.
Senator Symington. Doing what?
Secretary Rusk. Closing the Straits of Tiran that lead up to Aqaba. That is a very serious step, and we are concerned about that.
Senator Morse. We have never said at any time that we considered those international waters the closing of which would involve our rights?
Secretary Rusk. Oh, we have said we consider them international wars and that is our view on that. There are four countries that were served by that Gulf of Aqaba.
The Chairman. Senator Carlson?
Senator Carlson. Mr. Secretary, I have two or three questions.
Secretary Rusk. Excuse me, Senator, may I just read into the record here a portion of an aide memoire handed by Mr. Dulles to Prime Minister Eban:
With respect to the Gulf of Aqaba and access thereto--the United States believes that the gulf comprehends international waters and that no nation has the right to prevent free and innocent passage in the gulf and through the Straits giving access thereto. We have in mind not only commercial uses but the passage of the pilgrims on religious missions, which should be fully respected.
So our view has been that the Gulf of Aqaba is international waters and the passage through the Straits is an international right.
Senator Symington. Do you want to read the next paragraph in that statement?
Secretary Rusk. I do not have it with me.
Senator Symington. I will give it to you.
The United States recalls that on January 28, 1950, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the United States that the Egyptian occupation of the two islands of Tiran and Senafir at the entrance at the Gulf of Aqaba was only to protect the islands themselves against possible damage or violation and that `this occupation being in no way conceived in a spirit of obstructing in any way innocent passage through the stretch of water separating these two islands from the Egyptian coast of Sinai, it follows that this passage, the only practical one, will remain free.
In the absence of some overriding decision to the contrary as by the International Court of Justice, the United States, on behalf of vessels of the United States registry, is prepared to exercise the right of free and innocent passage and to join with others to secure general recognition of this right.
That sounds like a pretty firm commitment at that time----
Secretary Rusk. Right.
Senator Symington [continuing]. By Mr. Dulles.
The Chairman. Senator Carlson?
Senator Symington. This is dated February 11, 1957.
NASSER'S THREATS TO THE U.N.
Senator Carlson. I have just two questions. The press dispatches have carried the story that U Thant, the Secretary General, was advised by Mr. Nasser that if he did not withdraw the troops they were going to be disarmed. Does the State Department have any views on that?
Secretary Rusk. We do not have the text of what Nasser might have said to U Thant. At least, if so, they might have escaped my attention. I think I probably would have seen them. It would not surprise me if Nasser did say that.
Senator Carlson. I was going to ask if you do not think he might have done that.
Secretary Rusk. Yes, I think it is possible.
Senator Carlson. Second, the last official statement we have from Great Britain, outside of the statement by Mr. Brown \1\ yesterday in London, would be the Macmillan statement of 1963 which you read into the record. I gathered from your reading of that statement that they pretty much withdrew and left it to ourselves, at least they were in position where they could move either way based on the statement. What is your view of that?---------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ British Foreign Secretary George Brown.---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Secretary Rusk. Well, I think, sir, that it depends on what weight you give to the opening words of Prime Minister Macmillan's statement because it was based upon President Kennedy's press conference statement. Senator Lausche, I believe, has that exchange.
Senator Lausche. Yes, right here.
Secretary Rusk. Thank you, sir. The Prime Minister began his statement by saying--remember the question was ``Would you publicly associate Her Majesty's Government with the recent officially declared United States policy?'' That was referring to President Kennedy's press conference statement. He said:
``Yes, sir. I am glad to endorse the President's statement.'' Then he goes on to put heavy emphasis on the United Nations aspect on it. Then, of course, he said as far as specific action was concerned that would require examination of the situation at the time.
REASONABLE RELATIONS WITH THE ARABS AND ISRAEL
Senator Carlson. Are you implying this morning that our nation does not have any formal obligation or commitment, but merely implies these commitments are tripartite treaties we have been into?
Secretary Rusk. We do not have a treaty obligation directly except to the extent the United Nations Charter is applicable. We do not have a specific treaty obligation.
Over the years I think that question has been raised from time to time, but it was concluded that such a treaty would not be in the interests of peace in the general area nor in our interests because it was important for the West to be able to have reasonable relations with both the Arabs and with Israel, if possible.
Now, this is a policy question which was posed to four Presidents, and it goes back to the day when the United States played a major role in the creation of the State of Israel.
OPERATING FROM DAY TO DAY
Senator Carlson. Then we get to a place--and I think everyone must be concerned about the unilateral agreements--would you say that we do not have any unilateral agreements in this field?
Secretary Rusk. Well, we have some unilateral declarations of policy by the Presidents.
Senator Carlson. And these policies imply a great deal more than just what is in the written word.
Secretary Rusk. I think the statements stand by themselves. I think they should not be looked upon as empty statements. I think they do have some content. But how and when and in what way we give effect to such a policy is something to be considered in the circumstances.
Senator Carlson. In other words, we are operating right now from day to day. Do you, as the State Department, have any contingency plans? In other words, this situation to me based on your statement this morning, is very critical. What are your plans? Do you have plans that you could divulge as to what you are going to do tomorrow?
Secretary Rusk. At present, quite frankly, no decisions have been made about actions to be taken by, say U.S. forces. But we have been consulting with all of the governments involved in the area, in the Security Council, those with the United Nations Emergency Force troops, the Soviet Union, and specifically with the British and the French on the situation and, of course, one has to think about various contingencies, but no decisions have been made.
Senator Carlson. In other words, you are looking forward to if one thing happens tomorrow, that you have something serious, you would at least have in mind something you might be trying to do?
Secretary Rusk. Well, yes, sir. But that depends upon what happens tomorrow and what the President's judgment in consultation with the leaders and others will be.
CONSULTATION WITH THE SOVIET UNION
Senator Carlson. You mentioned consultation with the Soviet Union. I think we all agree around the table that they, no doubt, are deeply involved. They are practical international politicians.
Have you analyzed what their stake would be, whether they should be with us as a nation; whether they should stay with us or go with the Far East internationally. Have you got any thoughts on that?
Secretary Rusk. As to the Soviet Union?
Senator Carlson. Yes.
Secretary Rusk. I think before you came in, Senator, I said that in our own consultations with them we get the impression that they would like to moderate the situation, but we get a different impression from Syria and from Cairo as to what the Soviet attitude is.
Senator Carlson. They play both sides against the middle.
Secretary Rusk. So either the Arabs are overstating what the Soviets have said or the Soviets are saying something rather different to them than they are to us. But we are talking further with them and we will try to clarify that point.
Senator Carlson. That is all, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman. Senator Gore?
Senator Lausche. Here is Senator Gore.
The Chairman. I thought you had gone.
Senator Gore. I changed my seat the better to hear what the chairman was saying.
The Chairman. I looked down and I thought you were gone.
SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL
Senator Gore. Mr. Secretary, I share many of the feelings expressed by members, but I would suggest there would be danger in any equivocation on our part. I do not wish to elaborate upon it except to say that because of the tripartite agreement, because of the statements of the President, because of the domestic political pressures in this country, the chances are overwhelming that this country would not see Israel destroyed. I doubt if it would be in the interests of our Executive to leave any question about that open to conjecture. That is all I wish to suggest.
Secretary Rusk. Thank you, Senator.
The Chairman. Senator Williams?
Senator Williams. Mr. Secretary, in the event the worse developed, and they did invade Israel, would we act unilaterally or would we wait for the United Nations, insist upon France and Great Britain joining us?
Secretary Rusk. Senator, you understand that this is the most serious of all questions in this situation, and I am a little reluctant to try to anticipate what the President would feel we ought to do in a particular situation of that sort.
One thing that I can assure you of and that is that every possible effort will be made to see that any action that is taken or becomes necessary will be taken by a maximum number of countries, and we fully supported what Senator Mansfield said earlier about the very serious disabilities and difficulties of unilateral action by us in this situation.
Senator Williams. That is all.
Secretary Rusk. There are a considerable number of--just to illustrate the point, Senator, there are a considerable number of maritime nations who have tremendous interests in the principle of the international character of the Straits there, the Straits of Tiran, and they certainly ought to be interested in that if anybody is going to have to do anything about it.
Senator Williams. That is all.
The Chairman. Senator Lausche?
CREATION OF ISRAEL
Senator Lausche. Mr. Secretary, I would like to set down in chronological order the statements made by the Presidents and Secretary Dulles, the resolution of 1957, so that the record will show what has been done in the past with respect to this problem.
It looks to me that the material that was discussed today, attempting to show what our obligations are, begin with the tripartite declaration regarding security in the Near East dated May 25, 1950. Am I correct in that understanding?
Secretary Rusk. Well, I think, sir, in order to complete the record one would need to refer back to President Truman's very strong role in assisting in the creation of the State of Israel and certain things that he said at that time.
For example, in a speech at Madison Square Garden on October 28, 1948----
Senator Lausche. October 28, 1948?
Secretary Rusk. Yes, sir.
Senator Lausche. What did Truman say?
I wish to speak now upon a subject that has been of great interest to me as your President. It is the subject of Israel. Now, this is a most important subject and must not be resolved as a matter of politics during a political campaign. I have refused consistently to play politics with that question. I have refused--as a matter of fact, there was at that time campaign sort of an agreement between the two sides to try to keep this out. I have the impression it sort of broke out into the campaign in the last few days, but I remember that very well because Mr. Foster Dulles who was also involved in it on the other side. But to resume:
I have refused, first, because it is my responsibility to see that our policy in Israel fits in with our foreign policy throughout the world; second, it is my desire to help build in Palestine a strong, prosperous, free, and independent democratic state. It must be large enough, free enough, and strong enough to make its people self-supporting and secure.
Now, there may have been other statements, but I think we should refer to the Truman administration's role.
Senator Lausche. What is that date?
Secretary Rusk. October 28, 1948.
HIGH STATE OF TENSION
Senator Lausche. Well, then follows the tripartite declaration of May 25, 1950, and at this point I want to read into the record the substantive language embracing the declaration of the three countries:
The three governments take this opportunity of declaring their deep interest in and their desire to promote the establishment and maintenance of peace and stability in the area and their unalterable opposition to the use of force or threat of force between any of the states in that area. The three governments, should they find that any of the states was preparing to violate the frontiers or armistice lines, would, consistently with their obligations as members of the United Nations, immediately take action, but within and outside the United Nations, to prevent such violations.
What was the background with respect to which this declaration was made?
Secretary Rusk. That had to do with the high state of tension that existed with the state of Israel in relation to its frontiers and the attempts by the Arabs to upset the de facto frontiers that had been established at the time of the creation of Israel.
Senator Lausche. I now go to the next item that has been mentioned here this morning, and this is dated February 11, 1957. It is an aide memoire handed to Israel's Ambassador Abba Eban by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles.
Secretrary Rusk. I think, sir, if you are establishing a little chronology it might be useful to insert here a section from a radio address by Secretary of State Dulles on June 1, 1953, in which he reaffirmed the tripartite declaration of 1950.
Senator Lausche. All right.
OCCUPATION OF TIRAN AND SENAFIR
I want to read here what material was already read:
The United States recalls that on January 28, 1950, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the United States that the Egyptian occupation of the two islands of Tiran and Senafir at the entrance of the Gulf of Aqaba was only to protect the islands themselves against possible damage or violation and that this occupation being in no way conceived in a spirit of obstructing in any way innocent passage through the stretch of water separating these two islands from the Egyptian coast of Sinai, it follows that this passage, the only practical one, will remain free as in the past, in conformity with international practice and recognized principles of the law of nations.
In the absence of some overriding decision to the contrary, as by the International Court of Justice, the United States, on behalf of vessels of United States registry, is prepared to exercise the right of free and innocent passage and to join with others to secure general recognition of its right.
Are these two islands the ones that are now occupied by Nasser to block ingress and egress?
Secretary Rusk. Yes. But, you see, the United Nations force had a contingent of Swedes on the mainland just opposite the straits in order to prevent the possibility that the Egyptians might emplace artillery there and try to stop passage through the Straits. That United Nations force has now been withdrawn.
Senator Lausche. Yes. All right.
THE MIDDLE EAST RESOLUTION
Now I get down to the Middle East resolution as amended, which was passed on March 9, 1957. Am I correct that this resolution, under date of March 9, 1957, follows all of the other declarations and resolutions which we, you and I, have thus far discussed?
Secretary Rusk. Yes, sir. This particular one----
Senator Lausche. I think it does.
Secretary Rusk. This particular resolution was aimed at aggression by countries under Communist domination.
Senator Lausche. That is correct.
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
Senator Lausche. After the statements by Dulles, after the tripartite declaration, after the statement by Truman, this resolution was passed by the Congress of the United States.
Secretary Rusk. That is correct, sir.
Senator Lausche. And in this resolution of March 9, 1957 it was stated, among other things:
``To this end, if the President determines the necessity thereof, the United States is prepared to use armed forces to assist any nation or group of such nations requesting assistance against armed aggression from any country controlled by international communism,'' and the important aspect is to assist against aggression by any country controlled by international communism.
Secretary Rusk. That is correct, Senator. But I think also the introduction to what you have just read does contain a declaration of a vital interest to the United States.
Senator Lausche. All right; okay. Let me put the whole section in there.
Has there been any other action taken by the Congress of the United States on this Middle East subject subsequent to this resolution of March 9, 1957?
Secretary Rusk. Nothing comparable in terms of a specific resolution that I am aware of, Senator.
Senator Lausche. So the last congressional declaration with respect to the Middle East is this resolution of March 9, 1957?
Secretary Rusk. Yes. I would not want to overlook the possibility that there is a good deal of preambular material in other legislation that has a bearing on the issues that could arise in the Near East, declarations----
Senator Lausche. All right.
PRESIDENT KENNEDY'S POSITION
Subsequent to March 9, 1957 we have had statements by Eisenhower and by Kennedy and Johnson.
Secretary Rusk. That is correct, sir.
Senator Lausche. Now, the pertinent one discussed here today was the statement made by President Kennedy in----
Secretary Rusk. May 8, 1963.
Senator Lausche. As a consequence of Kennedy's statement dealing with Israel and the Arab Republic, and the tripartite declaration, Prime Minister Macmillan was asked in the Parliament a certain question, and I will read:
To ask the Prime Minister whether he will publicly associate Her Majesty's Government with the recent officially declared United States policy to the effect that, should Israel or any of the Arab States appear to violate frontiers of armistice lines, the United States of America will take immediate action both within and outside the United Nations to prevent such violation.
That, in substance, what I have just read, is Kennedy's statement?
Secretary Rusk. It was a summation. There is a slight difference in wording, but in substance, yes.
Senator Lausche. Summation.
Now, the United States Government received the following written reply from the Prime Minister.
Secretary Rusk. No. This was an answer to a question--this is a question in the House of Commons.
Senator Lausche. Yes.
Secretary Rusk. And the Prime Minister answered the question in the House of Commons.
Senator Lausche. And this is how he answered.
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
Senator Lausche. Yes, sir. I am glad to endorse the President's statement. Her Majesty's Government are deeply interested in peace and stability in this area, and are opposed to the use of force or the threat of force there as elsewhere in the world. We are equally opposed to the interference by any country in the internal affairs of another whether by the encouragement of subversion or by hostile propaganda.
I cannot say in advance what action we would take in a crisis since it is difficult to foresee the exact circumstances which might arise.
A STATE OF UNCERTAINTY
My question is: Doesn't this last sentence leave the matter in a state of uncertainty because Macmillan says that he cannot say in advance what action ``we would take in a crisis since it is difficult to foresee the exact circumstances which might arise.''
Secretary Rusk. Senator, I would not attach too much policy importance to that. I think any chief of government would be very reluctant to say in advance exactly what steps he might take.
For example, in a NATO crisis, I think the President would be very reluctant to pin himself to a particular action even though the commitments of the treaty are to treat an attack on one as an attack on all.
Senator Lausche. Is it correct to conclude that there is only one piece of direct legislation dealing with the subject, and that is the Middle East resolution of 1957? There may be, however, some preliminary statements in other official documents that may have a bearing upon it.
Secretary Rusk. I will have this examined to see whether there are any direct references to the Middle East in other legislation which would have a bearing on the present situation.
HAVE THE UNITED NATIONS TAKE CONTROL
Senator Lausche. Now, then, I want to conclude. In my opinion, every effort imaginable should be made to have the United Nations take control of this subject. No efforts should be spared toward the achievement of this end. This item is one peculiarly fitted for disposition by the United Nations.
Two, our government should not, under any circumstances, take unilateral action in the matter.
Three, we have to explore the ability to become involved beyond our already existing involvement in South Vietnam where we now have 425,000 men, I believe.
Secretary Rusk. Somewhat more than that.
Senator Lausche. 450,000.
Senator Gore. Will the Senator yield; with a much less specific commitment than we have in Israel. I do not know how we can act unilaterally in one case and then say we will not act otherwise.
Secretary Rusk. Senator, would you repeat what you said? We ought to explore----
[The statement of Senator Lausche was read by the reporter, as requested.]
Senator Lausche. Four, I cannot approve the speed of U Thant and his failure to consult with the principal agencies of the United Nations in his action in withdrawing the United Nations troops from the area.
I think that concludes it.
The Chairman. Are you through?
Senator Lausche. Yes.
The Chairman. Senator Mundt?
U THANT'S ABILITY TO ACT UNILATERALLY
Senator Mundt. Mr. Secretary, I am glad that you came here to discuss our problems with us in advance of action being taken. I hope this becomes a precedent.
I recall what happened in Vietnam. I was not here when you came before the committee, but I think this is a proper function of the advise and consent constitutional responsibility which we have.
We are in a war now, and all foreign wars are bad. A two-front war is always bad no matter where you fight it, and it seems to me a two-continent war at the same time is almost beyond the power of the mind of man to comprehend as to the status of his country. So I share Senator Lausche's conviction that you should proceed with all force and vigor to put before the United Nations the moment of truth. If there ever was a controversy which it can solve, this ought to be it.
Up to now they have done a very commendable job, I think, in maintaining this peace force. I do not know enough about the Constitution of the U.N. to know whether U Thant can, by a simple statement of one man, pull out this peacekeeping group properly as he did or whether it was actually beyond his authority. It seems to me there must be some authority in the U.N. greater than U Thant that could put it back into being by some kind of action.
Am I right or am I wrong?
Secretary Rusk. Well, we have had a very sharp discussion with him on just this point. He claimed, on the advice of his lawyers, that he had both a duty and a responsibility to act as he did. We felt he had an obligation to bring this to the General Assembly or the Security Council before he answered.
Senator Mundt. Assuming he is right--I doubt that he was right--but assuming that he was right, isn't there some plenary power in the U.N. that is stronger than his that can put them in by a United Nations act?
Secretary Rusk. I think there is undoubtedly power under the charter. The Security Council clearly has such authority of action. That is vulnerable to the Soviet veto.
It is our view, as you know the Soviets disagree with this, that the General Assembly also has such power if the Security Council is unable to act. That could bring a direct clash between the U.N., as such, and Egypt as such if Egypt said, ``No, you are not going to have your troops on our territory,'' so they are going to have to fight for themselves if Egypt should resist.
But all things exist in between, and did not give U Thant a chance to search for it, and this is our strong complaint. There are things in between.
IS A DEMILITARIZED ZONE POSSIBLE
Senator Mundt. I would assume correctly that there was some claim, a valid claim by the U.N., that it should not be on one side of the border. Is it possible to have a demilitarized zone, so to speak, to include part of the Israeli border and part of the Egyptian border and part of all neighboring borders?
Secretary Rusk. Prime Minister Eshkol proposed just yesterday that the two armies withdraw from the border, and I would suppose he would have no objection if U.N. observers and inspectors were able to insure that this, in fact, occurred.
Senator Mundt. Why was this curious arrangement made in the first place that the peace force should be on one side of the border?
Secretary Rusk. This was part of the settlement of the so-called Suez affair, and this was worked out that way because, as a part of the settlement, Israel withdrew its very substantial forces from many places deep in the Sinai Peninsula. So this was part of the settlement at the time, and if there was any inequity about it in a theoretical sense, the fact is it was a part of a settlement of the Suez business.
Senator Mundt. Were we in on the settlement?
Secretary Rusk. Yes, sir, as a member of the U.N., and worked out in the U.N., as you will recall.
Senator Mundt. Wouldn't it have been better, looking forward and learning from mistakes in the past, if we are going to have a peace patrol, is it not better to have it on both sides of the border so that one cantankerous fellow cannot throw them out, just throw out the part on his side and have a shield there?
Secretary Rusk. I think as a general proposition there is some merit in that idea.
Senator Mundt. What are our options in this? Are we committed, obligated, by specific treaties to go in and handle this thing alone if the worst comes to worse?
Secretary Rusk. No, there is no treaty.
Senator Mundt. Are we obligated by any other----
Secretary Rusk. Senator, I would say this, that the United Nations Charter, Article 51, clearly says that ``Nothing in this charter prevents the exercise of individual and collective self-defense,'' and that would give any nation the right to exercise its self-defense and to call upon others who are willing to help in that self-defense.
Senator Mundt. I understand that. But do we have any moral, specific or legal commitment by treaty or any other device, administrative or legislative, which obligates us to go in alone if worst comes to worst?
Secretary Rusk. That is a matter of how this nation would respond to the policy declaration made by four Presidents pointing to our interest in the security of the states of the Near East, both the Arab States and Israel, and we have said these things rather specifically about Israel.
Senator Mundt. Have we ever said if trouble breaks out and nobody else comes to the rescue, the United States will get up an expeditionary force and send them in alone?
Secretary Rusk. No, we have not.
Senator Mundt. Then the answer is negative.
Secretary Rusk. The answer was read by Senator Lausche. We would take action within and outside the U.N.
Senator Mundt. Which we certainly are prepared to do.
IF WORST COMES TO WORST
This committee would be prepared to support with the U.N., or with the British and the French, and a reasonable number of associate members of the U.N. But the question we confront, it seems to me, the only place where we have got a real problem to solve, is what do we do if worst comes to worst? That is the question; that is where we are--you, the President, and us. We have not had much success with the British and French fighting communism in Asia.
Secretary Rusk. I hope the gentlemen of this committee will be thinking and worrying about that question because that contingency could arise. We are doing everything we can to prevent that question from arising. But that question could arise, and so everyone ought to be thinking about it, certainly everyone in the Executive Branch is.
Senator Mundt. You ought to be thinking about it now because it is happening awfully fast. You pick up the newspaper and see that Egypt has gone into this area, or Syria, which seems to be even more irresponsible than Egypt, might go in, so there you are confronted with a snap judgment.
Is there something we are going to read about in the newspaper that the President has decided that troops are on their way, or are you coming back to Congress, or what are our obligations? As I understand your answer, and I want to be sure I am right, we have not any moral, legal obligation to go on our own.
Secretary Rusk. I am not sure----
Senator Mundt. We have an option to make.
Secretary Rusk. I said we do not have a precise treaty commitment on this situation other than, say, in the United Nations Charter. I would not be prepared this morning to say we do not have a moral obligation or we might not have other kinds of obligations in view of the role played in the establishment of Israel and the statement made by four Presidents. Those are things you will have to weigh. I would not say we do not have a moral right.
WHAT THE RUSSIANS ARE SAYING TO THE SOVIETS
Secretary Rusk. It is my impression from Paris, the talk we had in Paris, they would welcome a quadripartite discussion.
Senator Mundt. If by noon, if the Soviets come into the meeting, you might be correct there is no relationship. If they do not, I think it could be.
Secretary Rusk. They may not come for a variety of reasons. In the first place they may not be able to get instructions by noon. So he may not wish to do anything without instructions.
Senator Mundt. Allowing for time.
Secretary Rusk. But the real answer to your question will come from what the Russians are really saying to the Syrians and the Egyptians. For example, both Syria and Egypt have sort of indicated the Russians have said that they would support them. But it would be very important to know whether that would be in the event of an Israeli attack, or would support them for the so-called ``Holy War'' against Israel.
There is a tremendous difference between those two situations and we may have something more during the course of the day on what the Russians are saying to us directly on this subject.
Senator Mundt. I do not want to take any more time. Let me just cap it off by saying, as far as I am concerned, I think this is a multilateral challenge.
The Chairman. Speak the least bit louder, please.
Senator Mundt. This is a multilateral challenge which should be met multilaterally and we should not move in on our own precipitously getting ourselves committed and then come in with a fait accompli without a chance to look at the whole picture. THE ROLE OF FRANCE
Senator Aiken. You do not believe France would desert Israel completely, do you Mr. Secretary?
Secretary Rusk. Beg pardon, sir?
Senator Aiken. France would not desert Israel at this stage, would they?
Secretary Rusk. If I were speaking for the corporate body called France, I would think, I would say, that I cannot imagine that France would. But when you ask me precisely about what President de Gaulle as an individual would do, which is France now for all practical purposes, I cannot be all that sure, Senator, quite frankly at that point.
Senator Williams. He would have no objections to our taking the burden alone if we were foolish enough to do it.
Secretary Rusk. I would have serious objections?
Senator Williams. No, de Gaulle.
Secretary Rusk. France. I am not sure of this in this case. France and Israel have been very close to each other in a variety of ways. Some of you on the Joint Committee will understand some of the ways in which they have been close to each other. So I am not at all sure of that.
Senator Aiken. Yes.
The Chairman. Could I ask one following question? You said you did not see any connection with Vietnam. Do you think really Nasser would have acted as he has if we were not pre-occupied with Vietnam? Would he have dared do it?
Secretary Rusk. Oh, I think--in the first place I am not sure what he has in mind doing. If he is moving his troops up to the frontier and this is a rather exaggerated and pretty dangerous game of bluff, that is one thing. If he is talking about real hostilities, he has got plenty of problems with the forces facing him right there in Israel, quite apart from what we do.
I do not believe Nasser--well, I will be surprised if Nasser underestimates what Israel could do, say in the first 30 days in this situation. I just do not believe this is a major part of it, Senator, quite frankly.
The Chairman. Senator Symington.
Secretary Rusk. I can be wrong, of course. I have been wrong before.
UNITED STATES IS OVEREXTENDED
Senator Symington. Mr. Secretary, first I want to thank you for your assistance and your courtesy and constant method of keeping us informed on this rapidly developing situation. I, in turn, have been very grateful for it.
Naturally I am more interested in this part of the world inasmuch as I am chairman of the subcommittee, and I would just like to report that after coming back from Europe a year ago I said as a result of this more recent trip to Europe these observations and conclusions I reached last January appear at least as sound today.
It may be difficult to decide whether or not the United States is overcommitted politically or overextended from a fiscal standpoint. But if military commitments are an important part of political and economic commitments, then this nation is overextended in all three categories.
Rich and powerful though we are, the U.S. cannot continue indefinitely to both finance and defend the so-called free world with such little support from our friends and allies. They should live up to their commitments as we have to ours.
In addition, unless we change the normalcy approach now characteristic of our policies and programs incident to handling these worldwide commitments, there should be a reduction in the nature and scope of these commitments, and even some reductions would be desirable.
Under current plans and programs there is little chance of maintaining adequately trained personnel, military personnel, to handle our present world commitments even if those commitments do not involve us in further trouble in some other parts of the world.
That was a letter that I sent to Chairman Fulbright and Chairman Russell upon returning from Europe about a year ago.
I would like to ask just a couple of questions here. I would just like to make this statement: Based on the recent activities of Mr. U Thant, I am somewhat surprised at the tremendous effort that we joined in in keeping him in as Secretary General of the United Nations. For what it is worth, I would like to just present that observation.
U.S. NAVAL STRENGTH IN MIDDLE EAST
Now, do you know, is any of the Seventh Fleet south of the Suez Canal?
Secretary Rusk. The Sixth Fleet.
Senator Symington. Sixth Fleet, I mean.
Secretary Rusk. We have----
Senator Symington. The Seventh is in Vietnam.
Secretary Rusk. We have some destroyers in the Red Sea area.
Senator Symington. In the Red Sea area.
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
Senator Symington. How many have we got?
Secretary Rusk. I would have to double check that. I think three.
Senator Symington. Any submarines?
Secretary Rusk. I would have to look. But our principal forces are the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.
Senator Symington. We have cannibalized some of our equipment of the Sixth Fleet because of Vietnam. Has that been taken into consideration? Presumably it would be.
Secretary Rusk. I am sure it would be. I am not familiar with the facts on that, Senator.
RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF VIETNAM AND ISRAEL
Senator Symington. Well, now my final question, which I might want to expand on: We know that we have a limited number of trained military personnel, at least in some categories, that comes up time and again before the Armed Services Committee and the Preparedness Subcommittee. If you had to make a choice as to which country, from the standpoint of the interests of the United States, is more important to defend, Vietnam or Israel, which country would you say was the more important?
Secretary Rusk. Senator, I would not want to assign a priority between those at this point. I do feel we have a great interest--the Congress has declared our vital interest in both the Near East and in Southeast Asia. I think that priority between the two would not be for me to assess at this point.
VIETNAM RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT U.S. POWER
Senator Symington. I understand that, but this LDL ship, nobody could see why it was being built at very heavy cost unless it was to police the world or the concept of it. And, secondly, you yourself have been very frank with the committee. You have told us that we have got, I think your figure was, 40 military commitments around the world.
For many months now I have been saying look out about Vietnam. I am not one of these playboys and never have been--either we should shove this war ahead or get out of it. As long as we are in the ring with 200 million people, a $750 billion year gross national product, spending $2.5 billion a month chasing these little people around the woods, the longer we are in this ring, the audience, which in this case is the world, is beginning to doubt we have any real power. Therefore, when the question is asked, as I believe it was, do you think that Vietnam is the reason for Nasser--I know that you have little respect for my opinion just as you know I have great respect for yours--I would think it is a very pertinent question.
It is my personal impression after having spent a considerable time in Jordan, Israel, Greece and Egypt, in South Vietnam, the question is pertinent and true. I happen to think it is, because of the way we control our power in this war, and I am not talking about any bombing of civilians or nuclear weapons. I am just talking about trying to obtain success by a full application of our power. A lot of the countries in the world, I hate to say this about my own country, they are the audience with ringside seats, and they said, ``We thought this was a great powerful country. Throw the bum out. He has been in the ring now for years and he is not getting anywhere.'' The result is that you have got this simmering all over Europe and all over the Middle East. You have got the Iranian situation. We have had some very interesting testimony on that in this subcommittee.
NATO SHOULD PLAY MORE OF A ROLE
So I ask with great sincerity: First, do you not think we have got to make a choice between Israel and Vietnam, unless we have very hearty support from the other members of the tripartite agreement? Secondly, which one is the most important to the security of the United States, because I know we will both agree you should not send American boys now especially when we draft them and they fight and die, unless you believe in your heart, as I believe you do, that it does involve the security of the United States?
Secretary Rusk. As I indicated, Senator, I would not want to try to make a choice between the two, but I would add one postscript to what you said, because it also fits some comments made here this morning.
We feel that the NATO countries on the other side of the Atlantic ought to take a much more serious interest in these places that are 20 minutes jet flying time away from NATO Europe, and a good many of them are now doing so. I pressed this very hard at the last ministerial meeting of NATO and still there is some reluctance in NATO to get concerned about the Near East and even Africa, this huge continent, just across the water there from NATO, Europe.
Senator Symington. Is that not because they feel it is better to not let George do it but let Uncle Sam do it, based on the record?
Secretary Rusk. Well, we have been trying to disabuse them of that in those places where one or more of the western countries are pulling out.
Senator Mundt. Will the Senator yield?
Senator Symington. I will be glad to yield.
IMPORTANCE OF RESTRAINT
Senator Mundt. The Senator from Missouri brought up a point which has been troubling me increasingly in the last several months. I think he expresses a concern which I have when he implied that since we have made the decisions as a country that we are not going to accept defeat in Vietnam, and I have supported that fully, are we not reaching a stage in five years of indecisive fighting where the longer we delay defeating the enemy the less significant our victory is going to be in terms of the world. That is what concerns me.
If finally we, as the greatest country in the world, cannot succeed in stopping the fighting in half a country which is completely non-industrialized, are we going to win any credits from the world if we delay this victory interminably?
Secretary Rusk. Senator, we have tried in all administrations since 1945 to deal with crises in such a way that it would result in a peace and not lead into a general conflagration. There was restraint at the time of the Greek guerrillas, the Berlin airlift, Korea, Lebanon, an attempt to get the Suez matter under control very quickly.
We kept the doors wide open for the peaceful removal of missiles in Cuba.
It is true in Southeast Asia we waited five years before we bombed North Vietnam. It is not entirely clear that enlarging in any significant way the level of violence would bring it to an end sooner.
You might have a much larger conflagration on your hands, and this is something on which a judgment has to be made and the greatest issues ride on it, of course.
ECONOMIC ISSUES IN MIDDLE EAST
Senator Symington. Mr. Chairman, I would like to be on the floor to say something. But I would like to make one more observation on this, if I may: As I see it, the security of the United States and its well being has three legs to that platform--one is military, one is political, and one is economic. The economic is not talked about much. It is dismissed quite casually by the Defense Department. However, at Bretton Woods we tied the pound in just as tight with gold as we did the dollar.
Whether it was right or wrong, it was done. Based on my knowledge of it, I do not see how the British economy could survive without its Mid East oil income and, therefore, it is very difficult for me to think that you all in the State Department in our relationship with Great Britain and with all that is involved in Europe today incident to the Common Market and EFTA, it is very difficult for me not to think that the Middle East is not considerably more important than Vietnam as far as the basic security involving the United States is concerned.
However, I would like to associate myself with the chairman of this committee and other members who are anxious not to pursue this one unilaterally. I think we have a choice to make.
Secretary Rusk. I see. Thank you.
Senator Symington. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your patience.
Secretary Rusk. Thank you.
The Chairman. Senator Clark.
RUSSIA IS THE KEY TO PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Senator Clark. Mr. Secretary, you have been kind enough to ask us for our advice and our consent in this difficult matter, and I would like to make the following comments which I have incidentally written out and given to Bill Macomber.
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
Senator Clark. In the first place, I concur with the views of the chairman and Senator Mansfield, Senator Lausche and Senator Mundt, and, perhaps, a number of others, that by all means we should take this to the United Nations and not act unilaterally.
In the second place, while I do agree that U Thant acted precipitously and possibly even unwisely in pulling the U.N. peace force out of Egypt, I do not share your possible disillusionment with him. I think he is our one peace force in this situation if we are going to rely on the United Nations at this time.
In the third place, in my opinion, Russia is the key to peace in the Middle East, and I would hope that all the force of our most skillful counseling can be brought to bear not only at the United Nations but Moscow and Washington to persuade Russia, with almost the same urgency we did at the time of the missile crisis, that they should cooperate with us in stabilizing the situation to bring about peace.
In my opinion, France and England, noble allies though they are, are going to be weak reeds in this situation. Their military power is pretty eroded, and their zeal and interest in this area may be keen enough, although I do not believe it will be effective. While I am sure we need their votes in the Security Council, I would not feel that they were reeds that we could rely on with much hope of having anything very successful come out of it.
LEGALITIES ARE UNIMPORTANT
Next, in my opinion the legalities are relatively unimportant. I do not think it is the kind of a situation where you make a good legal case before the International Court of Justice or anywhere else. Having been a lawyer myself, I say that with some hesitation, but I think pragmatically the legalities are relatively unimportant.
Secretary Rusk. Senator, would you illustrate that last point a little bit as to an example or two?
Senator Clark. Well, some have gone back to the 1950 agreements.
Secretary Rusk. I see.
Senator Clark. Some have talked about the tripartite agreement.
Secretary Rusk. Right.
Senator Clark. Sure, I know if you are going to make a case for posterity that is important. But pragmatically it seems to me it would be mildly ineffectual.
Secretary Rusk. I see.
Senator Clark. Next, it seems to me that the American people will not permit the Israelis, to use the old cliche, and I know it is a cliche, to be driven into the sea. This is a pragmatic political fact we have to take into account, whether we agree with it or not, and I happen to agree with it.
Next, I would think that our objectives, which in a situation where obviously our reach may exceed our grasp, but our objective should be, first, to get the U.N. force back into the Gaza Strip, if possible, on both sides of the frontier. I have no patience with Israel for having refused to let the forces on their side of the frontier.
Secondly, we should try to persuade the Israelis not to engage in any reprisals against Syria in return for the Egyptians reopening the straits.
Then I would work very hard to create an effective U.N. peace force of the same magnitude as the force that is in the Gaza Strip to move between Israel and Jordan and between Israel and Syria in the hope that its presence there, considerably more force than what has been there before, would be in a position to seal the border against these raids, full well realizing they could not seal it a hundred percent, but maybe they could seal it 85 percent.
Then, I would hope, and there is----
Secretary Rusk. This is on the Syrian, Jordan and Lebanese borders as well as Egypt.
Senator Clark. I do not know about Lebanon, but certainly Syria and Jordan and I would hope--and maybe this is just a pious hope--that we could maybe persuade the Russians to guarantee maybe with us, hopefully through the Security Council and the U.S., the existing Israeli borders.
I know that Bill Macomber has read and perhaps you have seen my report on war or peace in the Middle East. I remain convinced that the long-range objective must be, first, to get rid of Nasser and try to refurbish the Egyptian economy with an international consortium which hopefully could rely on some less belligerent Egyptian. Whether they will or not I do not know.
My own view is that the Egyptian economy is on its way to disaster.
STOP THE ARMS RACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
And finally, in order to do any of this, we have got to persuade the Russians to stop the arms race in the Middle East, which I imagine they are very reluctant to do. But it does seem to me we ought to make it clear to them that they are playing with fire.
Secretary Rusk. We have taken up that last point with them on a number of occasions. They have shown no interest in discussing the conventional arms race. They would be interested in a denuclearization of the area. But we have gone at them many times on that and it is a great shame they have not been willing to join. I agree with you.
Senator Clark. We just have to keep trying, Mr. Secretary.
Senator Lausche. Will you yield to a question?
Senator Clark. I am all through.
U.N. FORCES ON BOTH SIDES OF THE LINE
Senator Lausche. Does your statement suggest that U.N. forces be placed on both sides of the line?
Senator Clark. Yes.
Senator Lausche. In Israel, in Syria, and in Jordan and the Gaza Strip.
Senator Clark. Yes.
Secretary Rusk. Thank you very much, Senator Clark.
The Chairman. Senator Pell.
Senator Pell. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
NAVAL RIGHTS IN THE STRAIT
I find myself in agreement very much with Senator Lausche and Senator Clark and others that we should not get ourselves in a unilateral position, whereas we recognize the special relationship of the United States with Israel and this is on the horns of a dilemma on which we are, and there is nothing much we can do about it except do as much as possible to push it towards the U.N.
One question here in connection with the closing of the strait, international law does come into this, and I believe that the width of that strait is more than the six nautical miles. I do not see how we can possibly accept the fact that the Egyptians say they can close the strait, because then many other waterways around the world could then be closed. I would think this in itself would be action to put ships in there.
Secretary Rusk. I have asked for a further report on that factual matter, and my first report was that the territorial waters of Saudi Arabia and Egypt converge at the point where ships have to go through. It is somewhat a little bit like one part of the Strait of Malacca. You do have to go through waters as an international passageway which otherwise would be territorial waters, but I cannot confirm that at the moment.
It may have to do with those islands and extension of territorial waters beyond the islands.
Senator Pell. This is a point that can open up in many other parts of the globe if you once permit any nation to do that which has a strong naval power.
Secretary Rusk. This would be a strong power internationally if Egypt would be able to establish this was not an international waterway.
Senator Pell. We would have to close up some waters in Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula. We would justify sending our own ships into it.
A U.N. PEACEKEEPING FORCE
Another question of the Security Council, has any request been made to hold a session of it and be seized of the problem?
Secretary Rusk. Did you hear the report of Mr. Macomber just a few minutes ago?
Senator Pell. No, I did not.
Secretary Rusk. The non-Communist members of the Security Council met informally this morning, and the non-permanent members strongly urged the Big Four to meet. We agreed, the British agreed, the French agreed in principle, they are getting instructions, and then the non-permanent members left the meeting to go off and talk to the Russians to see if they would agree.
They were hoping to have a meeting by 12 o'clock. My guess is the Russians would not get instructions by then.
Senator Pell. One thought is if we do not get Security Council action, would you be inclined to the view to get it under articles 42, 43, and 44 of the Charter, the Military Staff Committee, where these forces should be rather than as a special separate force?
This would be true particularly if the Soviet Union were willing to bear with us.
Secretary Rusk. The articles you refer to, Senator, I believe anticipate that there already would have been worked out formal agreements bringing forces under the jurisdiction of the Security Council and, as you and I can remember from the old days, our negotiations on that in 1946 and 1947 failed to produce any result.
I think the Security Council could ask U.N. members to contribute forces within a framework that is different than articles 42, 43, and 44 if it chose to do so. It is not restricted to those particular articles.
So that I think if we were to lean on the concept of a formally established United Nations force the Military Staff Committee and so forth, we would probably find that was impossible in the timeframe we are talking about.
U.S. ARMS SHIPMENTS TO MIDDLE EAST
Senator Morse. When we talk about the refusal of Russia to engage in talks, we are talking about a nuclear engagement in the Middle East, not with regard to conventional arms. Have we not shipped about as much conventional arms into the Middle East under sales as the Russians have?
Secretary Rusk. I would not think so, sir.
Senator Morse. You would not think so.
Secretary Rusk. No, sir. If you put Egypt and Syria and Algeria together, those have been very large shipments, and we have tried to become, tried to be, a very junior supplier of arms. As a matter of fact, we have helped Jordan, as you know, over the years. Israel has had most of its supplies from Western Europe rather than from this country, and the problem for us arose when these very large shipments of arms to Egypt created a great imbalance between them and their Arab neighbors quite apart from Israel. We are interested that Saudi Arabia and Jordan not be completely overwhelmed by fear and we have tried to keep a delicate balance there by some assistance to Jordan and some assistance to Israel.
[Discussion off the record.]
Secretary Rusk. So I think Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are elements of certain calm and stability in this situation. Syria is just as jittery as it can be, and Nasser is playing a game that he may not have fully disclosed as yet.
Senator Morse. How about Iraq and Iran, have we supplied some there?
Secretary Rusk. Yes, I think Iran has; yes.
A MORAL OBLIGATION TO ISRAEL
Senator Morse. That is what I want to stress, Mr. Chairman, and I will stop with this. I share Albert Gore's comment just now, and the Secretary's too. We know what we are skirting, what we have to face up to.
As far as I am concerned, I want the record to show if you get to a point where these Arab states really do make war on Israel, and start trying to demolish Israel, let us face it, we do have a moral obligation and a very important moral obligation to come to her assistance. We can give her assistance under those circumstances, but I pray it is not going to be on a unilateral basis. We have to make the other free nations understand the relation of freedom in this matter because if they do get into a war, then you have got totalitarianism seeking to drive this country into oblivion.
If they get by with it there, and other free nations do not join through United Nations action, we are going to force the withdrawal ourselves, because they are going to attack freedom elsewhere in the world, and we cannot do that unilaterally. But I think here we were more responsible than any other nation in the world in creating a climate that permitted the establishment of Israel in 1948. This is pretty much a United States move; we got other nations to come along, but we took the initiative.
We are dealing here with totalitarian nations, and if they--I am inclined to think they are closer linked to Russia than they may surmise at the present time.
If we get to that precipice where it is these totalitarian nations against Israel, I think there are various forms of aid we are going to have to supply Israel to keep her in a position to do most of the fighting, but give her whatever she has to have in order to fight back.
The Chairman. Senator Pell.
Senator Pell. One further request of the Secretary. I gave to Bill Macomber a little speech and some suggestions with regard to Vietnam. I would like very much when I am over there to try them out either on Mai Van Bo in Paris or whoever is amongst our adversaries in Geneva. I would like to have you give me a reading and tell me whether they are all wet or will be acceptable. I do not think they will be acceptable from the other side's view, but I thought it would be interesting to have your reaction.
The Chairman. Senator McCarthy, do you have any questions?
Senator McCarthy. No.
Secretary Rusk. Mr. Chairman----
The Chairman. I want to say one word
THE MIDDLE EAST IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN VIETNAM
But they feel if we are preoccupied elsewhere, it puts us in a terrible bind, makes it very embarrassing to us, and it is embarrassing to me, I know, and I think it is embarrassing to the country, to be caught now, preoccupied as we are, in a place which at least I do not hesitate to make a decision that the Middle East is far more important to the security of this country than Vietnam. I do not think there is any comparison, not only because of strategic bases, but because of our own investments if for no other reason. That is one of the reasons; but because of our cultural relationship, political relationship, all these relationships that have been mentioned this morning, speeches by Truman and others and so on, and various tripartite agreements. To me they are far more persuasive than anything that has ever been revealed with regard to Vietnam.
All I am trying to say is I do hope the administration will perhaps reconsider its attitude toward stopping of the bombings and effort toward bringing Vietnam to a close.
I agree with what the Secretary said about enlarging that war. I do not go along with the idea that you can bring it to a quick conclusion by destroying North Vietnam. I believe that is the way you will have a third world war. That is one part of your policy I agree with, and I am not for a third world war over that or any of these other places if we can possibly avoid it.
So I would like to recommend at least, for whatever it is worth, that this is an example of what we are going to be confronted with, we are now and may otherwise, if we do not liquidate that war in some reasonable way, and within the reasonable future.
The only way I can see is a compromise. We cannot expect to get a victory. I know you know what I think, and I will not burden you with a reiteration of my attitude toward that situation. I do not think it is too late to still perhaps consider this proposal about stopping the bombing without making any agreement. Just stop it and see what happens. Put it to a test without any announcement or anything else, the theory that Kosygin and, well, others, members of this committee and others, have had--U Thant--that possibly it would create a condition for negotiation.
I realize that at this particular moment it might look as if we are scared to death if you did it precipitately, but you would have to do it with some reason in spacing. I do not know what will happen in the next few days. I only urge that.
You seem to give us the feeling this morning that you welcome some suggestions. So I come back to that one. I am feeling very sad about things.
Senator Carlson--this is nothing directed to that, but he just whispered in my ear as he was leaving, early this morning, one of his secretaries was murdered in her apartment. It just sort of highlights how we have neglected the conditions here at home that this can happen right here in the capital of the country, of our country, and we know how this has gone on. It does not have any direct relation to this, but underneath all of my concern, all of this, is that our preoccupation with Vietnam and others has caused us to neglect things that absolutely must be done here in the United States.
That is a little lecture, but anyway I do hope you will consider possibly a reappraisement of this policy of continued bombing.
Source: Federation of American Scientists