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Lyndon Johnson Administration: U.S. Concern Over Nasser's Possible Reaction To Israel Arms Sale

(March 29 1965)

The United States gives some aid to the UAR hoping this will balance out the arms deal with Israel. Nasser did not react badly, but the United States is worried about what is to come. The United States hopes that by offering to make deals with Nasser, he will not make a big deal out of aid to Israel.

198. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Johnson/1/

Small CCC Credit for the UAR. We've been keeping tight WH control over every facet of aid to Nasser.

The UAR has requested CCC credit terms for 200,000 tons of corn (about $10 million worth). This would be a dollar sale on only slightly softer than normal commercial terms, and is not regarded as "aid."

Even so, we'd be chary were it not that Nasser reacted very mildly when we told him about limited US arms sales to Israel. While this may be only the lull before the storm, it would make life a lot easier for us if he kept quiet. Therefore, State and our Ambassador see the CCC offer as a small and low key signal that we're still interested in doing business if he's a good boy. In fact Luke Battle's analysis (Cairo 3382 attached)/2/ is hopeful on this score.

Bundy and I agree with Rusk, but want to check it out with you./3/

R. W. Komer/4/

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Robert W. Komer, Presidential Decisions (LBJ), 1965. Secret.

/2/Battle commented in telegram 3382 from Cairo, March 27, on his March 24 meeting with Nasser. He stated that it strengthened the Embassy's impression that they were witnessing the beginning of the end of the current phase of Egyptian policy with its emphasis on Arab unity. He thought a number of Nasser's comments to him made him sound like an "Egypt firster." (Ibid., Country File, United Arab Republic, Vol. III)

/3/The "Disapprove" line is checked with the notation "See me. L." in Johnson's handwriting.

/4/Bundy initialed below Komer's signature.

Sources: U.S. Department of State