University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Foreign Relations of the United States

Page View

United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the United States, 1949. The Near East, South Asia, and Africa

The Near East: multilateral relations,   pp. 1-185 PDF (75.7 MB)

Page 63

   Mr. McGhee replied that the importance of the Middle East to the
United States Government was determined to a considerable extent
by its importance to the United Kingdom Government. The Ameri-
cans had no comparable position in Africa and Asia to protect and,
in the matter of oil, was not so dependent as the United Kingdom on
Middle East supplies. Nevertheless, American oil interests were large
and the area was important from the point of view of strategic posi-
tion and air communications. For the United States to take an in-
creased interest in the Middle East was the assumption of a new
responsibility. In these discussions the pervading problem from the
American side was how far to go in accepting new responsibilities and
in taking a more positive role in the area., It was not sufficient just to
ward off Communism in the Middle East, it was essential to assist the
peoples of the Middle East to improve their living standards and
social and political institutions and to acquire self respect and their
proper place among the nations of the world. The United States
Government had found it advantageous to back nationalism against
communism. But nationalism was not necessarily friendly to British
and American interests. We should aim at putting the Middle East
countries on their own feet and persuading them voluntarily to turn
toward the West. The United States was in the process of deciding
how far it should and could go in a positive approach to the area to
achieve the foregoing objectives.
  Mr. Wright agreed that support of nationalism could be used effec-
tively against the spread of communism. But nationalism and com-
munism could not be fought together. It should be our objective to
convert the nationalism of the Middle East countries into a friendly
force. France, Belgium and Holland did not yet wholly share this
view. The preoccupation of the youthful countries of the Middle East
with political problems made it very difficult for economic progress
to be made. It was, however, the view of the United Kingdom that the
effect of the Palestine problem was fading and the moment for more
constructive action by the United Kingdom and the United States
was approaching.
  The conclusions drawn from the above discussion are as follows:
  (a) The general objectives of the United States and United King-
dom Governments in the Middle East are basically the same.
  (b) The maintenance and extension of a friendly attitude on the
part of the Middle Eastern countries to the United Kingdom and
United States influence is a vital f actor in the security of the Western
Powers. The denial of the area to Communist influence, in peace no
less than in war, is essential.

Go up to Top of Page