Cabinet Secretaries' notebooks (CAB 195/17): Middle East
Summarised upshot of conversation (telephone) with President E. Clear they mean to go on in Lebanon. They don't want us to join in. : tho' they don't much mind one way or another. No advantage of insisting on having a token force with them. Wd. not increase our hold on them - which is moral, if anything.
Balance of advantage is against our joining in this.
Canada & India will take it easier if U.S. goes in alone.
Quite a blow to our prestige.
Our honour is involved in Iraq/Jordan rather than Lebanon.
Damage to Br. interests in Iraq : will be even more damaging to our prestige if U.S. act and we do not.
Habbaniyah has gone off the air. M. Serious that U.S. are thinking only in terms of Lebanon.
Read record of conversation with President. Propose now to say, in reply : - i) I will ask for his assurance tht. they will go thro' to the end. ii) Some advantage in keeping our men in reserve. iii) That gives us more time to get Commonwealth in line. iv) Will add to blaze in M/E. Must recognise that. v) If they go on, hope they will make best case they can v. Nasser at U.N. at once. Second message. i) Request fr. Hassan. Will you come in on this? Token force? Moral support, of course. Method vis-á-vis U.N. Time is short. ii) Iraq - we can't tell. Habbaniyah uncertain. Don't know how Army will go.
How explain our inaction in Lebanon if we don't act in Jordan. v. difficult with our supporters.
We can ask King Hussein what he wants us to do.
Better to get in before violence breaks out there. Hail. To safeguard his frontiers v. threat fr. Iraq. And get him to ask for U.S. intervention as well as ours.
Content tht. we shd. not participate in Lebanon intervention. But important tht. we shd. make parallel move at once to Jordan.
King Hussein has asked now for assurance of U.S. assistance if necessary to preserve J. independence - and will ask for U.K. help too.
Avoid getting into 'Chamoun' situation.
Taken from C.C. 56(58) - Meeting held on 14 July 1958