JANUARY 8, 1957
NEW YORK—I spent Friday and Saturday in Washington and on Saturday had the good luck to be able to hear and see the President in the Capitol when he addressed the joint session of Congress. My son was able to get me a ticket, and I was particularly anxious to go, as I felt I had not as yet fully understood what the President hoped to accomplish in the Near East.
I listened carefully to the speech, using a new type of hearing aid which is attached to a pair of glasses. It has revolutionized my ability to hear, both at meetings and when people are speaking, so I am sure I heard everything the President said. I read the speech again Sunday morning in the paper on the way up to New York in the plane.
I know that this authority which the President is asking from Congress is intended to prevent any Soviet attacks on countries in the Near East, but I am not sure that the Soviets intend any open military attack in the Near East. It would seem entirely unnecessary for them to undertake a military attack when they are accomplishing their desired ends without one.
Both in Egypt and in Syria the Soviets have offered arms and technicians and, in both cases, they have been received with open arms. Now, it is obvious that there are certain states in the Near East that have been much more closely tied with the West and they may have received arms and technicians from us.
In certain places we have bases, but I do not yet quite see how this plan for military aid is going to meet and solve the two real problems which keep the Near East in turmoil.
It is true that the President said we would use economic aid and work closely with the United Nations, but I came away from his speech with a feeling that I still lack a clear picture of how we are going to try to meet the real challenges in the Near East: The settlement of the Suez Canal dispute and the bringing about of a peaceful acceptance of the state of Israel. There must be a willingness to recognize Israel's existence and to cooperate for mutual benefits that would appeal to both the Arab states and Israel.
I have begun to feel that a little of our firmness should not only be addressed to the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France and Israel but also should be directed at Egypt and Syria. I was told in Washington that the Syrian ambassador had gone to the State Department and expressed his great displeasure with some of the things the U.S. was saying and doing.
Sometimes I wonder whether President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt is not calling the tune in the Near East rather than any one of the great powers. I have no objection to that, for I believe that every small country should call the tune in its own country and should decide on its own relations with other countries.
But when we cannot induce Syria to rebuild pipelines its army has wrecked or to let us rebuild them, it is harmful to the interests of many countries. It seems to me now that we should turn to the countries that are willing to cooperate with us, and not behave like white rabbits when we deal with those who seem to scorn us.