JULY 20, 1957
HYDE PARK—I don't know whether everyone read with as much interest as I did an account in one of our metropolitan papers on the Secretary of State's remarks, at a press conference, on our role in the Middle East.
He was reported to have said that nothing had happened to change the basic views he expressed in August 1955, but later he was quoted as follows: "It may be that other countries can usefully play a greater role in the situation than seemed likely at the time. It may be that the U.S. should not take such a prominent role as was then envisaged." He went on to say that we would continue to do what we could toward solutions of the Middle East question, but that we would act more quietly.
Only a few days ago, I read a column of Mr. Walter Lippmann's praising the Administration for its astute handling of Lebanon and Jordan and attributing to our diplomacy the fact that those two countries were becoming more moderate toward the Israel situation and were not contributing to a solidified Arab bloc. As I read it, I questioned whether we had consciously carried on a policy to achieve these ends.
Now I wonder whether what Mr. Dulles said really means that we will go on doing just what we have done before, and whether we will be prepared to carry out the suggestions that we made in 1955. We said we would help to get the United Nations to guarantee agreed borders between Israel and its Arab neighbors, assist in resettling the Palestinian refugees, and assist Israel to indemnify these refugees for property left behind in Israel when they fled—at the Mufti's invitation—from the dangers of the Arab-Israeli war.
If we are ready to do these things, then the only new suggestion the Secretary of State has made is that we should alter our methods, perhaps by talking less and doing more. This might be a very good thing if we have clearly defined the solutions that we really think are going to bring peace in that area.
So far, it has seemed to me that even the U.N., which of course acts largely as a reflection of the feeling of its member nations, has been very careful not to offend the Arab countries. If any blame is assessed, it is more apt to be assessed against Israel than against the Arab states, because on the whole the leadership of the big nations takes that attitude. The United Nations is not an entity working alone.
It will be extremely interesting to see what develops as a result of this change of attitude indicated by our Secretary of State, though he does not define it very clearly.