The State Department has always been against Israel

Smythe Telegram – Israel is an Unviable Client State (June 1, 1967)

By Ami Isserof

Gamal Abdul Nasser and his fellow officers had taken power in Egypt in order they claimed, to modernize the country and undo the shame of the lost 1948 war. However, in 1956, after Nasser closed the straits of Tiran and Suez canal to Israeli shipping and moved terror squads into the Sinai peninsula, Israel, Egypt and France attacked Egypt. Israel captured the entire Sinai peninsula in 100 hours. Before agreeing to withdraw, Israel got a commitment from the US in the form of an Aide de Memoire, stating that it would support Israel’s right to unrestricted access to the straits of Tiran, in accordance with international law, and the UN agreed to station an emergency force in Sinai (UNEF).

Subsequent clarifications by the US apparently confirmed that the US supported the right of Israel to use force to enforce freedom of navigation. Israeli passage in Aqaba became a sore point for Nasser, and he was taunted by other Arab states for permitting it. The Aide de Memoire and U.S. position became an issue in 1967 when prior to the Six day war Israel insisted that closure of the straits was an act of war. The U.S. agreed but asked Israel to allow the US to open the canal. However it became apparent that the US was not able or willing to fulfill its commitment.

A circular telegram from Ambassador Smythe in Damascus summarized the views of State Department Middle East hands, that support for Israel was detrimental to US interests and that Israel was an “unviable client state.” Smythe’s conclusion read:

    … US reaping full harvest 20 year area policy which has regarded Israel as fulcrum, highest priority interest. This has rankled Arabs who now feel strong enough to challenge US, hoping jar it into full realization its total position now in jeopardy unless it revises its priorities in light overall US national interest. Failing this, Arabs determined smash US influence in area (in which they expect USSR backing). On scales we have Israel, an unviable client state whose ties, value to US primarily emotional, balanced with full range vital strategic, political, commercial/economic interests represented by Arab states. The folly of US pursing present policy obvious without further elaboration.

Smythe warned that the US would meet the determined opposition of the “monolithic Arab nation” which would crush US interests in the area and presumably crush Israel as well. He wrote that the attempt to open the straits was “foredoomed.”

These statements are interesting in view of subsequent insistence by certain Middle East experts that everyone was certain that Israel would win the confrontation with the Arabs, and that the US was intent on reopening the straits of Tiran in a peaceful manner.

This document was declassified under the U.S. Freedom of Information act.

January 30, 2007 | 1 Comment »

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