03/07/06 - palestine in 1948

In today's excerpt - Harry Truman ignores the advice of his State Department and members of the Foreign Service, and leads the US into taking over the Palestine issue from Great Britain in 1948.  Great Britain had brought the issue of a Jewish homeland to the world stage through its Balfour declaration in 1917, but:

"... Weary of it all, the [British] government on April 2, 1947, turned the question of Palestine over to the United Nations.  Official Washington stood sharply divided on the Palestine question. ...

"The [US Joint Chiefs of Staff] counted it of 'great strategic importance to the United States to retain the good will of the Arab and Moslem states.'  The director of the State Department's Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs, career diplomat Loy Henderson, wrote Marshall on September 22, 1947, to advise him against 'any kind of a plan at this time for the partitioning of Palestine or for the setting up of a Jewish state in Palestine.'  Purportedly speaking for nearly every member of the Foreign Service or of the department who had worked to any appreciable extent on Near Eastern problems, [he] asserted that partition would require American enforcement, would sabotage American-Arab relations, and would fail because of Arab non-acceptance.

"Harry Truman was undeterred.  Even as Arab nations began moving troops toward the borders of Palestine, the president instructed the UN delegation to support partition.

"Jettisoning its imperial baggage, Great Britain announced on December 15 that it would end supervision of the Palestinian Mandate on May 15, 1948.  State Department planner George F. Kennan's subsequent position paper warned that the United States strategic interests in the Middle East and the Mediterranean had been severely prejudiced ..."


Ed Cray


General of the Army: George C. Marshall Soldier and Statesman


First Cooper Square Press


Copyright 1990 by Ed Cray


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