United States Considered Attacking Iraq in 1958

     On July 14, 1958, a group of army officers entered the Royal Palace in Baghdad and executed the Royal Family.  Prime Minister Nuri al-Said fled the capital.

   In response to these events, the slim Christian majority government of Camille Chamoun in Lebanon called for U.S. military assistance.  Lebanon and Iraq, the seat of the anti-Communist Baghdad Pact, had been the only two Middle Eastern nations to embrace the Eisenhower Doctrine that pledged to assist any Middle Eastern nation that was a victim of aggression from "international communism."

   There was no real consensus among Eisenhower's advisers on what to do after Lebanon. Together with Vice President Nixon, Secretary of State Foster Dulles hoped that the revolution in Iraq might yet be overturned.  Nixon leaned a little more toward a military solution than did Dulles, who wanted to see if there were any credible pro-Western Iraqi leaders left before giving up on a form of countercoup sponsored by U.S. intelligence.

   Both thought it inescapble that the United States would have to prepare for joint military operation with the British to occupy Kuwait and the oil fields of eastern Saudi Arabia in order to protect Western interests in the Middle East. The president's military advisers were initially more cautious.  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Nathan Twining advocated a combined military strategy that limited the United States to Lebanon, while other countries undertook their own military interventions.

   The British could go into Iraq and Kuwait, as there were their area of special interest.  The Israelis would be encouraged to go into the West Bank, and the Turks into Syria.

[This information comes from pages 158-163 of Khurshchev's Cold War by Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali. Published in 2006 by W.W Norton and Company, this book is based on many of the Soviet Union's top secret archives which were made available to scholars beginning in 2003.  A book well worth reading.]

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