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Pipeline Politics: America, TAPLINE, and the Arabs

  • Douglas Little (a1)
Extract

The Arabian American Oil Company's plan to build a pipe-line from eastern Saudi Arabia to the Mediterranean seemed to many an ideal project for business-government cooperation. A sound business project for the company would give American policymakers more and cheaper oil to aid plans to rebuild Western Europe, as well as a significant presence in the Middle East. Events in that tumultuous region, however, soon embroiled both the company and the U.S. government in a more complex relationship than had been envisioned.

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1 New York Times, 3 Dec. 1950, 1: 2; Trans-Arabian Pipe Line Company, Tapline: The Story of the World's Biggest Oil Pip Line (New York, 1951); ARAMCO, Report of Operations to the Saudi Arab Government, 1950 (Dhahran, 1951), 3, 5859; Sanger, Richard H., The Arabian Peninsula (Ithaca, N.Y., 1954), 119–21; Shwadran, Benjamin, The Middle East, Oil and the Great Powers, 1959 (New York, 1959), 337. On the Trans-Alaska pipeline, see Roscow, James P., 800 Miles to Valdez: The Building of the Alaska Pipeline (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1977).

2 Several excellent studies of American national security and Middle East oil in the 1940s and the 1950s have appeared during the past decade. See, for example, Miller, Aaron David, Search for Security: Saudi Arabian Oil and American Foreign Policy, 1939–1950 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1980); Stoff, Michael, Oil, War, and American Security: The Search for a National Policy on Foreign Oil, 1941–1947 (New Haven, Conn., 1980); Anderson, Irvine H., ARAMCO, the United States and Saudi Arabia: A Study of the Dynamics of Foreign Oil Policy, 1933–1950 (Princeton, N.J., 1981); Randall, Stephen J., United States Foreign Oil Policy, 1919–1948: For Profits and Security (Kingston, Ont., 1986); and Painter, David S., Oil and the American Century, 1941–1954 (Baltimore, Md., 1986). Most, however, deal with TAPLINE only in passing, and tend to emphasize bureaucratic politics and Cold War considerations rather than inter-Arab rivalries and Arab nationalism.

3 Anderson, ARAMCO, 25–33; Miller, Search for Security, 50–57; Painter, Oil & the American Century, 32–38.

4 Anderson, ARAMCO, 46–56; Miller, Search for Security, 68–71, 92–97; Stoff, Oil, War & American Security, 41–46, 58–61.

5 Barum, Phillip J., The Department of State in the Middle East, 1919–1945 (Philadelphia, Pa., 1978), 214–18; Shwadran, Middle East Oil, 1959, 330–32; Miller, Search far Security, 97–99.

6 Anderson, ARAMCO, 144–46; Miller, Search far Security, 159; Moseley, Leonard, Power Play: Oil in the Middle East (New York, 1973), 163. On Jersey Standard and SOCONY's promise to help finance TAPLINE, see Larson, Henrietta, Knowlton, Evelyn H., and Popple, Charles S., History of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey): New Horizons, 1927–1950 (New York, 1971), 738.

7 On Duce, see Who Was Who, 1961–1968 (New York, 1969), 266. On ARAMCO personnel in Saudi Arabia, see Anderson, ARAMCO, 111–15. On Moffett, see Miller, Search far Security, 38, 229–30n19.

8 Davies to Wallace Murray (NEA), 27 Dec. 1943, and Rayner to Davies, 7 Jan. 1944, both in U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1944 (Washington, D.C., 1963), 5: 8–9, 1213. [Hereafter cited as FRUS for the appropriate year.]

9 Anderson, ARAMCO, 135–36. On Stettinius's background, see Campbell, Thomas M. and Herring, George C., eds., The Diaries of Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., 1943–1946 (New York, 1975), xv–xxiv, 204.

10 From 1922 to 1948, what is today known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was called Transjordan, over which Britain exercised a mandate under the auspices of the League of Nations. Both Transjordan and neighboring Iraq were ruled by, respectively, Abdullah and Faisal, members of the Hashemite clan, whose hatred of the House of Saud dated from the 1920s, when Ibn Saud had wrested control of the Hejez, including the holy places at Mecca, from their father, the Hashemite patriarch Sharif Hussein.

11 Parker Hart (Dhahran) to Stettinius, 10 Jan. 1945, and ARAMCO, “Prospectus for a Crude Oil Pipe Line from Oil Producing Regions in Saudi Arabia to the Mediterranean Sea,” 31 May 1945, enclosed in S. Pinckney Tuck (Cairo) to George Marshall, 23 April 1948, 890F.6363/1–1045 and /4–2348, Record Group 59, State Department Decimal File, National Archives, Washington, D.C. [Hereafter cited as RG 59.]

12 FDR to Churchill, enclosed in Stettinius to John Winant (London), tel. 22 Feb. 1944, FRUS 1944, 3: 101–2.

13 Stettinius to Winant, tel. 6 Jan. 1945, and Joseph Grew to Winant, tel. 31 Jan. 1945, 867N.6363/1–645 and /1–945, RG 59.

14 Winant to Stettinius, tels. 2 and 14 Feb. 1945, 867N.6363/2–245 and /2–1445, RG 59. Lenahan is quoted in Winant to Stettinius, tel. 23 March 1945, 867N.6363/3–2345, RG59.

15 Wadsworth to Henderson, 11 July 1945, 890E.00/7–145, RG 59.

16 Henderson to Wadsworth, 23 July 1945, 890E.00/7–1145, RG 59.

17 James Terry Duce (ARAMCO) to Lloyd Hamilton (TAPLINE), 27 March 1945; Lowell Pinkerton (Jerusalem) to James Byrnes, 14 Aug. 1945 and 11 Jan. 1946, 867N.6363/3–2745, /8–1445, and /1–1146, RG 59.

18 Pinkerton to Byrnes, 7 and 11 Jan. 1946, 867N.6363/1–746 and /1–1146, RG 59.

19 William Eddy (Jidda) to Stettinius, 3 March 1945, FRUS 1945, 8: 7–9; Miller, Search far Security, 129–31; Feis to J. S. Davis, 22 Feb. 1945, box 30, Herbert Feis Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

20 Floyd Ohliger to Duce, 5 Nov. 1945, enclosed in Duce to Richard H. Sanger (NEA), 23 Nov. 1945, 867N.6363/11–2345, RG 59.

21 Eddy to Byrnes, tel. 28 May 1946, FRUS 1946, 7: 615–16. On Ibn Saud's anger over Truman's pro-Zionist policies, see especially Wm. Louis, Roger, The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945–1951: Arab Nationalism, the United States, and Postwar Imperialism (New York, 1984), 193–99.

22 Truman to Ibn Saud, tel. 25 Oct. 1946, and Ibn Saud to Truman, 2 Nov. 1946, FRUS 1946, 7: 714–20.

23 Memorandum by Sanger, 4 Nov. 1946, 867N.01/11–446, RG 59.

24 Pinkerton to Byrnes, 14 Aug. 1945, and 7 and 22 Jan. 1946, 867N.6363/8–1445, /1–746, and /1–2246, RG 59.

25 Memorandum by George Merriam (NEA), 15 Feb. 1946, 867N.6363/2–1546, RG 59.

26 Loftus to Henderson and Merriam, 5 Feb. 1946, 867N.6363/2–546, RG 59.

27 Byrnes to Pinkerton, 2 April 1946, 867N.6363/4–246, RG 59.

28 Memorandum by Gordon Merriam (NEA), 15 Feb. 1946; Byrnes to Waldemar Gallman (London), tel. 16 March 1946; Dean Acheson to Gallman, tel. 25 March 1946; Winant to Byrnes, tel. 9 April 1946, 867N.6363/2–1546, /3–1146, /3–2146, and /4–946, RG 59.

29 Lemuel Padgett (Cairo) to Byrnes, 16 May 1946; Pinkerton to Byrnes, tels. 17 and 23 May 1946, and 10 June 1946; Lenahan to Duce, tel. 24 June 1946, 867N.6363/5–1646, /5–1746, /5–2346, /6–1046, and /6–2446, RG 59.

30 Pinkerton to Byrnes, tels. 10 July and 8 Aug. 1946, 867N.6363/7–1046 and /8–846; Lenahan to Olmstead (ARAMCO), tel. 19 Aug. 1946, 890E.6363/8–1946, RG 59.

31 Wadsworth to Stettinius, tel. 5 April 1945, 890E.6363/4–545, RG 59; Anderson, ARAMCO, 171–72.

32 Pinkerton to Byrnes, tel. 8 July 1946, 890F.6363/7–846; Wadsworth to Byrnes, tel. 30 July and 12 Aug.1946, 890E.6363/7–3046 and /8–1246, RG 59.

33 Clayton Lane (Beirut) to Byrnes, 20 Aug. 1946; Bertel Kuniholm (Beirut) to Byrnes, tel. 23 Aug. 1946, 890E.6363/8–2046 and /8–2346; Gordon Mattison (Damascus) to Byrnes, 26 Aug. and tel. 3 Sept. 1946, 890D.6363/8–2646 and 9–346, RG 59; “Current Economic Developments,” 21 Oct. 1946, in U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, Current Economic Developments 1945–1954, microfiche (Washington, D.C., 1987), fiche 17. [Hereafter cited as FRUS, CED 1945–1954, with fiche number.]

34 Mattison to Byrnes, tel. 16 Oct. 1946; Acheson, cirtel. 13 Dec. 1946; Mattison to Acheson, tel. 14 Jan. 1947; and Moose to Marshall, 31 March 1947, 890D.6363/10–1646, /12–1346, /1–1447, and /3–3147, RG 59.

35 Moose to Marshall, tels. 5 and 16 June 1947; and Pinkerton to Marshall, 11 June 1947, 890D. 6363/6–547, /6–1147, and /6–1647, RG 59.

36 Copeland, Miles, The Game of Nations: The Amorality of Power Politics (New York, 1969), 45.

37 Robert Memminger (Damascus) to Marshall, 14 Aug. 1947, 890D.6363/8–1447; Pinkerton to Marshall, 19 Aug. 1947; Memminger to Marshall, tels. 21 and 22 Aug. 1947, 890E.6363/8–1947, /8–2147, and /8–2247, RG 59. On the outcome of the elections, see Seale, Patrick, The Struggle for Syria (New York, 1965), 2833.

38 Wadsworth to Memminger, 26 Aug. 1947, enclosed in Memminger to Marshall, 2 Sept. 1947, 890D.6363/9–247; Memminger to Marshall, tels. 27 Aug. 1947, 890E.6363/8–2747, RG 59.

39 J. Rives Childs (Jidda) to Marshall, tels. 3, 9, and 14 July 1947, 890F.6363/7–347, /7–947, and /7–1447; MacPherson (TAPLINE) to W. F. Moore (ARAMCO), 23 Aug. 1947, enclosed in Pinkerton to Marshall, 26 Aug. 1947, 890D.6363/8–2647, RG 59.

40 Childs to Marshall, tel. 28 Aug. 1947, 890F.6363/8–2847, and Robert Memminger to Marshall, tel. 2 Sept. 1947, 890D.6363/9–247, RG 59. Ibn Saud is quoted in Childs's cable of Aug. 28.

41 Lovett to Harriman, 8 Sept. 1947, FRUS 1947, 5: 665–66; Henderson to Lovett, 24 Sept. 1947,690F.119/9–2447; Anderson, ARAMCO, 175–76. On the shortage of steel pipe, see State Department memorandum, “Middle East: Specific Current Questions,” n.d. [Oct. 1947], FRUS 1947, 5: 552–53.

42 See U.S. Congress, Senate, Special Committee Investigation the National Defense Program, Investigation of the National Defense Program, Part 41: Petroleum Arrangements with Saudi Arabia (Washington, D.C., 1948), passim. Forrestal's testimony is on pp. 25290–91.

43 Lovett to Memminger, tel. 14 Oct. 1947; Memminger to Marshall, tel. 21 Oct. 1947; memorandum by Sanger, 3 Dec. 1947, 890D.6363/10–1447; /10–2147; and /12–347, RG 59. On the impact of the partition vote, see memorandum by Paul Alling, 26 Sept. 1947, FRUS 1947, 5: 1159–60, and Miller, Seanh for Security, 187–89.

44 Lenahan to B.E. Hull (ARAMCO), 3 Jan. 1948, 890F.6363/1–848, RG 59, emphasis in the original.

45 Pinkerton to Marshall, 8 Jan. 1948, 890F.6363/1–848; Tuck to Marshall, tel. 24 Jan. 1948, 883.6363/1–2448, RG 59.

46 Tuck to Byrnes, tel. 2 April 1946, 883.6363/4–246, RG 59. For farther evidence of Egypt's interest in TAPLINE during 1947, see Tuck to Marshall, 16 April 1947, and Marshall to Tuck, tel. 22 May 1947, both in 883.6363/4–1647, RG 59.

47 Pinkerton to Marshall, tel. 11 Feb. 1948, 890F.6363/2–1148; Tuck to Marshall, tels. 24 and 26 Jan. and 19 Feb. 1948, 883.6363/1–2448; /1–2648, and /2–1948, RG 59.

48 Tuck to Marshall, tels. 29 Feb. and 3 March 1948, 890F.6363/2–2948 and /3–348, RG 59. See also “Current Economic Developments,” 22 March 1948, FRUS, CED 1945–54, fiche 31.

49 Marshall to Childs, tel. 18 Feb. 1948, 890F.6363/1–2648; Tuck to Marshall, tel. 8 April 1948, 883.6363/4–848; Memminger to Marshall, 5 April 1948, 890D.6363/4–548, RG59.

50 Eakens (PED) to Thorp, 12 March 1948, in The Secret History of the Oil Companies in the Middle East, ed. Kennedy, William J., 2 vols. (Salisbury, N.C., 1979), 1: 45.

51 David Robertson to Henderson, “Wherry (Senate) Committee Hearings re Aramco Pipeline,” 18 March 1948, 890E.6363/3–1848, RG 59.

52 Memoranda by Henderson, 21 and 24 May 1948, 890F.6363/5–2148 and /5–2448; Henderson and Brown to Lovett and Thorp, 1 June 1948, 890B.6363/6–148, RG 59.

53 Memoranda by Henderson, 21 and 28 May 1948, and Childs to Marshall, tel. 9 June 1948, 890F.6363/5–2148, /5–2848, and /6–948, RG 59.

54 Henderson to Marshall, “Proposed Statement Regarding Arabian American Pipeline,” 17 June 1948, 890B.6363/6–1748, RG 59; Marshall to Childs, 2 tels. 19 June 1948, FRUS 1948, 5: 22–24.

55 Francis Meloy (Dhahran) to Marshall, 14 July 1948, and memorandum by Joseph Satterthwaite (NEA), 19 July 1948, 890F.6363/1–1448 and /7–1948, RG 59.

56 Marshall to Lovett, 20 Aug. 1948, and Marshall to the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, tel. 24 Aug. 1948, FRUS 1948, 5: 1330, 1340–41; Marshall to Bernadotte, tel. 26 Aug. 1948, 501.BB Palestine/8–2048, RG 59.

57 Hare to Lovett, 25 Aug. 1948; Duce to Lovett, 25 Aug. 1948; memorandum by Mattison, 26 Aug. 1948; Brown and Satterthwaite to Marshall, 8 Sept. 1948; Duce to Lovett, 9 Sept. 1948; and Marshall to Sawyer, 15 Sept. 1948, 890F.6363/8–2548, /9–948, and /9–1548, RG 59.

58 For documentation on the Commerce Department's position, see U.S. Congress, Congressional Record, Senate, 81st Cong., 2d sess., vol. 95, pt. 2, (Washington, D.C., 1949), 11 March 1949, 2223.

59 Eakens to Williamson, “Policy Paper for Syria—Petroleum,” 23 Sept. 1948, 890D.6363/9–2348; Keeley to Marshall, tel. 23 Nov. 1948, 890D.00/11–2348, RG 59.

60 James Keeley (Damascus) to Marshall, 14 Feb. 1949, 890D.00/2–1449, RG 59. See also Mattison to Keeley, 2 May 1949, “350 Syrian Politics April–June 1949,” box 49, Damascus Post Files, Record Group 84, Records of the Diplomatic Posts, National Archives, Suitland, Md., for a discussion of “how deeply involved the Tapline company has been in the sequel of events in Syria.”

61 On Zaim's relationship with the CIA, see Little, Douglas, “Cold War and Covert Action: The United States and Syria, 1945–1958,” Middle East Journal 44 (Winter 1990): 5557.

62 Keeley to Marshall, 10 and 14 Feb. 1949, 890D.00/2–1049 and /2–1449, RG 59. Commerce Department Press Release, 24 Feb. 1949, in Congressional Record, Senate, 81st Cong., 2d sess., 2223.

63 Keeley to Marshall, tels. 1 and 8 March 1949, 890D.00/3–149 and /3–849; American Legation (Damascus) to State Department, 21 March 1949, 890D.6363/3–2149, RG 59.

64 Satterthwaite, “Tapline Convention in Syria,” 6 April 1949, 890D.6363/4–649, RG 59; Stephen Meade to G–2, tel. 15 April 1949, CL–279, “Syria Weeka 49—Part 5,” box 77, Incoming-Outgoing Messages, Records of the Army Staff, Assistant Chief of Staff, G–2 (Intelligence), Record Group 319, National Archives, Suitland, Maryland. For Meade's ties to the CIA, see Copeland, Game of Nations, 49–52.

65 Keeley to Acheson, tel. 17 May 1949, 890D.6363/5–1749, RG 59; Gordon Mattison (NEA) to Keeley, 2 May 1949, “350 Syrian Politics April–June 1949,” box 49, Damascus Post Files, RG 84.

66 “Current Economic Developments,” May 23 1949, FRUS, CED 1945–54, fiche 40; memorandum by Satterthwaite, 25 May 1949, 890D.6363/5–2549, RG 59.

67 Davies (ARAMCO) to Acheson, 28 June 1949, 890F.6363/6–2849; Harrison (Damascus) to Acheson, tel. 17 Aug. 1949, 890D.6363/8–1749; Clark, “Recognition of New Syrian Government,” 8 Sept. 1949; Acheson to Keeley, tel. 17 Sept. 1949; Acheson to Truman, 19 Sept. 1949; and McGhee to Keeley, tel. 19 Sept. 1949, 890D.01/9–849, /9–1749, and /9–1949, RG 59.

68 Childs to Acheson, 13 June 1949; Hill (Jidda) to Acheson, tels. 24 Oct. and 26 Nov. 1949; and Eilts to Acheson, 26 Nov. 1949, 890F.6363/6–1349, /10–2449, and /11–2649, RG 59. On Lebanon and Jordan, see memorandum by Funkhouser, 25 April 1949, and Funkhouser, “Middle East Oil,” 11 Sept. 1950, FRUS 1950, 5: 49–50, 84.

69 Keeley to Acheson, 31 March and 14 April 1950; Owen Jones (Damascus) to Acheson, 13 Oct. 1950; and Robert Houghton (Damascus) to Acheson, 19 Feb. 1951, 883.2553/3–3150, /4–1450, /10–1350, and /2–1951, RG 59. See also ARAMCO Handbook 1968: Oil and the Middle East (Dhahran, 1968), 150.

70 ARAMCO Handbook 1968, 152.

71 James Moose (Damascus) to John Foster Dulles, tel. 14 Nov. 1956, and note 2, FRUS 1955–57, 13: 599–600; Heikal, Mohammed, The Cairo Documents (New York, 1973), 112–13.

72 State Department memcon, 29 Aug. 1957, FRUS 1955–57, 13: 503–4; Copeland, Game of Nations, 259–60, 263.

73 Acting Secretary of State David Bruce to the U.S. Embassy in London, 13 Nov. 1952; State Department memoranda, 30 Dec. 1952 and 28 July 1953, FRUS 1952–54, 9: 617–18, 633–35, 697.

74 State Department memcon, 29 Aug. 1957, FRUS 1955–57, 13: 504; Operations Coordinating Board, “Report on the Near East,” 3 Feb. 1960, Declassified Documents Reference System, 1984, microfiche, (New Carrolton, Md., 1984), item 2567; Shwadran, Benjamin, Middle East Oil: Issues and Problems (Cambridge, Mass., 1977), 41, 43, 49; Mosely, Power Play, 298; ARAMCO Handbook 1968, 152.

75 New York Times, 20 and 22 Aug. 1967; 1, 2, and 8 June, and 11 and 25 July 1969.

76 New York Times, 28 Oct. 1969, 8 May 1970, and 30 Jan. and 16 Sept. 1971; Shwadran, Middle East Oil Issues, 41; Safran, Nadav, Saudi Arabia: The Ceaseless Quest for Security (Cambridge, Mass., 1985), 144; Seale, Patrick, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East (Berkeley, Calif., 1989), 186.

77 New York Times, 8 Oct. 1976, sec. 4, 1:3; Eglin, Darrel R., “The Economy,” in Saudi Ambia: A Country Study, ed. Nyrop, Richard F. (Washington, D.C., 1984), 148–51.

78 McGhee, George, Envoy to the Middle World: Adventures in Diplomacy (New York, 1983), 199201.

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