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THE NEAR EAST, SOUTH ASIA, AND AFRICA
LETTER FROM PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT TO JAMES M. LANDIS, AMERICAN DIRECTOR OF ECONOMIC OPERATIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, CONCERNING THE VITAL INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE MIDDLE EAST
800.24/1541 President Roosevelt to the American Director of Economic Operations
in the Middle East (Landis)'
[WASHINGTON, March 6, 1944.] MY DEAR MR. LANDIS: The Middle East is an area in which the United States has a vital interest. The maintenance of peace in that area, which has so frequently seen disturbances in the past, is of significance to the world as a whole. A means of insurance against unrest of that character is to encourage the governments of the territories that comprise the Middle East to push ahead with the vigor that they may possess to stabilize and improve their economic systems in terms of the production and distribution of wealth.
Though the United States, following traditional policy, should not seek to interfere in the internal affairs of these territories, it is interested in seeing that itself and other nations should not be discriminated against in dealing openly and fairly with these territories in the exchange of goods and resources. In the Middle East, as elsewhere, the objective of the United States is to make certain that all nations are accorded equality of opportunity. Special privileges, in so far as they do not rest upon acknowledged possession or trusteeship, should not be afforded to any country or its nationals for such privileges have little place in the type of world for which this war is being fought.
The American point of view, naturally, has regard to the desires of the territories of the Middle East to seek, in the manner deemed best by their own governments, objectives consistent with the faiths for
Copy transmitted by the Secretary of State under his instruction of March 20 to the diplomatic missions in Ethiopia, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, the missions near the Greek and Yugoslav Governments in Exile, and the Consulate General at Jerusalem. James M. Landis, American Director of Economic Operations in the Middle East, with the personal rank of Minister, was concurrently principal American civilian representative at the Middle East Supply Center, Cairo, an organization set up initially by the British in 1941 to control the supply and distribution of essential goods to the civilian populations of the Near and Middle East; for correspondence regarding the decision of the United States in 1942 to participate in the Middle East Supply Center, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. IV, pp. 1 ff.
which this war is being waged. The realization of such aims will, naturally, further the broad interests of the United States in that it will assure equality of treatment being afforded to this country.
As American Director of Economic Operations in the Middle East, the daily pattern of your work in wartime economic affairs will have reference to, and your activities should be carried out in a manner consistent with, policies such as these. Your work, under the directives you have received from the Department of State and the Foreign Economic Administration, is primarily concerned with the conduct of economic activities relating to the war. In that work you will, of course, put first the strengthening in every way of the warm and cooperative relations with our Allies, upon which our success in the war, and thereafter, so largely depend. On occasion you may require the assistance of other branches of the United States Government, now active in the Middle East, to make your endeavors in the economic field effective. Within this area of operations you are authorized to show this letter to such officials of the United States in order that the aid that they may reasonably give you may be forthcoming within the limits of their staffs and in so far as is consistent with political and military policies. Very sincerely yours,
[FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT]