Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Miller) to the Regional Planning Adviser ( Halle )

top secret

I have read the attached memo1 and I believe first that it is desirable to have some sort of document as this cleared around in the Government for the purpose of establishing the importance of Latin America. However, I have a number of questions of substance about it.

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It seems to me first of all that in analyzing the course of U.S.-L.A. relations the paper is somewhat uneven and that it demonstrates in parts an excessive tendency to put on the hair shirt. It seems to me that what has occurred in U.S.-Latin American relations is not so much that we have left undone what we should have done in regard to this part of the world, but rather we have assumed more duties in other parts of the world. As the paper clearly points out at the beginning, the Good Neighbor Policy was virtually our sole foreign program during the 1930s. This fact and the consequential high-level attention devoted to Latin America in this Government created an exaggerated and extreme sense of self-importance on the part of individuals connected with Latin American Governments. The wartime period was characterized by intense wooing of the Latin Americans which, if not carried on at a correspondingly high level, was sufficiently intense so as to compensate for the dilution of our high-level attention as we went into other parts of the world. While our activities in Latin America have diminished in intensity in recent years as compared with the wartime period, our programs of technical cooperation, information and educational exchange, and economic cooperation (loans) are far more intense than they were during the 1930s. I believe this point should be stressed. I consequently disagree with the thesis expressed, for example, in the last two sentences of page 24 that we have not been doing enough in Latin America and that this is because of a limitation on our resources and relative priorities.

I also believe that the paper does not adequately differentiate between the points of view of individuals in governments and newspapermen on the one hand and the public at large on the other. In this sense I believe that our relations with the people of Latin America are better than the paper would indicate.

I believe that the paper overstressed alleged “demoralization” and “lack of self-respect” on the part of Latin America. I do not, for example, believe that there is any such concept whatever in our relations with Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba and a number of other countries.2 Our relations with Mexico today seem to be adequately good allowing for factors which are permanent in our relations with Mexico. Our relations with Panama are always troubled by friction resulting from the particular situation of the Canal, but we are certainly in better shape with Panama than we have ever been. Nor have we achieved this at the cost of handouts as in earlier days of the Good Neighbor Policy. This problem of self-pity therefore largely resolves itself into a Brazilian [Page 627] problem3 and I personally do not believe that we will have much difficulties in overcoming this problem as soon as we get our economic program under way and in the incoming administration in office.

My principal point of difference with the paper is that in the section headed “Recommendations” beginning on page 12 the emphasis made upon consultation is not only overstressed but is out of proportion with the other recommendations. I do not believe that there can be any effective consultation in the abstract and I believe that that is largely what you are proposing. I believe that any consultation with the Latin Americans about the initiation of programs in other areas of the world is bound to result to a large extent in going through the motions. Also the reason that the Secretary of State and other high officials of the Department spend more time on Europe and the Far East than on Latin America is not necessarily because of any preference or because of any omission of duty, but rather because those problems are not nearly as subject to delegation as problems in Latin America. Furthermore, this section seems to indicate that at one time we followed the process of consulting the Latin Americans on the problems of the rest of the world and that our alleged cessation of this practice had led to demoralization. I doubt that this is an accurate analysis. It may be true that our relations with the Latin Americans are close in the UN, but that is a liaison that arises naturally and out of the underlying set of facts. There is here no question of consulation in the abstract. I do not necessarily deny that we should consult more with the Latin Americans, but, to repeat, I believe that the subject is overstressed in the memorandum. By the same token, I believe that economic policy and military policy are treated too lightly. With the dressed-up economic policy along the lines set forth in my memorandum commenting upon NSC 68/1,4 I believe that we can do much more even without having a Foreign Ministers’ meeting.5 I suggest that you put in some of the ideas expressed in my paper particularly with regard to over-all country programs and the need of coordinating the work of the various agencies of our Government. The paper should also deal with and be designed to give support for our views in relation [Page 628] to, major economic problems with which we are faced in the current crisis such as Latin American participation in export controls, the strategic materials program, increased Point IV appropriations and limited grants in aid for road building, etc. As to military policy, I believe that attention should be focused on implementation of the United [Uniting] For Peace Resolution6 rather than on NSC 56/27 and on the need of taking some regional action through the IADB. The paper also seems deficient in not dealing with our information programs so that we lose an opportunity of getting unified governmental support for the intensified information program in Latin America.

  1. Reference is to Mr. Halle’s paper of October 26, 1950, titled “Development of U.S. Latin American Policy in Terms of U.S. World Objectives,” not printed (611.20/10–2750).
  2. A marginal note in Mr. Halle’s handwriting reads: “It appears less in our relations with individual countries than in such general demands as that for a ‘Marshall Plan for L.A.’ and attitudes toward economic problems at general conferences.”
  3. Another marginal note by Mr. Halle reads: “Also Bolivia.”
  4. Scheduled for publication in volume i.
  5. Mr. Halle had recommended such a meeting be held within a year and continued in part: “The occasion would have to be some crisis—like-Korea or Berlin. The Meeting, would adopt the principle that the defense of the hemisphere is not to be achieved only along its beaches but by political, economic, and psychological action overseas … Such a Meeting would not only boost inter-American morale, making the Latin Americans feel that they were once more participating with us in the fight for freedom, it would provide a propaganda advantage in the ‘war for men’s minds’ all over the world.” This proposal was omitted from a later version of the paper, part of which is printed infra.

    Documentation regarding the U.S. decision taken December 16, 1950, to request of the COAS a Foreign Ministers’ meeting to be held in the Spring of 1951, will be printed in a forthcoming volume of Foreign Relations.

  6. For Resolution 377(V) of the General Assembly, November 3, 1950, see United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifth Session, Supplement No. 20 ( A/1775), pp. 10–12; for documentation on U.S. policy regarding this matter, see ante, pp. 303 ff.
  7. Dated May 18, 1950; scheduled for publication in volume i.