Memorandum by the Regional Planning Adviser of the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs ( Halle ) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs ( Miller )1


Subject: Post-Mortem on Tuesday’s2 Meeting with S/P.

Two members of S/P have expressed to me their regret over the inadequacy and general character of the meeting to discuss the role of Latin America in world strategy.

The agreement with George Butler and Phil Watts3 had been that S/P would undertake this as a project, with the full cooperation of ARA. The only purpose of the paper we prepared4 was to have a point of departure for S/P’s own consideration of the question. Unfortunately, this was forgotten and even Paul Nitze, who had agreed with me on the procedure, dealt with the document as if it had been a draft NSC paper. That is why S/P members at the meeting indulged themselves in the useless exercise of discussing fine points of language in the paper rather than the question that the paper raised.

It had been agreed with Watts and Butler that the short two-page statement originally prepared by Butler5 would not be distributed, since such a paper should be the end result of the joint project, not its point of departure. The paper was nevertheless distributed and contributed to the confusion of those present.

I have been informed that this is not, as you suggested, the first time that S/P has considered our Latin American policy. It considered it once before, a year and a half ago,6 when Mr. Braden7 was brought in to discuss it with them. (This was news to me.)

[Page 638]

It has been admitted to me that probably most of the members of S/P had not read the paper under discussion. The meeting should not have been held under the circumstances.

S/P is so busy catching fast ones that it is not in as good a position as the operational bureaus to think in terms of long range policy.

Apparently the expectation in S/P is that they will have another “go around” and another on this. I told one of them that to my mind this would be quite useless since S/P obviously is not in position to concentrate its serious attention on the problem of Latin America in relation to our general foreign policy. There is no point to indulging again in the complete frivolity of our meeting the other day. (The high point of that meeting, after you left, was when almost the entire staff rushed to the window to see some fire engines.)

I feel sure, however, that it will be necessary to have Paul Nitze, and therefore S/P, in on this project before it goes to the Under Secretary’s Meeting. I think the course for us to take, therefore, is to work up a draft NSC document, limited to ten or a dozen pages with a couple of pages of conclusion, and then give it to S/P for comment and possible joint revision before putting it into UM.8

I have suggested and shall suggest that, before there is any further meeting of S/P on what Latin American policy should be, they agree among themselves as to whether this Government needs a Latin American policy or just a budget without a policy. I gather that the latter view, which was Mr. Tufts’9 contribution to the meeting, is not by any means shared by other members of S/P.

Louis J. Halle, Jr.
  1. A handwritten marginal note reads: “not sent keep for files LJH”.
  2. December 19.
  3. Both of the Policy Planning Staff.
  4. Presumably that printed supra, together with its supplement of December 1.
  5. Apparently an unsigned attachment of December 8 to Mr. Miller’s memorandum of December 12 to Mr. Halle, neither printed (611.20/12–4150).
  6. A Policy Planning Staff draft of August 29, 1949, devoted to policy toward the other American Republics, is in Lot 53D26.
  7. Spruille Braden, Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs, 1945–1947.
  8. A draft dated December 30 of a proposed NSC paper, “The Latin American Policy of the United States,” is attached to a memorandum of January 2, 1951, by Mr. Halle to several ARA officers (neither printed) (611.20/1–251). However, no paper devoted exclusively to the other American Republics was considered in the NSC during 1951.
  9. Robert R. Tufts of the Policy Planning Staff.