Under Secretary’s Meetings, Lot 53 D 250

Record of the Under Secretary’s Meeting, May 14, 1951, 10:15 a.m. 1


UM N–344

[Here follow two brief paragraphs summarizing the discussion of the use of Consultative Subcommittees and East-West trade.]

Land Reform Policy (UM D–1422)

3. Mr. Thorp reported that there is considerable pressure for doing something with respect to land reform. However, the implementation of our land reform policy is difficult when specific countries are considered. Mr. Thorp pointed out that land reform refers to “institutions”, such as agricultural land ownership, rents, taxation, etc. He pointed out that a land reform program has been active in Japan, and approximately 90% of the farmers are now land owners. There has been an active program in Korea. The Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction had been active and effective in South China before the Communists came there. There has been an active program in Formosa and ECA has been active in this field in Italy.

4. Mr. Thorp stated that an interdepartmental committee on land reform policy was established about three months ago and is chaired by the Department of Agriculture. This committee developed the general statement which is contained in UM D–142. At the present time four regional subcommittees have been set up to look into the specific problem of land reform in individual countries. Among these are the Philippines, Indonesia, Bolivia, Egypt, Iran and Pakistan. In the near future an international seminar will be held at the University of Wisconsin on this problem.

5. Mr. Thorp pointed out that the Soviets are very active in propagandizing their theme of land reform. It was pointed out that Mr. Barrett has a great interest in this respect. Mr. Thorp stated that since [Page 1672] studies are underway on a country basis, responsible officers should be assigned to help out in these studies.

6. Mr. Barrett pointed out that land reform is an important propaganda theme, but it is a difficult one to apply in terms of specific countries. It is easy to manage on a world-wide basis, however. He also pointed out that the Voice is attempting to expose the fallacy of the Soviet land reform line. Mr. McGhee emphasized the difficulty in applying a broad policy to individual areas because of conditions in those countries and the policies of the individual governments involved. He felt that the best opportunity to implement such a policy would be where indigenous movements start which could be encouraged by the U.S. Mr. Miller agreed and pointed out that the phrase “at their request” is an important one. He also suggested that it might be wise to make land reform an OAS operation. Mr. Rusk also agreed that this was a country-by-country problem and should be handled this way. He pointed out that land reform is only one of many things which we are attempting to accomplish. Others would include better industrial income, better civil service, etc. In certain countries land reform may be a low priority, and it should be weighed against other objectives which we are attempting to accomplish. He also suggested that we should not leave the impression that our land program in the U.S. is perfect. In this regard, Mr. Thorp pointed out that land reform is not just ownership and tenancy, but includes other things, such as marketing, credit, etc. He stated that this country had made a great deal of progress within the last ten or twenty years.

7. Mr. Hickerson agreed that this policy was a good one which could be followed in the UN. He stated that our line in the UN would have to be a general one, since we have to avoid appearing to intervene domestically in individual country problems.

  1. Top officers of the Department of State met periodically, sometimes twice a week, under the chairmanship of the Under Secretary of State to discuss important foreign policy problems. Present for this meeting were Under Secretary of State Webb, Special Assistant for Intelligence W. Park Armstrong, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Edward W. Barrett, Acting Deputy Administrator for Technical Cooperation Johnston Avery, Director of the Bureau of German Affairs Henry A. Byroade, Deputy Legal Adviser Jack B. Tate, Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs John D. Hickerson, Deputy Under Secretary of State H. Freeman Matthews, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs George C. McGhee, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Edward G. Miller, Jr., Director of the Policy Planning Staff Paul Nitze, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs James C. H. Bonbright, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs Dean Rusk, and Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Willard L. Thorp. This record was presumably prepared by the Committee Secretariat Staff of the Executive Secretariat.
  2. The same as the Policy Statement prepared by the Inter-Agency Committee on Land Reform, March 9, p. 1666.