Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. H. F. Arthur Schoenfeld of the Office of the Director of International Security Affairs


Subject: Position to be taken by the Department regarding grant military aid for Latin American republics.

Participants: Mr. Thomas D. Cabot, Director, International Security Affairs
Mr. Ivan White, AR
Mr. W. H. Bray,1 S/ISA
Mr. H. F. A. Schoenfeld, S/ISA

Mr. Cabot explained that he had learned this morning at the Secretary’s staff conference that Mr. Mtze,2 S/P, expects on Tuesday next, February 20, to discuss the above question with JCS. At the same time he had understood that in view of the forthcoming departure of Assistant [Page 998] Secretary Miller for a round of visits to certain Latin American capitals, the latter was anxious if possible to have some indication of an agreed position within the Department of State on the above subject. Further, Mr. Cabot had sought guidance at the Secretary’s staff meeting as to whether he was to assume a quasi-judicial capacity as between divergent views within the Department on the subject, or whether he would be expected to follow his own inclination, which was adverse to grant military aid to Latin America at this time, and take a position as an advocate of this view. Mr. Cabot had not been enlightened as to what was expected of him in this respect, and was therefore seeking the views of interested officers both within the Department and in Defense and elsewhere. He had had an opportunity to examine ISAC D–53 only following the meeting of ISAC of February 14 when General Bolte had spoken to that Committee in very general terms regarding the expediency of giving grant military aid to Latin American republics. On the other hand, Mr. Cabot could not construe General Bolte’s statement as a response to the questions raised in Section IV of ISAC D–5, the answers to these questions, or at least the more controlling ones, being required for a judgment.

Mr. White said that ARA appreciated the difficulties caused by the absence of the information required from Defense as set forth in Section IV of ISAC D–5. ARA was prepared, however, to go on record in expressing the opinion that without grant military assistance to at least some of the Latin American republics, these perhaps including the most important members of the group, ARA was confident that if cooperation with the United States in a military sense should be urgently required and called for in the future, it would not be forthcoming, and this was a source of concern to ARA.

Mr. Bray pointed out that according to preliminary information from the Department of Commerce, which would be confirmed shortly, the Latin Americans had already begun to build up important dollar balances in 1950, which were expected to be substantially increased in 1951 and 1952, and which, consequently, might be available for purchase of military equipment adequate to their needs. Mr. White disagreed with this suggestion, pointing out that these balances would be required for many purposes more appealing to Latin American populations and governments than military expenditures.

Mr. Schoenfeld invited attention to the fact that the lack of the information called for in Section IV of ISAC D–5 in the case of the Latin American problem was making most difficult, if not impossible, the kind of judgment which had attended the development of MDAP for recipient countries under the various titles of the MDAA, or which had been considered in submitting requests to Congress for funds for [Page 999] this purpose. Consequently, the Department was handicapped in approaching the problem so long as the necessary underlying data from Defense were not available. Mr. Cabot telephoned to General Burns4 in the Department of Defense to inquire if these data could be expected in time for the scheduled meeting of the ISAC on February 16. Mr. Cabot reported that General Burns could give him no assurance to this effect. Mr. Cabot further indicated that General Burns had intimated the existence of some difference of opinion within the Department of Defense, which had not been settled by the official expression of the Defense view that an amount not exceeding $100,000,000 (later orally revised downward to $80,000,000) should be sought from Congress.

In response to Mr. Cabot’s query whether there was any information regarding the probable magnitude of future needs for grant aid to Latin America in addition to the amount now under discussion, he was able to elicit no statement either from General Burns or from Mr. White.

The conversation ended on the agreed note that in all probability ISAC would be unable at tomorrow’s meeting to make any determination regarding grant military aid for Latin America, and that the issue would have to be deferred for later consideration. Consequently, it was understood that Assistant Secretary Miller would be obliged to leave for his Latin American trip without a decision on this question.

  1. William H. Bray, Jr., Office of the Director, International Security Affairs.
  2. Paul Nitze, Director, Policy Planning Staff.
  3. Dated February 15, p. 985.
  4. Maj. Gen. James H. Burns, U.S. Army (ret), Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.