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


Subject: Possible Military Grant Aid to Argentina

Participants: OSD/OMA—Col. J. D. Alger
OSA—Mr. Henry Dearborn
ARA—Mr. Duncan Mackay
AR—Mr. E. A. Jamison1
S/ISA—Mr. H. F. Arthur Schoenfeld

Colonel J. D. Alger stated that he desired to consult officers in the Department of State informally about the possible inclusion of the Argentine Republic in a first priority list of Latin American countries to be approached in connection with grant military assistance under the FY 1952 Mutual Security Program.2 He said that from the military point of view, the Department of Defense considered Argentina to be among the three or four Latin American Republics most capable militarily of making a positive contribution to the Defense of the Western Hemisphere.3 Since the Argentine also had considerable quantities of the United States equipment, it would be in the interest of Hemisphere Defense plans to give that country grant military assistance in order to make the military contribution of which Argentina is capable. A letter was being drafted from the Secretary of Defense to the Secretary of State setting forth a priority list of Latin American governments possibly to be recipients of grant military aid and to be approached in the negotiations presently planned when funds become available under the Mutual Security Act of 1951.4 It was felt in the Department of Defense, however, that in view of political considerations involved in the case of Argentina that country should not be included in the proposed priority list without some previous consultation with the Department of State.

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Mr. Schoenfeld said that S/ISA would be guided in its attitude towards this question by the views of ARA. Mr. Jamison and Mr. Dearborn described the current internal political situation in the Argentine, including the traditional emphasis in that country on neutralism and particularly the use that has been made by Peron of his “Third Position” doctrine with its anti-American overtones. These Argentine attitudes, in the opinion of ARA, made it quite certain that any intimation by the United States at the present time regarding possible grant military assistance to Argentina in connection with that country’s assumption of reciprocal obligations for Hemisphere Defense would be used for internal political purposes in the current Presidential campaign in Argentina. Moreover, since the decision last winter to develop a program of grant military aid to Latin American countries, it had been the consistent position of the Department of Defense and of the Department of State in presenting the Mutual Security Program to the Bureau of the Budget and to the Congress, that there was no present intention of giving the Argentine grant military assistance. For these reasons, the Department of State would probably be unable to support grant military assistance to Argentina at this time. Mr. Jamison and Mr. Dearborn said that, on the other hand, the present obscurity of the political situation in the Argentine and the possibility that at a future time, perhaps not distant, that situation might change and it might become desirable from the political standpoint to use possible negotiations with Argentina on this subject with a prospect of advantage to the United States, the possibility of such aid to Argentina should be kept open.

It was suggested by Mr. Schoenfeld that, if the Department of Defense decides to include Argentina in the proposed priority list, the letter from that Department should record explicitly the fact that the Department of Defense and the Department of State have excluded Argentina from current consideration for military grant aid, but should also leave the matter open for renewed considerations when the political situation makes it desirable to reconsider. This suggestion was concurred in by all present.

Col. Alger indicated that the proposed letter from the Secretary of Defense to the Secretary of State covering the priority list would refer to the present situation along the above lines, leaving open for future consideration, as circumstances may require, the possibility of approaching the Argentine Government as to its undertaking a Defense Task and receiving military grant aid for the purpose.

  1. Edward A. Jamison, Officer in Charge, Special Political Problems.
  2. For documentation on this subject, see vol. i, pp. 266 ff.
  3. For documentation on United States policy with respect to hemisphere defense and related matters, see pp. 985 ff.
  4. For text of the Mutual Security Act (Public Law 165), approved October 10, 1951, see 65 Stat. 373.