Paper Prepared in the Bureau of Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs 1
Instructions to Head of Mission to Ethiopia (Lieutenant General Bolte)
1. Purpose of Mission
During recent years, Emperor Haile Selassie has been desirous of obtaining military equipment from the United States, but has been unsuccessful. According to Ambassador Merrell, the Emperor is greatly concerned over this lack of military assistance from the United States. Despite the limited and underdeveloped resources of his country, the Emperor has carried out his strong belief in collective security by sending to Korea an Ethiopian expeditionary force of 1,158 officers and men, which arrived in Pusan on May 6, 1951. The supplies and equipment which the Ethiopian troops in Korea receive from American sources are provided on a reimbursable basis.
It is understood that the Emperor intends to renew his plea for military assistance. The purpose of your mission, as stated in the memorandum for the President from the Secretary of State is:
“In order to forestall this renewed plea by the Emperor in a manner which will not embarrass him vis-à-vis his domestic critics, I recommend that Lieutenant General Charles Lawrence Bolte, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, United States Army, be sent to Addis Ababa, as your personal representative, to: (1) explain to the Emperor why the United States cannot provide Ethiopia with military equipment: (2) encourage the Emperor to avoid large disbursements for military purposes of funds needed for economic development; (3) assure the Emperor, if the question is raised, that the United States takes seriously its obligations under the UN Charter to support the United Nations in effective collective measures for the suppression of acts of aggression; and (4) explain, if the question is raised, why the United States would be unable to send a military mission to Ethiopia. The Secretary of Defense concurs in this recommendation. Attached is a draft of a personal letter from you to the Emperor which General Bolte could deliver.”
2. Presentation of Presidents Letter, Gift and Decorations
On your arrival in Addis Ababa you will be met by the Ambassador and members of his staff. As soon as possible after your arrival it is suggested that you consult with Ambassador Childs regarding your [Page 1259]mission and your instructions, and seek his advice as to the manner in which the following should be presented to the Emperor:
- The letter from the President to His Imperial Majesty.2
- The President’s gift of a carbine with a telescopic sight.
- The decoration of the Legion of Merit, Degree of Chief Commander.
- The set of large scale maps of Korea.
3. Conversations With Emperor
It is suggested that in your conversations with the Emperor of Ethiopia you may find it desirable to comment along the following lines on the matters which are likely to be discussed. Should Ambassador Childs suggest any change, however, you should feel free to accept his counsel and modify the following accordingly.
- By referring to the letter from the President, you could speak of the fine example of the Ethiopian contribution to the cause of collective security and the UN effort in the war of Korea. (By the time you see the Emperor, the Embassy in Addis Ababa should have received reports of the duties to which the Ethiopian troops in Korea have been assigned. It would be helpful to explain to the Emperor as graphically as possible the specific tasks which they are undertaking.)
- By referring to Korea, you could assure the Emperor that the United States takes seriously its obligations, under the UN charter to support the UN in effective collective measures for the suppression of acts of aggression. In other words the United States, through the UN, will do what it can to resist Communist aggression wherever it may occur. If further evidence is necessary you could point to the areas most directly affected by the Soviet menace where the United States has made tremendous efforts to strengthen and protect those members of the free world: such as, Western Europe, Greece, Turkey and the countries of South Asia.
- You may wish to emphasize the world-wide extent of the obligations assumed by the United States in its efforts to contain the spread of Soviet imperialism. As an example of the huge effort being made by this country you might wish to point out the cost of the current defense program in the United States. On the basis of the last request of the President to Congress for $60,000,000,000 for the fiscal year 1952 for the defense effort, the annual cost per each American taxpayer is $1,138.00. When our total effort is so great, you could emphasize to the Emperor, it is extremely important that this government not undertake additional commitments unless they are absolutely vital to the common defense of the free world.
- Ethiopia, fortunately, is not exposed to aggression. Certainly the United States government foresees no aggression against Ethiopia by any of its immediate neighbors. Also, and you might ask the Emperor if he agrees, the possibility of Communist inspired uprisings by minority groups within Ethiopia is considered most unlikely. The geographical position of Ethiopia makes direct Soviet aggression a remote possibility. Even in the event of a general war Ethiopia has good [Page 1260]natural defenses in the vast expanse of desert on the Arabian peninsula and most of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, not to mention the formidable mountain barriers within Ethiopia itself. For these reasons and also because priorities in military assistance are accorded to the nations who are considered to be the most likely victims of Soviet aggression, the United States is unable at present, to provide further military assistance to Ethiopia.
- The facts of present international relations and of Ethiopia’s position which make it impracticable for the United States to equip Ethiopia’s armed forces in Ethiopia also work to Ethiopia’s advantage. Thus you will wish to emphasize to the Emperor that because of the relatively secure position of his country he should find it unnecessary to undertake large disbursements by the Ethiopian government for military forces. Furthermore, this situation places Ethiopia in the enviable position of being able to use its resources for the development of its economy rather than for the unproductive machines of war. Since the cost of a modern military machine is so great Ethiopia could contribute most to the common cause of defense of the free world by maintaining a balanced economy and by developing for export those resources, such as food, hides and skins, which would be essential in the Near and Middle East in the event of a general conflagration.
- While emphasizing the point of view in the preceding paragraph you may wish to say that of course Ethiopia should have whatever armed forces are necessary to maintain internal security and which can be supported by the Ethiopian economy. In addition, and as mentioned previously, this government considers Ethiopia’s contribution to the UN armies in Korea as indicative of her part in the common defense of the non-Communist world.
- The Ethiopians may ask what military plans we have for Eritrea, in view of the important army radio station located in Asmara. Even if this question is not raised by them, it would be desirable for you to make at least passing reference to our interest in the military facilities in Eritrea, particularly the radio station at Asmara. In this connection you could refer to the conversation in December, 1950 between the Ethiopian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ato Aklilou, and Assistant Secretary of State, George McGhee, when this matter was discussed. As Mr. McGhee indicated, the United States desires to negotiate an agreement with Ethiopia on the continued use of certain military facilities in Eritrea. Ambassador Childs and the Military Attaché will conduct these negotiations during the coming months.
4. Matters To Be Discussed Only if Raised by the Emperor
Our Embassy in Addis Ababa has suggested several questions which may be raised by the Emperor or members of his government, and the Departments of State and Defense have considered several other points which might arise. These questions, and replies you may wish to give, are outlined as follows:
- The Ethiopians may wish to be assured specifically that there is absolutely no threat, actual or potential, from the Italian forces in the Trust Territory of Somaliland. Our general view is that there is no danger of aggression from any of the territories contiguous to Ethiopia. Specifically the United States government believes fully the statements made by leaders of the Italian government that they would [Page 1261]never again embark on a course of colonialism and empire-building in Africa. Such statements have been made repeatedly before the General Assembly of the UN. In addition this government has been assured privately many times by representatives of the Italian government that they have no such intentions.
- The Ethiopians may ask about the desirability of their reestablishing diplomatic relations with Italy. As the Ethiopian Foreign Minister knows very well, the Department of State has urged for some time that diplomatic relations be established between the Italians and Ethiopians and has provided its good offices to facilitate the reestablishment of such relations. We are prepared to take whatever steps we consider appropriate to see harmonious, friendly and confident relations between the two countries. In addition, we view the great desire of the Italians to conclude such an arrangement as soon as possible as further evidence of their good faith and friendly intentions, vis-à-vis the danger of aggression from Italian Somaliland mentioned above. If appropriate in the conversation, you might add that the necessary next step is up to the Ethiopian government in the renewal of relations with Italy.
- The Ethiopians may seek a commitment that the United States is interested in assuring that the Ethiopians will not be treated unfairly in the settlement of the boundary between Somaliland and Ethiopia. (They might try to involve American interest in this matter on the grounds that the Sinclair Oil Company is prospecting for oil in the area of the Ogaden where the boundary has long been disputed.) The position of the United States is that the solution of this boundary problem was provided in the resolution adopted by the General Assembly in December, 1950. This resolution provides that settlement should be reached by direct negotiation between the parties involved (Ethiopia and Italy), or, if this is unsuccessful, by specified procedures of mediation or arbitration.
- The Ethiopians may ask if an American military mission could be sent to replace the British military mission which was recently withdrawn. Our Embassy in Addis Ababa has recommended strongly, and the Departments of State and Defense concur, that no mention of a military mission be made unless and until the Ethiopians propose it. If raised, our general position is that it is not practicable for the United States to send such a military mission, for the reasons given in the previous section regarding our inability to supply military assistance. If pressed, you could add that if the Ethiopians desire a military mission, one from Western Europe might be better suited, by tradition and training methods, to meet Ethiopian requirements than would an American mission. Furthermore, if our Embassy considers it advisable, you might mention that we understand the Ethiopian government is planning to train its army by engaging Belgian officers under private contract on the same basis that Swedish officers are now training the Imperial Guards.
- A high ranking member of the Ethiopian government may inquire about the possibility of the Emperor visiting the United States during the coming year. If raised, you may wish to appear surprised as though the question presented a new idea. You might add, as vaguely and tactfully as possible, that the President, due to a very full calendar of events, might not be able to receive the Emperor during 1952, in view of the fact that it is an election year in the United States. However, [Page 1262]you could state that when you return to Washington you will ask the State Department to take this matter up with the President at the appropriate time.
- The Ethiopians may mention the new Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations which is about to be concluded between the United States and Ethiopia. Negotiations have been proceeding satisfactorily and the Treaty may be signed or ready for signature by the time of your arrival.3
- If the Ethiopians raise the question of the Point Four agreement between the United States and Ethiopia you can simply say that this matter, like the foregoing problem of the Treaty, is being handled by Ambassador Childs.4
- This memorandum was drafted by Alfred Wellons on May 23, and cleared by Cyr, Bourgerie, McGhee, Bolté, and Davis.↩
- Telegram 120 from Addis Ababa, September 7, advised the Department of State that the Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations had been signed at noon that day by the Foreign Minister for Ethiopia and Ambassador Childs for the United States (611.754/9–751). The text of the treaty is in 4 UST (pt. 2) 2134, TIAS No. 2864.↩
- Telegram 347 from Addis Ababa, June 16, advised the Department of State that The General Agreement on Point IV Technical Assistance with Ethiopia had been signed that day (775.00–TA/6–1651). The text of the treaty is in 2 UST (pt. 2) 1227, TIAS No. 2271.↩