700.5 MSP/11–2852

Memorandum by the Special Assistant for Regional Programs of the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs (Parelman) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Johnson) 1

  • Subject:
  • Organization for MSA-Type Activities—Preliminary Views

This is in reference to your recent memorandum to the Office Directors requesting their views on recommendations to be made to the incoming administration regarding a more effective organization for MSA-type activities both in the United States and abroad.2

The following represents a consensus of various views with respect to the specific questions which you raised and certain others which have come out as a result of the inquiry.

1. The United States Government is clearly committed to the continuance of programs of economic, technical and military assistance to the nations of the free world. The failure in certain circles to recognize the role of these Mutual Security programs as vehicles of foreign policy rather than as ends in themselves has given rise to a confused organizational pattern in both Washington and the field. The Department of State must resume its role of leadership in the formulation of foreign policy and serve as the principal voice of this Government both in Washington and abroad on policy matters arising from or basic to the foreign assistance programs. On the specific question of whether DMS is a good idea and should be continued, the offices are agreed that the concept of DMS stems basically from domestic political considerations in derogation of the role of the State Department and should not be continued.

On the question of how State-Defense-MSA coordination could otherwise be achieved, the offices have made no specific organizational recommendations but have generally indicated, in view of the comparative success which had been achieved in coordination during the earlier State role as principal agency, that an overall [Page 563] interdepartmental coordinating committee should be re-established, chaired by a Special Assistant to the Secretary of State, with subcommittees functioning on a regular basis for each of the four areas.

2. If DMS should be retained it is desirable and imperative that a much greater role be carved out for the Department in the coordinating of Washington as well as field activities under the Mutual Security Act. The situation cannot be continued where it is necessary for DMS to virtually apologize before Congressional Committees for participation by the Department of State in the presentation and execution of the Mutual Security Programs. Specific recommendations for improving the role of DMS are:

DMS should take a more positive role in (i) following progress in the execution of the programs and (ii) insisting on prompt and useful reporting on progress and developments under the programs. (Reporting on military programs has been extremely poor.)
The disproportionate concentration on Europe by DMS and the treatment of Far Eastern problems on a crisis or ad hoc basis should be changed.
An interdepartmental committee sponsored by DMS should be activated to serve as a forum and council to resolve outstanding problems with respect to Far East military, economic and technical assistance programs.
DMS should take leadership in directing improved forward planning on annual programming, legislative and financial aspects of foreign aid programs.

3. There is no present source or mechanism which officially assesses progress made under the military and economic programs or presents such data in an understandable manner on a coordinated basis for executive use. Even the extremely limited statistical reports which we formerly received from the Defense Department have now been seriously curtailed to the point where such documents as are received dealing with progress under the programs are more useful for historical archives than as operating documents. This is one of the most serious situations facing the officers whose responsibilities require that they be closely informed on developments under the programs. It is recommended that either DMS or its successor agency develop an efficient system of executive reporting on an overall basis which would forthrightly and expeditiously place progress data in the hands of top officials concerned with the programs.

4. The offices agree on the desirability of eliminating the present split as between MSA and TCA on the major point that there is merely an artificial distinction between the two agencies. The recommendation is made that the economic agencies should be under [Page 564] the control and direction of the State Department, similar to the TCA setup.

PSA makes the rather new recommendation that the agency handling programs for Southeast Asia should be integrated with the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs in a manner similar to the organizational lines followed in the field. Thus, “the Chief of the PSA area branch in the Washington agency should be deputy to the Director of the Philippine and Southeast Asia Affairs of the Department of State.” It is not very likely that much support would be obtained for this concept of having an “integrated” operational and policy organization. One major criticism probably would be the inevitability of confusion in lines of authority.3

5. With respect to the concept of utilizing United Nations agencies4 wherever possible, there is a consensus of opinion that far greater use could be made of the multilateral agencies. This concept appears to be more of an instinctive reaction than one based on knowledge that the UN agencies are actually capable or equipped to undertake the programs which the United States is carrying out.

6. With respect to organization in the field, and particularly the numbers of Americans abroad, it is the general view that every effort should be made to maintain at the most practicable minimum the number of American citizens employed in aid programs. The offices feel that this Government has suffered embarrassment, unfavorable publicity and considerable confusion from the profusion of personnel sent abroad by temporary organizations. Our representatives in the Far East are reported as being nearly unanimous in their opinion that fewer and better trained personnel would make a more favorable impression and achieve more in helping other nations than is possible in the present “large and sprawling representation”.

This is not a new reaction inasmuch as concern has been expressed from time to time about the seemingly large numbers of Americans who are engaged in administering the U.S. aid programs in the various countries of the Far East. While this concern is undoubtedly legitimate in terms of the sensitivity of the political situation in practically all of the countries in the Far East it is not always clear as to whether this concern arises from the simple abstract fact of numbers or whether there have been specific instances where quality has been low and Americans have figured in incidents or situations inimical to U.S. relations with the respective [Page 565] countries. Perhaps one of the real problems has been the fact that by and large there has been a concentration of the Americans in the large cities or capital areas with very limited dispersal to outlying areas. This has had the effect of precipitating criticism on both the score of concentration of numbers in the cities and the neglect of areas needing U.S. aid outside of the large cities.

It is recommended that a careful examination be made of how and where adjustments in personnel serving abroad might be made to tighten up the effectiveness of the organizations. In this connection it would appear that a most beneficial step might be made in reducing the present tendencies toward proliferation of programs in most of our countries. It has also been suggested that, where possible, long range, expensive economic projects should be gradually replaced by technical assistance designed to implement the original premise of the President’s concept of Point IV wherein our objective was stated to be to “help others to help themselves”.

7. Very little if any consideration appears to have been given to the possibility of utilizing non-Americans in the various technical aspects of our STEM programs. It is quite conceivable that we could hire personnel from the Scandinavian countries in the Public Health field, Japanese technicians for developing the extractive resources of Southeast Asia and perhaps even Japanese or Southern Europeans in the agricultural fields. The Japanese rice production methods could be most profitably copied in Southeast Asia.5

8. Our economic aid programs generally are in need of greater coordination with the Department of Defense, particularly where they are in support of the defense effort. Appropriate machinery should be established in Washington and refined in the field for a direct and continuing assessment of the contribution which U.S. economic aid should make toward the defense effort. While the role of the Ambassador in this field has been materially advanced under Executive Order 103386 insufficient evidence is at hand that the authority is being effectively exercised in the various countries.7

9. There are, of course, a variety of other facets which could be the subject of treatment in this memorandum but which might perhaps be touched on in discussions arising out of this paper. While I have drawn to a large extent on the papers prepared by the offices in preparing this memorandum I thought you might find it useful, if time permits, to read the office papers because of the somewhat different emphasis from which each has approached the problem. [Page 566] They are attached hereto. Needless to say, this paper was not intended to be more than a preliminary expression of views and, therefore has not involved the canvassing of views outside of the three FE offices.

  1. Drafted by Parelman with copies sent to McConaughy, Bonsal, Young and Flake.
  2. In a memorandum to McConaughy dated Oct. 23, 1952, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, U. Alexis Johnson, wrote, in part, as follows: “Ed Martin (S/MSA) is working on recommendations to be made for the incoming administration regarding a more effective organization for MSA-type activities both in the United States and abroad.” Johnson asked that the appropriate offices in FE submit their recommendations to Parelman. The recommendations of the Offices of Chinese Affairs, Northeast Asian Affairs, and Philippine and Southeast Asian Affairs were submitted to Johnson on Oct. 30, 31, and Nov. 5, 1952, respectively. Copies of the Johnson memorandum of Oct. 23 and the recommendations of the three Offices under reference are all in file 700.5 MSP.
  3. A handwritten notation in the margin at this point reads: “I agree. UJ”.
  4. A question mark apparently written by Johnson appears in the margin at this point.
  5. Johnson wrote in the margin at this point: “Probably not possible in U.S. program.”
  6. See the editorial note, p. 497.
  7. Johnson wrote in the margin at this point the word “right”.