732.5 MSP/6–1553

The Acting Deputy Under Secretary of State (Murphy) to the Secretary of Defense (Wilson)1


Dear Mr. Secretary: I refer to your letter of June 15, 19532 and to previous and subsequent correspondence between the Departments of State and Defense concerning the establishment of a new joint defense organization with Brazil. There are two problems which need to be resolved by our two Departments before diplomatic notes creating the new organization can be exchanged with the Brazilian Government, namely, the question of whether the Department of State and the Brazilian Foreign Office should be represented on the proposed board by regular membership, rather than in an advisory capacity, and the question of what name should be given to the organization.

With regard to the request of the Department of State to the Department of Defense for regular membership, the enclosure to your letter of June 15, 1953 contains a recommendation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff that this request be placed on the agenda for the first meeting of the organization as a proposal of the Department of State. In my opinion, it would be preferable for the proposal to be presented to Brazil as a United States Government recommendation having the support of both of our Departments. I am sure that membership of the Department of State and the Brazilian Foreign Office on the board would serve to promote the military, as well as the political, interests of the United States, The substance and form of many of the military arrangements developed in the new board will require careful consideration by the Department of State and the Brazilian Foreign Office with a view to determining what portions, if any, of a desired arrangement should be concluded through diplomatic channels, in the form of [Page 632] an international agreement, and what portions, if any, should preferably be embodied in a purely military understanding. The prolonged delay of the Brazilian Congress in ratifying the Bilateral Military Assistance Agreement testifies to the need for such close consultation with the political branch of the Brazilian Government on defense matters. Without full participation by the Department of State and the Brazilian Foreign Office, it may be difficult for the new organization to deal effectively with problems that are not confined to military matters in their narrow context but will on many occasions involve important political considerations. This is particularly true in a country as politically sensitive as Brazil.

I therefore recommend that the Department of Defense approve a proposal to Brazil through diplomatic channels that full membership of the Department of State and the Brazilian Foreign Office be provided for in the diplomatic notes which are to be exchanged with Brazil for the purpose of bringing the new organization into being. I believe that the Brazilian Foreign Office and the Brazilian military authorities would favorably consider such a proposal.

There remains the question of what name should be given to the new organization. This Department has given careful study to the proposal that it be named the “Permanent Combined Board on Defense, Brazil–United States”. It is the considered judgment of the Department of State that this name bears such a close resemblance to the name of the United States-Canadian board (“The Permanent Joint Board on Defense, United States–Canada”) that it would be certain to arouse Canadian anxieties, hurt Canadian sensibilities, and otherwise needlessly injure our relationship with Canada. This view is also held by the United States Ambassador, the Honorable Douglas Stuart, who has given particular attention to this problem and discussed it briefly on September 25 with Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Information available to the Department of State indicates that Brazilian officials do not insist on a name identical or closely paralleling that of the United States-Canadian board, do not demand the inclusion of the word “Permanent” but would be content with a title which conveys the conception that the board is a combined United States-Brazilian organization. The word “Permanent” has been one of the chief difficulties from the Canadian viewpoint. It would therefore be the hope of the Department of State that the new organization might be given a title, such as, “Brazil—United States Defense Board”, or “Combined Board on Defense, Brazil–United States”, or “Combined Brazil–United States Defense Board”.

Finally, I should like to emphasize that the Department of State fully shares the desire of the Department of Defense to proceed as quickly as possible to establish the new board and to cooperate in supporting this new and useful instrument for the strengthening of relationships [Page 633] between Brazil and the United States. I therefore hope that agreement can be reached as soon as possible on Department of State representation in the new organization and the choice of an appropriate name for it.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Murphy
  1. Codrafted by Mr. Spencer and Deputy Director of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs Andrew B. Foster, with the assistance of Acting Chief for Staff Operations of the Executive Secretariat Robbins P. Gilman; cleared with the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, and the Office of South American Affairs.
  2. Not printed (732.5 MSP/6–1553).