117. Memorandum by Harold M. Randall, United States Representative to the Inter-American Economic and Social Council1
PROPOSED PRESIDENTIAL COMMITTEE TO REVIEW ACTIVITIES OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES IN ECONOMIC FIELD
To cause the Panama Meeting to produce something of concrete accomplishment of value to the Latin American countries and which will also contribute to U.S. Foreign Policy objectives.
That at the conference President Eisenhower ask the other Presidents to consider the wisdom of establishing a committee with the following characteristics and objectives:
- The committee to be comprised of one personal representative to be named by each President, a person of recognized stature, experienced in the field of economic development. Dr. Milton Eisenhower would be an appropriate United States representative because of his great prestige at home and throughout Latin America.
The committee to submit to the Presidents its recommendations as to ways and means whereby the OAS can be used to intensify and coordinate efforts in the fields of economic development and public welfare, with particular reference to its programs of technical cooperation.
Preparatory to studying the fields and in making such recommendations the committee would need to review current activities of the OAS in the fields mentioned.
The committee’s terms of reference would not include a study of the structure of the Organization. Its recommendations as to [Page 446] increased utilization of the OAS should be limited to those activities possible within its present framework.
The committee would automatically dissolve with the submission of its recommendations to the Presidents.
- The proposal should make clear the desire of the American Governments to continue their full support for United Nations activities both through ECLA and in the field of technical assistance. The purpose of the Committee would not be to weaken the effectiveness of any United Nations effort, but simply to increase the effectiveness of the OAS.
- Shortly after the Panama meeting the President should:
- Invite the Committee to hold its organizing and work planning meeting in Washington, and suggest a date for such meeting.
- Inform the Committee that the U.S. would undertake to withstand the costs of a Secretariat adequate to assist the Committee in fulfilling its commitment. This Secretariat could be recruited through the Pan American Union but would not be a part of it. Any personnel of the P.A.U. serving on it should be temporarily separated from their regular service.
- Announce that with a view to the implementation of the recommendations of the Committee, the U.S. is prepared to increase its contributions to an expanded OAS program.
Manner of Presentation:
- The proposal should be submitted informally by President Eisenhower to the other American Presidents in the course of the two meetings that he will have with them on July 21—a morning closed meeting and an evening reception. I think we can be sure they will accept it favorably.
- It should then be offered in the course of his public statement at the time of signing the Declaration of Panama on the morning of July 22.
- In making the proposal he should refer to the committee as being a concept developed in the course of the conference of the Presidents at the meeting. This will allow them to share credit for the proposal and will then give a greater appearance of substance to the meetings.
Benefit of Proposal:
- It can be expected that such a committee will develop sound recommendations for expanded and more effective activity of the OAS in the fields mentioned. Those recommendations, having been developed by representatives of the Presidents themselves, will enjoy greater support from the Latin American governments than the activities of the OAS in this field have in the past.
- The establishment of such a committee will tend to satisfy the clearly demonstrated eagerness throughout Latin America that the meeting produce something tangible in the field of economic development.
- The establishment of the Committee would constitute a significant deterrent to the current Soviet campaign for expansion of diplomatic and economic relations in Latin America.
- Through the Committee members, and particularly if the United States representative is a man of prestige and persuasiveness, we can exert significant influence on the economic thinking of the other American Presidents. This is a very important consideration. A number of the Presidents are men of little experience or knowledge in this field. Often they are influenced and guided by men whose advice is either unsound or really harmful. Given the broad powers of many Latin American presidents this creates serious problems for our foreign policies. Our own means of exercising sound influence through adequate and effective presentation of our own points of view the various Presidents are often insufficient and less than satisfactory.
- The establishment of such a Committee would give increased significance to the concept of partnership in inter-American relations and would contribute to the gratifying feeling that the United States actually wants the counsel and advice of the other American republics.
- By intensifying the activities of the Organization of American
States in the economic and technical cooperation fields, the
work of that Organization will become more positive:
- By serving as an Inter-American forum where solutions to current and long range economic problems can be sought and where undesirable propositions or devices can be combatted.
- If the activities of the OAS expand in the fields mentioned and the Governments of the Member States adopt a more positive policy in support of the Organization it is inevitable that they will likewise strengthen their own positions therein by naming more qualified representatives.
- Intensification of the activities of the OAS should provide greater coordination at governmental level as to the policies of each Government with respect to United Nations and OAS agencies. With coordinated policy at governmental level in the various states it should be more difficult if not impossible for a country’s representative in the UN to pursue a policy different from that prescribed for its representative in the OAS. This should deter somewhat the activities of persons dedicated to controlled economies and state intervention in the field of business which frequently produce difficult problems for the United States.
Objections to the Proposal:
The Committee might submit recommendations unacceptable to the U.S.
This is a calculable risk but the Committee’s terms of reference are limited. The Rio Conference2 demonstrated that U.S. defense should be a vigorous offense. By committing ourselves to policies which identify the U.S. strongly with Latin American aspirations for economic progress, we should at least stand an equal if not better chance of convincing a Committee of the correctness of our views than we would have in convincing delegations at short time international Conferences.
The establishment of such a Committee would weaken the prestige and effectiveness of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council.
The effect should be the opposite. The avowed purpose of the Committee would be the more effective use of the OAS in the economic field not a revamping of the Organization. If the Committee reaches the conclusion that the Organization can be used more effectively, it would follow logically that the work of the IA–ECOSOC would be expanded and the caliber of its representation improved.
The establishment of such a committee would weaken the prestige of United States Ambassadors in the field.
This would not be true if the Committee is to complete its survey and dissolve. It could, instead, supplement and strengthen the influence of our Ambassadors.
The appointment of the Committee would be interpreted as a propaganda stunt.
This might well be the communist line. However, the move would be exceedingly popular in Latin America, particularly if someone of the stature of Dr. Milton Eisenhower were the United States representative.
There is nothing constructive that such a Committee could recommend which would be acceptable to the United States.
This is a difficult objection to disprove in advance of the Committee’s deliberations. My own conviction is that there are a number of recommendations which would be constructive, particularly in the fields of education, public health and of the OAS multilateral technical cooperation programs.
The proposal would build up excessive hopes throughout Latin America.
This is an objection which could be made to any constructive move. It would indicate that the best policy is to do nothing. The best way to avoid building up excessive hopes would be through the use of temperance in our statements at the time of the Committee’s establishment and during the course of its deliberations.
If the Committee fails to produce sound recommendations, and if these are not supported by the Government, then our inter-American relations suffer.
If no venture in international relations is to be undertaken save where we have an advance guarantee that failure will not prejudice the United States then little will be undertaken. In such a Committee the United States would have to use its influence along with that of other leading American states to ensure that any recommendations finally submitted by the Committee have already received the confidential approval of the various governments.
If the present mechanisms of the Organization of American States are not contributing adequately to economic development in the hemisphere it is not reasonable to hope that such a Committee will be able to make them successful.
Defective as it may be, the OAS has achieved great progress since its establishment. The limitations on this progress in the economic field as compared with the political are due to:
- The complicated nature and the variety of the economic problems that arise;
- Work in this field is new and limited compared to that in the political; and
- The failure of the Member States to use the Organization in a positive way.
Recommendations of a Committee of such high level should be effective if followed up by the respective Governments in like manner.
- The Latin Americans will oppose any move which appears intended as a device to weaken ECLA.
This is true, but in proposing the Committee we can make it clear that we intend to continue our support for and reliance upon the United Nations.
- Source: Department of State, OAS Files: Lot 60 D 665, President’s Committee to September 1956. Secret. This memorandum is Randall’s revision of Holland’s July 8 memorandum incorporating suggestions of ARA officers. It was sent to Holland under cover of a memorandum from Randall dated July 17 and approved by Holland on July 19. In his memorandum of July 17, Randall wrote in part as follows: “Presuming that the President will propose the formation of this Committee, the Department should undertake promptly preparation of a detailed plan of procedure and a position to guide the U.S. Representative on the Committee. “A preliminary outline for subsequent clearance with other Departments should be ready for you on your return from the present trip.” Holland’s handwritten notation under these last two sentences reads, “Fine.”↩
- The Meeting of Ministers of Finance or Economy of the American Republics as the Fourth Extraordinary Meeting of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council, commonly called the Rio Economic Conference, was held at Quitandinha, Brazil, November 22–December 2, 1954. For documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. iv, pp. 313 ff.↩