154. Summary of Discussion Between the President’s Citizen Advisers on the Mutual Security Program and the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Wilcox), December 14, 19561

Mr. Wilcox said that he was a firm believer in economic assistance as an instrument of American foreign policy, and that he had had a great deal of experience with it in his capacity as Executive Director of the Staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Without a doubt Greece and Turkey would have collapsed if they had not received aid, and conditions in Europe would have deteriorated. Some measure of continuing foreign aid was inescapable. The question was whether it ought to be extended bilaterally or multilaterally. Actually the question of how aid ought to be extended was not an either/or question; both forms of aid were necessary. Multilateral aid had certain advantages. For instance, the Technical Assistance Program of the United Nations during its six years of existence had received contributions from 78 different countries to the amount of $142 million. 131 countries and territories had helped in carrying out the program. 505 thousand experts had served it in an advisory capacity of one form or another. Over 10 thousand fellowships had been awarded for study abroad. Mr. Lewis asked whether this was part of the cultural program. Mr. Wilcox replied that it wasn’t, that it wasn’t connected with the student exchange program, that it was carried out on a technical level. India, Pakistan, and Burma were countries where three of the four largest phases of the program were.

There were instances in which it was better to give aid bilaterally, for instance aid to Korea, Vietnam, and the Republic of China under P.L. 480. The multilateral approach, on the other hand, [Page 402] sometimes had advantages over bilateral aid. In thinking about that, it was good to keep in mind such international organizations as the previously mentioned United Nations Technical Assistance Program, the World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the United Nations Scientific, Educational, and Cultural Organization. Many of the newly independent countries were allergic to conditions that were often imposed with bilateral aid. Sometimes other countries were apprehensive about bilateral aid. For instance, aid to Morocco or Tunisia would raise apprehension in France. It was sometimes easier to mobilize necessary talents and skills from the wider pool offered by a group of nations. The United States didn’t have enough manpower to supply all that was needed in rendering foreign aid. Frequently technicians from a third country could do a better job than those from the United States and were more readily accepted. The burden of multilateral aid would be less for the American taxpayer. There was certainly no conflict between the two kinds of aid. The United Nations programs were working fairly well in the field. They were making an impact and were reaching down to the grass roots.

The Soviet Union was making a determined effort to win the cold war through the United Nations and its agencies. Until 1950 the USSR had paid no attention to the special programs except to criticize and condemn them. Now they belonged to the ILO and UNESCO; they were trying to rejoin WHO of which they had been a member previously; and it was likely that they would join FAO. It was to be hoped that the United States would continue to be a part of those programs and perhaps approve a modest increase in its contribution for an expanded Technical Assistance Program. Over the next five years the program might be moved up to $50 million with the United States contribution increased only a few million dollars to take care of its part. An expanded program, incidentally, could be administered at about the same cost as the present one. It was also to be hoped that the United States would approve a proposal that Canada was developing for submission and which would call for a case analysis with respect to the character of both bilateral and multilateral economic aid going to underdeveloped countries. Such a study would be extremely valuable from the viewpoint of the United States and would give a much firmer basis for planning than now existed.

Discussion Period

General Smith said that it was his personal opinion that the various types of aid which the United States was extending must go [Page 403] on to the limit of the ability of the country to finance them. He wanted to know who was going to establish priorities for the various types of aid. He had a feeling that priorities were pretty well established by the Bureau of the Budget. Mr. Wilcox said that it might be true that the Bureau of the Budget appeared to establish priorities, but in reality they had been previously determined by the various departments. General Smith asked how that was done. Mr. Claxton2 said that it was true that the judgment of the Bureau of the Budget was leaned upon heavily as far as totals were concerned, but the departments made the determination as far as countries and programs were concerned. General Smith asked again who decided on the priorities. Mr. Wilcox said that actually the decision on priorities was a political decision and should be a Department of State matter with other interested departments being consulted. General Smith said that in the past such a system for determining priorities had never worked as smoothly as desired; he wondered what the case was now. Mr. Frechtling3 said that it worked pretty much as had been outlined and that the final decision rested with the Secretary of State. General Smith wondered whether some other agency or activity which operated independently was needed. Mr. Wilcox said that the problem had disturbed him because he realized that the catalog of needs for each country came largely from the country itself, not an unprejudiced source. General Smith said that the Department of Defense had O’Neil,4 but there was no one in a similar capacity for the government as a whole. The Bureau of the Budget was not skilled in certain fields, and therefore it could not always give the skilled adjudication that was needed. Mr. Claxton commented that any matter of concern could still be taken to the President.

Governor Darden said that he was gravely concerned about the Canadian proposal relative to bilateral agreements that was to be presented at the United Nations. He didn’t like the idea of airing our affairs in the United Nations. Mr. Wilcox said that the contents of our bilateral agreements were pretty well known, that he had been referring only to those concerned with economic aid… .

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Fairless Committee Records, 1956–1957, Summaries of Testimony and Briefings. Confidential. No drafting information is given on the source text. A list of the members of the Fairless Committee is in footnote 1, Document 152.
  2. Philander P. Claxton, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations.
  3. Louis E. Frechtling of the Office of the Special Assistant for Mutual Security Affairs in the Office of the Under Secretary of State.
  4. Identity unclear. W.J. McNeil was Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller).