18. Memorandum for the Record by the Under Secretary of State (Hoover)1
- Meeting at the White House. 5:30 p.m., Monday, April 30, 1956
The meeting was called by the President to review the matter of a commission of distinguished individuals to consider the longer term aspects of our foreign aid policy. Those present were:
- President Eisenhower
- Secretary Dulles
- Senator George
- Senator Alexander Smith
- Under Secretary Hoover
- General Persons
- Representative Richards
- Representative Chiperfield
The President asked Secretary Dulles if he wished to make an opening statement as to the purposes of the meeting. The Secretary said that he believed it of extreme importance that it should be recognized by everyone that the commission was not constituted for the purpose of making any recommendations for a change in this year’s program. The program now before Congress should be enacted along the lines now presented.
Senator George said that he had not asked for action from his Committee on his proposal but only that they should think it over. He agreed with the President the members of the commission should be drawn from outside the government and the Congress. It was his thought that they should make a general over-all review of all aspects of our foreign aid program.
The Secretary felt that such an investigation should not be so broad as to recommend whether the program should, or should not, be adopted in its entirety but, rather, the ways and means by which the program could be made most effective. He said, for instance, that the commission should not be asked to determine whether there should, or should not, be a military program on Formosa, but, rather, whether it was being done right or could be improved.
The Secretary pointed out the difficulties inherent in the military problem due to the long-term nature of the expenditures and the necessity for a substantial pipeline. The economic program, on [Page 76] the other hand, could be placed in operation more rapidly after appropriations had been authorized, and therefore a much smaller amount was necessary in the pipeline.
The President said that he had envisioned a small group of eminent men, equally divided between both parties. He asked Senator George and Mr. Richards how they would feel about such men as Mr. Woodruff,2 of the Coca Cola Company, and former Secretary of Commerce Sawyer,3 both of whom are Democrats. Senator George and Mr. Richards agreed they would be most suitable and said they hoped that their services could be obtained. It was anticipated that the report should be available early in 1957.
Mr. Richards expressed his worry about the effect the establishment of the commission would have on the progress of this year’s Mutual Security Bill. He pointed out that there was a lack of enthusiasm in many areas of Congress and a determined desire on the part of many Senators and Congressmen to see the total amount of the bill cut down substantially. He felt particularly that a substantial cut in military appropriations would be forthcoming.
The Secretary emphasized strongly that such a cut could not be made without seriously imperiling foreign relations and our defense against communism everywhere in the world. He mentioned especially the four year cycle that was required between the time that ICA submitted its first plans to the Bureau of the Budget, and the final operation in the field.
In the general discussion that followed, the President and the Secretary stated the necessity for having the widest possible discretion in the Executive Branch in order that the programs might be successfully adapted to conditions that prevailed at the time of application. Final conditions often could not be envisioned when they were first presented to the Bureau of the Budget and to the Congress. There appeared to be general agreement that maximum possible discretion and flexibility should be given to the Administration in carrying forward the general objectives of the Act.
Mr. Richards then outlined the practical problems which he felt faced Congress, and the probability that the $4.9 billion request would be cut a billion dollars, most of which would come out of the military proposals as a result of the large backlog which was in the pipeline.
Mr. Richards then went on to say that on the matter of continuity of the Aid Program, he felt that a general statement should be incorporated in the bill to the effect that as long as the [Page 77] national security was involved, Congress would continue a foreign aid program.
The President said that he wanted just such a statement, and that he thought the one presented by Mr. Richards was excellent. He said that we had never wanted anything more specific than that. The President then went on to an extended discussion in which he strongly emphasized the great necessity for the full $4.9 billion appropriation. A general discussion ensued, in which the difficulties before Members of Congress were set forth. The President stated that he would take every possible opportunity to go on record publicly for the Administration’s request before Congress.
Returning to the matter of the commission, the President suggested that the Administration would get up a list of individuals who might be suitable for the commission and talk it over again with Senator George and the other Members of Congress who were present. He pointed out that there were many legal problems involved in setting up the commission, not the least of which was the conflict of interest that made it difficult to appoint individuals such as Mr. Woodruff. All present were agreed that some method should be found whereby this would not preclude the services of qualified individuals.