29. Memorandum From the Deputy Director for Program and Planning, International Cooperation Administration (Ohly), to the Director (Hollister)1


  • The Fairless Report

This is in response to your request for preliminary comments on the Fairless report2 prior to your departure for Cuba.

It would be very easy, and it is very tempting, to address the most devastating criticism to this report and to develop at length on the theme suggested by one person that seldom have the taxpayers of a country been asked to pay $10,000 a page for 19 pages of such trash and trivia. However, one must recognize that this report is the product of compromises among, and a conglomerate of, the conflicting [Page 138] views of 7 individuals who obviously were unable to come to an agreement on many fundamental points and who, for the most part, and in spite of their generally outstanding abilities, had been able to devote insufficient study to problems which, in the aggregate, are certainly more complicated and less susceptible to exact treatment than, say, the problems that constitute the field of nuclear physics. Moreover, it would be less than fair if we did not recognize that the committee did reach and express, sometimes, unfortunately, with mysterious and disturbing qualifications, or less coherently and forcefully than might be desirable, a set of important general principles with respect to the need for and the capacity of the U.S. to provide assistance to other friendly countries. These principles deserve the most serious consideration, since they do reflect agreement among this group of individually very different 7 persons, and since they do constitute the kind of broad judgments that a group of this kind is probably qualified to reach.

Before commenting on some of the more important specific conclusions in the report, I believe a few general observations are necessary, since they affect the capacity of anyone to comment meaningfully on large sections of this document. These observations are the following:

On many important matters the report appears to be internally inconsistent and to contain recommendations which are conflicting in nature or in purpose. The report, as someone has said, and using a trite phrase, can “mean all things to all men”, and the newspaper treatment of it certainly demonstrates this fact. These inconsistencies and conflicts are particularly noticeable in connection with the problems of (1) future cost of the program; and (2) the ways and means of providing capital required to accomplish the economic development which the report asserts is necessary.
The report is difficult to deal with because of the impreciseness with which it repeatedly uses, and uses in new contexts, certain words and phrases. The most difficult problem in this regard is created by the use of the terms “collective security programs”, “collective security system”, “collective security of the free world”, “collective security costs”, and “collective security”. It is frequently unclear whether the term “collective” is intended to be synonymous with “mutual”; whether, by using a word normally restricted to international action in defense against external aggression we are talking about a military system of alliances and aid, or a somewhat broader concept; etc. One is therefore left with a somewhat muddled concept as to the kind of free world strength, structure and relationships that our aid program should seek to create.
The undefined concept of “collective security” which is referred to in (2) above has resulted in the introduction of new measures of the level of U.S. contributions to the security of other countries which I find very confusing and which I believe complicate to an impossible degree the question of measuring the probable future cost, and the capacity of the U.S. to finance, aid programs [Page 139] that will be required in the years ahead. To equate the U.S. contribution to “collective security” with the particular expenditures specified in Part III of the supplement and which constitute the foundation of the figures used in the report proper, makes no sense conceptually. The U.S. contribution to “collective security” of the free world quite obviously includes a large part of the total defense expenditures of the U.S., even though those expenditures are made in the U.S., and I can see no benefit in trying to divide this contribution to “collective security” into parts on the basis attempted by the committee. The only result is to create popular confusion as to the size of our “mutual security program” and to establish a false hypothesis against which to measure the capacity of the U.S. to carry on the “mutual security program” in the future.
The report suffers throughout from what I might describe as the lack of basic political, economic and even military concepts. For example, the committee gives no indication that it understands the facts of life concerning modern warfare and therefore concerning the role in such warfare which countries such as Pakistan, Vietnam, Korea, etc., might play. Thus the report contains sentences such as the following: “Sizeable contributions by all the participants [in the collective security system]3 are required for the effectiveness of this structure.”; and “The U.S. needs the aid of other countries just as they need our assistance.” I gain the impression also that the committee as a whole has very little “feel” as to political and economic conditions actually existing in many of the foreign countries, as to the problems of development and government that confront many of these other countries, and, in fact, as to the problems involved in conducting a major operation within the U.S. government.

I turn now to some of the major substantive propositions and recommendations of the report.4

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, ICA Director’s Files: FRC 61 A 32, Box 314, Committees—Fairless.
  2. Not printed. Published as “Report to the President by the President’s Citizen Advisers on the Mutual Security Program,” March 1, 1957 (Washington).
  3. Brackets in the source text.
  4. Not printed. (Washington National Records Center, ICA Director’s Files: FRC 61 A 32, Box 314, Committees—Fairless)