127. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Kohler) to the Secretary of State1


  • U.S. Policy Toward The West Indies—NSC 60022

The draft paper at Tab B is scheduled for discussion by the NSC on February 18.3 The subject has not been before the NSC previously. If the language proposed by the majority (including State) is accepted, the paper will reflect no changes in the policy which the U.S. has in fact been pursuing toward The West Indies over the past two years.

The West Indies federation will probably obtain independence (dominion status within the Commonwealth) in the next one or two years. It will be the first new nation in the Western Hemisphere in over 50 years. Because it is on the U.S. doorstep, and because of U.S. interests in the federation, it is probably of more direct interest and importance to us than any other newly emerging state.

Retention of our military installations in The West Indies is our major immediate goal. The largest of these is the naval base at Chaguaramas on Trinidad. In addition to naval facilities, there is a prototype BMEWS station on the base. There are two Long Range Proving Ground installations on other islands which are essential to the effective operation of the Cape Canaveral missile range. In addition there are three Oceanographic Research Stations in the federation which serve an important specialized military function. Aside from their strategic value, the U.S. investment in the various military installations totals around $150 million.

Our economic interests are also large. U.S. private investment in the federation is estimated at between $300 million and $500 million, and it is growing. In 1958 the U.S. was second only to the UK as a trading partner of the federation. U.S. exports to the federation totaled about $70 million in 1958, and imports from the federation about $100 million. It can be anticipated that U.S. trade with the area will expand appreciably. The federation is an important source of bauxite (Jamaica) and oil (Trinidad).

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Until recently the U.S. has paid little attention to the islands which comprise the federation. The UK was not only responsible for economic and political stability in the area, but also was bound by agreements with the U.S. to preserve U.S. base rights there. In the discussions of this paper in the NSC Planning Board, Treasury and Budget argued, in effect, that we could count on this situation continuing and that we need not prepare to spend money in the area. State (and the majority) argued that there already existed ample evidence that the U.S. cannot count upon UK protection of U.S. interests and that, therefore, the U.S. would have to be generally more active in the area and be prepared, if necessary, to expend modest sums of money. We have pointed out that U.S. and UK interests in the federation diverge in several respects (e.g., there are indications that the UK does not feel as intensely as we do the vital necessity for certain of our bases; the U.S. and the UK increasingly will compete for trade) and although we recognize that relations with the UK are of paramount importance, we must be permitted sufficient flexibility in the NSC policy statement to pursue an independent course toward The West Indies when it appears to be in our interest to do so.

The splits in the paper reflect the difference between the Treasury–Budget and majority views described above. A memorandum at Tab A comments upon the actual paragraphs of the paper. Before the NSC gets into specifics, however, we would suggest that you make some opening remarks before the NSC along the lines of the second through fifth paragraphs above.


That you make introductory remarks to the NSC along the lines of the second through fifth paragraphs above before the Council begins discussion of specific paragraphs in the draft paper.
That, in the discussion of specific paragraphs, you take the positions outlined in the memorandum at Tab A.5
  1. Source: Department of State, S/PNSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, NSC 6002 Series. Secret. Drafted by North Burn, Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs.
  2. NSC 6002, “U.S. Policy Toward The West Indies,” January 25, 1960, is not printed. (ibid.) The text of NSC 6002 is identical to that of NSC 6002/1, March 21, with the exception of those paragraphs amended at the 437th NSC meeting on March 17. The memorandum of discussion at the 437th meeting is infra; NSC 6002/1 is printed as Document 129.
  3. Not attached to the source text.
  4. There is no indication on the source text of the Secretary’s response to these recommendations.
  5. Not attached to the source text.