236. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) to the Ambassador in Brazil (Briggs)1

Dear Ellis: I have read with interest your letter of February 62 expressing some misgivings about the potential reaction in Brazil toward United States participation in movements now in progress to limit Latin American arms expenditures. I don’t think we need fear undesirable repercussions in Brazil if our attitude on this important question is properly explained to appropriate Brazilian officials and military leaders. Although we firmly believe that Latin America spends a disproportionate amount of money on arms, as compared to that spent for economic development and other needs, we recognize the political and power factors involved and will always condition our own actions with these in mind. Therefore, while we will express general approval of a sound and proper relationship between expenditures for arms and other matters, we will not take the lead or endeavor to pressure Brazil or any other country into specific action on the subject. If Latin Americans themselves can keep the issue alive, something constructive may be accomplished as public interest and opinion become more important factors for the military to consider in making their own plans and thus somewhat strengthen the hand of those interested in economic development.

I am enclosing a copy of the statement made by Ambassador Dreier on March 5 to the Council of the Organization of American States.3 The last four paragraphs, in particular, express our policy on [Page 666] the subject of arms limitation in Latin America. You will note that special emphasis is placed on the need to meet legitimate national and hemispheric defense requirements.

Now that the JCS has acted on recommendations of the United States Delegation to the Joint Brazil-United States Defense Commission,4 we should be able shortly to resume concrete negotiations with the Brazilians on expanding military aid. Although the recommendation is for much less than the Brazilians asked, the amount involved is not an ungenerous one and, if approved by State and Defense, should enable us to demonstrate to General Lott and others the continuing constructive interest we have in sound relations with the Brazilian military and in assisting it to achieve adequate preparation for hemispheric defense.

Sincerely yours,

R.R. Rubottom, Jr.5
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 732.5–MSP/2–658. Confidential; Official-Informal. Drafted by Siracusa.
  2. Not printed. (ibid.)
  3. Not printed; for verbatim minutes of that meeting, see OAS Council doc. C–a–275.
  4. At a Department of State-Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting, February 28, General Twining said that the JCS would recommend to the Secretary of Defense $87.1 million additional military aid to Brazil. (Memorandum of substance of discussion by Robert Donhauser, Special Assistant to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs: Department of State, State–JCS Meetings: Lot 61 D 417)
  5. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.