30. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) and the Assistant Secretary of State for Policy Planning (Smith) to the Secretary of State1
- Re-examination of Basic Concepts on Which Our Military and Defense Policy Toward Latin America Is Based
We believe that long-range developments and immediate circumstances compel an urgent and thorough re-examination and reorientation of our military and defense policy toward Latin America. The principal reasons are: 1) that the elements of nuclear strategy in 1960 raise serious question as to whether Latin American military forces can make any significant contribution to defense of the free world against an all-out communist attack; 2) the military program for Latin America [Page 175]is under heavy fire in the Congress on a variety of grounds, but principally because it is said to permit or encourage diversion of resources from badly needed economic development and does not distinguish between dictatorial and democratic governments; 3) highlighted by a recent statement by the President of Chile,2 more and more Latin Americans themselves are objecting to costly Latin American military programs and are supporting arms limitation and the utilization of some of the funds now devoted to military establishments for economic purposes; 4) President Eisenhower’s forthcoming visit to South American countries offers an excellent opportunity for him to indicate at the highest level that we are preparing a new approach to our military relationship with Latin American countries.3
As indicated, the military policy which we have been pursuing for some years has as its central element the view that the Latin American countries can make important contributions to free world defense. The strategic concept which the Pentagon has adduced to guide that policy contemplates roles and missions which, in the phraseology of the Mutual Security Act, are “important to the defense of the Western Hemisphere.” Within the strategic force objectives, a relatively limited number of units of the armies, air forces and navies of the Latin American countries are provided U.S. grant aid to better enable them to participate in this defense. In addition, these countries spend considerable sums from their own budgets on equipment which, in theory at least, will strengthen their military capabilities, but which often appears to have more of a prestige purpose. Partly by design and partly by circumstance, we are the main supplier of these armaments although European countries have at times also entered the field.
Thus, 1) our program, 2) the important place of the military in Latin American political life and 3) their appetites have come close to producing an arms race which inevitably diverts funds from that economic development without which the underlying strength of Latin America, and therefore its defense potential, is weak. There might be some justification for all this if the realities of the present military picture did not suggest a much less important position for Latin American military than we seem to have led them to believe they have.
The attached paper (Tab B), prepared in S/P in collaboration with ARA, proposes a new concept for hemispheric defense which would emphasize that the real Latin American direct military contribution is more appropriately aimed at maintaining security among American states (intra-hemispheric defense) and that consequently the roles and missions which Latin American countries might perform may be safely [Page 176]reduced. The concept also introduces the idea of a collective OAS stand-by peace force, encourages the utilization of already well-developed OAS multilateral agencies such as the COAS and the IADB in the defense picture (and consequently in the area of U.S. grant aid), and underlines the educational and developmental contribution which Latin American military forces might make. The paper calls for diverting attention from those Latin American defense viewpoints which augment military expenditures toward a less expensive, more realistic and more effective participation by the military element.
The conclusions of this study are set forth in its first three and a half pages. It is emphasized that these conclusions simply form the basis for a revised policy, the exact lines and the negotiation of which will require further specific planning and preparation, and which, even in most favorable circumstances, would require years to be put into effect. Nevertheless, the first stage must necessarily be to obtain from the JCS a review of the strategic concept upon which our present policy is based.
It is recommended that you authorize Mr. Merchant to present the concept to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the attached outline form (Tab A) at the earliest opportunity and request their reactions on an urgent basis.4 The objective of this review would be to seek to obtain enough common ground with the Department of Defense to put us in a position to recommend to the President that he give his important impulse to at least the main outlines of the policy during his visit to Latin America.5[Page 178]
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 710.5/1–2860. Secret. Drafted by Edward A. Jamison, and concurred in by G. Frederick Reinhardt and James M. Wilson.↩
- Jorge Alessandri Rodriguez.↩
- Regarding President Eisenhower’s trip to South America, February 23–March 7, 1960, see Documents 68 ff.↩
- In a February 8 letter to Assistant Secretary of Defense Irwin, Livingston T. Merchant conveyed this outline paper for transmission to the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and requested comments prior to the President’s departure on February 22 for his visit to Latin America. (Department of State, Central Files, 711.5/2–860)↩
- Herter initialed his approval of the recommendation on February 3.↩
- Henry Ramsey of the Policy Planning Staff (S/P) completed the first draft of this paper on November 16, 1959. He circulated it in S/P and ARA for comment, and, in response to numerous suggestions, drafted a revised version under date of November 24. (Department of State, Central Files, 720.5/11–2759) Additional suggestions from officers in ARA and certain reservations expressed by Assistant Secretary Smith concerning portions of the paper he regarded as “unsalable” to the Pentagon and others that would involve S/P in areas of responsibility essentially belonging to ARA, led to a third revision on December 9. The fourth and final draft of the paper is printed here. Documents pertaining to the drafting and revision of Ramsey’s paper are principally ibid., Central File 720.5 and ARA Special Assistant’s Files: Lot 62 D 24, Military 1959.↩
- Use of the formula of “primary (though not exclusive) responsibility” should give us the flexibility to permit (continue) roles in hemispheric defense to nations which aspire to Great Power status (Brazil) or whose national pride might be injured if too suddenly deprived of existing hemispheric defense missions (Argentina). [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- Reference is to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (commonly called the Rio Treaty), opened for signature at Rio de Janeiro, September 2, 1947, and entered into force for the United States, December 3, 1948; for text, see 62 Stat. 1681.↩
- Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru and Uruguay. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- Document 11.↩
- For text of the Mutual Security Act of 1958 (P.L. 85–477), approved June 30, 1958, see 72 Stat. 261. The Morse Amendment, submitted by Senator Wayne Morse, constitutes Section 103 of the act.↩