4. Memorandum of Discussion at the 369th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, June 19, 19581

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and agenda items 1–4: “Basic National Security Policy,” “U.S. Policy Toward the Soviet-Dominated Nations in Eastern Europe,” “Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security,” and “Wartime Organization for Overseas Psychological Operations.”]

5. U.S. Policy Toward Latin America (NSC 5613/1; OCB Report on NSC 5613/1, dated May 21, 19582)

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Mr. Karl Harr briefed the Council on the highlights of the OCB Report on Latin America making use of maps and overlays. Among the points stressed by Mr. Harr was the fact that U.S. trade with Latin America increased in 1957 while that of the Soviet Union with Latin America declined somewhat in volume despite the intensive efforts of the Soviet Union in the contrary direction. Mr. Allen Dulles interrupted to point out that a different trend was already detectable in 1958. Soviet trade with the Latin American countries was increasing, particularly in wool and petroleum. (A copy of Mr. Harr’s briefing note is filed in the Minutes of the Meeting3 and another is attached to this memorandum4).

The President said he had a point which he wished to emphasize. We have all often heard the generalization that the only force in the modern world capable of effectively combating communism is nationalism. Why then don’t we go to our Latin American neighbors and preach ultra-nationalism to them, insisting that the goals of their nationalism can only be realized in conjunction with us. After all, we do want these Latin American republics to be sovereign associates of ourselves. In a sense we are ultra-nationalists so why not preach the same doctrine to our neighbors? Under this umbrella we could attempt to deal with the concrete economic problems faced by Latin America, either by ameliorating these problems or at least by fuzzing up our own connection with these problems. In short we ought to exploit the ultra-national feelings in the neighboring republics along the line of the slogan that if you can’t beat them, join them.

Mr. Harr pointed out that ultra-nationalism in the Latin American countries was not in and by itself a stumbling block for the United States. The trouble was the use made of the force of nationalism by its irrational exponents. The President repeated his arguments, while General Cutler warned that we would have to be careful in preaching ultra-nationalism in certain Latin American republics such as Panama.

Secretary Dulles pointed out that we treat our Latin American neighbors scrupulously as political equals but there was no hiding the fact of the economic dependence of these nations upon the United States. It is on this fact that the Soviets capitalize and thus confront us with serious problems. The President agreed but again argued that we must try the formula of ultra-nationalism. We must exploit the power of this force in Latin America rather than trying to fight it.

The Vice President changed the subject slightly at this point by asking about the mechanics of the review of our current Latin American policy which was recommended in the OCB Report. General Cutler [Page 29] explained the normal manner by which policies were revised and said that he very much hoped that the Vice President would be able to talk with the Planning Board during the course of its drafting of the revised policy.

Secretary Dulles said he had one more word to speak on the aspects of our Latin American policy. In its forthcoming review the Planning Board should look at the problem of Latin America from something more than merely an intellectual analysis as to how to deal most effectively with the concrete problems which existed in our relations with Latin America. The most significant fact that we must recognize was the fact that throughout much of the world and certainly in Latin America there had been in recent years a tremendous surge in the direction of popular government by peoples who have practically no capacity for self-government and indeed are like children in facing this problem. He reminded the Council that he had told Prime Minister Macmillan on his recent visit to Washington5 that when our own republic had been founded, our Founding Fathers realized that it would take some considerable time before the new United States could safely practice government by direct democracy. For this reason our Presidents were elected, not by direct suffrage, but through the device of the Electoral College.

Unlike ourselves, many of the Latin American states are leaping ahead to irresponsible self-government directly out of a semi-colonial status. This presents the Communists with an ideal situation to exploit. Accordingly in its study of a revised policy for Latin America, the Planning Board ought not to concentrate simply on the concrete problems involved in our relationships. It should also try to figure out by what means we can move in, take control over, or guide the mass movement toward democracy in many of the Latin American republics. Secretary Dulles felt that this was the correct approach because he was sure that the problem of irresponsible self-government would remain even if and even after all the concrete problems between the U.S. and the Latin American republics had been solved.

Secretary Dulles launched into a vivid account of the skill with which the Communists operate in this field and stated that we were hopelessly far behind the Soviets in developing controls over the minds and emotions of unsophisticated peoples.

Mr. Allen Dulles was about to take issue with Secretary Dulles on our relative capabilities in this field when the President interrupted and asked Mr. Allen Dulles whether it was the CIA or the USIA which had charge of monitoring the output of the daily radio broadcasts in [Page 30] foreign countries. The President went on to explain that what he wanted was a good analysis, over the period of one week, of the content of radio broadcast and newspaper views, both pro-American and anti-American, throughout the world. The President said he thought that in some areas the U.S. may be being treated better than in others. We should find out why and see if we can improve our standing in areas where it clearly needs improving.

Mr. Allen Dulles replied that it would be possible to carry out the President’s desire if the analysis were confined to a single area in the world but it would be an overwhelming task to provide the President with an analysis of the radio and newspaper output on the U.S. for even so short a time as one week. With this qualification, he said that CIA could accomplish the task with the help of USIA. The President then directed that one South American country should be selected for such a test analysis.

Mr. Allen Dulles, taking issue with Secretary Dulles, then commented that the Communists control less than one-tenth of the press of Latin America. The Vice President agreed that this was an accurate statement but that it could be misleading. The significance lay not with those who publish papers in Latin America. The significant point was who supplied the views which were published in these papers and the journalists and reporters who supplied the views were mostly anti-American. The President agreed that what was important was what got into the newspaper or was heard over the radio. The Vice President agreed and said that what got into the newspaper was what the working press, the reporters, put in. This material was often anti-American and often even pro-Communist. The Vice President went on to say that as far as the job of USIA was concerned in Latin America, the performance was highly creditable as he had stated before but he wished to emphasize again that our overt propaganda and our handouts to the press were generally ineffective. [1 sentence (1 line of source text) not declassified] We must somehow manage to project our point of view among the working press and radio people. Beyond this we must strive for greater influence in the universities because after all it is from the universities that the journalists and radio people of the future are going to come.

Mr. Abbott Washburn pointed out that the Operations Coordinating Board was already engaged on plans for more intensive work to Latin American student groups even though our Latin American policy had not yet been revised.

The Vice President then stated that he wanted to return to the subject of the Planning Board’s forthcoming revision of our Latin American policy. He thought that before the Planning Board sent its draft revision to the Council for final consideration, it would be useful for the Planning Board to show its draft and to consult with an unofficial [Page 31] non-Government group of Latin American experts. He would suggest a panel of consultants numbering eight or ten people such as Nelson Rockefeller and Milton Eisenhower. It would be useful to get the ideas of people like this before the Planning Board completed a draft statement of policy. Secretary Dulles also suggested the name of Walter Donnelly for such a group of consultants.

The Vice President then said he had a couple of other suggestions for the Planning Board to consider in the course of its work on the new Latin American policy. He warned that he believed that we must be much less rigid than in the past in our definitions of what constituted “democracy” or “self-government” as these related to Latin America. His second idea which he said might be regarded as a most revolutionary suggestion he would now proceed to unfold. He said that when he had returned from his first visit to Latin America, namely, to Central America,6 he had strongly opposed the use of U.S. Government resources in assistance to nationalized enterprises in these countries. He had now come to change somewhat his point of view. Where funds are not available to support private enterprise in Latin America, the U.S. would have to look at the situation as it is and not as we might wish it to be. Accordingly, we will have to be more flexible in regard to our views on aiding nationalized enterprises in several of the Latin American republics. The Vice President repeated that this would seem a revolutionary idea and emphasized that he was not advocating precipitate loans to nationalized industries and enterprises in Latin America. He was merely pointing out that in certain countries such as Bolivia, we would have to follow a somewhat different policy of financial assistance.

The National Security Council:7

Noted and discussed the reference Report on the subject by the Operations Coordinating Board.
Directed the NSC Planning Board to review NSC 5613/1, as recommended by the Operations Coordinating Board, taking into account suggestions made at the Council meeting.
Noted the President’s request that the Central Intelligence Agency and the United States Information Agency jointly prepare an analysis of the relative volume of pro- and anti-U.S. statements during one week in the press and radio of selected Latin American nations.8

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Note: The action in c above, as approved by the President, subsequently transmitted to the Director of Central Intelligence and the Director, USIA, for appropriate implementation.

[Here follow agenda items 6 and 7: “Preparations for a Possible Summit Meeting,” and “U.S. Policy Toward Germany.”]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by S. Everett Gleason on June 20.
  2. Document 2.
  3. The minutes of all National Security Council meetings are in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, Official Meeting Minutes File.
  4. Not printed.
  5. British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan visited the United States, June 7–11, 1958; he conferred informally with President Eisenhower and other U.S. officials in Washington.
  6. Reference is to Vice President Nixon’s good will tour of Central American and Caribbean countries February 6–March 5, 1955. Documents pertaining to his tour are in Department of State, Central File 033.1100–NI. For additional documentation, see Department of State Bulletin, April 11, 1955, pp. 587–597.
  7. Paragraphs a–c and the Note that follow constitute NSC Action No. 1930.
  8. A memorandum of a meeting with President Eisenhower on October 16 by Gordon Gray reads in part as follows:

    “3. I reported briefly to the President on the USIA report of survey of ‘Pro and Anti-U.S. Statements in press and radio of selected Latin American Countries.’ This survey had been requested in connection with a Council discussion of U.S. Policy Toward Latin America (NSC Action No. 1930, June 19, 1958). This study had been concurred in by CIA. It involved Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina for the time period of June 25 to July 1, 1958. I reported to the President that the survey concluded that it is fairly accurate to state that the press in the three countries studied is not predominantly anti-U.S. USIA stated that the survey of press and radio opinion for the time period concerned tends to show a wide spectrum of opinion with some national bias but generally no more critical of U.S. policy on the average than is the U.S. press. I cautioned the President that this survey should not be considered an investigation in depth.” (Eisenhower Library, Project Clean Up)