250. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Aid to Underdeveloped Countries

[Here follows the same list of participants as Document 249.]

The President indicated that another subject which he had discussed on his visit to Bonn1 was assistance to underdeveloped countries. Frankly, he felt that unless the Western nations, namely Germany, the United States, United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands, exerted themselves in this respect, the West might lose the struggle with communism. The Communists can do much more than we can do, both from the standpoint of propaganda and politics, because theirs is a dictatorship. Therefore the West will be in a very bad situation unless it develops a very strong program.

The Chancellor then pointed out that, while Khrushchev talks a lot, it is the United States which does a lot. He pointed to the US 1960 budget, which contains more funds for underdeveloped countries for one year than Khrushchev has even promised over many years. The trouble is, however, that the world does not know enough about what the United States is doing. The United States must therefore publicize in a loud and strong voice what it is doing, and the rest of the Free World must do the same. The Chancellor then emphasized also that as regards the economic area as a whole, but especially aid to underdeveloped countries, more effective coordination of effort must be worked out. Above all, however, economic assistance must be politically guided and directed and have a political and not only a humanitarian aim.

The President agreed that the underlying reason must of course be political. He noted the bad situation in which the West finds itself in view of the fact that we are on the defensive in the war against communism, while communism is on the offensive and has the advantage of being a dictatorship. Therefore, the Communists can pick the spot at which they want to create trouble. It is like sneaking one rotten apple into a bushel of good apples, thereby trying to ruin the whole. This is the case with reference to Guinea and Guatemala, for instance. By the same [Page 667] token we must be on the alert everywhere and therefore must use four times as much energy and investment of effort and funds as the Soviets need to use. Moreover the Soviets give much of their aid in terms of long-term grants, which are designed to strengthen their economy at home at the same time. We cannot do things the same way, having to stand ready now to act in Guinea, then in Tunisia, then in Libya and wherever else required.

Chancellor Adenauer indicated that he was not as pessimistic about the entire situation as the President appeared to be. He stated that our only mistake is that we are too decent and we don’t talk enough about what we are doing. The Russians, on the other hand, trumpet about everything they do. What is more, the press, which prints anything coming out of the Soviet Union, picks it up and does exactly what the Russians want them to do. Nevertheless he feels that the West must: 1) talk more and publicize more what it is doing; and 2) provide a more effective and better coordinated effort with regard to aid to underdeveloped countries. The group recently set up in Washington to discuss aid to underdeveloped countries is a step in the right direction, he feels.2 He is convinced that if we publicize what we are actually doing, the situation will work itself out in our favor and the West will win.

The Chancellor then indicated that he wanted to bring up specifically the question of assistance to Turkey. Under Secretary Dillon had suggested that Germany consider aid to Turkey and perhaps it might be possible to discuss this question this afternoon.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 559, CF 1610. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Lejins and approved by the White House on May 31. The conversation took place at the White House. See also Documents 249 and 251252.
  2. For documentation on President Eisenhower’s visit to Bonn August 26–27, 1959, see Documents 5 ff.
  3. Reference is to the formation of the International Development Association whose articles of agreement were approved on January 24.