26. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Meeting with Under Secretary Dillon to Discuss U.S. Policy in Sub-Sahara Africa, Particularly U.S. Assistance
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  • The Under Secretary
  • Mr. Raymond Hare, Deputy Under Secretary
  • Mr. Theodore C. Achilles, C
  • Mr. J. C. Satterthwaite, AF
  • Mr. Francis O. Wilcox, IO
  • Mr. James W. Riddleberger, ICA
  • Mr. Vance Brand, DLF
  • Mr. Edward Roberts, USIA
  • Mr. Saxton Bradford, CU
  • Mr. John O. Bell, U/MSC
  • Mr. Edwin Martin, E
  • Mr. Robert Terrill, U/CEA
  • Mr. Robert McBride, EUR

Assistant Secretary Satterthwaite set the scene and outlined the events leading to the present meeting; he said that AF’s problem was epitomized by the situation in Guinea, which illustrates the numerous frustrations involved and the dangers of subordinating United States policy to that of the former mother country. He stressed the need to simplify our aid procedures, and noted the extreme difficulty in obtaining African countries’ concurrence to ICA umbrella agreements when “the Chinese ask for no privileges for their people”. This was one reason for the long delays in trying to carry out our modest offer of 150 scholarships to Guinea.

The most important policy question, Mr. Satterthwaite said, is whether or not we are to rely mainly on the metropoles to assist their former dependent areas in Africa. He indicated his own skepticism about the role of the metropoles and mentioned a recent telegram from Brussels in which the United States was asked to assume the burden of large-scale aid to the Congo.1 On the other hand, he referred to the apparent decision of the French to continue aid to their formerly dependent areas in return for certain military and political concessions. He also referred to the split in the NSC Policy Paper on West Africa in which State and ICA opposed the Treasury on the role of the metro-poles;2 he feared that if Treasury’s views prevailed, they would compel a negative policy on the part of the United States.

In the political and psychological sphere, Mr. Satterthwaite recommended that the Secretary make a major policy speech directed specifically toward Africa, to indicate our attention and interest in the area, and our desire to be of assistance. He urged this action only if the speech could be forthright.

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Mr. Satterthwaite said that among the sources of economic aid, the Development Loan Fund could play a very important role in Africa, especially in view of our difficulty in getting larger aid funds. Under its present regulations, however, the DLF does not meet the needs of Africa.

Under Secretary Dillon responded by saying he considered the meeting well worthwhile and that he appreciated the thought and effort put into the project. The papers submitted by the various bureaus and agencies contained a great many interesting and valuable ideas. He said that Africa is now getting priority attention, which is what it deserves.

As to the recommendations submitted by AF, Mr. Dillon said he wanted coordinated recommendations prior to definite action by himself. AF should take the lead in drawing up a paper or papers indicating areas of agreement; it should also point out divergencies of views if these existed. Mr. Dillon said this would provide further consultation before we “marched into action”.

Mr. Dillon, who had attended both NSC sessions on West Africa,3 did not feel that serious policy differences existed on the West African paper. The Secretary of Treasury had urged that the United States seek maximum effort from the European countries to assist their former dependencies. If the European countries did not supply their needs or if the African territories were unwilling to accept aid from the former metropoles, and if additional aid were needed, Mr. Dillon felt all agencies in NSC were agreed that the U.S. should fill the gap. Mr. Dillon said that Treasury and Budget were not concerned in the operation of ICA and grant aid; they could, however, exert some influence on loans. Nevertheless, Mr. Dillon felt that DLF should not be worried by Treasury’s attitudes but should be guided by the policy outlined in the State Department. Mr. Dillon said one could argue that Brussels’ Telegram No. 1159 lent weight to Treasury’s point of view—that the Belgians were always anxious to shift the burden to someone else.

Mr. Dillon mentioned his statement in the NSC meeting April 7 in which he drew attention to the basic significance of the NSC document. He had urged the NSC, in its concentration on language, not to overlook the great political importance of the African area and the vital challenge from the Soviet Bloc countries. Mr. Dillon had pointed out that the United States had to move rapidly and vigorously in this unusual situation. Treasury and Budget had expressed no disagreement with this statement of priorities.

On the specific AF recommendations, Mr. Dillon thought that a speech by Secretary Herter was well worth considering; such a speech would be no good without adequate content. The Secretary could not [Page 112] make a decision until he had seen a draft or outline. Mr. Dillon, therefore, recommended that AF send a draft speech to the Secretary in order to crystallize what we had in mind.

In discussing appropriations, Mr. Dillon did not think we were far enough along to mention specific figures; but this was obviously a matter to be given priority attention.

Mr. Dillon felt it would be difficult for DLF to make fundamental changes in its policies for Africa, without agreeing to changes for the rest of the world. Mr. Dillon recommended further discussions between Mr. Brand of DLF and interested officers of the Department. This was particularly pertinent on use of local currency. For example, it had been found that Tanganyika was covering both foreign and local currency costs of a highway. It was believed that the DLF could handle foreign currency costs on the two sections of the highway and that Tanganyika could cover local currency expenses on both sections.

Mr. Dillon mentioned that difficulty in getting underdeveloped African nations to prepare projects according to U.S. standards and in accordance with all the opportunities available to them had been encountered in other parts of the world. This could best be solved through ICA technical assistance programs. Mr. Dillon said DLF and ICA should have further discussions to see what could be worked out.

Mr. Dillon also raised the question of what the Export-Import Bank had done in Africa. He considered that Mr. Waugh,4 with his knowledge of Africa, could be quite helpful. He asked for a report.

Mr. Dillon mentioned that ICA had set up a special group to work out a coordinated program for Africa, including the question of stationing ICA officers in consular posts in Africa.5 He indicated his readiness to agree after the problem had been thought out.

Mr. Dillon mentioned Recommendation 7 in Mr. Satterthwaite’s memorandum of March 30, “Means of assuring friendly single community [commodity] countries a ready market for their exports at reasonable and stable prices”. While not minimizing the difficulties, he thought we should look into this to see what could be done; he mentioned coffee as an example.

Mr. Dillon referred to multi-lateral vs. bi-lateral aid. He thought we needed them both. He thought we should study ways in which we could help the U.S. to expand its activities. He recognized two problems in this area; how to get the recipient nations together and how to get the recipient nations to participate in international organizations with contributor nations.

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Mr. Wilcox agreed we must supplement bi-lateral aid with multilateral, and stated that the U.N. was at the present carrying on at least 14 different kinds of assistance activities which might be expanded and better coordinated. Mr. Satterthwaite felt strongly that we must continue bi-lateral aid in addition to multi-lateral.

Mr. Dillon agreed with Recommendation 10 of Mr. Satterthwaite’s paper, that we should encourage the African countries to become members of the IMF, IBRD, and IDA.

Mr. Dillon also concurred that the Exchange of Persons Program was very important; the subject should be discussed further with the various agencies concerned such as ICA, CU and IES.

As to the procedures to be used in following up this meeting, Mr. Dillon urged AF and the principal agencies concerned to draw up agreed papers, with agreed terms of reference before setting up committees. Such a paper or papers could be approved by Mr. Dillon at once, or he could resolve any differences. The group present today could meet again in three months to indicate the results of their efforts, but this might not be necessary.

Mr. Satterthwaite mentioned that U/MSC—Mr. Bell—had recommended a Marshall Plan-type task force operation. Mr. Satterthwaite said he would be agreeable to a small coordinating committee. Mr. Dillon said the agencies should work together to decide what kind of committee there should be; they should also decide what studies were necessary and should go ahead and make them. As to the scope of the efforts in the development of recommendations, Mr. Dillon agreed with Mr. Satterthwaite that a Marshall Plan-type task force was not appropriate this year. Mr. Dillon noted that the paper submitted by E contained many novel and interesting ideas which deserved careful study.

Mr. Riddleberger, ICA, said today’s meeting had focused the attention of everyone on Africa; he hoped the case of Guinea would prove to be an exception. He favored “flexibility” but there was a problem on how far ICA could go. He felt that ICA should attempt to get umbrella agreements with African countries whenever possible. ICA had decided to establish a group and to move ahead on procedures. He agreed with Mr. Dillon that NSC decisions in the West African paper would not prevent ICA from moving ahead on the FY 1961 program. Mr. Riddleberger noted that the list of activities of the U.N., while numerous, were not very impressive as far as programs are concerned; the U.N. aid had to be supplemented. Mr. Wilcox agreed but believed that the U.N. might be in a position to exercise a unique influence in Africa.

Mr. Riddleberger was agreeable to assigning personnel to African consular posts; he could allocate people according to the circumstances which we faced. Mr. Riddleberger said it was too late to modify programs [Page 114] for FY “61 but that contingency money could be used to supplement FY 1961 efforts. Mr. Satterthwaite remarked that it was not practical to submit a request for supplemental funds for aid. Mr. Saccio noted that an allocation of $40 to $60 million from the Contingency Fund requested for FY “61 might be needed; Mr. Dillon said that we hoped that the Senate would restore the House cuts.

Mr. Riddleberger mentioned his conversation with the Belgian Ambassador regarding the Congo; the Congo’s favorable balance of payments of about $200 million had been more than offset by the flight of capital. The Belgian Ambassador reported that restrictions had been placed on transfers of funds from the Congo in order to halt this capital flight.

Mr. Riddleberger referred to ICA’s very large Exchange of Persons Program. This program would be continued.

Mr. Riddleberger thought it might be possible to make some adjustment in funds, according to priorities. He felt that money in TC programs could be shifted on the basis of need; personnel and money for Africa might be obtained through this re-programming for the next fiscal year.

Mr. Vance Brand of DLF said that Africa was fully considered in DLF’s planning. He saw no need to revise DLF’s policies or procedures for Africa. DLF was prepared to send a mission to Africa to work out techniques and procedures which would be in harmony with DLF’s existing policies. He noted that Tanganyika and Nigeria might be examples where, by revising the implementation of development programs, the foreign currency loans could be made by DLF. Mr. Brand assured the group that the Department could depend on DLF’s cooperation but that, in accordance with current practice, State should provide guidance on priorities.

Deputy Under Secretary Hare pointed out that the basic question was whether we should only react to Soviet initiatives or whether we should try to “beat them to the punch”. Mr. Dillon interjected that this was certainly our goal; we hoped to find ways to outguess and to surpass the Russians in this vital area. Mr. Satterthwaite emphasized that we must show the African countries we do not help them only to counteract Communist aid.

Mr. Bell of U/MSC thought the papers submitted for the meeting showed the extent of worry within agencies concerned about the situation in Africa. He was impressed by several factors: If we are thinking of actions which will require funds in FY “62, we must have a program by the autumn of this year. We must have a concrete plan which will stand up to attack, and not mere generalizations. Mr. Bell considered that we would need specific analysis of what United States’ interests are in the area, what plans or problems exist in each country, and how these problems will develop. The analysis should state our objectives, [Page 115] what we should do, and how to do it. He remarked also on the broad differences between various African territories. Mr. Bell emphasized that the African Bureau needed more personnel, in order to handle its increasing responsibilities. The staff of AF, already overworked, would not be able to develop the studies necessary. If nothing were done along this line, Mr. Bell thought the Department would be faced with attempting to react to one crisis after another. Mr. Dillon agreed that our objective must result in specific action on specific programs; we should, therefore, look into overall problems.

Mr. Martin of E strongly endorsed Mr. Bell’s statement. He felt that the problems should be considered as divided into three stages: first, we had certain emergency problems; then that a task force should be set up (rather than a series of committees) to determine over the next 6 months what we wanted to do, country by country, and in time for 1962 MSP organizing; and that finally we need to examine thoroughly in this area, without too many previous commitments, the longer range organization and structure to channel aid to Africa. In stage three, we should consider both multi-lateral and bi-lateral aid, what role each should play, as well as how Africans could best be brought into the picture. We should also carry out studies of possible programs on a regional as well as country-by-country basis. Mr. Bell agreed with him that Africa represented one of the greatest opportunities which the United States had ever had.

Mr. Wilcox of IO emphasized the impact of so many new states emerging in a short period and with unexpected rapidity. At the beginning, the new states are wrapped up in immediate, constitutional problems. He thought it was vital that the United States should adjust its programs for this crucial period just before and just after independence when our efforts would make a maximum impact. He thought it was only slight exaggeration to consider the emergence of these new countries the most significant development of the century. He thought the United States had a great opportunity in Africa if we acted with imagination and courage.

Mr. Bradford of CU reported that the IES program in Africa was relatively small and highly selective. Mr. Thayer is the Secretary’s Coordinator for all cultural exchanges. Mr. Bradford noted the extensive studies on that subject which the Bureau of International Cultural Relations had already made.

Mr. Roberts of USIA remarked that our impact on Africans depended 90% on what we did and only 10% on what we say. He said we need to know where we are going. Mr. Dillon fully concurred with these observations.

Mr. McBride of EUR warned that we should have no illusions about getting more aid for Africa from the European metropoles. The United States would be fortunate if we could encourage them to continue [Page 116] aid at present levels. He pointed out that France had agreed to keep up assistance to Mali and to Malagasy for the next several years at a relatively high level. Mr. Ferguson of AF noted, however, that French assistance was always conditional on political support by the French Community in the U.N. and elsewhere. If this support were not forthcoming, French aid would be withdrawn and other Guineas might develop. Mr. Dillon said that perhaps West Germany could provide some aid.

In summary, Mr. Dillon indicated his readiness to take any necessary action, as soon as papers are cleared, and to send letters or telegrams, if desired, to the field or to other agencies on a piecemeal basis as they are ready. He declared again that Africa is a high priority area. He would look to Mr. Satterthwaite and AF to guide and lead in carrying out decisions.

Mr. Satterthwaite agreed that AF would communicate with officials and agencies concerned, in accordance with Mr. Dillon’s instructions, to see what actions were needed.

Mr. Dillon concluded the meeting by requesting all agencies to give their full cooperation and support in meeting the high-priority needs of the African area.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770.00/4-760. Confidential. Drafted by William L. Wight, Jr., and James R. Ruchti.
  2. Telegram 1159 from Brussels, April 5. (Ibid., 855A.00/4–560)
  3. See Document 23.
  4. See Documents 23 and 25.
  5. Samuel C. Waugh, President and Chairman of the Export-Import Bank.
  6. On March 31, the Temporary Advisory Group on Africa Aid Programs was established. Documentation is in Department of State, AF/AFI Files: Lot 69 D 295, US Assistance to Tropical Africa.