47. Preliminary Notes of a Meeting of the Operations Coordinating Board0

[Here follows discussion of unrelated subjects.]

1. Operations Plan for the Horn of Africa1 (Secret)

Mr. John Root, Deputy Director, and Mr. John Beard of the Office of Northern African Affairs, were present for the OCB consideration of this paper. Mr. Root opened the discussion with a brief résumé of the current situation in Ethiopia with particular emphasis on anticipated Soviet moves as a result of the acceptance by Ethiopia of a four hundred million ruble loan. Mr. Root said the US assistance program to Ethiopia appeared to be basically well conceived and executed and that the US did not plan to outbid the Soviets but that we would move to block Soviet dominance over key sectors in Ethiopia. The Chairman, Mr. Gordon Gray (White House) alluded to paragraph 45e of the Basic National Security Policy2 (general avoidance of moves to counter every Sino-Soviet bloc offensive action) and said the US plan for Ethiopia appeared to be the first application of that policy.

Mr. Allen (USIA) spoke at some length of his belief that it may be in the interest of the US to attempt to direct Soviet resources into foreign aid projects since once the Soviets began they would be forced to continue foreign aid or be confronted with the problems with which [Page 187]we are familiar. Mr. Allen was concerned at the public relations effect of the US posture opposing Soviet assistance to underdeveloped countries. Mr. Merchant commented that US countermoves to Soviet assistance to underdeveloped countries were premised on our interest in preventing the Soviets from (1) infiltrating key sectors and (2) bringing about undue dependency by, influencing the policies of and eventually taking over the recipient countries. Mr. Dulles (CIA) said it would be preferable for the underdeveloped nations to “take the apple but not the snake”. Mr. Scribner (Treasury) opined that it was impossible for the US to counter the Soviets everywhere, and he counseled that we not undertake to resist Soviet efforts across the board. He said if the Ethiopians wished to go along with Soviet Union’s aid proposals in spite of all our assistance, then there was nothing more we could do. Mr. Allen said that while he welcomed Treasury support he was not advocating that the US wash its hands and get out in those instances where underdeveloped nations accepted Soviet aid.

There followed a discussion of the specific problem in Ethiopia of the recently-made Soviet offer to furnish Ethiopia with its petroleum requirements. Mr. Scribner said that “pouring US money in an attempt at preemption was not the solution.” In closing the discussion, Mr. Merchant said he wished to make two comments. One was that the State Department had the duty to protect US private as well as public interests abroad; and, two, that expenditures by the US to meet critical problems had by no means all been in vain and that frequently they had resulted in substantial and impressive successes for US interests. Mr. Scribner asked that the Board continue to follow the problem closely. The Plan was approved for implementation by the appropriate agencies.

Action: AF

Copies: AFN, U/CEA, E, P, IO, EE, CU

[Here follows discussion of unrelated matters]

  1. Source: Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430, OCB Preliminary Notes. Secret.
  2. Reference is to a draft OCB document, January 12, prepared by an interagency working group and approved by the Board Assistants as part of the Board’s function of coordinating and overseeing the implementation of NSC policy papers. The final document, “Operations Plan for Horn of Africa,” is dated January 27, 1960. (Ibid., Horn of Africa)
  3. NSC 5906/1, “Basic National Security Policy,” approved August 5, 1959, is scheduled for publication in volume III.