143. Highlights From the Policy Planning Meeting0


  • State of the World

Noting that this was the kind of paper most people think S/P writes, but rarely does, Mr. Rostow briefly summarized the State of the World memo.1 The following principal observations were made.

One element of additional complexity was the competition between the Chinese Communists and the Soviet Union to exploit regional disputes within the Free World, e.g., Indo-Pakistan and Arab-Israeli relations.
Given inherent limitations on the effective application of military force and even of economic power it is important to build up cultural, legal and other forms of constructive U.S. influence. The long-run impact of the training of lawyers within the British Commonwealth in Anglo-Saxon law was cited as well as the long-run impact from the immersion of colonials in French culture.
The role of economic assistance as a factor limiting the freedom of action of ambitious nations to engage in disruptive regional policies required further thought, since it bore on aid criteria.
Without excessive self-congratulation the U.S. had utilized its power in the postwar years on the whole for rather grand international purposes rather than for national aggrandizement. It was not clear that accretions of power and influence to others were being now disciplined to the same extent. How might one use the UN and other instruments for enlarging the sense of responsibility? It might even be interesting to list the various nations of the world and score them on the degree to which their enlarging freedom of action was being used in constructive and responsible ways.
Observations were made on the limits as well as the potentials of using the presence of U.S. armed forces as a stabilizing factor. Their presence, if too overt and oppressive, could help produce instabilities.
It was suggested that the memo and a summary of the comments made at the meeting be sent to all Chiefs of Mission to acquaint officers [Page 513] abroad with some of the speculative thinking now proceeding in Washington.2
It was also felt that a four or five page digest derived from the paper might be used to good advantage in discussions with foreign dignitaries.3
  1. Source: Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 70 D 199, Secretary’s Policy Planning Meetings. Confidential. The source text, which is dated September 28, bears no drafting information. No list of participants is given, but they were customarily the Secretary, other principals of the Department, Assistant Secretaries, Bureau chiefs, and the heads or deputies of ACDA, AID, and USIA.
  2. Document 142.
  3. A note in the margin indicates that copies of this memorandum, and apparently of the “State of the World” paper, went out to all Chiefs of Mission on September 28.
  4. In a September 20 memorandum to Taylor, Smith commented that Rostow’s “descriptions were better than his prescription,” which amounted to “a conclusion that we should face a changed world situation with ‘more of the same.’” Smith believed that Rostow’s prescriptions did not recognize the diffusion of power “of which he speaks.” Instead the United States might try to mold diffusion to its own purposes, substituting “temporary appearances for permanent military presences” and accepting that foreign aid would be increasingly economic, not military, thereby seeking “controlled instability through policies accepting and encouraging moderate change.” An alternative would be to attempt to maintain the bipolar world by allocating enormous resources to the East-West conflict, with the objective of bringing about collapse of the “Bloc” through economic overstrain. “Given our American ethic, the first alternative seems the only acceptable route, but the second merits evaluation.” (National Defense University, Taylor Papers, 40B2-B4)