167. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Kennedy1


  • A possible declaration against further Soviet penetration of the Western Hemisphere

At your direction, I have had a small group of people working on this problem outside the normal channels in the last three weeks. We have now produced two papers which we think are worth your attention. One is a draft Declaration (Tab A).2 The other is a set of possible situations in which a prior Declaration of this sort might prove helpful (Tab B).3

We are still working on a third problem, which is to analyze the alternative ways and means of getting such a Declaration on the record with a minimum amount of opposition within the hemisphere. While the Declaration, as this preliminary draft will show, can be surrounded with a good deal of hemispheric mood music, it would nevertheless be a major unilateral U.S. move, and we could count on a lot of Latin American twittering—especially from Brazil and Mexico; it would be important to reduce this if possible.

The easy way to get this Declaration on the record would be to have it issued in the context of some crisis in which in fact our decision to act would be generally approved. The hypothetical British Guiana case in the scenario is an example.4 There is, however, little point in solving such [Page 349] easy and relatively unlikely cases now. We can meet them readily as they come. The hard problem is to lay a groundwork against a repetition of something like the Cuban case as it actually developed, so that we would have had support and not general opposition to drastic action as early as 1960.

One possibility is to precede the Declaration by a meeting of OAS Foreign Ministers in which the Secretary of State, without tabling a resolution that could not pass, would make very clear the concern of the United States and its own determination to leave no doubt of its own position. Quite possibly a new and somewhat stronger resolution of concern could be passed which might help as a cover for a new U.S. Declaration. But what is more important is that such a meeting would be a highly visible form of consultation which might ease the problem of a unilateral statement shortly afterward.

It is also possible to express U.S. concern in a preliminary way through press conferences and Executive Branch testimony on the Hill. And our concern can also be orchestrated in different ways before the UN and in NATO, although these are less important centers for this particular problem.

The consensus of this small working party is, first, that some declaration or affirmation of this sort is desirable and possible, and second, that it would be well to take plenty of time to get it done right, with all appropriate preparation. Our inclination is to believe that it is something that can be done more effectively when Congress is not in session, and our tentative recommendation is that we plan toward a major statement which might be made in October or November. We believe that the Declaration should be made on some important hemispheric occasion, and that plans should be made now to make sure that such an occasion is on the calendar well ahead of time.

Members of the working party will value your guidance for further staff work.

McG. B.
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Regional Security Series, Latin America, Kennedy Doctrine. No classification marking.
  2. Tab A, May 24, is entitled “Draft Declaration Against Further Soviet Penetration of Latin America.” After discussion of the Monroe Doctrine and the inter-American system, it stated that “extension, by any means, of the political domination or military presence of the Communist powers within this hemisphere is hostile to the basic principles of the life of the Americas.” It further stated, “Such intrusion cannot be accepted, and we will take the steps to prevent it that may be required in the interest of freedom. This is the obligation of all free nations of the hemisphere under the Rio Treaty, as we understand it, and it is the policy of the United States.”
  3. Tab B, entitled “Draft Scenario for Statement Embodying Kennedy Doctrine,” dated May 23, did not describe possible situations; it was a scenario of actions to be taken, such as consultations with other American governments and advance notice to Congressional leaders, before the President made such a statement. It began with an ARA note stating that it was assumed that the proposed statement meant that the United States would take unilateral military action if necessary to prevent a Communist takeover of a Latin American government, but that such a step would raise grave problems in U.S.-Latin American relations.
  4. The attached scenario does not mention British Guiana, nor does it describe any background events leading to the scenario it sets forth.