200. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Williams) to Secretary of State Rusk1


  • Strengthened African Program


During a conversation in May, the President asked me to review U.S. policy and implementing actions in Africa and to develop a program with which he could be associated personally.

As a first step in meeting this request, the idea of a new African program was discussed in some detail at the Chiefs of Mission conferences held in Addis Ababa and Lagos in late May and early June. At those conferences, there was a consensus that U.S. African policy is sound but that some of the programs which implement it should be strengthened. Specifics for inclusion in a new program were discussed, with particular emphasis on the desirability of (1) personal association with Africa on the part of the President, (2) personal association of the President with the principle of self-determination, (3) the use of economic aid to serve political as well as developmental objectives, and (4) the strengthening of our programs in the fields of information and cultural and educational exchange to promote the U.S. and combat Communism.

After my return to Washington, a tentative program proposed by AF was reviewed by representatives of interested bureaus of the Department and other agencies. The attached papers are derived from the basic memorandum prepared in the group these representatives formed.


It is fair to say, therefore, that most careful consideration has been given to the specifics of the Strengthened African Program and that not only our ambassadors in the field but also the interested agencies in Washington agree on the need for the new emphases and directions proposed.

Strong positions in the areas of African self-determination and economic development are in any event important to support general U.S. policy objectives in Africa. But they are valuable for two other pertinent [Page 309] reasons, first to secure African support or understanding of general U.S. policy objectives such as Chinese representation, Vietnam, etc., and second, to enable the President to create his own African image. These positions will not buy African votes but they will help create the climate of concern in their problems that will permit us to get a hearing and argue our points. Action in these areas, with manifestation of the President’s personal interest through his or the Vice President’s visit and a Presidential speech as recommended, will go far to imprint African policy with the LBJ brand.

We would have preferred to avoid recommending increases in the funds devoted to the programs in question. However, after consideration of all of the possibilities offered by resource reallocation and reorganization of effort, it was decided that budget increases would be required in certain critical areas if the proposed strengthening is to take place. Against the background of the great disparity between program budgets for Africa versus those for other underdeveloped areas and the decline in program budgets per country in Africa over the past five years, I feel that these modest increases are fully justified. I would also like to emphasize the fact that military expenditures in Africa are very low, as we would like them to continue to be, and that, as the attached descriptive memorandum on the Strengthened African Program points out: “Relatively modest expenditures now for non-military programs in Africa may well provide an extra dividend in reducing or eliminating the seeds of dissension which otherwise, give rise to the need for large security programs.”

In any case, I am convinced that certain of the more significant new directions and emphases which we propose cannot be introduced unless we have additional resources. And, unless we introduce these new directions and emphases into our programs, we cannot strengthen the climate of trust and respect we need in Africa to gain African support for our positions on specific issues in international affairs and to maintain friendly and effective bilateral relations. I think it is clear, therefore, that at least some additional resources are required to permit us to achieve our objectives in Africa.


That you sign the attached memorandum to the President (Tab 1) and forward it and its enclosures to him.2

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, President’s Speech on 3rd Anniversary of OAU, 5/26/66. Confidential. Drafted by Williams’ Special Assist-ant, Thomas W. McElhiney, on September 15. Cleared by Bell, USIA Deputy Director of Policy and Plans Burnett Anderson, Trowbridge of Commerce, Frankel, Solomon, Leddy, Walt Rostow, Greenfield, and Lang.
  2. See Document 221.