201. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson1


  • Strengthened African Program


At your request, Assistant Secretary Williams has undertaken a survey of United States programs in Africa to determine whether they adequately support our policy objectives. Governor Williams’ recommendations in this regard, which I support, are:

That high officials of the Administration visit Africa, both on a planned basis to the continent and in connection with visits to other parts of the world.
That you make a major speech or speeches associating yourself personally with United States policy and programs in Africa along the lines of the attached draft.3
That you approve in principle the strengthening of our African programs in the fields of:
information (pages 10 to 11 of the attached memorandum);4
educational and cultural exchange (pages 11 to 12 of the attached memorandum);
economic aid (pages 13 to 16 of the attached memorandum).

AID, USIA and the Department of Commerce concur. The Defense Department concurs in the parts of the memorandum and speech dealing with military assistance and related Defense matters.5


The attached memorandum, prepared under Governor Williams’ direction, describes the areas of activity examined, largely on the recommendation [Page 311] of our ambassadors in Africa, but in cooperation with the agencies concerned. There is general agreement that the basic elements of United States African policy are sound. However, it does seem desirable to introduce certain new directions and emphases into the programs which implement policy, particularly if we are to develop in Africa a climate of trust and respect which both produces African support for over-all United States positions on specific issues in international affairs and also serves to maintain effective bilateral relations.

In broad perspective, a political and social evolution is envisaged in Africa which would in time significantly extend the area of freedom in the world, thus making our own democratic freedoms more secure. This evolution begins with self-determination—largely achieved, proceeds through the establishment of economic and social conditions which give meaning to nationhood, and ultimately arrives at societies based on genuinely free institutions. If we are to influence this evolution in our own interest, we must first establish a stronger position in Africa by identifying the United States and its leaders, particularly the President, with legitimate African aspirations, and by contributing to the process of development in ways which more effectively convince the Africans of our interest in them.

The situation in Africa provides us with a unique opportunity to project American ideas and use American resources in Africa by means which attract attention to and are consistent with our democratic principles, our commitment to an interracial society, and our concern with human welfare. An important aspect of the proposed strengthening of our programs in Africa is that it emphasizes evolutionary, peaceful progress and mutual understanding. In a very real sense, the greater the effectiveness of our non-military programs in contributing to African economic and social development and to developing African attitudes favorable to the West, the less need there will be for large military outlays to resist Communist encroachments (perhaps “Wars of Liberation”) in Africa. This liberal, responsive concept of our relations with Africa would be a particularly appropriate foreign policy counterpart of the Great Society.

Our efforts to project this concept abroad would be much more effective and our position in Africa would be considerably strengthened if you would associate yourself publicly with Africa and its aspirations. In Africa, perhaps more than in any other part of the world, relations between governments are viewed as personal relations between leaders. Both the Soviet Union and Communist China recognize this, and top leaders from both have visited Africa. Both also build on this personal high-level attention through programs in the same general categories as ours. Both the Chinese and Russian Communists have over the past year or so stepped up their activities. The action required in this area is a visit [Page 312] to Africa by yourself or the Vice President and a speech or speeches, a suggested draft of which is attached.

Other new directions and emphases affect our programs in the fields of information, cultural and educational exchange, and economic aid. While the content of these programs will in general remain the same, they will be used more extensively and effectively. This will require additional funds, but the amounts involved have been kept to the absolute minimum. Even with the relatively modest increases recommended, expenditures for programs in Africa will still be considerably less than for any one of the other four geographic areas. We are convinced, in any case, that in Africa small increases would bring substantial returns.

I agree with Governor Williams that the general strengthening of our programs in the fields of information, cultural and educational exchange, and economic aid is needed and should be undertaken particularly to reinforce the benefits we would derive from your association with Africa.

The budget increases to permit this strengthening are now estimated at $1.5 million for USIA in Fiscal Year 1966, and $1.7 million for the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in Fiscal Year 1967. In the economic aid program, there would be no increase stemming directly from the Strengthened African Program as such. What would be involved is primarily a shifting of priorities and a reallocation of funds within the limits of the total of $263 million in Fiscal Year 1967, which AID has already been considering for its request to the Congress without reference to the Program. This would be $40 million higher than the amount requested of the Congress for Fiscal Year 1966. The planned United States financing of $20 million in loan projects through the African Development Bank and such humanitarian projects as the measles inoculation program, both mentioned in the attached draft speech, would be covered by Fiscal Year 1966, tentatively planned Fiscal Year 1967, or subsequent year funds If the $40 million increase already being considered is not provided, however, the shifting of priorities envisaged under the Program could not take place without serious damage to on-going projects

I would not interpret your approval in principle of the strengthening of our African programs as committing the Executive Branch to these figures. However, I would assume that your approval carried with it agreement to proceed with requests for budget increases of this general order of magnitude for these three programs.

Dean Rusk
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, President’s Speech on 3rd Anniversary of OAU, 5/26/66. Confidential.
  2. There is no indication on the source text whether the President approved or disapproved these recommendations.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. On September 17, Deputy Assistant Secretary Lang sent Williams the Defense Department comments which read: “The Defense Department has reservations about whether the speech will further the principal objective of achieving a peaceful, evolutionary solution to the southern African problem, or have the opposite effect of widening the breach.” (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 70 A 3717, 092 Africa)