304. Letter From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the Ambassador to Ethiopia (Korry)1

Dear Ed,

Have just finished reading your reports on talks with PM and HIM. If even 10% of our other Ambassadors were as forthright and straightforward in stating the case as you are, our relations would be in a much healthier state worldwide.

I’ve long felt that candor was the secret weapon of our diplomacy, but diplomats are by definition pre-disposed to caution. In general, we are much too defensive about our policies and about the way we see the world—which is certainly a more sophisticated view than these little countries can command.

In the case at hand, I also share what I take to be your view that we ought to straight-talk the Ethiops a bit. If we don’t, we’re in for nothing but trouble. The idea that other countries get a lot more US aid than Ethiopia is ridiculous. For the last three years, it’s gotten more dollar aid than Nasser has. If Ethiopia needed more food, we could provide it (as we do to the UAR). In fact, I believe I’m right in saying that no other African country but Nigeria gets as much solid US dollar aid as Ethiopia. (Tunisia technically gets more, but our three-year $180 million dollar commitment has ended up about $80 million short—moreover, a high proportion of it is surplus food.) So I find the Ethiopian doctrine that they can shake us down for more a thoroughly pernicious one and delight in you stamping on it. More power to you.

In fact, any point in my informally calling in Ambassador Dinke and making some of the same points you have? I don’t know whether Dinke[Page 527]is worth talking with and would, of course, check with AF. But a little added counterpoint here (particularly an indication that the WH is aware of the situation) might be salutary.


R.W. Komer 2
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Ethiopia, Vol. 2, Memos & Miscellaneous, 7/65–1/69. Secret; Personal; via Classified Diplomatic Pouch.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.