404. Memorandum From Ulric Haynes of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


Wednesday, November 3, at 4 pm, Bechauanaland Prime Minister Seretse Khama has a appointment to see you.

Bechuanaland moved from protectorate to self-governing status this year with Seretse Khama’s party forming a government. Independence—and a wealth of complex problems—will come in September next year. Khama is here to encourage private American Foundations, the US Government, the World Bank and the UN to give tangible support to this impoverished country the size of France with a population of only 350,000.

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Bechuanaland is, in effect, an enclave in the “White redoubt” of Southern Africa, surrounded as it is by South Africa, Southern Rhodesia and South West Africa. Its economy is wholly integrated with that of its white-governed neighbors. Therefore, the geographical and economic facts of life make it impossible for the territory to insulate itself from the crises affecting its neighbors.

When independence comes, Khama will be faced with the conflicting pressures of accommodation with his racist neighbors and of proving that he is a “true African” in the spirit of the OAU. Our interest is in helping him to develop a more viable model of working multi-racialism in a part of the continent where the pattern is otherwise.

So far, Khama’s visit has resulted in the Peace Corps’ decision to send a two-man mission to Bechuanaland at the end of the month to examine ways in which they might be helpful. Khama is delighted with this hopeful sign of US interest. His return to Bechuanaland, followed quickly by the arrival of a Peace Corps mission should further strengthen local support for him.

The big question you might raise with Khama is, just how does Bechuanaland plan to meet the crises of Rhodesian UDI and the International Court’s decision in the South West Africa case when they come—as come they will.2

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Botswana, Vol. I, 9/66–1/69. Confidential. A copy was sent to Komer.
  2. A memorandum of Bundy’s conversation with Khama on November 5 is ibid.