584. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson1

Sometime within the next year, and perhaps within the next month or so South Africa may refuse to abide by a World Court decision which will probably forbid South Africa to extend apartheid to its mandated territory of South West Africa. We would have no real alternative except to uphold the Court’s authority, particularly in light of our own Article 19 case, and therefore may find ourselves in the near future in a major confrontation with South Africa. The attached NSAM represents the substantial agreement of State and Defense on a program to deal with this problem.2

Specifically the NSAM will—

Suspend military sales (already being done, in practice) and government loans or guarantees.
Begin contingency planning for alternate tracking station sites if we have to give up our South African facilities.
Direct the State Department to develop a program to persuade the South African Government to accept the authority of the Court.

[Page 982]

The only significant disagreement with this NSAM is that of the JCS who continue to want military sales to South Africa. However, their position has been previously overruled and they are now restating it for the record. In any event the JCS can reopen the question any time Defense wishes to do so. I believe, therefore, we should proceed with the NSAM but I have prepared it for my signature rather than involve you directly so that you can more freely reconsider the issue at a later time if this becomes necessary.

Under this program, we have a year in which to solve the World Court problem, and, at the same time, make a start on the underlying problem of getting the South Africans to adopt a more practical policy than apartheid.

I don’t think we can get the imagination and flexibility, or the high level talent, or the kind of action we need, however, if we depend on the usual processes of the State Department. Instead I propose to discuss with Secretary Rusk the appointment of a special representative to handle South Africa—a distinguished man, on a part-time basis but with a staff of his own and with full authority, reporting directly to the Secretary. I think we would also need a new Ambassador in South Africa with some real skill in personal diplomacy and I propose to explore this with Walter Jenkins and Ralph Dungan.

If you agree I will sign off the NSAM and talk with the Secretary along these lines.


Talk to me about this

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSAMs, NSAM 295, U.S. Policy Toward South Africa. Secret.
  2. The attached draft is not printed. For NSAM No. 295, April 24, see Document 586.
  3. President Johnson checked and initialed this option.