589. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara 1



  • National Security Action Memorandum No. 295 on United States Policy Toward South Africa
In a memorandum, dated 3 April 1964, subject: “U.S. Policy Towards South Africa,” the Deputy Secretary of Defense requested the [Page 990]comments of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on a draft National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) relating to US policy toward South Africa. These views were provided by JCSM–292–64, dated 7 April 1964.2 The Joint Chiefs of Staff subsequently have noted that their views were not reflected in NSAM No. 295, dated 24 April 1964.3
The NSAM requires:
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Defense to undertake immediately “such planning for and construction of alternative stand-by facilities as would be required if it became necessary to evacuate the facilities in South Africa on 6 months’ notice”;
The Department of State to give “priority to accomplishing required site surveys and negotiating necessary base agreements and assisting in needed land acquisition” for alternative facilities in other countries;
US Government lending agencies to “suspend action on applications for loans or investment guarantees with respect to South Africa”;
The Department of State to undertake immediately “a comprehensive analysis of the various sanctions that could be considered” if South Africa does not accept the pending decision of the International Court of Justice on Southwest Africa; and
The postponement of any decision regarding the possible sale of submarines to South Africa, and any variation in existing policy regarding military sales to South Africa, without reference to the views expressed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in JCSM–309–64, dated 13 April 1964.4
The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the thrust of these provisions of NSAM No. 295 may lead the United States to an inflexible position of attempting, without likelihood of success, to force South African compliance with external views in seeking precipitate solutions to South Africa’s racial problems and the problem of Southwest Africa. Such provisions at this time are believed to be counterproductive to US interests. The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that such provisions are reminiscent of attempts made by the United States, with tragic consequences, to influence the domestic policies of the Chiang Kai-shek government in 1946 and the Batista government in 1958. In both of these cases, the political, military, and economic support necessary to maintain in power anticommunist governments was withheld. This should not be permitted to happen in South Africa.
For these reasons, the Joint Chiefs of Staff reiterate their views that the objectives of the United States toward South Africa should include [Page 991]its alignment with the Western Powers and the continuance of existing deep-space and tracking facilities in South Africa. As long as communist penetration and racial discord in Africa remain an active threat to Free World interests, stability in South Africa is desirable and the United States should do everything that its political and moral position permits to contribute to this. It should be noted that these views are in consonance with those of the US Embassy in South Africa which has stated that “We should not risk our valuable defense, space and economic advantages in South Africa by making a major demarche in support of proposals which would be so radical in view of the South African white population that extremists could rally most of the whites in rejecting them”; and that radical measures “… would disrupt the highly developed South African economy and the maintenance of internal security, both of which are necessary preconditions for real progress on race problems.” The Embassy has also stated that “We are not operating under threat of any immediate drastic security crisis in South Africa and the only threat to peace is from outside South Africa.”
It is recommended that, as a matter of urgency, you discuss these views with the President and the Secretary of State and that you advise them to revise NSAM No. 295 to avoid precipitate measures that could result in the loss of South Africa in the strategy of Western defense.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Maxwell D. Taylor
Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 69 A 7425, Africa 381. Secret.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 583.
  3. Document 586.
  4. Document 583.