203. Memorandum From Robert Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


Pak/India Food. You wanted a reminder before meeting with President.

I’m solid with State/AID and embassies in believing that if Pak and Indian public came to believe we were using food as an instrument of pressure, it would be a real setback to our influence.

We can tell roughly when an actual pinch might occur—but the real problem is psychological. At what point, in their current emotional state, will the Paks and Indians start accusing us of using food as a weapon? Bowles thinks this could “blow sky high in another week or so,” and I’d stick with the judgment of the man in the field in this case.2

The trick is to keep on using food as leverage by only dribbling it out slowly, but to do so in time to forestall public reactions. Thus we keep the GOI and GOP worried (as they already are by our stalling), yet don’t give them or anyone else a handle to accuse us of using starvation as a weapon. It could also help trigger communal riots.

State/AID recommend a million ton (two month) extension for India and 350,000 tons (under existing agreement) for Paks, which would carry them till about December—mostly for East Pakistan. I’d favor just cutting both in half—but doing it now!

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Name File, Komer Memos, Vol. II. Secret.
  2. When Bowles saw Subramaniam on September 12 the latter warned that if a disastrous situation affecting the welfare of millions of people in India was to be avoided the Indian Government had to know what to expect from the United States in the way of P.L. 480 grain shipments. (Telegram 580 from New Delhi, September 12; ibid.) Bowles underlined Subramaniam’s warning in a personal cable to Komer the same day, in which he cautioned: “We must know soon where we stand on PL 480 as this situation can blow sky high in another week or so.” (Telegram 121340Z from New Delhi; ibid., Country File, India, Exchanges with Bowles)