109. Memorandum From Edward Hamilton of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1



  • Comments on Proposed Internal Defense Policy


I may be fighting the problem, but I seriously doubt that the bulk of this document2 is necessary or desirable. Specifically:


When placed in the spectrum of U.S. foreign policy directives, this one contains only three fundamental points not better spelled out elsewhere:

  • —subversive aggression is a serious problem which deserves our attention;
  • —every mission should have a plan to deal with it;
  • —every officer should receive special instruction in these matters.

These points are legitimate. I have no serious quarrel with the way they are put.

However, a good deal of the statement is devoted to the non-insurgency side of things. It is certainly true that the best long-term attack on the causes of insurgency is an economic development program. But it seems to me that this paper should either confine itself to that observation or make a serious effort to incorporate all of the reams of instruction which now exist to guide our State/AID personnel. The present paper does neither—it lists, in extremely general and opaque language—some of the activities which some of our programs involve. Even if the terms were precise enough to exclude anything, all of this guidance would not be relevant to any one country; neither would it be sufficient to any.
The paper draws an extremely fine and partially implicit distinction between support for a particular Government (or governing group) and support for a non-communistic system of government. Unless one reads with a microscope, it is very easy to derive the impression that it is U.S. policy to resist any movement to change an existing Government if there is any sign that external forces may be involved. I doubt that this is what is intended. (If this is the intent, I don’t believe the policy is workable.)
The document contains a good deal of Cold War jargon which will make it difficult for many officers abroad to take it seriously. Parts of it look as though they were written in 1949. I am referring particularly to paragraph 5.

Thus, my general prescription would be a drastic shortening aimed at making the three points mentioned above, together with the policy principles which underlie them. I would leave the development business to other papers. I would also try to reduce the sleep-inducing quality of the language.


If we really want internal defense plans, with some action content and effect on the real world, we cannot be as ambitious as paragraph 3 suggests. Such undertakings simply don’t get done in most missions. Thus, I would limit internal defense plans primarily to internal security.
In paragraph 6, the distinction between points (a) and (b) escapes me.
We should decide on what adjective describes the kind of government we will support. Paragraph 6(d) says “legitimate”; paragraphs 9, 10, and 11 use “local”; paragraph 14(a) says “established”; and the phrase “where the U.S. has a cogent interest” is liberally used. We should try to be clear about whether we are talking about (1) the present Government, or the system of government, (2) which, if any, current [Page 242]Governments we will stand and die for, and (3) how we go about deciding where we have a “cogent interest”.
Paragraph 14, except for point (c), is straight boiler-plate-and redundant at that.
Section V (in connection with point general 2 above) has all the standard disadvantages of a list; it states too much, but is far from exhaustive. In particular, the priorities implied by the order of points under 18(b) are not in accord with any approved development strategy of which I am aware. Indeed, the only part of Section V which seems to me to add anything useful to the current body of doctrine consists of paragraphs 19, 20 and 21.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, SIG, Vol. I, 13th Meeting, 7/26/66. Confidential. The memorandum is misdated January 9, 1966. An undated, handwritten note from Bator at the end of the memorandum reads: “Walt—I won’t do a separate memo since the above is a fair representation of my views. I am especially concerned about the point in par. 3 of page 1.”
  2. Document 105.