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



  • Division of labor after Francis Bator departs2

I have thought hard about the things we discussed last Friday.3 My conclusions are summarized below. They are offered in the full understanding that—particularly on cross-cutting economic issues—pre-drawn lines of responsibility neither can nor should be entirely controlling. This staff is not a bureaucracy; it cannot be if it is to serve the President well. Thus, for example, I very much support your idea that you, Ed Fried and I could work as a team on issues with some economic content. My thoughts should be read as encouraging that kind of arrangement.

Geographic Responsibility

I think it makes sense for me to continue handling sub-Saharan Africa. I have invested a fair amount of effort in learning the Continent and the segment of the foreign affairs establishment assigned to it. It would take time for another man to duplicate my relations with Joe Palmer & Company; this cost should only be incurred if there is some offsetting benefit.

However, except for crisis periods, visits, etc., the Black Africa account is not a full-time job. It can be made into one, but I don’t think [Page 396]that the dividends to the President justify expenditure of a full-time slot for Africa alone. Moreover, if I am to continue and expand my activities in the area of AID policy and programs, the African account alone is not a very good base. It is small and clearly at the bottom of Bill Gaud’s totem pole. My relations with Gaud are excellent, but it would be much easier to swing weight on major issues if I had strong direct responsibility in one of the areas where AID’s heart is.

This, together with other factors, leads me to a preference for South Asia. My responsibilities in the Budget Bureau, before my tenure as Assistant to Kermit Gordon, included economic programs in Near East/South Asia. I have spent some time in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan; I have been somehow involved in most of the major policy questions in those areas in the past five years. It seems to me that this would be the optimal base from which I could operate with AID, and with Agriculture and other Departments on food aid and related programs.

Let me repeat that if you have decided on, or are considering, assignment of Hal Saunders to cover South Asia as well as the Near East, I do not want to stand in the way. Hal is first-rate and very experienced in this area. He has my strong support for whatever responsibility you want to give him. I raise the above possibility only because you suggested you may be thinking of splitting the account.

It could be argued that splitting off South Asia will present a bureaucratic problem with State/AID in that two people would be dealing with Luke Battle and Maury Williams. I doubt that this would be a serious problem. With Hal handling the Mahgreb, we now have two people dealing with Joe Palmer without difficulty. The Near East/South Asia has always been a shotgun marriage; the Near East—including North Africa—is a reasonably coherent region, but South Asia is an entirely different problem. Moreover, I have spent enough time on South Asia to have a fair working knowledge of the NEA/NESA personnel, and would expect to begin with something of a running start.

In summary, assuming you have decided to split the NESA account, I would propose that I use the time I have previously devoted to Europe (at least half-time, on the average) to South Asia, while continuing to handle Black Africa.

Economic Matters

I would group our economic business under four heads: trade, aid, international money and balance of payments. If Ed Fried were to come over, I would think he would be a natural for trade, that it makes sense for me to continue with aid, and that we might split the other two problems, perhaps allocating money to him and the balance of payments to [Page 397]me. (This assumes Ed would also be carrying a regional account. If he isn’t, he should have both money and balance of payments.) It may be useful for me to take each of these categories in turn and comment on the special problems involved in each:

Aid: It is very difficult to have a strong and continuing impact on aid matters unless one has a regional base which involves him in a healthy portion of the specific issues which occupy the Administrator. There are a few general problems each year—the Message, the Bill, etc.—but most AID policy gets made in regional contexts, usually in South Asia or Latin America. Thus, it makes sense to marry the general AID mandate with one of those regional charters. I might add that the aid franchise inevitably, and rightly, also includes most of the work pertaining to the regional development banks and the World Bank/IDA, as well as food aid. In these cases as well, a strong regional base is an invaluable asset.
Trade: This account presents a spectrum running from customs conventions and air agreements to the general problem of post-Kennedy Round trade policy. It is already clear that the latter will involve a public committee which will require a fair amount of staff work, much of it done here. Ed Fried will bring much more knowledge and experience to these problems than I, and should certainly have the primary responsibility in this area.
International Money: Depending on when Francis leaves, we may be just approaching the hump or be just over it when Fried arrives. This is probably the most difficult economic account to pick up quickly. Again, I would recommend that Ed have the lead, but it may make sense for us to work together until he is comfortable with continuing alone.
Balance of Payments: It could be argued that the responsibility for this can of worms should go along either with money or with aid. My own feeling is that, unfortunately, it more often involves aid than money. Thus, I am perfectly willing to take it on—but also perfectly willing to give it to Ed if he has strong feelings on the subject.

Again, there would be more togetherness than separation in any division. We would have to live a good deal with each other. I, for one, would look forward to it.

The European Account

As I have said to you, and implied above, I do not think that I should be assigned to handle Europe. This is not so much a professional judgment as a bureaucratic one. With all his assets—ranging from his immense ability to the leverage provided by his Presidential appointment—Francis has had to overcome enormous resistance in order to [Page 398]play the effective and independent White House hand on Europe which I think is necessary. I think it would be a disservice to the President to gamble that someone of my age and relative juniority could pick up where he left off. At best, it would be a long shot and it would take time. When one adds in the fact that my primary interests are the problems of the less-developed world, it becomes a bad idea all around.

I certainly agree with you that there is a powerful case that the trade and money accounts go with the man responsible for Europe. Most issues in these fields are closely interlocked with European politics and are handled by the same people in State and Treasury. Thus, the optimal solution is certainly a man who can handle both. Ed Fried may well be that man. He probably stands well enough in the Department to gain quick admission to the right clubs, and he is eminently qualified to hold up his end in the policy debate. Thus, if he will take the job, he has my strong support; I would be happy to help him in any way possible.

However, there are very few Ed Frieds. If he decides against coming over, you may want to consider splitting off Europe. In that event, I think Mort Halperin (Special Assistant to John McNaughton) is the best candidate I know for the European account. He is very bright, well balanced and would, I think, keep firmly in mind who is President. I would strongly recommend him if the Fried thing falls through.

Whoever takes the European account will need help. Specifically, he will need a middle-level Foreign Service officer who knows the European Bureau. Larry Eagleburger has been of invaluable assistance to Francis; if he did not exist, it would surely be necessary to invent him. Thus, I would suggest you think of the replacement problem as a two-man parlay.

I have that Polonius-like feeling of peddling bromides. My apologies for the lecture.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Name File, Hamilton Memos. Eyes Only.
  2. Bator’s resignation was announced on July 20 and became effective September 1.
  3. April 28.