437. Action Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1


  • Letter from Tex Goldschmidt

Tex has written you directly (attached)2 of his belief that you should take extraordinary steps to avoid cutting our contributions to the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) this year from $75 million to $70 million. Bill Gaud, with Nick Katzenbach’s agreement, made the cut when he apportioned the Congressional cuts. The UNDP took a small cut relative to others, but Tex believes it is important to your record not to go down in history as the President who began a downward trend in our aid through this multilateral channel.

Tex suggests that you authorize a transfer of $5 million from other AID accounts. He assumes that there will be leftovers here and there by the end of the year and that Gaud could commit himself now. If that is impossible, his compromise would be to turn $37.5 million over to the UNDP now, as a six-month payment at the past annual rate and say that our pledge for the whole year is $70 million but we’ll try to find a little extra money at the end of the year to climb back to $75 million.

Charlie Zwick is opposed to any action at this time which would tend to lock in the new Administration or to pass along to it a disproportionate share of the FY ’69 cutback problem.

On the question of committing the full $75 million now, Charlie believes this would deprive the new Administration of flexibility later in the year. Tying up even $5 million more from this year’s reduced AID appropriations now would restrict the new Administration’s flexibility in meeting serious unfunded contingencies in Nigeria, the Indus Basin, Dominican Republic, to name a few.

On Tex’s idea of splitting our pledge, Charlie points out that moreover this unusual approach would produce this effect:

  • —A $75 million rate for January–June 1969 ($37.5 million), and
  • —A $65 million rate for the last six months of 1969 (32.8 million).

Zwick believes we should make a straight $70 million pledge with the promise to look into the possibilities of additional funds later on.

[Page 944]

The important point in this is that the 1969 figure results primarily from Congressional reductions. Your record is in good shape because you requested $80 million for 1969 and your 1970 budget will include $85 million. It will thus be obvious to critics that the cut is Congress’, not yours.

I would leave this to Charlie’s judgment, but I promised Tex I would put his argument up to you. He and Wiggins feel strongly that splitting our pledge would have some value in appearances in New York. I must admit that it looks pretty marginal from here, and Charlie feels strongly that you would be narrowing your successor’s flexibility.


Go with Charlie3

Try Tex’s tactics (split pledge)

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, United Nations, Vol. 2. Confidential; Exdis.
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. Johnson checked this option.