85. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bator) to President Johnson1


  • Senior Economics People in the State Department

I hesitate to comment on your State Seventh Floor problem, especially since I do not know what the Secretary is recommending. However, I would like to flag for you one organizational matter, which has nothing to do with personalities.

I understand that the Secretary is thinking about shifting the No. 2 Under Secretaryship from the economic to the political side. If that is done, and nothing else is changed, the senior economics man in the Department would be Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs. Even with as strong and effective a man as Tony Solomon in that job, I am afraid this would put State at a great disadvantage in the inevitable bargaining with Commerce, Agriculture, Interior and Treasury, and also to some extent vis-á-vis the Congress, industry and labor.

Most international economic issues—trade, commodity policy, etc.—touch on the primary, and sometimes parochial, concerns of one of the major domestic departments. On serious issues their Secretaries become quickly and personally involved. State is handicapped by the [Page 182] fact that its top management is often quite properly preoccupied with foreign crises which cannot be shunted aside.

A full time economic Under Secretary in the Dillon, Ball, Mann tradition, can balance the scales. Also, having someone of Seventh Floor rank in the economic business can strengthen State’s hand in dealing with the Congress, the business community, and the unions. You know better than anyone what yeoman service Tom Mann did on this front—I think he was much more valuable in that job than he himself ever realized.

I understand that George Ball has mentioned to you one possible solution. This would involve converting Alex Johnson’s Deputy Under Secretaryship from political to economic affairs. I think that might well do the trick.

If that were done, I would vote for putting Solomon in that job. As you know, he is skillful, loyal, energetic and has worked very well with the rest of us on the economic circuit. Further, this would open up Tony’s Assistant Secretaryship for another senior economic man. For that, it might be possible to keep Richard Cooper, now Tony’s deputy, who is also absolutely first rate. Yale is literally forcing Cooper to return to New Haven this coming September. If we could tell Kingman Brewster that we wanted Cooper badly enough to promote him, it might be possible to get them to relent. It is even conceivable that Dick might be prepared to resign his professorship.

I do not know about the Secretary, but I know that George Ball and Solomon would be all for Cooper, despite his youth (32). So would Ackley, Schultze, Fowler (who recently tried to hire him), Deming, Komer (whom Cooper has helped on Vietnam), Dave Bell, Kermit Gordon, Walter Heller—and everybody else Dick has worked with.

But in any case, I think the organizational point—that one of the Under Secretaries or the Deputy Under Secretary should specialize in economic affairs—is valid, independent of personalities.2

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Rostow Files, Personnel, April 1, 1966–. Sensitive. The memorandum is marked with an indication the President saw it.
  2. Walt Rostow wrote in hand below Bator’s signature: “I concur. We must keep Solomon in State and effective.”