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


We’re moving on population control. Califano is setting up a task force2 (perhaps more at Moyers’ urging than LBJ’s; Bill is a bug on this).

The argument will be over how much splash we can make without setting up counterpressures, both here and abroad. Much will depend on what the Vatican finally comes out with.

Another problem is that little in the way of legislation seems called for. Most of what’s needed can be done by Executive action. This creates a special message problem, so I suggested linking population control abroad at least to the war on want.3

Incidentally, population research in government is abysmally low—only about $500,000 directly attributed.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Robert W. Komer Files, Population Control 1965–March 1966. Secret.
  2. No other references to the Califano task force have been found, and no mention of such an entity appears in later State Department internal histories on this topic.
  3. In a letter dated August 30 to UN Secretary-General U Thant at the second UN World Population Conference in Belgrade, President Johnson wrote: “we must now begin to face forthrightly the multiplying problems of our multiplying population. Our government assures your conference of our wholehearted support to the United Nations and its agencies in their efforts to achieve a better world through bringing into balance the world’s resources and the world’s population. …It is my fervent hope that your great assemblage of population experts will contribute significantly to the knowledge necessary to solve this transcendent problem. Second only to the search for peace, it is humanity’s greatest challenge.” (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, Book II, p. 951)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.