276. Editorial Note

The White House Conference on International Cooperation was held November 29–December 1, 1965, in Washington. President Johnson, who was in Texas, did not address the conference, but Vice President Humphrey read a message from the President at the opening session on November 29.

In his message to the conference, which the President called “a Town Meeting of the leaders of the Nation,” he urged the participants to seek “new ways to raise the world’s millions up from poverty, new policies to conserve and develop the world’s resources, new methods to rid the world of destructive disease; new means to increase commerce between nations; new safeguards against the overriding danger of war; new avenues to world peace.” (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, Book II, pages 1128–1129)

The administration found that many of the conference’s reports contradicted stated policy or supported programs targeted for extinction. According to an early Bureau of the Budget reaction memorandum, the report on population—a “tricky and sensitive subject” called for more extensive and dramatic U.S. action, when the current U.S. policy was “not to be doctrinaire and to use soft approaches.” Regarding the human rights report, another memorandum noted: “This report proposes to press forward the U.S. into international cooperation in human rights on a broad front. The efficacy of the recommendations involves judgments of U.S. domestic political aspects and how far U.S. goes in surrendering sovereignty or binding its internal affairs by international agreements. These are ticklish problems.” (Memoranda from Chase to Sisco, November 12 and November 17; both in Johnson Library, National Security File, Gordon Chase Files, International Cooperation Year)

White House staff members hoped that the conference would be forgotten. “The one outstanding piece of business left over from the ICY conference,” Harold Saunders wrote Bundy on December 17, “is how to organize (or scuttle) the follow-up. …Sisco has sent all the reports to the Cabinet Committee requesting reaction to their recommendations by 22 December. So far the citizens’ committees haven’t done anything but talk about organizing themselves to follow through. Sisco hopes a quick informal reaction to the recommendations will pre-empt them. My sense is that we want to keep communication informal and let it trail off.” Bundy wrote on this memorandum: “I agree.” (Memorandum from Saunders to Bundy, December 17; ibid., Name File, Saunders Memos, Box 7)