19. Report on Meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy1

[Omitted here is discussion of trade issues, particularly as they bore on agricultural exports. The focus of the discussion was Secretary Stans’ upcoming trip to Europe.]

Mr. Samuels suggested that Secretary Stans stress “outwardness” rather than “inwardness” in trade policy. “Americans and Europeans have had some protectionist problems in the short run, but we have to make clear that this policy cannot be permanent.” The President added, “Our mid-western friends here in America will stick with us on NATO but if we start fooling around with their soy beans, their votes are gone. Maury [Stans], if I were you, I would point out the growing isolationism in America. There’s Vietnam, there are the obvious failures in foreign aid—overlooking the places it succeeded—and also there is the concern here with our own cities.

“There is no question about what the new leadership stands for,” the President continued, “but we face a political problem at home. If the American people get the impression that the European economy is turning inward, the Europeans can forget about political cooperation; no administration could survive supporting their case.

“This isolationism is a troublesome trend,” the President went on. “The people are saying now ‘Why don’t we cut the military budget? Why not bring home the divisions in Europe?’ The next step could be ‘Let the rest of the world go hang.’ Of course, that would be a disastrous policy in the long run, but the Europeans and the Japanese have to understand that the string is running out. Maury, you have to use great discretion on this and not refer to it publicly at all. But tell them our problem. They don’t hesitate to tell us theirs.”

[Omitted here is discussion of a broad range of economic issues.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, Box 77, Memoranda for the President, Jan 21-Apr 6, 1969. No classification marking. No drafting information provided. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room. Among those present were President Nixon, Vice President Agnew, Secretary of Agriculture Hardin, Secretary of Commerce Stans, Budget Director Mayo, Counselor to the President Arthur Burns, and Deputy Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Nathaniel Samuels.