53. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State (Richardson) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

“A Cause Bigger than Ourselves …”

Two thoughts which I have been meaning to suggest for Presidential utterance at some future date now—in the light of his State of the Union Message2—seem to me appropriate for his foreign policy message. They are:


Having outlined the importance of emerging nationalism in terms of its significance for self-reliance, regionalism, etc., and having emphasized the essentiality of our role in maintaining the relative stability of a world structure composed of sovereign states, the President could go on to say that for the long future such a structure is not enough. We must look, rather, toward ways in which the peacekeeping role of the UN as a supra-national structure can be strengthened, ways in which the rule of law can be expanded.

This can be said in a way, I think, which need not undercut the realism and the practicality with which he approaches today’s and tomorrow’s problems. To say it, however, could help to express the larger vision called for by his State of the Union address. It would, moreover, supply what has heretofore seemed to me a missing ingredient in the articulation of our policy.

The theme would, of course, be an appropriate one for further development in an address to the UN on the celebration of its 25th anniversary.

The youthful idealism and impatience that have fastened on the squalor and misery of our domestic ghettos is bound, I believe, eventually to be extended to the vastly greater squalor and misery in which most of the world lives. I just don’t believe that young people who are so much concerned with the poverty, hunger and disease within our own borders will long continue to be indifferent to the much worse conditions beyond our borders.3

As the President said months ago in our NSC meeting on foreign assistance, its most important justification is, after all, moral. To sound this note and to affirm the goal of a more adequate world order are the only ways I can think of for the President to sustain in the foreign policy message the inspirational tone so impressively achieved in his State of the Union message.

Again, the theme could be further developed in a later message—in this case, in a message based on the Peterson Task Force recommendations4 and in compliance with the Javits Amendment.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 325, Subject Files, President’s Annual Review of U.S. Foreign Policy. No classification marking.
  2. See Document 52.
  3. Kissinger highlighted this paragraph and the next one and put a checkmark in the margin.
  4. Regarding the establishment of the President’s Task Force on International Development, see footnote 2, Document 35. The task force submitted its report and recommendations to President Nixon on March 8, 1970. (Report to the President of the United States From the Task Force on International Development: U.S. Foreign Assistance in the 1970’s, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1970) The White House released the report on March 8 along with a statement by President Nixon indicating his intention to reform the foreign assistance programs in light of the task force recommendations. (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1970, pp. 253-254)
  5. Reference is to an amendment offered by Senator Jacob Javits on December 12, 1969, during debate in the Senate on foreign assistance legislation. The amendment to H.R. 14580, which was adopted by the Senate, restored authorization for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. (Congressional Quarterly Almanac, Vol. XXV, 1969, p. 445)