123. Backchannel Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Ambassador to Vietnam (Martin)1

WH40353. Subject: Economic Assistance.

We have given very careful thought to your request for a $250 million supplemental. There is no question that such funding is needed to improve economic conditions rapidly. However, it does not appear that Congress would give such a request early favorable attention. The negative [Page 516]House vote on IDA replenishment this week indicates that Congress’ initial reaction to foreign aid in general is more negative than usual.

Pursuit of a major supplemental tends to block our options to make more limited—but critically needed—funds available during the next few months. Moreover, should consideration of a supplemental be delayed it might be lumped with our FY–75 request and we would lose next year any funds we gain this year.

We realize, however, that existing funding levels are too low to be manageable. Therefore I am instructing AID Director Parker to proceed with an additional $60 million loan during the next couple of months. We are also planning to seek a $54 million appropriations supplemental to bring FY–74 appropriations up to the full authorization amount. This will only have to go to two congressional committees instead of four for a higher supplemental. It will be submitted together with requests for supplemental funds from other agencies this spring.

It has not yet been decided exactly how these funds will be divided between Vietnam and Cambodia, where requirements have increased very sharply, but you should have about $450 million from the above actions plus the already appropriated funds and the earlier $50 million loan.

I fully recognize that these funding levels will create real problems in Vietnam. We would like to do better and I welcome any ideas you may have for additional actions. However, a major supplemental carries the risk that Congressional opposition—or even inaction—could be a major psychological defeat for our Indo-China policy. Secondly, we shall have to make every effort to get virtually our full $600 million request for FY–75. The above course of action allows us to concentrate our efforts on the Hill this spring on the FY–75 program. We shall need assistance from your mission in making the best possible case for FY–75 funds. I shall be involved directly in defending the request on the Hill.

I am sure you will find ways to make clear to the senior Vietnamese that we are doing everything we can to support their economy. This course of action may be less visible but it is more sure in delivering funds. You will want your people to work rapidly with AID/W so that announcement of the new loan will have maximum timely impact in improving economic confidence.

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 416, Backchannel Messages, Martin Channel, Saigon, 1974. Secret; Sensitive; Immediate; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent with the instruction: “Deliver opening of business.”