155. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • South Asian Relief

AID Administrator, Hannah, is proposing a FY 1972 budget amendment of $250 million to the foreign assistance appropriation for our South Asian relief programs. Mr. Shultz is sending you separately and without a recommendation a memorandum on the pending alternatives. [Tab A]2

Dr. Hannahʼs proposal rests on estimates by Maury Williams following his recent trip to both wings of Pakistan. To allow flexibility, the money would not be designated specifically for use in either Pakistan or India but the plan now is that about $100 million would be needed in East Pakistan and the rest for East Pakistani refugees in India.

The larger framework is an estimate that total costs in both countries will reach $1.1 billion this year—$300 million of that for avoiding famine in East Pakistan.3 Grant food shipments would amount to about half—$590 million. Of the remaining need for cash assistance—$390 million for refugees and $150 million for East Pakistan—Williams proposes that the US meet about two-thirds of the requirement in Pakistan and about 40% in India.

Mr. Shultz presents three options without recommendation:

  • —Go to the Congress in two tranches, $125 million now and possibly another $125 million early next session. Everyone agrees this buys the worst of all worlds: we would probably end up doing $250 million but would lose the political impact of doing it.
  • —Go for $200 million now rather than the $250 million recommended. Williams could live with this, but what this would do is remove all contingency cushion for an increase in the number of refugees or a breakdown in the distribution system in East Pakistan.
  • —Go for the whole $250 million as recommended by Williams.

Mr. Shultzʼs concern, understandably, is the budget impact of a program of this size. In those terms, the real choice is between going ahead with $250 million and doing something very little. It might be possible to shave $50 million from the $250 million if that would help, but the overall problem is so large that one could argue that the $50 million saved would not be that significant and that if we are going to pursue an all-out effort to avert famine and war, it should be done right. On balance, I recommend $250 million, but point out that you have a real alternative of $200 million.

If you approve this program, I strongly recommend the attached statement for release when the appropriations request is transmitted to Congress. Senator Kennedy has begun hearings on the refugee issue. Maury Williams will testify Monday (October 4). If you wished to make such a statement, optimum timing would seem to be Friday.4 Williams would then be in a strong position to defend a record that is already sound and a plan that had been announced and submitted to the Congress. Since only your press conference comment is on the record on this issue, I feel this statement would be a good idea. It would be released on a natural occasion and directed exclusively at a humanitarian problem. [Tab B]5



That you approve a program of $250 million to be submitted to the Congress tomorrow. [Tab A]

Approve $250 million6

Approve $200 million


That you approve the attached statement for release tomorrow. [Text cleared with Mr. Price. Tab B]



  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 641, Country Files, Middle East, South Asia, Vol. II, Jan–Oct 1971. Confidential. Sent for action. A stamp on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. All brackets in the source text. The memorandum was dated September 30; attached but not printed.
  3. Kissinger and George Shultz discussed the memorandum Shultz was about to forward to the President in a telephone conversation on September 29. Although he was sending his memorandum without a recommendation, Shultz felt that the proposed $250 million appropriation was “a hell of a lot of money” and a complicated way to get the problem of hunger in East Pakistan “on kind of a limitless basis.” Kissinger responded: “Not on a limitless basis but have to prevent Indians from attacking. If there is a flow of refugees, we will have another Southeast Asia war.” (Notes of a telephone conversation; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 369, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  4. October 1.
  5. The attached draft statement was released to the press on October 1 in Key Biscayne, Florida, where the President was visiting. The statement pointed to the danger of famine and war in South Asia. The President called upon the Congress to add $150 million to the $100 million approved by the House of Representatives in August to provide a total of $250 million in additional funds under the Foreign Assistance Act for humanitarian relief and refugee rehabilitation. (Public Papers: Nixon 1971, pp. 1017–1018)
  6. Nixon initialed this option.
  7. Nixon initialed this option.