274. Editorial Note

During the first Nixon administration (1969–1972), the U.S. Government continued its decade-long support of the Dalai Lama and his followers, including political action, propaganda, and paramilitary [Page 1140] activity. Weapons and assistance were provided to Tibetan guerrillas in areas of Nepal located near the border with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Funds also were provided to the Dalai Lama for his propaganda efforts among exiled Tibetans in the United States and elsewhere. This operation began during the second Eisenhower administration (1957–1961) and continued through the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

During the first Nixon administration, the value of direct U.S. support of 1,800 Tibetan refugee guerrillas was examined and a consensus was reached that the force was generally ineffective and that intelligence and potential stay-behind functions of the Tibetan exile paramilitary forces could be accomplished by a much smaller number of men. Therefore, in 1971, the 40 Committee accepted the recommendation of the CIA that the paramilitary forces be reduced from around 1,800 men to 300. This was accomplished by a reduction in financial support. The total cost of the Tibetan program until this decision was approximately $2.5 million per year with $500,000 of that figure for non-guerrilla political, propaganda, and intelligence operations. Under the revised plan, after a resettlement payment of $2.5 million spread over a number of years, the costs of maintaining 300 guerrillas would be $100,000 per year and non-guerrilla operations would be reduced from $500,000 in FY 1970 to $363,000 in FY 1971 and $263,000 in FY 1972.

President Nixon, Henry Kissinger and the NSC staff, the Department of State, and the CIA all agreed that the Tibetan operation was an unsuccessful irritant to the PRC that was unlikely to influence that nation’s policy, except by hampering rapprochement with the United States. This operation was reduced during the first Nixon administration, as the President sought to improve relations with the PRC Government.