5. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • NSC Review of Policy toward Southern Africa

At Tab A is a National Security Study Memorandum which I propose to send out on Southern Africa.2

This is not an immediate crisis. Though some would argue that the black terrorist raids into Rhodesia and the white reprisals are the first rounds of the long-predicted race war, that violence remains minor. The white-ruled regimes should contain any military threat for 3–5 years easily. But the black-white confrontation in Southern Africa will be with us with growing insistence politically throughout the ’70s.

There are three principal reasons why I think we should get an early Presidential grip on this subject:

There has been no full, high-level review of U.S. interests and objectives in Southern Africa since the early Kennedy years. Yet the situation in the area has become more volatile and complicated in the last few years, including the presence of the Soviets and Chinese as patrons of the terrorist groups operating against Rhodesia and the Portuguese Territories of Angola and Mozambique.
The United States has meaningful yet potentially conflicting interests in the area which should be clearly identified and weighed. We have a political stake in dissociation from the repressive racial policies of the white regimes. At the same time, we have important material interests—a NASA tracking station, overflight and refueling rights, [Page 8] heavy U.S. investment, and a major trade potential—which require some involvement with the white authorities. These interests are sometimes at odds in fact, and sometimes because others—in Africa or here at home—regard them so. A recent example was the call of the Carrier FDR at Capetown, which was suddenly cancelled by the Johnson Administration after a major furor by U.S. civil rights groups.
Finally, the NSC should have the arguments on all the options open to U.S. policy in dealing with the white regimes. I think Dean Acheson had a point in his recent conversation with you that State has been tied rather stubbornly to one track on this aspect of the problem. There is clearly a legitimate case for a quite different policy than the current posture toward the white regimes.

If you approve, we can schedule a NSC session on Southern Africa for mid-May.


That you authorize me to sign the NSSM on Southern Africa at Tab A.

Approve NSSM 3


Speak to me

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 285, Memoranda to the President, Jan.–May 1969. Secret. Sent for action. Drafted on April 1. Printed from an unsigned copy.
  2. Tab A is attached. For the NSSM as signed, see Document 6.
  3. Nixon initialed this option.