272. Editorial Note

On November 3, 1974, National Security Council staff member Robert Hormats cabled Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who was on an 18-day trip to Europe, South and Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, on the issue of the announcement of U.S. food aid at the World Food Conference: “As you know, the President has left this to your judgment. While announcing an increase in the quantity of food aid would probably not be catastrophic, there is a risk that it will increase food prices and thereby impair our ability to increase the quantity of food aid. Also, we are isolated within the government on this point. All agencies except State oppose announcing an increase in amount as do all White House groups except NSC; you could be criticized and sniped at from without as well as within. There are two similar formulations which I would recommend you consider. While less dramatic than your present formulation, either would accomplish your essential purpose while dampening the potential criticism at home. —Announce that the U.S. will increase its food aid contribution; or —Announce simply that the U.S. will increase its food aid. In either case, you are not precluding an increase in amount, although you would be begging the question. In backgrounding, however, you could state that we certainly would meet the President’s UN commitment to increase food aid spending, and that we expected to increase the amount of food aid as well; but that the latter would depend heavily on the food price situation in coming months.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Scowcroft Daily Work Files, Box 9, 11/1–5/74)

That same day, President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs Brent Scowcroft also sent a message to Kissinger: “I just saw the President briefly. He called me, said he was anxious to watch the [Page 955] football game, but that he wanted to know how you had resolved the food aid language and about your talks with the Shah. On the food aid, I told him that I had passed his decision to you but had not heard yet exactly how you planned to deal with it. He said that he hoped you could ‘fuzz it up somewhat.’ He said that we want to get the message across in your speech that we want to do all that we can but that we want to convey that message ‘without tearing things up back here.’ He said he was sure that you would be able to put some words together which would do that—he thought that the way it had been phrased in the speech was too categorical. I pass this on almost verbatim they way he said it to me. He did not convey it in a way which suggested that he was giving new instructions, only by way of amplification of what he sent to you last night.” (Ibid.)

The World Food Conference took place in Rome November 5–16. Kissinger addressed the conference on the first day. On the subject of food aid, he said: “Nevertheless an expanded flow of food aid will clearly be necessary. During this fiscal year the United States will increase its food aid contribution, despite the adverse weather conditions which have affected our crops. The American people have a deep and enduring commitment to help feed the starving and the hungry. We will do everything humanly possible to assure that our future contribution will be responsive to the growing needs.” For the full text of Kissinger’s speech, see Department of State Bulletin, December 16, 1974, pages 821–829. Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz also addressed the conference. For the text of his November 6 speech, see ibid., pages 829–831. Excerpts from Kissinger’s speech were printed in The New York Times, November 6, 1974, page 12.

On November 5, Kissinger sent a report to President Gerald Ford, through Scowcroft, on his address: “The main purpose of my trip to Rome was to present our views and proposals to the opening session of the World Food Conference. The speech was well received and proves once again that our initiatives and analysis of these complex economic issues are necessary to get cooperative international action. The food problem is clearly of great concern to the overwhelming majority of the world community. We will now have to be sure that prompt and efficient follow-up is pursued by all agencies concerned.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Scowcroft Daily Work Files, Box 9, 11/1–5/74)