306. Letter From the Scientific Attache (Hudson) at the Embassy in Brazil to the Director of the Office of Environmental Affairs (Herter)1 2
As I have regained a more current assessment of the situation here in Brazil, vis-a-vis environmental matters, following my leave, a thought has occurred to me which I would like to pass along to you. As you know, one of the standard Department procedures, especially where international organizations or activities such as the upcoming Stockholm Conference are concerned, when they run into trouble, is to attempt to mount a démarche by all of the “friendlies” on the poor little fellow who happens to be too “unenlightened” to appreciate fully the merits of our position. Having participated in more of these than I would like to remember, I have invariably been impressed by their ineffectiveness and sometimes even outright counterproductivity.
Since the environment is an important subject to the present administration and to mankind as a whole, I would like to suggest an alternative to last-minute concerted approaches. I think we can anticipate without much difficulty that there is going to be a continuation of the feeling among many of the underdeveloped countries that being concerned about the environment is, in the final analysis, a rich man’s game. This feeling may well, in fact, be present at a low level even with countries which may be pragmatically willing to go along for “what’s in it for them”. While we know this is not just a rich man’s game, we also know that it is sometimes very difficult to persuade otherwise someone whose major goal must be development.[Page 2]
Accordingly, my suggestion would be that you give consideration now to identifying those countries where we are likely to have the most opposition and associate them with ourselves or specific “‘friendlies” of like mind and set into motion now, while we still have time, a well thought-out program of gradually informing and hopefully converting the key policy makers wherever that seems necessary. Certainly, our Canadian colleagues would be willing to join in such an operation and I think many of our other friends who share our concern in the environment would prefer to establish long term persuasive relationships with the policy makers of specific underdeveloped countries where they may have influence by virtue of past association or a special relationship rather than face the last minute crash approach.
Certainly, for my part, I am going to do everything I can to try and reach a few key Brazilian policy makers with objective information on the environmental problem and, in the jargon of today, establish an objective dialog with them. The effort may not work but I personally feel its chances of success are at least as high if not higher than the last minute crash approach. If nothing else is accomplished, when the time comes to make that démarche, I will not have to explain from the beginning what the environment is before explaining what it is we would like them to support. In this connection, I would very much appreciate your identifying and sending me a copy of what you consider to be the best single book-length exposition of the environmental problem as it is being faced today, preferably by a non-governmental author. I would like to try and persuade our USIS people here to include it among the books which they will translate into Portuguese this coming year. (USIS has a program which permits the translation of a few books each year from English into Portuguese and we can always get large numbers of copies of these translations for circulation throughout the country.)
Miller N. Hudson, Jr.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, SCI 41 BRAZ. Limited Official Use; Official-Informal. Copies were sent to the ambassador, deputy chief of mission, and public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy.↩
- Hudson informed Herter that underdeveloped countries may feel that concern about the environment is a “rich man’s game” and that this may inhibit the work of the Stockholm conference.↩