263. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1 2

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  • Uganda

The purpose of this memorandum is to bring you up to date on the situation in Uganda and on our own policies toward that country.

1. Amin: What Next?

Having ousted Israel, defeated the Tanzanian-backed invasion of Ugandan exiles, expelled Ugandaʼs 45,000 Asian residents, and terrorized his population into obedience, General Idi Amin appears to be riding high. The damage he has inflicted upon his economy seems of little consequence to him. Instead, the General seems bent upon further purifying his country of foreign influences so that he can build whatever tribal-Muslim society he dreams about. The British, Christian missionaries, and Ugandaʼs large Catholic population are all mentioned as being among Aminʼs next targets for expulsion or repression. At this point, however, Uganda is relatively quiet as those who live there wonder what Amin will do next.

2. The Situation for the British

The British situation in Uganda has reached the point where the UK has formally asked the US Government to protect their interests should Amin expel them. State has agreed to do so. The UK has told our Embassy in London that it does not regard Uganda as sufficiently important to its interests to arrest their deteriorating situation by active diplomatic or economic measures. The UKʼs presence in Uganda has been reduced from 7,000 citizens in August to about 3,400.

3. US Policies

After consultations with Ambassador Melady, who has unconvincingly argued for assistance to Uganda, State has recommended that we adopt a “wait-and-see” posture. In Stateʼs words: [Page 2] “In view of the vagaries of President Aminʼs actions and the uncertainty of how the situation will develop in the months ahead, we have concluded that no long-term decisions should be made at this time. We have decided that in the absence of any serious changes in the political or internal security conditions in Uganda, our official activities will be maintained at their current levels for the immediate future.”

Stateʼs posture would permit technical assistance to continue. This involves an annual program of about $2 million, which covers the cost of 38 AID personnel in the fields of agriculture, education and health. However, unless new funding is provided by July 1, our technical assistance programs will come to a halt.

Our Ambassador in Kampala, Thomas Melady, would like to preclude such a termination. He says that “We cannot bring Amin in line by withdrawing our assistance.” Furthermore, he adds, “a drastic cutoff of aid might jeopardize the safety of our people.”

The African Bureau at State, on the other hand, tends to believe that at worst, a termination of US aid would simply lead to the expulsion of Americans. But, Stateʼs African Bureau feels, Amin might not even go that far because of Ugandaʼs need for American coffee purchases, and tourists.

4. My Own Views

For the moment, I agree with State that no decisions need be taken concerning Uganda, particularly AID levels. With our 114 Peace Corpsmen out, and technical assistance slimmed down from 50 personnel in August to 38 today, our assistance programs in Uganda could be allowed to die by attrition. Much will depend, of course, on what Amin does next.

It is therefore my recommendation that the Department of State be informed that you agree that no decisions need be taken at this time concerning our official activities in Uganda but that you want to be informed beforehand should State-AID wish to give any new assistance to Uganda.

With respect to Stateʼs agreement to protect British interests, I find no objection. This will complicate our own problems in Uganda, but [Page 3] if we chose to stay there, I assume that you would wish us to be of assistance to the British.


1. That I be authorized to inform the Department of State that you approve of their recommendation not to make long-term decisions concerning United States policy toward Uganda at this time, but that you wish to be advised beforehand if the Department feels new assistance funds should be allocated_ to Uganda.

Approve [RN] Disapprove

2. That I be authorized to inform the Department of State that you approve of their contingency agreement to represent British interest in Uganda.

Approve [RN] Disapprove

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 746, Country Files, Africa, Uganda, Vol. I. Confidential. Sent for action. Drafted by Rondon. The memorandum is stamped, “The President Has Seen.”
  2. Kissinger briefed the President on the current situation in Uganda and recommended that he approve the Department of Stateʼs recommendation not to make long-term decisions concerning Uganda and also Departmentʼs contingency agreement to represent British interests in Uganda. The President approved both recommendations.