297. Memorandum From Richard T. Kennedy of the National Security Council Staff to Marshall Wright of the National Security Council Staff1 2

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  • Africa Matters

1. Horn of Africa

As I mentioned to you, Roger and I discussed many months ago the need for a study of problems in the Horn of Africa. The recent Evans-Novak article on Midnight Sun/Somalia, with its dire predictions for Kagnew, put a fresh focus on this problem area.

Attached are a long outdated draft of a memorandum and a proposed NSSM on the subject which might be useful for your thinking.

—When HAK was last approached on this subject, he shied away. He was thinking in terms of contingency plans rather than a policy paper.

—It seems to me that we do need a general policy look at this area—it consumes the lionʼs share of our military and economic aid on the continent and embraces our single most important facility. Moreover, a basic policy look would provide a better framework for contingency plans.

There are, however, two contingencies at least worth noting: (1) a major upheaval in Ethiopia resulting either from the demise of HIM or out-of-control Eritrean dissidence threatening Kagnew, and (2) a border “war” involving any two or more of Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and the French territories. There is room for mischief making and signs of it from the Arabs, Israelis and the Soviets. These contingency studies might be done as a NSC/IG project which could later be forwarded for consideration by the WSAG (they could be undertaken at Dave Newsomʼs instigation).

2. Southern Africa

As we noted in reviewing the Presidentʼs decisions on Southern Africa, there are three major issues not yet reduced to decision memoranda:

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(1) EXIM policy, (2) aid to the black states, and (3) general posture. The President made decisions but for bureaucratic reasons they were not included in the NSDM issued after the NSC meeting.

—It might be time now to clarify the EXIM policy as to South Africa—the NSDM on Southwest Africa dealt with EXIM policy there.

—The Presidentʼs foreign policy statement indicated a desire to increase our aid to the black states. Something more definitive probably should be stated.

—As to general posture, it seems to me we need not do anything about stating it—it, after all, is the sum total of the effect of all the other decisions that have been made. The Presidentʼs foreign policy statement and the Secretaryʼs statement on Africa probably says all that needs to be said on this subject.

3. The foregoing are just some thoughts that occurred to me as possibly of some help. If you are inclined to move on any of them, I would try to be helpful in any way you wish.


Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon

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  • Horn of Africa

Recent events have pointed up several potential trouble spots in East Africa:

—Ethiopiaʼs internal situation is shaky with pressures for modernization and separatist guerrillas straining the traditionalist regime of the aging Emperor.
—Somalia is unsettled in the wake of a recent coup, which ousted pro-Western Prime Minister Egal in favor of left-leaning officers who are warm to the Soviets and cool to us. This new regime may mean a revival of the Somali-Ethiopian border dispute which has threatened war several times in the last decade.
—In Kenya, tribal rivalry in the aftermath of Mboyaʼs murder could explode, particularly when the aging Jomo Kenyatta dies. Kenya also has its own potential border problems with Somalia and Ethiopia.
—The Sudan is caught up in the Arab-Israeli problem while it continues to (a) fight a 10-year old civil war against a black minority in the South and (b) aid the guerrillas fighting in northeastern Ethiopia. (The Soviets are arming Sudan. Both Moscow and Peking are giving military aid to Somalia. )

Our interests and influence in the area are limited. But we have a sizeable investment of economic and military aid in Ethiopia, and enjoy a major [Page 4] communications facility at Kagnew Station in the troubled northeastern province of the country. Also, there are growing U.S. private investments in Kenya.

The Somali and Sudanese coups, as well as the mortality of the Emperor, may pose some thorny choices about keeping our hand in the region. We should clarify our long-run priorities in the various countries to be ready for any contingency.


That you authorize the attached NSSM (Tab A) instructing both a review of current issues and contingency planning for succession crises in Kenya and Ethiopia.

See Me

Tab A

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Draft National Security Study Memorandum


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Director of Central Intelligence


  • Horn of Africa

The President has directed a review of the specific issues and general policy choices facing the United States in the Horn of Africa— concentrating on Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, but also covering adjacent countries to the extent that they relate to the problems of the region.

The study should assess U.S. interests and ʼevaluate our programs in the area. It should also analyze internal dissidence in each country, relations among the countries of the area, and the influences on the region of other powers—as these factors bear on U.S. interests.

The study should address in particular the problems and prospects of political succession in Kenya and Ethiopia. It should consider as precisely as possible alternative contingency plans for responding to the conceivable changes in leadership in those countries including the eventuality of civil war.

The President has directed that this study be prepared by the NSC Interdepartmental Group for Africa.

The study should be submitted to the NSC Review Group by

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Security Council Files, National Security Study Memorandum Files, NSSM 115. Secret. Attached is an undated draft memorandum from Kissinger to the President, as well as an undated draft National Security Study Memorandum. Neither of the attached documents was signed and forwarded.
  2. Kennedy stressed the need for a study of problems in the Horn of Africa. He noted that Kissinger had shied away in the past, but since the area consumed the lionʼs share of African military and economic aid and was home to the single most important U.S. facility in Africa, Kagnew Station, it was important to prepare a general policy.