4. Memorandum From Roger Morris of the National Security Council Staff to the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2

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SUBJECT:

  • African Issues

Here is another run-down to keep you posted on the more important African issues bubbling in the bureaucracy. I donʼt expect any of these problems to hit your desk very soon. But you should be aware of them as background.

1.

Contingency Planning for Nigeria. As I reported earlier, I have been stumping for a careful look ahead at the range of possible circumstances following the latest Federal offensive of the civil war. The objective is to lay out for each plausible contingency (a) potential dangers to the U.S., (b) key issues we would face both in Nigeria and on the domestic front, and (c) the range of objectives and policy choices.

State has now come up with a first draft covering the cases of (1) continued stalemate, (2) a negotiated settlement, and (3) a Federal victory. (As usual, theyʼll leave thinking the unthinkable—Biafran success—to someone else.) Iʼm working over that draft now, and the African IG will have a first session on the plans at the end of this week. I see my job here as basically two-fold: not only to expose the nasty prospects and sure weʼre ready for them, but also to restrain the African Bureau in its love affair with the Federal side until the smoke has cleared and the President can make an unfettered choice.

2.

Conte-Long Problem and the Congo. As you may recall again from my earlier report, this is a problem of deciding whether to dock the Congo $7 million in aid money for their purchase of 15 Macchi trainer jets from Italy. State was ready to ignore the Macchis almost routinely on the grounds that they were “unsophisticated”—despite the fact that the Conte Amendment specifically refers to “jet aircraft.” And if the sophistication argument didnʼt wash, Joe Palmer was ready to go after a Presidential determination that Congolese purchase of the Macchi jets was “important to the national security of the United States.” The latter argument was obviously ludicrous, but the Macchis do point up the minor agonies of living with the Conte-Long Amendment.

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Macchi trainers are at the very bottom of the spectrum of jet aircraft in terms of age, cost and sophistication. They are, in fact, a less impressive weapon in many respects than many propeller aircraft. Then too, Mobutu will buy them whatever we do. There are simply no other non-jets available from anybody by gift or sale. And the Congolese do have a case that ground support aircraft of this kind are an asset psychologically as well as militarily in holding the Congo together. Cutting the aid program only (i) hurts our political standing with Mobutu and (ii) penalizes the economic development which is still the best medicine against future instability in the Congo—and all this without restraining weapons purchases.

As it is, the African IG will buck this one eventually to the Under Secretaryʼs Committee as part of the package that Hannah, Richardson et al. could raise with the Congress in trying to get some modification of the amendment. On balance, I think this is the kind of case Congress would understand as being beyond the intent of the legislation. The important point to get across at State has been that we should lay these problems out fully and frankly, rather than sneak through a quiet judgment that leaves us vulnerable later.

3.

Southern Africa. The NSC study here is in its final stage, though the tough IG negotiating sessions are still ahead next week. (The paper is due to the Review Group May 30.) I think we will produce, after all, a reasonably credible array of “soft” choices as well as the harder lines. The general policy choice is surrounded by thorny operational issues like the Rhodesian chrome problem, South African sugar quota, etc. I see the task as to give the President a sharp and unencumbered choice on posture, yet include some flavor of the lesser actions that add up to policy.

Roughly, the paper poses a basic policy choice on posture toward the white minority regimes: (a) ease up, (b) talk tough but keep dealing, and (c) disengage. Within that choice are four major issues:

  • Rhodesian settlement and sanctions: follow the Africans or follow the British.
  • Portuguese Territories: single out for a softer line or treat as the other whites, whether hard or soft.
  • South West Africa and UN : back UN pressures or soft pedal.
  • Black States and Insurgents: economic aid and sympathy or minimal involvement.

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These choices encompass, of course, some very fundamental judgments about Africaʼs importance to us, the volatility of the racial issue in world politics, the interplay of ideals and interest in foreign policy, etc. I recognize my clients are more often a source of irritation or amusement rather than stimulation. But I think youʼll find Southern Africa an interesting intellectual issue.

4.

Review of African Aid. Iʼve put off proposing a NSSM to review aid strategy because Joe Palmer is leaving this month. I think it makes sense bureaucratically to let his successor move in and then move forward on a major review.

The object would be to reassess the Korry Report of 1966–67, which took us out of bilateral aid and into the present “regional” strategy. There are some obvious holes in this approach, mainly because regional projects are still not very relevant to the rudimentary stage of African development. Moreover, we are still pouring money on dubious clients like Liberia, whose corruption and sloth taints us politically. If weʼre going to be tough-minded and make the most of limited resources in Africa, we have to start by harnessing aid policy to the Presidentʼs approach.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 741, Country Files, Africa, Nigeria, Vol. I. Secret. Kissinger wrote in the margin next to section 2, Contingency Planning for Nigeria, “Right But practically how do we do it?”
  2. Morris provided an update on the issues discussed in his April 23 memorandum (Document 3).