24. Telegram 14449 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Zaire1 2


  • Diggs
Please pass following message immediate to Chairman Diggs from the Secretary.
The President has asked me to reply immediately to your cable of January concerning Nathaniel Davis.
Ambassador Davis is one of our leading career foreign service officers with a distinguished record at home and abroad. His service in three different missions as Ambassador or Minister was exemplary in all respects. Ambassadors are not the creators of policy. Their role is to carry out instructions faithfully. An ambassador is often confronted by difficult political problems. His advice is sought but decisions are made in Washington by the responsible political leaders. These decisions may later become unpopular; we cannot, however, stigmatize the Ambassador or foreign service officer who did what he was told to do.
Ambassador Davis, not yet fifty, was nominated to [Page 2] replace Assistant Secretary Easum on January 8. He has been serving as Director General of the Foreign Service. He is widely experienced, as a result of his diplomatic service in Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, Italy, Venezuela, as a Minister to Bulgaria and as Ambassador to Guatemala and Chile. His assignments in Washington have included the senior staff of the National Security Council and Peace Corps Deputy Associate Director for Overseas Operations. The latter position involved responsibilities for programs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and took him to urban and rural areas of Nigeria, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Togo, Dahomey and Niger.
It is of interest to note that during his assignments in Washington Ambassador Davis was for five years a lecturer in history at Howard University, was the chairman of the inner city childrens and youth program of the National Capital Area Council of Churches, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Northwest Settlement House in Washington. Davis has a significant civil rights record going back over two decades which I would be glad to share with you. I do not think, however, that this is germane.

I sincerely believe, Mr. Chairman, that we have selected wisely in nominating Ambassador Davis for the African post. I hope this nomination will receive your support.

Henry A. Kissinger.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Africa, Box 7, Zaire, State Department Telegrams from SECSTATE—Nodis. Unclassified; Immediate. Drafted by Brown and approved by Kissinger.
  2. At President Ford’s request, Secretary of State Kissinger replied to Congressman Diggs with strong support for the nomination of Nathaniel Davis.