392. Memorandum From Viron P. Vaky of the National Security Council to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2

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  • Review Group Meeting, June 11—Haiti

The Review Group Meeting on June 11 is scheduled to consider NSSM–70, Haiti. The meeting will also cover NSSM–32 Cuba, and, therefore, you will want to keep discussion of Haiti fairly brief.

The NSSM was issued as a result of Governor Rockefeller’s recommendation that we consider renewing aid to Haiti and revising our policy toward Duvalier.

The central issue outlined by the IG paper is what if anything can and should be done now by the US a) to prepare for or influence the transition to a post-Duvalier Haiti and b) to help Haiti achieve modernity and satisfy humanitarian needs?

The paper concludes that we can do little to influence the transition or to meaningfully assist Haiti’s development while Duvalier is in power, and that we should try to satisfy humanitarian needs primarily through multilateral and private channels. This essentially would continue our present policy with perhaps an increased effort at providing humanitarian assistance. Basically I agree with the conclusions.

The paper considers three options for assisting Haiti and two options (one of which is deemed unfeasible) to prepare for or influence the transition to a post-Duvalier Haiti. These are:

To Assist

  • —continue present policy of minimal bilateral involvement
  • —encourage greater multilateral participation
  • —increase bilateral assistance.
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To Prepare for the Transition

  • —continue present course of minimal involvement
  • —increase efforts to influence the transition (seen as not feasible).

(There is a contingency paper on Haiti which covers the US position during the actual transition). (The pros and cons of the above options are summarized on pages 4–9 of the Analytical Summary).

The paper rejects three other options as “straw men,” i.e. unfeasible under present or foreseeable circumstances. These are:

  • —termination of all US assistance
  • —creation of a major US bilateral aid program
  • —covert action to change the political structure of the country.

We believe at least one of the options rejected, that of the renewal of a larger-scale bilateral aid program, should be discussed in the meeting since it is seriously recommended by our Ambassador, Clinton Knox. The Ambassador makes some interesting points about the importance of keeping our eye on the political evolution of Haiti as a black state, rather than simply considering it a problem of Duvalier’s dictatorship. This long-range perspective should at least be considered.

There are a few minor problems with the statements of objectives and judgments in the paper. These are mentioned in your talking points.

At the Review Group meeting we should get agency views on the options presented, then submit the paper to the President. I do not think it is worth sending the paper for any rewrites. Any amendments or discussion can probably be handled in our staffing.

We think that there will be agreement that the US probably cannot influence the transition and that development efforts are better left to private and multilateral agencies. However, I feel that we can also probably get agreement that the US can and should try to do more on the humanitarian side to alleviate conditions of poverty and deprivation among the people.

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An NSC meeting on Haiti is not necessary. However, the paper should go to the President because a) it is an issue raised by Governor Rockefeller and b) a presidential decision is needed to help shake some of the bureaucracy’s complacent biases toward Haiti.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–45, Senior Review Group Meetings, Haiti and Cuba 6/11/70. Secret. Sent for action. Attached but not published is the attached January 8 NSSM 70 Study on Haiti. The memorandum was not initialed by Vaky. The Senior Review Group did not meet on June 11; Kissinger decided to ask for agency positions on the options and present them to the President. (Memorandum from Vaky to Kissinger, October 14; ibid., Box H–222, NSDM 94)
  2. Vaky forwarded a copy of NSSM–70 Study on Haiti for Kissinger to review in preparation for the June 11 Review Group Meeting. The covering memorandum, which is published here, briefly describes NSSM–70 study’s key points.