104. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, June 8, 1973, 10:30 a.m.1 2

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Memorandum of Conversation

DATE: June 8, 1973

SUBJECT: Population Matters

Ambassador William J. Porter
General William H. Draper, Jr.
General Maxwell D. Taylor
General William C. Westmoreland
Former Senator Joseph D. Tydings
Philander P. Claxton, Jr.

TIME/PLACE: June 8, 1973, 10:30 AM, Ambassador Porter’s Office, State Department


General Draper and his colleagues presented their views that the population explosion in developing countries was not only a threat to US interests in the economics and in the development of those countries but also, more fundamentally, presented a danger to our politico military interests. They referred to the memorandum written by General Taylor on this subject. Ambassador Porter said that he had read General Taylor’s memorandum and asked him to comment on it further if he cared to. General Taylor said he would add only that, although he was a neophyte in population matters, he felt very strongly that, as stated in his memorandum, the rapid growth of populations in many developing countries was a likely source of internal violence and of possibilities of external aggression. He and General Draper asked Ambassador Porter for his advice on how to proceed with the subject. They said they had talked to General Scowcroft in Mr. Kissinger’s office about it in terms of the possibility of a NSC study. General Draper said he had written the President explaining his views that rapid population growth could endanger the concept of a generation of peace and recommending that the President speak out on this subject.

Ambassador Porter said that they were talking to someone who was already converted to this whole idea. He felt that our population programs were not closely enough connected to our overall aid programs but were handled too separately. He believed there was no use pumping in aid funds and food without closer correlation with population programs. They were now much too separate. He felt the relationship needed reorientation. He believed we should not put large amounts of money in aid programs in developing countries without thinking over the long-term consequences. He said he agreed that population growth in developing countries is a definite threat to the peace, not just an economic problem. Ambassador Porter recalled his experience in Korea, where he had first come in contact with a national population control program. He found that at the governmental level there was, at least vocally, a strong program but that when he went to the village level he found that the charts showing acceptors had large gaps. He found that at the ministerial level it was thought that the population program was necessary but at the village level it would not work for the individual family until they had two male children to run the farm. In fact, the government program did not really encourage women to practice birth control until they had two male children.

Ambassador Porter said that fundamentally this is a NSC study. An overall directive for the whole program should come from the White House. He said we will check on what has happened in the White House since the receipt of General Draper’s letter. He said we will try to get something done.

Ambassador Porter brought up the other subject which had been mentioned by General Draper in his correspondence: the Brezhnev visit. He said he thought that the Soviet Union would not be much interested in internal population programs because, although they were interested in birth control for China, they wanted to fill their own empty space in Siberia. He agreed, however, with General Draper’s argument that the Soviets should be interested, as the US is, in encouraging developing countries to reduce their rates of population growth. Ambassador Porter said he would make a formal proposal to Kissinger to put the matter on the agenda for the President-Brezhnev talks.

General Draper said that he has three important steps in mind now:

1. Talks with the Soviets concerning a positive approach to the World Population Conference.

2. A statement by the President at the UNGA this fall on the threat which population growth poses for world peace.

3. The exclusion of oral contraceptives from the 40 percent limitation on AID’s contributions to the IPPF.

He asked if Mr. Claxton and Mr. Porter would agree that this last item was appropriate and, if so, if they would express their views to Dr. Hannah who had it under consideration. Ambassador Porter and Mr. Claxton said they would.

Ambassador Porter again raised the subject of the NSC and felt that the object was to get it involved. Mr. Claxton suggested that it might be useful sometime after the Secretary’s return from Europe to convoke a meeting of the Secretary, Mr. Rush, Under Secretary Casey and Ambassador Porter with Dr. Hannah and members of his staff to take a general, broad, long-range policy look at US interests and programs in the population field. He said he would send up suggestions on this subject.

Senator Tydings said there were several domestic problems involved which related strongly to our international position. He said he believed that State and AID were far ahead other departments of the Government. He said, for example, the present generation of contraceptives is not adequate for the needs of peoples in the diverse rural societies and that there was a great need for research which, however, was not being adequately supported by the US Government. He said he feels there is lacking any sense of urgency anywhere else in the Government. He felt there is a lack of coordination of internal sectors in relation to foreign policy interests in this field. For example, although it is reported that Texas, Minnesota and some other states will have exceptionally large wheat crops, he is not aware of any planning to provide the necessary railroad cars to get the wheat to port. Mr. Claxton added that Senator Humphrey has said he is not aware there is planning to provide the necessary propane or natural gas to dry the large expected soybean crop in the Midwestern states this fall. He also wondered whether there was planning for the necessary ships to carry increased cargoes of feedgrains. Although these were generally considered to be domestic matters, they strongly relate to the success of basic foreign policy interests

Senator Tydings added that he believes the top command of HEW is not only unwilling to expand our national family planning services but apparently is not willing to support what we already have going on. Ambassador Porter and Mr. Claxton both observed that it is important to be able to show abroad that we are not asking peoples of other countries to do more than we are doing at home.

General Taylor said he thought that any NSC study should include a sudy of the domestic scene viewed from the standpoint of the effects of family planning programs. Senator Tydings emphasized that logistics in the US are essential to getting food abroad for family planning purposes.

Ambassador Porter asked if anyone knew what China is doing in population control. General Draper said he had spent three weeks recently in China and had testified before Senator Kennedy’s Health Subcommittee. He would send Ambassador Porter a copy of that testimony. Ambassador Porter said he would be very glad to have it. General Draper outlined very briefly what he had seen in China.

General Draper then brought up his concern that the amendments to the AID bill proposed by 22 members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee would be harmful because: 1) they authorized funds for population and broad health subjects together and authorized only $150 million for both; and 2) as he understood it, the earmarking for population funds which had been essential to the success of the program was being dropped. He asked the Department’s consideration of this subject and support for retaining the earmarking. He said he would testify before the Foreign Affairs Committee next week and would urge the Committee to leave $125 million earmarked for population programs alone and to transfer the health subject with $25 million to the food and nutrition section.

Concerning the President-Brezhnev meeting, Mr. Claxton said he had already prepared a paper for the President’s use and that he would get it to Ambassador Porter to send to Mr. Kissinger. Ambassador Porter said that he would also include in his memorandum to Kissinger a suggestion that the population subject be taken up by the NSC in its broad aspects.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, SOC 13. Confidential. Drafted by Claxton. The meeting took place in Porter’s office. The Population Crisis Committee was a self-appointed group of advocates favoring a variety of measures to limit worldwide population growth.
  2. Members of the Population Crisis Committee discussed their concerns with Department of State officials.