123. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, April 10, 1976, 2:30 p.m.1 2

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Memorandum of Conversation

SUBJECT: U.S. Population Policy

DATE: April 10, 1976
TIME: 2:30 p.m.
PLACE: The Secretary’s Office

Charles W. Robinson, Deputy Secretary
Ambassador Marshall Green, Coordinator of Population Affairs Nicholas Veliotes, S/P
Robert Simmons, OES/ENP/PO, (Notetaker)

DISTRIBUTION: S(Aherne), S, S/S, WH(Rodman)

The Secretary: (to the Deputy Secretary) I thought we just got rid of you.

The Deputy Secretary: Well, I did not know that I had to be here, it was not on my schedule, but I am interested.

The Secretary: Well, Marshall it is good to see you.

Ambassador Green: It is good to see you. This is Robert Simmons.

The Secretary: Where is Winston?

Mr. Veliotes: Winston is at the ballet with his children. He will call you afterwards to check in.

The Deputy Secretary: I hope it is a good ballet.

The Secretary: What is playing? I hope he has a good time. (to Ambassador Green) I have read your paper with interest, but it is not clear to me what you want me to do.

Ambassador Green: I apologize for that, and for bringing it up on such a lovely day when there are many other problems to deal with.

The Secretary: I am delighted to see you always.

Ambassador Green: There are a number of groups interested in this subject who look to you for leadership and would like to see you more active. They were pleased when you worked it in to your speech to the Special Session of the General Assembly and there has been widespread favorable response to that speech.

The Secretary: Can we get it into the UNCTAD Speech?

The Deputy Secretary: I just made a note of that.

Ambassador Green: This is recognized as a problem in many countries. In Egypt it is a major problem, and the Sadats, particularly Mrs. Sadat, are very active in this area. In two of the African countries you are going to be visiting there has been leadership interest in this subject: in Tanzania, President Nyerere has come out in favor of family planning and President Moboutu has as well. If you could discuss it with them during your trip to Africa it would show your interest and commitment and be supportive of their positions. Certainly in Africa where sensitivities are high the emphasis should be on health aspects, particularly maternal and child health care, but if you were willing to raise it --

The Secretary: No, I am willing to raise it, but my problem is that, you know, unless you have something specific to propose it gets lost. General expressions of interest do not do all that much good. But I would be happy to put something specific, but not just as a concern. The great danger we face as the world’s richest country is that we cannot look just as if we are trying to hold others down.

Ambassador Green: Certainly, that is true, but sensitivity is declining, even in the Roman Catholic Church. In the Philippines the barrio priests are very active in the family planning effort. Some in Africa charge us with genocide, but in Asia there is no sensitivity at all. In places in Africa and Latin America where there is more sensitivity, international organizations and private voluntary organizations can be more out in the front and we can support them. In the past, this has been too exclusively an AID effort, bypassing diplomacy. It is not your or my fault but often we in Washington and our Ambassadors could do more thanwe all now do on this subject. On my recent trip toAsia, I had a very useful meeting with President Marcos, which helped to get the program moving in the villages. In Pakistan I talked to Pirzada, the number two man. Bhutto had destroyed the village structure under the Union Councils making it difficult to get the population program to work, now this is --

The Secretary: Can you come up with things for me to do, first with our Ambassadors, perhaps a message or something to them from me, and secondly are there occasions when I can say something on this to show my support.

Ambassador Green: Certainly Ambassadors can do more diplomatically, and a message from you would show them that this is a task they have to take seriously. Some of them tend to step back from this sensitive problem. They probably think I am odd or strange to have taken this job.

The Secretary: You wanted it though, didn’t you?

Ambassador Green: Queerly, or perhaps I should say strangely, I did want it.

The Secretary: They think that I am queer according to this book.

Mr. Veliotes: What book?

The Deputy Secretary: Erlichman allegedly said it.

The Secretary: Not in Erlichman’s book - in this one by Woodward and --

Ambassador Green: I do not think that handling this problem has to cost us a great deal more money but we shouldstep up our present efforts which many groups support.

The Secretary: Have you ever gotten any groups here in the Department? Perhaps I could drop in and say something to them. I would be glad to.

Ambassador Green: We had a good meeting last year attended by 150 different organizations. We plan another meeting this year and it would mean a great deal if you would drop by and show your support.

The Secretary: If you do get another group of leaders in I will drop by. And, second, what about the UNCTAD speech? How is the speech coming along?

The Deputy Secretary: Well all we need now are the decisions.

The Secretary: To hell with the decisions, I want to see a draft.

The Deputy Secretary: I think we have a draft for you. But we still have to achieve a couple of our positions with Treasury --

The Secretary: Should I work from this text.

Mr. Veliotes: Yes sir, the only major issue is buffer stocks.

Ambassador Green: Your proposal on population in the UNGASS speech was very well received. Perhaps forUNCTAD in Nairobi you could stress the health side.

The Secretary: I would be happy to, if it fits, and shows some concern on our part and generates some action in the countries we are concerned with.

Ambassador Green: To get that kind of action, to get countries to move we need Ambassadorial level discussions on the diplomatic side. AID has been supply-oriented and supplying contraceptives will go only so far if demand has not been stimulated. That demand can be built several ways, notably including pressures from leaders and peer pressures within communities. This approach has been successful in the PRC as well as in East Java. It is with regard to strong direction from the top that our Ambassadors can play a role. When I was Ambassador to Indonesia, my first conversation with Suharto was on this subject, for he wanted the U.S. to give Indonesia $500 million to ship the excess population from Java to the outer islands. I told him that if the Queen Mary left Jakarta every day loaded down to the with people, it wouldn’t take care of the natural increase of population in Java. This began a useful dialogue on population with Suharto. Other Ambassadors can say similar things when suitable occasions arise and get useful action. Aside from these two approaches leadership and peer pressures - a third approach is the one you presented in your UNGASS speech, namely providing integrated health and family planning services at low cost principally through paramedics or other health workers in the villages, working with midwives or other traditional birth attendants. They can get to a woman when she has her first or second child, not her fourth or fifth, when the demographic damage is done. Most acceptors of family planning services - especially sterilization - have had five or six children. This is not any good at all. Spacing has to start with the first child, as does family planning.

The Secretary: What about J.D. Rockefeller, can he be of any help in this ?

Ambassador Green: He has been active in the past but I understand that his health is not too good and I do not know how much he is able to do. I have been trying to get the Vice President interested in it though. I saw a friend of yours on Capitol Hill and he wanted me to mention to you, when I saw you, his own interest in this matter. I refer to Senator Humphrey who is very interested in this area, particularly what we can do through food-for-work programs under P.L.-480. Food-for-work assistance stresses improving the ability of farmers to produce more food for themselves in LDC’s. This is a more valid approach because it will keep more people on the farms and not flooding in the cities, and helps cope with underemployment and unemployment which are now greater problems than famine. It will put people to work but it will also keep them out of cities where they become disruptive and threats to security for these countries. Food-for-work also ensures that our food aid gets to the rural poor.

The Secretary: Marshall, why don’t you do this. Give me a paper as soon as next week that is an integrated proposal with all of your ideas, on how to bring this problem around. I do not mind putting my name on a number of good proposals you might have. I am interested in these ideas of what we can do and putting some of them into the UNCTAD speech. You do not have to come to me ad hoc like this. Get me a paper by the middle of next week that will give me an integrated view of what we can do, in development activities. I have looked at a number of proposals from our posts and it seems to me that most of what can be done has to be done in the countries.

Ambassador Green: That’s why the main thing is to get our Ambassadors busy on this thing and to get them working with AID on ideas from the field. We have sent a message out indicating this in response to NSDM-314; but, if you could sign off on one, that would indicate your interest and get them active.

The Secretary: Sure, send a message out from me telling our Ambassadors I am behind this thing. Send it SECRET so they will be sure to leak it and then the word will really get around. If you send it unclassified then no one will do anything about it.

Ambassador Green: I am working with a task force of 16 agencies to get together a number of recommendations, but the action is mostly bureaucratic and administrative. The real step is to get our country teams active. Just my getting to see you here today and being able to pass on your support --

The Secretary: I agree with you.

Ambassador Green: I do think that the Ambassadors will be more effective when they know of your personal interest and concern. What good is it for them to be rushing around putting out grease fires, while the termites of too many people are eating away at the house.

The Secretary: It was good to see you Marshall. If you have other interests than population it would be good to hear from you, maybe I will call upon you.

Ambassador Green: I am ready to sailor for you anywhere.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P820117–2114. Confidential. Drafted by Simmons on May 17 and approved by Aherne on May 21. The meeting was held in Kissinger’s office. Kissinger’s trip included stops in the United Kingdom (April 23–24), Nairobi (April 24–25), Dar es Salaam (April 25–26), Lusaka (April 26–27), Kinshasa (April 27–30), Monrovia (April 30–May 1), Dakar (May 1–2), Nairobi (May 2–6), and Paris (May 6–7). Kissinger’s May 6 speech to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Nairobi is published in Department of State Bulletin, May 31, 1976, pp. 657–672. Kissinger’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly Seventh Special Session is ibid., September 22, 1975, pp. 425–441.
  2. Kissinger discussed how to promote U.S. international population policy objectives with Green and other Department of State officials.