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272. Memorandum From Robert Pastor of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • PRC Meeting on PRM–8—July 27, 1977

I think the paper2 is superb in sorting out conceptually the three goals which we will want to pursue in our North-South policy: (1) basic human needs; (2) reform of global institutions; and (3) bringing the regional influentials into our system. But, conversely, I think the paper is weakest in failing to show how these three goals can be and should be integrated into a comprehensive policy. The materials for developing such a policy are all there; the problem is that we view the co-optation of regional influentials as a goal when it is actually the best of all means for pursuing a comprehensive North-South strategy.

Ironically, we continue to carry some of the baggage of the Kissinger era of “confrontation politics,” when Kissinger’s goal was to break the bloc, and he used ostensibly positive proposals as a vehicle to do that. His insincerity was clearly perceived, and the result was that he failed. We are, of course, all sympathetic to Roger’s premise that a positive and sincere effort by the U.S. will invite greater flexibility by the LDCs and thus progress. If we are truly concerned about breaking up bloc politics, the best way to do that is not to worry about it but just to negotiate seriously. When the LDCs begin to realize we have an end-picture in mind, they will get into the details of a proposal and differing interests will divide countries.

Similarly, if we set our goals as contributing to a global basic human needs strategy and to reforming the Bretton Woods institutions to take into account the need for greater participation for all developing countries but particularly the regional influentials (REGINFs), then one sees that our natural allies in pursuit of such goals should be the REGINFs. We will consult with them more often, but we need not structure the final package (bilateral or multilateral assistance or what[Page 836]ever) just to attract them; they are now so much a part of the system, that they will benefit by overall reforms. (This is recognized by the fact that the reforms and programs are improvements in the current—our—system, rather than aimed at replacing old institutions.) Moreover, I don’t think we should follow any strategy which in any way implies that our purpose is to divide the developing world.

The key to a comprehensive strategy is to connect Roger’s three elements of a North-South policy with a single overlapping concept: participation. Basic human needs is intended to increase the capabilities of the poor people of all countries to participate more fully in the social and economic lives of their nations. The purpose of reforming global institutions is to increase the participation of developing countries and thus the responsiveness of the institutions to their needs. Finally, bringing the REGINF’s into our system is intended to give them a voice and a vote commensurate with their growing power.

The attraction of participation as an over-arching goal is that it not only relates to the developing world in a comprehensive way, but also to our own country and to the entire world. The civil rights struggle, the intention of the President to help the poor in the US, the voting rights laws—all provide a natural link between the domestic and the foreign policy objectives of tackling the problems of the poor. In a world in which the line between domestic and foreign policy is becoming less relevant, the idea of promoting participation can provide an easy handle for the American people to relate US problems to the world’s problems.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 63, PRC 028 North/South Issues 7/27/77 [1]. Confidential. According to the NSC Correspondence Profile, Brzezinski noted the memorandum. (Ibid.)
  2. Apparently a reference either to the paper entitled “North/South Strategy” prepared in response to the second stage of the PRM–8 process (see footnote 4, Document 270) or the July 26 memorandum from Hansen to Brzezinski and Aaron printed as Document 271.