339. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (McIntyre) to President Carter1


  • Foreign Policy and Country Aid Allocations (S)

This memorandum responds to your request that we review proposed aid allocations to countries in light of their attitudes toward primary US foreign policy objectives, especially in the current Iranian and Afghan situations.2 (S)

An NSC staff analysis last week found a high correlation between recent trends in allocations of aid among countries and their support of, or opposition to, major US foreign policy interests.3 (C)

We have considered whether reductions in aid to unhelpful countries would be likely to improve their political behavior or influence other aid recipients to be more helpful. (S)

I. Security Assistance

This type of assistance is geared primarily to support of short-term foreign policy purposes, and so changes in it to take account of the recipients’ changing foreign policy attitudes are not only appropriate but desirable. (U)

In security assistance, negative political factors were found in the cases of three recipients: Zambia, Syria, and Mozambique, and inconsistency between low aid allocations and high political support ratings was noted in the cases of Oman, Morocco, and Lebanon. (U)

Of the three countries frequently at odds with US policy, only Syria has been particularly unhelpful in the current crises. On Iran, while the Syrians have indicated the possibility of their playing a mediator’s role, their public pronouncements have been strongly pro- [Page 1073] Khomeini and pro-revolution. On Afghanistan, Syria has endorsed the Soviet action and has issued statements of support for the new government in Kabul. We find the accumulation of Syrian actions contrary to US interests unacceptable in a recipient of security assistance. (S)

No other current recipient of US aid has taken a stance on the Afghanistan issue comparable to Syria’s. (C)

If action were to be taken against Syria on this account, we would favor sharply reducing its FY 1981 $15 million ESF program, leaving $5 million to continue our educational scholarship and training projects, which may be useful ultimately in gaining Syrian political cooperation. We believe that the Congress is likely to cut out all aid to Syria if a large program is proposed. The reduced proposal contrasts with our requests of $60 million in FY 1980 and $90 million in FY 1979. (S)

We would propose applying the $10 million “saving” to ESF aid to a more supportive country or countries, such as Lebanon. It is too late in the budget process to shift the funds to the FMS account. They could be added to the Contingency Fund proposal, but this might simply increase the Congressional cut of this controversial account. (S)


—Leave Syrian ESF program at $15 million. (C)

—Reduce the Syrian program to $5 million and apply the $10 million to a more supportive country or countries. (Our recommendation; State concurs)4 (C)

II. Development Aid

Development assistance is, by its nature and legislative history, geared more to long-term goals than to influencing immediate political behavior. The Congress made clear, in amending your aid reorganization plan last year and in previous amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act, that development aid should be insulated from short-term political considerations. The Nixon Administration was strongly criticized by the Congressional and private constituencies (especially church leaders) on which we rely for support of development aid for moving in the opposite direction. (It reportedly had a “hit list” of countries which were to be punished for their UN votes, and which was kept up to date in the State Department by White House direction.) (U)

In development assistance, the NSC staff study found some divergence between development aid allocations and recent political attitudes—notably in the cases of India and Mali. (C)

[Page 1074]

We believe Mali can be set aside for the present as inconsequential. Our development aid of $16 million is an integral part of the multi-country Sahel recovery program. Mali’s pro-Soviet tendencies don’t seem likely to be contagious in Africa or troublesome in international organizations. (C)

India has deplored the taking of US hostages in Iran, but the interim government has not been as outspoken and active as we wished in working for their release. Both that government and candidate Gandhi have criticized Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan.5 After first being quoted in an Indian newspaper as seeing some merit in Moscow’s excuses for its action, Mrs. Gandhi made a forthright statement of criticism of Soviet aggression yesterday: “There is no excuse for Soviet troops to go into Afghanistan . . .” (C)

As you know, India is a unique case: practitioner of a peculiar brand of non-alignment that sometimes is biased toward Soviet interests (such as in Kampuchea), the central theater in the war on hunger (along with Bangladesh and Pakistan), and increasingly effective in agricultural development. (U)

India’s positions on the current crises and its longer-term political posture do not, in our judgment, warrant a punitive reduction of presently programmed aid. (S)

That aid consists of a constant program of PL–480 Title-II food grants for voluntary agency feeding projects and a rising program of AID development loans, primarily to support food production through fertilizer imports. (U)

In the reprogramming caused by Congressional cuts in the overall AID appropriations, our FY 1980 AID program in India has been reduced from $135 to $112 million (compared to $90 million in FY 1979). For FY 1981 if the entire AID appropriation requested were granted, India would receive $170 million—high in absolute terms but among the lowest (30 cents) in per capita terms among AID recipients. As in FY 1980, a substantial reduction in this figure will occur in the reprogramming that will follow Congressional cuts. (We can take account of what India does between now and then in reprogramming, without the disadvantages cited below that would attend a change now.) (C)

Our current efforts to build resistance to Soviet-sponsored destabilization of Pakistan would be greatly aided by India’s cooperation, even if tacit. Conversely, heightened Indian hostility toward Pakistan could undermine our efforts. India’s sensitivity to the resumption of US [Page 1075] arms aid to Pakistan could be inflamed if that resumption were coupled with a simultaneous reduction in the projected economic aid program for India, whose general growth course is known to that government. This is the more true since the $170 million figure is now widely known and an order to change draft Congressional presentation papers at the last moment might well leak. (S)

Such a change would cut across the signal that we are trying to give India by our action on Tarapur and our intended discussions of Pakistani arms aid with the Gandhi government. It would seem to be directed at Mrs. Gandhi, starting our relationship with her on a sour note and making it more difficult to establish tacit cooperation on security in the subcontinent. (S)

A cut in projected aid for India, following your endorsement of the Hunger Commission’s call for commitment of our development aid to overcoming world hunger without regard to political considerations, would be criticized by the Commission and other pro-aid and anti-hunger citizen groups. As Sol Linowitz wrote to you, India—with about half the population of the less-developed nations, dire poverty, and a very serious food problem—epitomizes the need the Commission was addressing.6 Finally, if we desire to substantially increase PL–480 as a response to the grain embargo,7 India is one of the most likely candidates for large increases.

On the other hand, if Mrs. Gandhi makes frequent strong anti-US statements or reinstitutes her previous repressive policies, Congressional hostility to India and pressures for cutting aid to India will revive. (C)


—Stick with the India aid level in your pending FY 1981 budget ($170 million AID, $152 million PL–480, Title II), but make sure that these figures bear at least their fair share of likely Congressional cuts; reconsider whether even deeper cuts8 should be made then in light of intervening events. (Our recommendation; State and IDCA concur)9 (C)

[Page 1076]

—Cut the AID program for India in FY 1981 back to the FY 1980 request level ($135 million).10 (C)

Bangladesh, currently a member of the Security Council, supported the resolution demanding withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and abstained—as did the other Moslem member, Kuwait—on the Iran sanctions vote.11 It took this decision in the face of very strong US pleas to act differently. Otherwise its policy has been moderate in North-South forums and independent of communist powers. (C)

This Islamic nation of 87 million is at the depths of poverty, and our aid there is very important to human survival and nutrition. The planned FY 1981 program consists of $117 million in AID projects, and $102 million in PL–480, both focused on food production. (C)

A reduction at this stage in the process of drafting the Congressional presentation papers could only be explained on grounds of Bangladesh’s abstention on the Iran sanctions vote. Such a decision might leak and provoke a sharp reaction from supporters of the war on hunger and from third world countries on which we rely for support in the present crisis. They would cite such a decision—basing long-term development aid on a recipient’s UN vote of abstention—as evidence of hypocrisy in our policy statements on North-South development cooperation. (C)

We understand that Cy Vance may be sending you a memoran-dum recommending that we reduce our development assistance be-low the presently planned FY 1981 level while allowing a moderate increase. (C)


—Stick with the presently planned FY 1981 Bangladesh program ($117 million AID and $102 million PL–480). (Our recommendation; IDCA concurs.)12 (C)

—Cut Bangladesh back to the FY 1980 AID request level of $105 million, without altering the planned PL–480 program.13 (C)

[Page 1077]

Other Countries

The other non-communist country which has been pro-Soviet with its comments on Afghanistan is Ethiopia. It will receive no US aid in 1980 and is scheduled to receive $3 million in the humanitarian PL–480 Title-II program in 1981. We recommend no change at this time.14 (C)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 25, Foreign Assistance: 1–10/80. Secret. Sent for action. Carter initialed “C” at the top of the page.
  2. In a January 8 handwritten note to Brzezinski and McIntyre, Carter rquested: “Advise me what changes we should make in foreign aid pkg—today.” (Ibid.) In November 1979, Iranian Islamic militants overran the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took the U.S. personnel as hostages. In December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.
  3. Reference is to a January 5 memorandum from NSC Staff members Rutherford Poats and Robert Kimmitt to Brzezinski entitled “Correlation of Aid Levels and Support of US Objectives.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 60, Chron: 1/81)
  4. Carter indicated his approval of this option and initialed “J.”
  5. Charan Singh was the Indian Prime Minister from July 28, 1979, until January 14, 1980. Indira Gandhi was the Congress Party candidate for Prime Minister in the January election.
  6. Linowitz’s letter was not found.
  7. On January 4, Carter announced an embargo on grain sales to the Soviet Union in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. For the text of Carter’s announcement, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Jimmy Carter, 1980–81, Book I, pp. 21–24. For the texts of Carter’s January 7 memoranda to the Secretaries of Commerce and Agriculture effecting the embargo, see ibid., p. 32.
  8. Carter underlined the phrase “even deeper cuts.”
  9. Carter indicated his approval of this option and wrote “But cut if warranted” in the adjacent margin. A note in an unknown hand in the opposite adjacent margin reads: “[illegible] both India programs per the P’s instructions to ZB.”
  10. Brzezinski wrote “I lean this way” and initialed in the margin adjacent to this option.
  11. The UN Security Council met January 5–9 to consider the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union vetoed a resolution condemning the invasion. The Security Council also met on January 11 and 13 to consider the situation in Iran. A U.S.-sponsored draft resolution calling on member states to impose sanctions on Iran pending the safe release of the hostages was not approved.
  12. Ehrlich discussed his opposition to a reduction in assistance for Bangladesh in a January 10 memorandum to Owen. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 25, Foreign Assistance: 1–10/80)
  13. Brzezinski wrote “I lean this way” and initialed in the margin adjacent to this option. Carter indicated his approval of the option and wrote “& refuse FMS request” in the adjacent margin.
  14. Brzezinski wrote “I would cut” and initialed in the margin adjacent to this option. Carter indicated his approval of the option and initialed “J.”