263. Memorandum From Michael A. Guhin of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Nance)1


  • International Population Policies and Assistance

This memo responds to our further conversation on this subject.2

The study directed by President Nixon resulted in National Security Decision Memorandum 314, “Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests,” issued in November 1975 under President Ford (copy attached).3 Among other things, the NSDM underlines the importance of international population polices and assistance to US interests. It remained in effect during the Carter Administration, but the interagency coordinating responsibility was transferred to an NSC Ad Hoc Group on Population Policy (Brzezinski memo also attached).4

I believe we have a continuing strong interest in international population programs, as outlined below, and do not believe any useful purpose would be served by opening up the NSDM for review. Also, as mentioned in my recent note to you, an IG on international population matters makes sense to me.5

The AID budget for population assistance was increased from about $200M in FY 81 to $250M for FY 82. However, this increase should be viewed in context. The AID budget remained essentially constant for FY 79, FY 80, and FY 81 under continuing resolutions in the absence of a Foreign Assistance Act for those years. All of AID has been increased in FY 82 to account for the steady decline in real terms over the last three years. The percentage increase for population assistance is slightly larger than the increase for AID as a whole, but these programs are still only a small percent of AID’s effort (around 7%).

Why more money? As noted, it is not an increase in real terms over FY 79. Also, the problem is still growing. While the growth rate [Page 737] is down, there is a larger population base. Some key LDC’s and others have a strong interest in population programs (e.g., Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia). An international consensus is growing on the importance of population programs to other interests, particularly development efforts. Finally, population assistance and programs can be effective when combined with other development efforts, as seen in some of the countries mentioned above as well as in China and South Korea.

What about domestic political implications? That is not my call. However, there has been support for this aspect of AID in Congress and, I understand, no significant opposition to the programs. (The FY 82 budget was increased in one house and decreased in the other, so it appears it may end up right around the Administration proposal.) Also, there is no abortion work. The Helms amendment a few years ago made clear that there would be no kind of assistance to abortion.6 Also, this year McPherson clarified that AID would drop any abortion-related research (e.g., how to deal with effects of bad practice). Finally, this is not “taking on” the “Catholic Church.” In fact, there are ongoing consultations with the Vatican on these matters.7

My contacts in State are already aware that Buckley may be questioning the international population programs. This, combined with what they see as a decision by the Administration to avoid mention of population in the Ottawa Communique,8 is resulting in some concern about where the Administration is heading on international population programs.

My view is fairly simple. We need to get on with international population programs for our security and other interests, in conjunction with our other development programs. The increase makes as much sense as the AID effort overall, if not more sense than some aspects. If we do not want to give high political visibility to these programs, that is one thing and we can accommodate our public tactics accordingly. However, I believe that this concern should not affect the support for the programs and that it would be very unfortunate to create an impression that the Administration is not for international population assistance.

If you or RVA wish further information or a briefing on these matters, I would be happy to arrange for Dick Benedick (career FSO and Coordinator of Population Affairs) to come over for a briefing.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Guhin, Michael A.: Files, Population/Studies (1). Confidential.
  2. No record of this conversation has been found.
  3. Dated November 26, 1975, attached but not printed. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–14, Part 1, Documents on the United Nations, 1973–1976, Document 122.
  4. Dated May 17, 1977, attached but not printed.
  5. In a July 14 memorandum to Nance, Guhin outlined his initial thoughts on population policy. (Reagan Library, Guhin, Michael A: Files, Population/Studies (1))
  6. Reference is to the Helms Amendment to the 1973 Foreign Assistance Act, which restricted U.S. foreign assistance to programs that funded abortion.
  7. See Document 261, Attachment 2, paragraph 6.
  8. Reference is to the G–7 Summit held in Ottawa in July 1981.