Richard Nixon photo

Special Message to the Congress Proposing Supplemental Foreign Assistance Appropriations

November 18, 1970

To the Congress of the United States:

In today's world, peace is synonymous with the strength of America and her friends.

Economic and military assistance to free nations willing to defend themselves is central to our new conception of American leadership for the 1970s and is crucial to America's hope of working with other nations to bring about the preconditions for peace in the world.

In my February 1970 Foreign Policy Message, I reported that it was our goal to reduce the level of our direct involvements abroad as the capability of friendly nations to provide for defense of our mutual interests increases. At that time I sought the cooperation of the Congress in this task. The provision of support for our friends is a key element in our national security policy. Such support is essential if our policy is to succeed. This is why I ask today for a supplemental appropriation of economic and military assistance funds.

The first six decades of the Twentieth Century taught us that a stable and tranquil world requires American participation in keeping the peace. For us to abdicate that responsibility would be to magnify the world's instability and turmoil for us as well as for our friends, and American strength remains one pillar of our foreign policy.

The United States is not going to withdraw from the world. But times are changing; for us to fulfill our responsibility now, we must link our efforts more closely with those of our friends to build the foundations of peace.

The decade of the 1960s taught us that it is neither necessary, nor even possible, for the United States to bear the principal burden for the defense or economic progress of all our allies and friends. They are now ready and willing to assume an increasing share of the burden for their own defense, and are developing the strength to do so--but they will continue to need our help as they move toward ultimate self-reliance.

The free world looks to this kind of American leadership in the 1970s. It is an American contribution which will encourage and enable other nations to do their part. It is a role for the United States in the world which will enlist the support of the American people, and which America can--and must--sustain.

It is in America's national interest to support the growing efforts of our friends. The overwhelming evidence of the last 25 years--from the Marshall Plan to Vietnamization--is that a systematic program that helps other nations harness their own resources for defense and development enables them to take on the primary burden of their own defense.

Helping countries that demonstrate the capability to help themselves enables us to reduce our direct overseas involvement; it eases our budgetary and balance of payments burdens; and it lessens the likelihood of the engagement of American forces.

We are already carrying out this policy. Since I took office, we have already lowered our military presence abroad:

--Already, 68 installations abroad have been closed, and 44 more have been reduced.

--By next spring, under present plans, the total number of American military personnel overseas will be at least 300,000 below the number that were abroad in January of 1969.

But our national security requires that we provide friendly nations the military and economic assistance they need to defend themselves.

The change that the Nixon Doctrine calls for--from bearing the primary responsibility ourselves to enabling our friends to shoulder it much more themselves is not a simple one to carry out. We must make this change in a way that permits our friends to adjust materially and psychologically to the new form and content of American support.

If we were to shift too quickly, without offsetting with assistance what we are taking away in direct American involvement, we would risk undermining their self-confidence. If we were to change too slowly, bearing too much of the burden ourselves too long, we would risk eroding their incentives for self-reliance.

In either case, we would fail to provide our friends with the means and confidence to help themselves, and we might ultimately face the dilemma of either letting them down or asserting a direct presence ourselves.

In the Middle East, we see how crucial it is to preserve the military balance so that those who are already willing and able to defend themselves can continue to do so. The interest of all nations would be best served by limiting the shipment of arms to that explosive region, but until this objective can be achieved, we must help prevent a shift in the military balance that would undermine the chances for peace.

In the Middle East and elsewhere, we must strike a careful balance. While we must understand the limitations of our assistance, we must never underestimate its critical value in achieving and preserving such balance.

The supplemental program which I submit today will help achieve this balance, by responding to critical needs that have arisen since my original request for 1971 foreign assistance funds.

1. Middle East

Nowhere is our support more necessary or more closely linked with our efforts to achieve peaceful solutions than in the Middle East. Peace will come to the Middle East when all parties feel secure from the threat of military dominance and recognize that the only permanent way to resolve deep-seated differences is by negotiation and never by war.

We must now act to preserve the delicate military balance in this area, which will encourage those negotiations leading to peace.

a. Israel

Israel has demonstrated a strong will to survive in freedom. We had hoped that recent agreements and arrangements in the Middle East would lead toward peace and make it unnecessary to provide large amounts of military assistance to any of the belligerents in the area. This hope has not yet been realized.

Continued large scale shipments of military equipment by the Soviet Union are a fact that cannot be denied. The buildup of the surface-m-air missile complex in the cease-fire zone west of the Suez Canal, in disregard of the cease-fire-standstill agreement, requires us to redress the imbalance it has caused.

As authorized by the Defense Procurement Act, I request that the Congress appropriate 8500 million to provide Israel with the credits that will assist her in the financing of purchases of equipment that have been necessary to maintain her defense capability, and to ease the economic strain caused by her expanded military requirements.

b. Jordan

A stable and viable Jordan is essential if that nation is to make a positive contribution toward working out an enduring peace settlement which would serve the interests of all nations in the Middle East. The Jordanian government has recently demonstrated its determination and capacity to resist aggression by forces which oppose a peace settlement and threaten to weaken the stability of that country. But Jordan, which has previously paid for its military equipment, cannot afford to meet this new defense burden, and has asked us for assistance. I request that the Congress provide $30 million toward meeting Jordan's request.

c. Lebanon

Lebanon, which has also been threatened, has taken a moderate stance and a positive approach in the search for peace. To assist Lebanon to maintain a stable domestic base for responsible engagement in the search for peace, I request the Congress to appropriate $5 million toward meeting Lebanon's request.

2. East Asia

In July 1969, on my trip through Asia, I reaffirmed our determination to provide security support, while calling upon countries which receive our assistance to assume the primary responsibility for their own defense. Equally important, I emphasized the need to provide the help essential for such nations to assume this responsibility quickly. While reducing the direct participation of our forces we must help these other countries develop the capability to carry out the increased responsibilities they are assuming.

In Asia, this approach has provided the basis for a major reduction in our military presence as well as major long term budgetary and balance of payments savings. Authorized troop levels have been reduced by:

--165,000 in Vietnam; further reductions of 100,000 will be accomplished by next spring;

--20,000 in Korea;

--6,000 in Thailand; further reductions of 9,800 are in process;

--6,000 in the Philippines.

Let us look at the countries in Asia where our help is required as nations move toward greater self-reliance.

a. Vietnam

United States troop withdrawals in Vietnam mean a reduction in the amount of dollars spent by the Department of Defense, and by our soldiers in Vietnam; and these dollars have been an essential factor in that country's economic stability.

Anticipating that Vietnam would require additional funds this year, my budget message suggested that an extra $100 million might be required. I am now requesting an amount smaller than that-$65 million--but I regard this smaller sum as most important in insuring the success of our Vietnamization program. It is important because:

--The Vietnamese, with United States encouragement, have recently begun a significant set of economic reforms which can be effective only if the stability of the Vietnamese economy is maintained.

--The Vietnamese economy will bear an increasing burden of defense as United States troops are removed. That burden could create economic disruption to the point that it would jeopardize that nation's stability, thereby threatening the progress of Vietnamization and future troop withdrawals.

b. Cambodia

The operations in the Cambodian border sanctuaries in May and June helped assure the continued success of Vietnamization and of our troop withdrawal programs. As we knew at the time would be the case, the operations seriously impaired the enemy's ability to operate in South Vietnam, and contributed to the progress which has reduced our casualties there to the lowest level since 1965. Continuing operations by South Vietnamese and Cambodian forces in the border areas will make possible continued progress.

Cambodia itself has mobilized its own manpower and resources in defense of its independence and neutrality. The Cambodian armed forces have grown from some 40,000 before North Vietnam's invasion in April to more than 150,000 today. It is essential that we supplement Cambodia's own efforts by providing resources which are critically needed to enable it to continue to defend itself. Its ability to do so is a vital element in the continued success of Vietnamization.

Cambodia's needs have been urgent, and as Congress has been informed, I have directed that funds be transferred from other already severely limited programs to meet these critical needs. I am requesting $100 million to restore funds to such vital programs as those for Taiwan, Greece and Turkey.

The need for these programs--to support our NATO allies and to assure stability in the Mediterranean and in East Asia--are no less urgent today than when I originally requested the funds to implement them; it was only because of the extraordinary urgency of Cambodia's needs that I directed this temporary transfer.

To meet Cambodia's urgent needs for the remainder of this fiscal year, I request that the Congress provide $155 million in new funds to be directly allocated to the Cambodian program ($70 million for economic support; and $85 million for military assistance). Seventy percent of the military assistance will be for ammunition.

c. Korea

I have announced our intentions to reduce by 20,000 the authorized level of United States forces in the Republic of Korea. This has placed a greater defense burden on the Koreans.

Our present assistance to Korea is mostly in the form of operation and maintenance items for their military forces. These items do not help to modernize the Korean force structure as we must do if we are to help Korea improve its own defense capability. I therefore request authority to transfer to Korea equipment currently being utilized by United States forces scheduled to be withdrawn.

Additional assistance is required this year as part of Korea's major five-year program to modernize its defense forces and to enable it to effectively meet outside threats as we reduce the level of direct US involvement. These funds are needed now to insure that the needed equipment will be delivered in good time. I request that the Congress provide $150 million in support of this modernization of South Korea's defense.

3. Other Programs

There are two additional needs for the military assistance program that have arisen since the Congress considered my request earlier in the year.

First, I directed that the Indonesian program be increased by $13 million from the previous level of $5 million for fiscal year 1971. Indonesia--with its population of over 110 million---occupies a key position for the future peace of Southeast Asia, and has shown a strong determination to resist threats to its security and stability. It is in our interest to support such encouraging developments in a nation which can play a key role in the stability of its entire region.

Second, anticipated recoveries of funds from past years' programs in various parts of the world are not materializing; a shortage of $ 17 million in these resources is now expected. These funds are needed to continue our assistance programs at necessary levels, and have been recognized as such by the Congress. Any shortfalls in these recoveries therefore would require reductions in already severely limited programs, and must be offset.

I request that this $30 million be restored to the military assistance program.

The funds requested represent a considerable sum. But the growing strength of our friends and their willingness to accept a greater responsibility for their own defense will mean increased effectiveness of our own efforts, and a lessened possibility that our men will have to risk their lives in future conflicts.

At this time, in light of certain extraordinary needs and in order to continue the success of the approach outlined in the Nixon Doctrine, we must provide additional resources to those of our friends whose security is threatened. The expenditures are essential to the support of our national security goals and our foreign policy interests, as we reduce our direct involvement abroad.

We must signal clearly to the world, to those who threaten freedom as well as those who uphold freedom, that where our interests are involved the United States will help those who demonstrate their determination to defend themselves. Our foreign policy cannot succeed without clear evidence that we will provide such help.

I believe the American people deeply understand the need for secure friends and allies to provide the foundation for a stable peace.

I believe the American people are prepared to accept the costs of assistance to these nations, to reduce the political and economic costs of maintaining a direct United States presence overseas--and thereby to avoid a possible cost of American lives.


The White House

November 18, 1970

Richard Nixon, Special Message to the Congress Proposing Supplemental Foreign Assistance Appropriations Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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