On August 25 the Department of State released Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, volume XXXIV, Energy Diplomacy and Global Affairs. In the mid-1960s newly-emerging issues, such as space flight, the technology gap, world population growth, human rights, and the hijacking of civilian airliners, in addition to the 1967 oil embargo and the rise of OPEC, brought fresh challenges to the Presidential administration of Lyndon B. Johnson. The responses of U.S. foreign policy principals to these often complicated problems are presented in this Foreign Relations volume.
The volume provides a unique insight into President Johnson’s hopes of internationalizing the “Great Society.” In the early days of his administration, the goals were expansive, whether the arena was lunar exploration, efforts to use technology to raise the living standards of the destitute poor, or the possibility of beaming education to all direct from space. As Vice President Hubert Humphrey said in 1965, “We can put a man on the moon at the same time as we help to put a man on his feet.” Many of the dreams were only partially realized and some were outright failures, but the optimism and the powerful belief that Americans could and would solve these problems left an important legacy.
The volume provides in-depth documentation on several foreign policy issues:
The 1967 Oil Embargo and the Rise of OPEC: Despite warnings from friendly Arab leaders, U.S. support of Israel in the Six-Day War led to a shutdown of crude oil shipments. In the wake of the war, OPEC’s negotiating stance hardened and some of its member states moved to nationalize oil company assets. While the full implications of producer control were not apparent, Western access to oil was no longer assured and costs were beginning to rise. U.S. diplomats worked to ensure a unified Western response in what became a dress rehearsal for the supply problems of the 1970s.
Population Growth: Economists and activists saw unrestrained population growth as a major threat to economic advancement in the developing world. The Johnson administration, keeping a wary eye on the Vatican, tentatively moved to stress publicly the importance of voluntary family planning.
The Technology Gap: European leaders feared that the strength of the United States in computer science, aerospace, and atomic energy would relegate them to second-class economic status and dependence on the United States.The Space Race: Administration officials believed that American success in the space race with the Soviet Union had important foreign policy implications, but by the end of 1968, the Department of State at least no longer saw any long-term benefits to continuing the race.
The SST and Concorde: Although the United States eschewed another space race with the Soviet Union, economic competition over the next generation of aircraft caused difficulties with the United Kingdom and France.
Communications Satellites and INTELSAT: The U.S. desire to avoid duplication and maximize resources by creating a single international satellite network clashed with European fears of American domination.
Water for Peace: President Johnson had great hopes that atomic energy could become an important tool for peace, especially in the Middle East, by powering desalination plants to provide fresh water for both Israel and its Arab neighbors.
Hijacking: A sharp escalation in the number of hijackings of civilian aircraft caused the United States to attempt to approach the Cuban Government to find a joint solution, but the Castro regime, arguing that it was the victim of “stupid” and “criminal” U.S. policies, refused to cooperate.
Human Rights: Race and human rights emerged as factors in international diplomacy as the United States initially opposed a UN Conference on Human Rights and supported Portuguese and South African participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization. By 1968, however, some officials were willing to acknowledge that the Johnson administration’s determination in fighting racial discrimination at home was sending a clear message abroad of its firm commitment to human rights.
The Office of the Historian has prepared a summary of the volume. For further information, contact David S. Patterson, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, at (202) 663-1127; fax: (202) 663-1289; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The texts of the volume, the summary, and this press release will soon be available on the Office’s Web site: www.state.gov/www/about_state/history. Copies of volume XXXIV can be purchased from the Government Printing Office.