The following was submitted to American Diplomacy by the Office of the Historian, U. S. Department of State, Washington, DC, 20520
On November 10 the Department of State released a new volume in the historical documentary series Foreign Relations of the United States. The administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson continued President Kennedy’s policy of support for Africa’s newly-independent countries and self-determination for those not yet independent, but the consistent, driving force behind U.S. policy toward Africa remained the Cold War. Thus U.S. policymakers focused on strengthening African ties to the West and on providing sufficient U.S. aid to the countries of Africa so that the alternative of turning to the Soviet bloc would seem less attractive. Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, volume XXIV, Africa, documents these themes in U.S. policy with respect to Africa, including North Africa, during this period. Johnson administration policy toward the Congo will be documented separately in volume XXIII.
U.S. policymakers saw North Africa as a region of vital strategic and economic importance. U.S. military leaders also considered the Wheelus Air Base in Libya and the naval communications center at Kenitra in Morocco critically important military assets, and U.S. policy toward Libya concentrated on retaining Wheelus. U.S. efforts to promote stability and progress in the region and to maintain friendly relations with all four countries of North Africa were complicated by Algeria’s intensive arms buildup, with substantial Soviet aid. Morocco’s King Hassan and Tunisia’s President Bourguiba responded to the buildup by seeking additional U.S. military assistance and support. The United States attempted to reassure both countries about its commitment to their security, but argued that arms expenditures should be subordinated to economic and social development.
In the strategically important Horn of Africa, the close U.S. relationship with Ethiopia, with its important U.S. communications facility at Kagnew Station and the largest Military Assistance Program in Africa, came into conflict with U.S. efforts to maintain good relations with Somalia and to keep it from aligning with the Soviet Union. The U.S. objective of achieving peace and stability in the Horn was endangered by Somalia’s goal of uniting the Somalis living in Ethiopia and Kenya into a greater Somalia. Ethiopia, pleading fear of Somalia’s military buildup, repeatedly asked for increased U.S. military assistance. Tensions in the Horn were eased after Mohamed Ibrahim Egal became Prime Minister of Somalia in July 1967, and began a policy of détente.
As the likelihood of civil war in Nigeria grew, the United States warned the Ibos of the Eastern Region that they could not expect either recognition or support in case of secession, and advised the Nigerian Government under General Gowan against the use of force. Following the outbreak of war in July 1967, the U.S. Government continued its policy of non-involvement, prohibiting the sale of military goods to either side while attempting to provide humanitarian aid to the Eastern Region after it seceded as Biafra.
In Portuguese Africa, the conflict between U.S. support for self-determination in Angola and Mozambique and the U.S. need to retain the Azores base, which was considered vital to U.S. security, created a serious dilemma for U.S. policymakers. The United States continued unsuccessfully to press Portugal, a NATO member, to undertake adequate reforms in its African territories.
The United States supported the British policy of granting Rhodesia full independence only after its government demonstrated its intention to move toward eventual universal adult suffrage. Following Rhodesia’s November 1965 Unilateral Declaration of Independence, the United States announced that it would not recognize the illegal regime. In the following months, the Johnson administration supported the British policy of trying to bring about the fall of the Rhodesian Government through economic pressure, including mandatory economic UN sanctions, rather than by use of force.
The Johnson administration continued President Kennedy’s policy of public and private condemnation of South African apartheid. Despite continuing concern within the administration over the adverse effect of such restrictions on U.S. security interests in South Africa, the U.S. Government continued to uphold the arms embargo policy announced in August 1963. At the United Nations, the U.S. delegation opposed mandatory economic sanctions against South Africa, but supported resolutions condemning apartheid and an October 1966 UN General Assembly Resolution revoking South Africa’s mandate over South West Africa.
On November 18, 1999, the Department of State released Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, volume XXII, Iran. During the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson, good relations with Iran were a top priority for U.S. policymakers, who agreed on Iran’s strategic importance and remained concerned over potential threats to the long-term stability of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s regime. The Foreign Relations volume documents the administration’s policy of support for the Shah and its emphasis on buttressing Iran’s internal security by encouraging a far-reaching program of political, social, and economic reform—the Shah’s so-called “White Revolution.” Johnson’s personal relationship with the Shah was closer than President Kennedy’s had been. The two leaders corresponded frequently, and the Shah met with Johnson three times during his presidency.
The only real bone of contention between the two countries was the Shah’s seemingly insatiable appetite for more and newer military equipment. His insistence on spending more of Iran’s growing oil revenues on weapons conflicted with U.S. policy goals of advocating Iranian economic development and reform as a check against internal upheaval or revolution.
In January 1964 the Shah wrote the President that the 1962 U.S. Five-Year Military Plan for Iran had already proved inadequate. During subsequent discussions of a military modernization program, U.S. officials continued to emphasize the importance of ensuring that such a program would not hamper Iran’s economic development, while the Shah insisted that increased oil revenues would make it possible to pay for increased defense expenditures without impairing Iran’s economic progress. In July 1964 the U.S. Government agreed to a new Memorandum of Understanding on military modernization.
U.S. policymakers remained concerned over potential threats to the Shah’s regime, but Embassy and intelligence reports in early 1964 indicated that no clearly identifiable threat to Iran’s internal security was likely to develop in the near future, except in the event of the demise or abdication of the Shah. An upsurge of anti-Americanism and opposition to the government came in October 1964, however, when the Iranian Parliament passed a status of forces bill granting U.S. military personnel stationed in Iran and their dependents full diplomatic immunity. Following the arrest and exile of dissident religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini in November, some U.S. analysts warned that Khomeini’s views were symptomatic of widespread popular opposition to the government.
Faced with the possibility of forced withdrawal from the U.S. intelligence facilities in Pakistan, the President ordered in August 1965 that the U.S. Government proceed urgently to develop alternative facilities in the region. Top U.S. intelligence authorities subsequently concluded that Iran was technically the most suitable site for relocation of most of this activity. On May 30, 1966, NSAM No. 348 ordered that contingency alternatives in Iran be established.
In November 1965 the Shah began to push for a $200 million augmentation of Iran’s military purchases. Subsequent discussions within the administration, during which the U.S. Ambassador to Iran and the CIA warned that the Shah was prepared to go elsewhere for arms purchases, resulted in Presidential approval in May 1966 of $200 million in new arms sales to Iran over a 4-year period. During subsequent negotiations, the Shah responded to warnings that there would be an adverse U.S. reaction to military procurement from the Soviet Union by assuring U.S. representatives that he would not buy sophisticated military equipment from the Soviet Union.
In November 1967 the Shah wrote the President concerning a new projected 5-year plan for reorganization of Iran’s armed forces, and in May 1968 the President approved a 6-year, $600 million military credit sales package for Iran. The Shah continued to stress that in order to plan militarily, he needed assurances from the United States that it would be able to meet his needs over the next few years. U.S. officials made it plain that the U.S. political situation precluded long-term commitments, but that military cooperation with Iran would continue to be a very high priority. As the Johnson administration drew to a close, an inter-agency review concluded that the United States should continue to plan on the basis of $100 million in annual U.S. military credits to Iran.
The Office of the Historian has prepared summaries of these volumes. For further information, contact David S. Patterson, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, at (202) 663-1127; fax: (202) 663-1289; e-mail: email@example.com. The texts of the volumes, the summaries, and this press release will be available on the Office’s web site. Copies of volume XXIV and XXII can be purchased from the U.S. Government Printing Office.