Presenting NSSM 200: "Implications of Worldwide Population Growth For U.S. Security and Overseas Interests"

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One of the topics touched upon by Eric deCarbonnel in the earlier article discussing the potential, if not necessarily probable absent further validation, implications of the Exchange Stabilization Fund, is that of the nature of AIDS. Which got us thinking. While we won't necessarily go into the implications proposed by none other than Chuck Palahniuk in his book Rant (word search Kissinger, especially what Neddy Nelson has to say on the topic), it made us recall that particular National Security Study Memorandum, aka NSSM 200, better known as "The Kissinger Report" authored on December 10, 1974 and immediately classified under Executive Order 11652 until 1989, titled simply, "Implications of Worldwide Population Growth For U.S. Security and Overseas Interests." What did the report say and why is it relevant, especially in our day and age when so many believe that all important substance - black gold - may have peaked? Well, since it has 123 pages full of very, very curious information as pertains to how US foreign policy is truly styled, we will leave it up to our readers to make their own conclusions, but here are some preliminary observations to help them on their way...

The basic thesis of the memorandum was that population growth in the least developed countries (LDCs) is a concern to U.S. national security, because it would tend to risk civil unrest and political instability in countries that had a high potential for economic development. The policy gives "paramount importance" to population control measures and the promotion of contraception among 13 populous countries, to control rapid population growth which the US deems inimical to the socio-political and economic growth of these countries and to the national interests of the United States, since the "U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad", and these countries can produce destabilizing opposition forces against the United States. It recommends the US leadership to "influence national leaders" and that "improved world-wide support for population-related efforts should be sought through increased emphasis on mass media and other population education and motivation programs by the U.N., USIA, and USAID."

 

Thirteen countries are named in the report as particularly problematic with respect to U.S. security interests: India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey, Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. These countries are projected to create 47 percent of all world population growth.

 

The report advocates the promotion of education and contraception and other population control measures. It also raises the question of whether the U.S. should consider preferential allocation of surplus food supplies to states that are deemed constructive in use of population control measures.

Some of the key insights of report are controversial:

"The U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries [see National Commission on Materials Policy, Towards a National Materials Policy: Basic Data and Issues, April 1972]. That fact gives the U.S. enhanced interest in the political, economic, and social stability of the supplying countries. Wherever a lessening of population pressures through reduced birth rates can increase the prospects for such stability, population policy becomes relevant to resource supplies and to the economic interests of the United States. . . . The location of known reserves of higher grade ores of most minerals favors increasing dependence of all industrialized regions on imports from less developed countries. The real problems of mineral supplies lie, not in basic physical sufficiency, but in the politico-economic issues of access, terms for exploration and exploitation, and division of the benefits among producers, consumers, and host country governments" [Chapter III-Minerals and Fuel]. 

 

Whether through government action, labor conflicts, sabotage, or civil disturbance, the smooth flow of needed materials will be jeopardized. Although population pressure is obviously not the only factor involved, these types of frustrations are much less likely under conditions of slow or zero population growth" [Chapter III-Minerals and Fuel].

 

"Populations with a high proportion of growth. The young people, who are in much higher proportions in many LDCs, are likely to be more volatile, unstable, prone to extremes, alienation and violence than an older population. These young people can more readily be persuaded to attack the legal institutions of the government or real property of the ‘establishment,' ‘imperialists,' multinational corporations, or other-often foreign-influences blamed for their troubles" [Chapter V, "Implications of Population Pressures for National Security].

"We must take care that our activities should not give the appearance to the LDCs of an industrialized country policy directed against the LDCs. Caution must be taken that in any approaches in this field we support in the LDCs are ones we can support within this country. "Third World" leaders should be in the forefront and obtain the credit for successful programs. In this context it is important to demonstrate to LDC leaders that such family planning programs have worked and can work within a reasonable period of time." [Chapter I, World Demographic Trends].

The kicker:

The report advises, "In these sensitive relations, however, it is important in style as well as substance to avoid the appearance of coercion."

And much more...

So just what do you call when Dr. Mengele applies the principles of eugenics, only not to his own population, but to everybody else's? We have no idea although it certainly sounds like yet another crack pot, tinfoil conspiracy theory.

For those who enjoy factual historical documents, here are some other of the good Doctor's (Kissinger, not Mengele) observations:

Because of the momentum of population dynamics, reductions in birth rates affect total numbers only slowly. High birth rates in the recent past have resulted in a high proportion the youngest age groups, so that there will continue to be substantial population increases over many years even if a two-child family should become the norm in the future. Policies to reduce fertility will have their main effects on total numbers only after several decades. However, if future numbers are to be kept within reasonable bounds, it is urgent that measures to reduce fertility be started and made effective in the 1970's and 1980's. Moreover, programs started now to reduce birth rates will have short run advantages for developing countries in lowered demands on food, health and educational and other services and in enlarged capacity to contribute to productive investments, thus accelerating development.

 

U.N. estimates use the 3.6 billion population of 1970 as a base (there are nearly 4 billion now) and project from about 6 billion to 8 billion people for the year 2000 with the U.S. medium estimate at 6.4 billion. The U.S. medium projections show a world population of 12 billion by 2075 which implies a five-fold increase in south and southeast Asia and in Latin American and a seven-fold increase in Africa, compared with a doubling in east Asia and a 40% increase in the presently developed countries (see Table I). Most demographers, including the U.N. and the U.S. Population Council, regard the range of 10 to 13 billion as the most likely level for world population stability, even with intensive efforts at fertility control. (These figures assume, that sufficient food could be produced and distributed to avoid limitation through famines.)

 

Growing populations will have a serious impact on the need for food especially in the poorest, fastest growing LDCs. While under normal weather conditions and assuming food production growth in line with recent trends, total world agricultural production could expand faster than population, there will nevertheless be serious problems in food distribution and financing, making shortages, even at today's poor nutrition levels, probable in many of the larger more populous LDC regions. Even today 10 to 20 million people die each year due, directly or indirectly, to malnutrition. Even more serious is the consequence of major crop failures which are likely to occur from time to time.

 

Countries with large population growth cannot afford constantly growing imports, but for them to raise food output steadily by 2 to 4 percent over the next generation or two is a formidable challenge. Capital and foreign exchange requirements for intensive agriculture are heavy, and are aggravated by energy cost increases and fertilizer scarcities and price rises. The institutional, technical, and economic problems of transforming traditional agriculture are also very difficult to overcome.

 

In addition, in some overpopulated regions, rapid population growth presses on a fragile environment in ways that threaten longer-term food production: through cultivation of marginal lands, overgrazing, desertification, deforestation, and soil erosion, with consequent destruction of land and pollution of water, rapid siltation of reservoirs, and impairment of inland and coastal fisheries.

 

Rapid population growth is not in itself a major factor in pressure on depletable resources (fossil fuels and other minerals), since demand for them depends more on levels of industrial output than on numbers of people. On the other hand, the world is increasingly dependent on mineral supplies from developing countries, and if rapid population frustrates their prospects for economic development and social progress, the resulting instability may undermine the conditions for expanded output and sustained flows of such resources.

 

Rapid population growth creates a severe drag on rates of economic development otherwise attainable, sometimes to the point of preventing any increase in per capita incomes. In addition to the overall impact on per capita incomes, rapid population growth seriously affects a vast range of other aspects of the quality of life important to social and economic progress in the LDCs.

 

The universal objective of increasing the world's standard of living dictates that  economic growth outpace population growth. In many high population growth areas of the world, the largest proportion of GNP is consumed, with only a small amount saved. Thus, a small proportion of GNP is available for investment - the "engine" of economic growth. Most experts agree that, with fairly constant costs per acceptor, expenditures on effective family planning services are generally one of the most cost effective investments for an LDC country seeking to improve overall welfare and per capita economic growth. We cannot wait for overall modernization and development to produce lower fertility rates naturally since this will undoubtedly take many decades in most developing countries, during which time rapid population growth will tend to slow development and widen even more the gap between rich and poor.

And why all this is relevant for good ole' humanitarian Uncle Sam:

The political consequences of current population factors in the LDCs - rapid growth, internal migration, high percentages of young people, slow improvement in living standards, urban concentrations, and pressures for foreign migration ?? are damaging to the internal stability and international relations of countries in whose advancement the U.S. is interested, thus creating political or even national security problems for the U.S. In a broader sense, there is a major risk of severe damage to world economic, political, and ecological systems and, as these systems begin to fail, to our humanitarian values.

 

What are the stakes? We do not know whether technological developments will make it possible to feed over 8 much less 12 billion people in the 21st century. We cannot be entirely certain that climatic changes in the coming decade will not create great difficulties in feeding a growing population, especially people in the LDCs who live under increasingly marginal and more vulnerable conditions. There exists at least the possibility that present developments point toward Malthusian conditions for many regions of the world. 

 

But even if survival for these much larger numbers is possible, it will in all likelihood be bare survival, with all efforts going in the good years to provide minimum nutrition and utter dependence in the bad years on emergency rescue efforts from the less populated and richer countries of the world. In the shorter run -- between now and the year 2000 -- the difference between the two courses can be some perceptible material gain in the crowded poor regions, and some improvement in the relative distribution of intra- country per capita income between rich and poor, as against permanent poverty and the widening of income gaps. A much more vigorous effort to slow population growth can also mean a very great difference between enormous tragedies of malnutrition and starvation as against only serious chronic conditions.

And it gets even better:

There is an alternative view which holds that a growing number of experts believe that the population situation is already more serious and less amenable to solution through voluntary measures than is generally accepted. It holds that, to prevent even more widespread food shortage and other demographic catastrophes than are generally anticipated, even stronger measures are required and some fundamental, very difficult moral issues need to be addressed.

Dot dot dot...

Full memorandum (link):