The Life and Death of NSSM 200 The Life and Death of NSSM 200 - Index to Contents The Life and Death of NSSM 200 - Index of Contents Stephen Mumford Bio Index of Issues Comments from Reviewers


The 1960s saw a surge in American public awareness of the world population problem. The invention of the contraceptive pill in 1960 stimulated broad public debate on birth control and the need for it. When Pope John XXIII created the papal Commission on Population and Birth in 1963, he gave the world hope that the Church was about to change its position on birth control. After all, why would the Vatican study the issue if the Church was not in a position to change its teaching on birth control? In 1968, Paul Ehrlich published his book, The Population Bomb, the most successful book of its kind, ever.1 That same year, the journal Science published one of its most controversial articles ever, an essay by Garrett Hardin titled, "The Tragedy of the Commons,"2 which sparked much discussion of the overpopulation threat.

Among mainstream protestant denominations, the Presbyterians were one of the first to call for a forthright response to the problem. In 1965, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) urged " -- the government of the United States to be ready to assist countries who request help in the development of programs of voluntary planned parenthood as a practical and humane means of controlling fertility and population growth." In 1971, it recognized that reliance on private, voluntary decisions " -- will not be sufficient to provide the necessary limitation of population growth unless there is a radical and rapid change in the attitudes and desires. The church must commit itself to effecting this change. The assumption that couples have the freedom to have as many children as they can support should be challenged. We can no longer justify bringing into existence as many children as we desire. Our corporate responsibility to each other prohibits this. Given the population crisis we must recognize and teach, beginning with ourselves, that man has an obligation to limit the size of his family."And in 1972, the Presbyterians called on governments "to take such actions as will stabilize population size...We who are motivated by the urgency of over-population rather than the prospect of decimation would preserve the species by responding in faith: Do not multiply -- the earth is filled!"3

This kind of increasing outcry for action made it safe -- almost compelling -- for American political leadership to identify with the concept of population growth control and to call for new programs to deal with the problem.

It was in this climate of rising concern that President Nixon sent to Congress his "Special Message on Problems of Population Growth." Special messages to the Congress are exceedingly rare and this was the first such message on population. This action punctuated the beginning of the peak of American political will to deal with the mounting population crisis. The message, for the first time, committed the United States to confronting the population problem. Also rare, this special message was approved by the Congress. Its passage was bipartisan, indicating broad political support for American political action to combat this problem. The message was a watershed development, yet few recall it. The complete document appears as Chapter 1.

The most important element of the Special Message was its creation of the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. During the signing of the bill establishing the Commission, President Nixon commented on the broad political and public support: "I believe this is an historic occasion. It has been made historic not simply by the act of the President in signing this measure, but by the fact that it has had bipartisan support and also such broad support in the Nation." (See Chapter 2 for his complete remarks.)

The 24-member Commission was chaired by John D. Rockefeller 3rd. It ordered more than 100 research projects which collected and analyzed data that would make possible the formulation of a comprehensive U.S. population policy. After two years of intense effort, the Commission completed a 186-page report titled, Population and the American Future which offered more than 70 recommendations. The recommendations were a bold but sane response to the challenges we faced in 1973. For example, they called for: passage of a Population Education Act to help school systems establish well-planned population education programs; sex education to be widely available, especially through the schools; passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA); contraception to be available for all, including minors, at government expense if need be; abortion for all who want it, at government expense if necessary; vastly expanded research in many areas related to population growth control; and the elimination of all employment of illegal aliens.

The complete list of recommendations appears in Chapter 2. They represented the conclusions of some of the nation's most capable people. The scientists who completed the Commission's 100 research projects were among the best in their fields. These recommendations are included in this book because it is important for the reader to know what the U.S. response to the population problem could have been and should have been.

On May 5, 1972, at a ceremony held for the purpose of formally submitting the Commission's findings and conclusions, President Nixon publicly renounced the report.4 This was six months before the President faced re-election and he was feeling intense political heat from one particularly powerful, foreign-controlled special interest group -- the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Nothing happened toward implementation of any of the more than three score recommendations that collectively would have created a comprehensive U.S. population policy. Not one recommendation was ever adopted. To this day, the U.S. has no population policy, one of the few major countries with this distinction.

Had these 70 carefully reasoned recommendations been adopted as U.S. population policy in 1973 -- or if even a dozen or so of the most important ones had been adopted -- America would be very different today. We would be more secure, subjected to less crime, better educated now with even greater educational opportunities ahead, living with less stress in a healthier environment, with more secure employment and greater employment opportunities, with better medical care, all in a physically less crowded America.

We would have set an example for the world, and we have good reason to believe that much of the world would have followed. Ironically, the American people were better prepared to accept these recommendations in 1973 than in 1996, even though world population during this brief period has mushroomed a horrendous 47 percent. For the past 20 years, all of us have been subjected to an intense disinformation program staged by the opposition to raise doubts in each of us regarding the seriousness of the population problem.

Despite the intense opposition President Nixon encountered in the wake of the Rockefeller Commission Report, his assessment of the gravity of the overpopulation problem and his desire to deal with it evidently remained unchanged. On April 24, 1974, nearly 18 months after his re-election, in the single most significant act of his presidency regarding the population crisis, Mr. Nixon directed, in NSSM 200, that a comprehensive new study be undertaken to determine the "Implications of World Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests." The report of this study would become one of the most important documents on world population growth ever written. In NSSM 200, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, acting for the President, directed the Secretaries of Defense and Agriculture, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Deputy Secretary of State, and the Administrator of the Agency for International Development (AID), to undertake the population study jointly. The report on this study was completed on December 10, 1974 and circulated to the designated Secretaries and Agency heads for their review and comments.

On August 9, 1974, Gerald Ford succeeded to the Presidency. Revisions of the study continued until July, 1975. On November 26, 1975, the 227-page report and its recommendations were endorsed by President Ford in NSDM 314: "The President has reviewed the interagency response to NSSM 200...," wrote the new National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft. "He believes that United States leadership is essential to combat population growth, to implement the World Population Plan of Action* and to advance United States security and overseas interests. The President endorses the policy recommendations contained in the Executive Summary of the NSSM 200 response..."

President Ford, recognizing the gravity of the situation, directed NSDM 314 beyond the Departments and Agencies cited above. He also directed it to the Secretaries of Health, Education and Welfare and Treasury, the Director of Management and Budget, the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Council of Economic Advisers, and the Council on Environmental Quality. He made it clear to all of the relevant Departments and Agencies of the United States Government that he intended this to become the foundation of population policy for our government.

Mr. Ford assigned responsibility for further action to the National Security Council (NSC): "The President, therefore, assigns to the Chairman, NSC Undersecretaries Committee, the responsibility to define and develop policy in the population field and to coordinate its implementation beyond the NSSM 200 response." To this day, the policy set forth in NSDM 314 has not been officially rescinded. In Chapter 4, NSDM 314 appears just as President Ford approved it.

NSSM 200 itself is a 2-page document and appears in Chapter 3. The report requested in NSSM 200 bears the title, NSSM 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests. It consists of a 29-page Executive Summary and a two-part report 198 typescript pages in length. The report was never printed or published. It was typewritten, double-spaced. The Executive Summary appears in Chapter 3, while the main body of the report is in Appendix 2. Both appear just as President Ford read them, though we have typeset it for publication here, renumbering the pages correspondingly.

The potential importance of this document to U.S. security and the security of all nations was and remains immense. Both the findings and the recommendations have become increasingly relevant and urgent over the years. For this reason I have included the complete document in this book.

The NSSM 200 study details how and why continued rapid world population growth gravely threatens U.S. and global security. It also provides a blueprint for the U.S. response to this burgeoning problem, reflecting the deep concern of those who produced the report. Their strategy is complex, raising difficult questions. Some suggested policies are necessarily bold and the report's authors urged that it be classified for five years to prepare the American public for full acceptance of the goals proposed. However, it remained classified for 14 years for reasons that are unclear.

The intense concern of the authors is clearly evident. NSSM 200 reports: "There is a major risk of severe damage [from continued rapid population growth] to world economic, political, and ecological systems and, as these systems begin to fail, to our humanitarian values."5 "World population growth is widely recognized within the Government as a current danger of the highest magnitude calling for urgent measures."6 "It is of the utmost urgency that governments now recognize the facts and implications of population growth, determine the ultimate population sizes that make sense for their countries and start vigorous programs at once to achieve their desired goals."7

NSSM 200 made the following recommendations, to mention a few:

But, as with the Rockefeller Commission Report, the implementation of recommendations made in NSSM 200 -- approved by President Ford, with his approval communicated to all relevant Departments and Agencies in our government -- was halted mainly through the influence of the same opposition that had precluded adoption of the Rockefeller Commission recommendations.

Had the recommendations of NSSM 200 been implemented in 1975, the world would be very different today. The prospects would have improved for every nation and people to be significantly more secure. There would be less civil and regional warfare, less starvation and hunger, a cleaner environment and less disease, greater educational opportunities, expanded civil rights, especially for women, and a political climate more conducive to the expansion of democracy.

Chapter 5 discusses the fate of the Rockefeller Commission and NSSM 200 initiatives. Chapter 6 examines the reasons for its demise. Chapter 7 identifies those responsible for the destruction of the initiatives and Chapters 8 and 9 describe how this was accomplished. The ultimate goal of the Vatican's anti-population efforts in the U.S. is passage of the Human Life Amendment, discussed in Chapter 10. The underlying cause of the world population problem is the dogma of Papal infallibility (1870), the foundation of the Catholic Church. Chapter 11 is the rationale of the Church in destroying these two initiatives: a ploy to insure its own institutional survival. The Catholic principle of infallibility, as it is challenged by the reality of overpopulation, is causing the Church to hurtle toward self-destruction as had been predicted by thoughtful bishops in 1870.

Chapter 12 discusses how self-destruction is being postponed. Most American Catholics reject the Church teachings on reproductive and population matters. The resulting steep decline in the American Church is discussed in Chapter 13. Given that we Americans are awash in information, it is inconceivable that all of this could have occurred without our knowledge. But it has. How? Chapters 14 and 15 are devoted to answering this vitally important question. The desperate attempt to protect Vatican security-survival interests, including its takeover of the Republican Party, is seriously undermining our democratic system of government. Many results of this campaign are described in Chapter 16. The last chapter focuses on an appropriate response to the only significant opponent of population growth control -- the Vatican.

The documents presented in this book are fundamental to an understanding of the world population problem, the gravity of which is beyond dispute. This is also true of the issues presented in Chapters 5 to 17. Until these issues are effectively confronted, it will not be possible to deal with the world population problem successfully.

* The World Population Plan of Action was adopted at the UN World Population Conference at Bucharest in August, 1974. It is summarized and discussed in Chapter VI of NSSM 200. It is one of the most important population documents ever written and appears in its entirety in Appendix 1.
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