U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Other State Department Archive SitesU.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Home Issues & Press Travel & Business Countries Youth & Education Careers About State Video
 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Office of the Historian > Foreign Relations of the United States > Johnson Administration > Volume V
Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Volume V, Vietnam 1967
Released by the Office of the Historian
Documents 135-152

135. Memorandum From the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (DePuy) to the Director of the Joint Staff (Goodpaster)/1/

SACSA M 355 67

Washington, April 18, 1967.

/1/Source: Department of Defense, Official Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 911/319 (18 Apr 67), IR 1090 67-13. Secret. Another copy is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. LXXI, Memos (A).

SUBJECT
Preliminary Report on Revolutionary Development (U)

1. This is the first of what will be a series of reports by SACSA on The Revolutionary Development Program in RVN. These reports will be of three kinds:

a. Weekly spot reports of significant RD matters.

b. Monthly summaries, evaluations, and progress reports.

c. Special reports on problem areas or subjects of high current interest including analysis and evaluation of selected aspects of the program.

2. General Status

a. In I Corps the RD program is clearly at a standstill and may be regressing. This is due to the diversion of USMC battalions to meet the Quang Tri and Thua Thien tactical threat by augmented NVA forces.

b. In II Corps limited progress continues in the coastal areas of Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Binh Thuan.

c. In III Corps limited progress continues in Binh Duong, Hau Nghia, Tay Ninh, Gia Dinh and Phouc Tuy. The redeployment of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade may bring progress in Tay Ninh to a standstill.

d. In IV Crops a general stalemate continues but will give way somewhat as US Forces make their impact.

e. The Hamlet Evaluation System is in the process of shaking down. It is not possible to tell at this point whether changes reflected in the February report are real changes on the ground or refinements in reporting. It will be May, June or July before much confidence may be placed on the new report./2/

/2/Approved for use in December 1966, the Hamlet Evaluation System (HES) was implemented in order to achieve a unified reporting system for the progress of pacification. Based upon the evaluations of district advisers, each hamlet was classified into one of six lettered categories, depending upon the degree of government control in each village. The system went into effect in July 1967. See Richard A. Hunt, Pacification: The American Struggle for Vietnam's Hearts and Minds (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995), pp. 95-96.

f. The diversion of 53 ARVN battalions to the support of RD has taken place and as of 1 March 24 of these battalions had completed RD training. The initial effectiveness of these battalions will be modest. Shortcomings in junior combat leadership at company, platoon and squad level will continue to inhibit a high level of effective small unit patrolling on which RD security so heavily depends.

g. The RD Team Program is encountering increasing problems of recruiting, casualties, desertions and quality. In Binh Dinh combined military civil teams have been formed to perform the cadre function because of a shortage of Vung Tau trained teams. General Westmoreland believes these teams may prove to be equally effective.

Security

3. The central problem is, has been, and will continue to be security./3/ In those areas where a high level of security has been provided, the RD Program moves forward. Where the security situation is marginal or ambiguous, RD stands still, or regresses. Where security is not provided on a continuous basis, there is no RD.

/3/As the United States increasingly emphasized the RD programs, the VC targeted the RD teams in the field. According to a May 4 AID memorandum from Vincent Puritano to Kenneth Vogel of the Vietnam Affairs Office, 120 attacks on RD teams occurred during March, and the trend appeared to be upward, with a projected annual range of attacks of 1,500 to 3,000, with a maximum of number of 5,450 casualties as a result. A proposed solution was the creation of mobile RD teams. (Center for Military History, Dep CORDS/MACV papers, folder 100: RD Cadres: 1967) In a memorandum to the President, April 5, Komer described the security provided by the ARVN to the RD teams as "less than adequate." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. LXIX)

a. The current concept in South Vietnam subscribed to both by South Vietnamese and US authorities in South Vietnam is to provide security for RD primarily with Vietnamese forces while US/Free World and certain other Vietnamese forces carry the fight to the VC/NVA outside the areas of RD emphasis. This is a desirable goal and all efforts should be continued to achieve it. However, it is a somewhat generalized view of the real-world problems on the ground in South Vietnam. It is necessary to go more deeply into the situation to evaluate its current status and prospects for success.

b. There are three groupings, or categories, of VC/NVA military forces which must be destroyed or neutralized if the war is to be won and the RD program is to go forward.

(1) The inter-provincial (or regional) main force VC or NVA divisions, regiments and separate battalions will hereafter be described simply as Main Forces. These forces move throughout the VC military regions on offensive/defensive or reenforcement operations as directed. There are additional NVA divisions which operate on or near the DMZ, Laotian and Cambodian borders and sanctuaries which could almost be called intervention forces in that they enter South Vietnam to fight but generally maintain their supply, training and rest areas behind the boundaries.

(2) There are intra-provincial forces--hereafter described as Provincial Forces consisting of one or more battalions and a number of district companies which move throughout a single province in much the same way as the regional forces move throughout groups of provinces. These provincial forces operate in conjunction with or in support of district village and hamlet guerrillas.

(3) Lastly, at the foot of the scale are the village and hamlet guerrilla forces themselves.

c. The VC/NVA High Command regards this echelonment of military forces as interdependent, in that lower echelons may call upon higher echelons for assistance. Although the MACV reporting system does not distinguish between search and destroy operations targetted against the main forces and the provincial forces, a quick statistical analysis of operations over the last 5 months reveals that:

40-50% of the US and Free World Forces operations in I Corps were against provincial forces--40% in II Corps--50% in III Corps--and in IV Corps, where no US/Free World forces were operating, about 70% of the Vietnamese operations were against VC provincial forces.

d. It is of no particular importance to a commander on the ground whether he is fighting a main force or a provincial VC battalion if they are in or on the fringes of a populated area, and this is undoubtedly why no reporting distinction has been made. However, it is perfectly clear that progress in Revolutionary Development in large measure can be equated directly to the scope and pace of US/Free World Forces Operations against provincial VC forces contiguous to those areas in which Revolutionary Development activities are in progress. This is not a surprising phenomenon but it is an important one in assessing the prospects for RD progress and in calculating US/Free World Force requirements. The greatest RD progress up to November 1966 was made in Quang Nam Province where the III MAF mounted sustained offensive operations against VC provincial forces as well as main forces; in Binh Dinh Province where ROK Forces have done likewise; in Phu Yen because of operations of the 101st Airborne Brigade; in Binh Thuan Province because of the 1st Air Calvary; in Binh Duong because of the 1st Division; in Hau Nghia Province because of the 25th Division and in Tay Ninh Province because of the sustained operations of the II Field Force combat elements.

e. In those provinces in which Vietnamese forces have had the responsibility for both the security of RD cadre and for sustained offensive operations against VC provincial forces, progress has been very modest or non-existent. In those provinces where US/Free World forces have diminished or discontinued offense operations against VC provincial forces because of participation in long-term offensive operations against the VC/NVA main forces in the war zones and along the borders, there has been a marked adverse impact on Revolutionary Development.

f. The constantly changing reporting system and the long lag time in receiving those reports in Washington does not make it possible at this time to support these statements with accurate up-to-date statistics. However, reports which are available clearly illustrate the general accuracy of these conclusions. As the hamlet evaluation system takes hold, it should be possible to provide the necessary statistics.

g. The key questions are how much the Vietnamese military forces can be expected to accomplish and how large must be the contribution to provincial security by US/Free World Forces. Experience over the past year indicates clearly that the US/Free World contribution has been and must continue to be very large. It also indicates that Vietnamese armed forces can not be expected to do much more than provide security for population and political centers--provide security for RD Cadre on a continuing basis--and contribute certain general reserve forces to offensive operations against main VC forces. The lion's share of offensive operations against the main forces will continue to be borne by US/Free World Forces. All forces (US/Free World and ARVN) will be involved in offensive operations against the provincial VC military elements; however, there will need to be a heavy (40% or more) and continuing US/Free World commitment to this effort.

h. Lastly, continued diversion of US/Free World Forces to the main force battle in the War Zones and along the border/4/ will inevitably result in bringing the RD program to a standstill unless they are replaced from out-of-country.

/4/Reference is to Operations Junction City and Manhattan being conducted to clear the enemy from War Zone C.

Civilian Programs

4. Concerning the non-military programs with a direct bearing on RD progress, all of which are under the supervision of the Office of Civil Operations (OCO) some observations on the police, the RD workers and the mobilization of US civilian resources in support of RD are in order.

a. The National Police is programmed to reach a strength of 90,000 during 1967, 111,000 in 1968, and 150,000 by 1970. With a current strength of 63,000 and the competition for Vietnamese manpower possessing the skills and aptitudes required, it remains doubtful that the programmed strengths will be attained. The Police Field Forces are programmed to expand from a current strength of 6,464 to 15,000 during 1967 and to 50,000 by 1970. Here again the problem of recruiting and training make the programmed strengths appear overly ambitious. Thus far the PFF have not performed well.

b. An associated problem is the matter of forming a Vietnamese Constabulary which Mr. Komer has indicated he will address as one of his first projects in his new capacity. MACV and OCO hold opposing views on how the constabulary should be brought into being. Under the OCO concept the constabulary would be formed under a civil ministry of the GVN and built around a nucleus of the Police Field Forces. Expansion of the constabulary would be accomplished by the transfer of Regional Force Units to it. The USAID Public Safety Division of OCO would be responsible for providing the requisite advisory and assistance effort. It is the position of MACV that although the constabulary should be established under a GVN civil agency by governmental decree, it should be integrated in the defense establishment during a state of war or national emergency. The constabulary should be an elite force recruiting filler personnel from all uniformed services. MACV does not consider that OCO is the appropriate executive agency to be charged with the overall advisory and assistance effort, nor that the Police Field Forces are a proper nucleus in view of the past and present record of performance. MACV has completed a detailed study on this matter embodying the above concept and based upon research conducted on constabularies established by other developing nations in the past. Requisite advisory and assistance effort would be provided by MACV. The study is now under review by CINCPAC, and copies have been furnished OCO for study.

c. The Revolutionary Development cadre, or teams as they are now called, are programmed to expand to a total of 50,000 by the end of 1967. At the present time there are 33,114 carried on the rolls including 4,706 who are trainees at Vung Tau. Although the annual training output should permit attainment of the 50,000 man goal, there are trends which cumulatively will probably cause a short-fall. First, there is the increasing attrition as a result of Viet Cong activity. Thus far a total of 405 RD workers have been killed, wounded or are missing during the period 1 January-31 March 1967. The bulk of the losses occurred in March. In addition, there have been sizeable losses resulting from desertions and AWOL--471 were dropped from the rolls during the first two months of 1967 for this reason. Of special importance, as evidenced by the increasing VC orientation on elimination of the RD workers, is the need to provide improved security for RD. Ambassador Koren, the OCO regional representative in I Corps, in reporting on the situation in Thua Thien and Hue city, sums up the problem in this way: "At [the] present rate of VC activity [the] current level of forces in my opinion is not adequate to provide desired protection. Unless this is beefed up I am afraid [the] RD effort will be significantly set back from the very promising start this year"./5/ The expression of similar opinions may be anticipated in the future from areas uncovered by the redeployment of forces to meet NVA/VC Main Force threat in I CTZ.

/5/Brackets in the source text.

d. On the US civil side there are personnel shortages in AID and CIA elements of the Office of Civil Operations (OCO) whose full time mission is the support of Revolutionary Development. OCO has developed a manning requirement for a total of 1,476 personnel for 1967. Currently 980 personnel are on hand. It can be expected that additional requests will be forthcoming for military personnel to fulfill the OCO requirement.

Summary

5. The major immediate problem impacting on the progress of Revolutionary Development has been and will continue to be that of providing adequate security. The necessity to divert forces to counter the NVA/VC main forces will reduce the US/FWMAF and RVNAF capability to provide the effort required to destroy the VC provincial, district and village level forces and guerrillas. It is highly doubtful that the ARVN forces committed to the direct support of RD can provide the level of security required to expand the program without the sustained presence of US/FW forces operating in contiguous areas. The major long range problem, assuming adequate security will be the quality, quantity and effectiveness of RD teams, public order and law enforcement (police and constabulary) and local administration. All of these programs will remain in varying forms of difficulty both physical and psychological as long as the security situation is marginal or unsatisfactory.

W.E. DePuy
Major General, USA

 

136. Memorandum Prepared by the Special Assistant for Vietnamese Affairs, Central Intelligence Agency (Carver)/1/

Washington, April 19, 1967.

/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, SAVA (Carver) Files, Job 80-B01712R, (SAVA) Jan.-June 1967. Secret. In a covering memorandum to the Director of Central Intelligence, Carver noted that the Office of National Estimates and the Far East Bureau contributed to the preparation of the memorandum. Although the memorandum was produced for the Saigon Station, Carver believed that it would be useful to distribute it to interested individuals and agencies. It was distributed as a "blind memorandum" with a Secret marking in order to "enhance its utility and avoid drawing attention to its CIA origin."

SUBJECT
Nation in Ferment: National Elections and Political Permutations in South Vietnam

Summary

The development of a much-needed political base for the Vietnamese government is slowly gaining momentum. The movement toward representative and effective governmental institutions has been complicated by divisive political and social influences and an absence of unifying traditions or institutions, as well as by intensified Communist political and military efforts. Having stabilized the situation, Vietnam's military leadership remains largely unified in its reluctance to relinquish its dominant position, but recognizes the need to share power with civilian elements in order to gain the popular support needed to counter the disciplined Communist political threat.

Since its inception the Ky government has been consciously moving toward a transition to at least ostensible civilian rule along the Korean pattern. Because of their dominant position, the leaders of the military establishment have considerable assets to assist in accomplishing their aims, including funds, patronage, and the only non-Communist organization reaching down to the grass roots. To bolster their prospects, the military are attempting to form a loose political front composed of representatives of various religious and political groups which will sponsor GVN-endorsed candidates in the forthcoming elections.

If the military establishment can agree on a single slate and a single presidential candidate to support, none of the potential civilian candidates appears likely to develop the organization and broad spectrum of support necessary to seriously contest the military establishment's choice. This is particularly true if, as seems certain to be the case, the opposition to the military's choice is divided among two or more slates. Both the Suu and Huong tickets seem destined to split the important southern vote. None of the other candidates seems likely to muster more than nominal regional support.

Major issues in the elections are likely to stem largely from opposition to the concept of continued military control of the government. The opposition probably will focus on the related issues of corruption, inflation, and inefficiency of the military establishment, and may label Ky a U.S. puppet. The themes of peace and neutrality may also be espoused by the opposition, whose position would thus take on significant anti-American undertones. Despite this, it seems unlikely that the campaign will get too far off the track, although the possibility of flashes of violence cannot be ruled out completely. Other potential pitfalls include the danger that the military, unduly concerned over their prospects for victory, may attempt to repress the opposition or to rig the results. These also seem unlikely, and we expect the military, under Ky's leadership, to make a realistic endeavor to put the best possible face on its efforts to forge a genuine coalition with civilian elements.

On balance, the odds favor the election coming out reasonably well for both the GVN and the U.S., particularly if the U.S. provides active, discreet advice and counsel within the context of Vietnamese political realities. The military establishment appears almost certain to score a smashing electoral victory. The best hope is that, in doing so, it will facilitate the development of a broad political coalition comprising something approaching a majority of the electorate. Such a coalition could provide the basis for ultimate development of a genuine, cohesive, national party which would foster stability and provide a strong popular base for the GVN.

[Here follows the body of the memorandum comprising 18 pages of analysis.]

 

137. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State/1/

Moscow, April 19, 1967, 1345Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET S. Secret; Exdis. Received at 12:22 p.m.

4491. 1. Exchange of views with George Brown prompts following./2/ I suggest we should consider whether in present circumstances our continuing campaign of Vietnam peace moves really serves to further the possibility of peace negotiations. Apart from our basic objective of peace, I assume we wish to influence US and world opinion generally, and the Soviet Union, North Vietnam and the Vietcong in particular, the ChiComs being impervious to moves of this sort.

/2/Brown's trip to the Soviet Union, scheduled for May, presented the United States with an opportunity to reopen the unsuccessful Sunflower channel. As a result of Wilson's request of March 16, the President met with British Ambassador Dean on April 10 to discuss the opportunities presented by Brown's visit. Wilson's request is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Walt Rostow, Marigold-Sunflower. In an April 9 memorandum to Walt Rostow, Cooper suggested that the United States did in fact change the "tense" of the Phase A-Phase B formula during the Sunflower exercise due to a measurable increase in NVA infiltration southward. However, he emphasized that the change "was a matter of semantics, not of substance," with the only difficulty arising when Wilson "stretched out the formula." (Ibid., Country File, Vietnam, Sunflower, Vol. I) On April 14 Dean passed on Brown's response to an April 2 letter from the President regarding Soviet involvement in the Vietnam peace process. In the message Brown stressed that it was "essential to keep the Russians in play." Brown promised to put to Kosygin the idea of re-convening the Geneva conference if he saw a "propitious" moment to do so. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL UK-US)

2. I am not able to judge effect of further moves on US public opinion but would have thought that any additional initiatives could add little to force of the long list of efforts we have made in recent months.

3. So far as Soviet Union is concerned I would not deny that our initiatives have had some favorable effect on Soviets despite coincidence in many cases with escalation of bombing of North Vietnam. In present circumstances, however, I believe that initiatives that Soviets know and know that we know have only a remote chance of success [and] may be positively harmful as adding to Soviet suspicions of our sincerity. This is particularly true of our efforts to involve them. From my talk with Kosygin I would judge that he is aware that British are at least in part motivated by domestic political considerations and he is likely to question any British peace efforts. Soviets could of course bring some pressure on NVN by threatening to cut off supplies or by actually doing so. This would however risk throwing NVN into arms of ChiComs which would defeat one of primary Soviet objectives in this area. A more effective Soviet action could be to guarantee NVN against any Chinese takeover but Soviets unlikely take on any such commitment.

4. It is in respect of North Vietnam and the NLF however that our continued peace moves must surely be counter-productive. We have made it abundantly clear that at any time they are ready to move toward either settlement or de-escalation we will agree to almost any time, place or channel. While they may regard further initiatives on our part as merely a propaganda exercise, it seems more likely that we are giving them the impression of desperation and that this combined with demonstrations and speeches such as Fulbright's have convinced them that we will not stay the course. Until recently I believe Soviets had better judgment of our situation, but British Ambassador who has recently had occasion for many contacts with high Soviet officials suggested that reason for Dobrynin's return for consultation might be to get his views on whether we could carry on in Vietnam./3/

/3/The British Government was unaware of Johnson's April 5 letter to Ho (rejected by the North Vietnamese in Moscow; see Document 127) until April 21, when the British representative in Hanoi learned about it from the DRV. (Memorandum of conversation between Stewart and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Samuel Berger, April 26; ibid., POL 15-1 US/JOHNSON)

5. Despite foregoing I do not believe escalation of bombing in North Vietnam is any answer either. In fact I believe that at least in the short run each step-up in bombing reduces the chances of the other side agreeing to negotiate. No government would want to enter negotiations directly connected with the increased use of force against it and North Vietnam has in addition the problem of Chinese pressure, their own brand of Communist pride, and the heavy investment they have made in this affair. They will surely not wish to jeopardize their post settlement position in South Vietnam by moving toward peace before the Vietcong are ready.

6. I suggest consideration be given to a Presidential statement listing all of our recent moves combined with a resolute declaration that while we will always be prepared to move to the conference table, since the other side seems determined upon achieving a military victory, we have no course open to us but to step up our operations in South Vietnam and to continue to use our bombers to hold down infiltration from the North. If we could persuade some of our critics to come out in support of our actions in view of the completely negative attitude of the other side, this would of course be most helpful.

7. If we could make some dramatic announcement such as a substantial increase in our forces in the South and combine it with an indication that we were leveling off our bombing in the North or even better confining it to the infiltration routes, we could make the outlook for the Vietcong very dark and at the same time reduce the risk of increased Soviet support of North Vietnam. Such a course might, it seems to me, reduce some of the criticism at home and thus the hope of North Vietnam that we will be forced by our own public opinion to withdraw.

8. It is against the foregoing background that I would suggest that rather than have George Brown continue to make peace noises when he comes to Moscow, he should convey to the Soviets a sense of our determination to see this affair through.

Thompson

 

138. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State/1/

Saigon, April 20, 1967, 1015Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Received at 7:53 a.m. and passed to the White House, DOD, and CIA at 8:07 a.m.

23584. 1. Pursuant to your 178636,/2/ I called on Ky Thursday afternoon and cited the report which Lansdale had made to me about his conversation with Ky on Tuesday./3/ I said I would like to know what actually had happened and said that, understandably, we in the U.S. Government would worry over even the slightest possibility that there would be any kind of an adversarial relationship between Ky and Thieu or between any two prominent Vietnamese military men.

/2/In telegram 178636 to Saigon, April 19, the Department expressed continuing concern over Ky's "ill-advised ploy vis-à-vis Thieu." Because Thieu would not recognize a decision by those Generals already allied with Ky as a "military mandate" and refused to step aside for Ky, the Department instructed Lodge to emphasize with both men the "absolute necessity for their getting together to resolve this issue and to persuade their colleagues to abide by it." (Ibid.) Although the possibility existed that Ky and Thieu had concluded that "it would be unwise to force this any more than they have now," the Department believed that it might be necessary for the Ambassador in Saigon to intervene personally to pre-empt any trouble. (Telegram 177722 to Saigon, April 18; ibid.)

/3/On April 18 Ky told Lansdale that the Generals asked Thang to inform Thieu, then recuperating in the hospital from an appendectomy, of their consensus. (Telegram 23389 from Saigon, April 18; ibid.) In a discussion with Lansdale on April 19, Thang stated that he had refused to undertake such an action. In fact, no one had gone to the hospital on this "errand." Lodge warned that the impact of a confrontation between Thieu and Ky could have "extremely dangerous" ramifications for the war effort. (Telegram 23488 from Saigon, April 20; ibid.)

2. Ky reflected for a fairly long moment and then said: "You don't have to worry. I personally will make any sacrifice to avoid a clash or division between us." I believe he means it.

3. He then gave me his account of the episode of Monday, April 17, as follows:

4. Members of the Directorate are worried: about military developments in I Corps and about preparations for the election. They see that Thieu is still--and Ky lapsed into French--"indecis." Meaning undecided and vacillating. They have heard a rumor that Thieu says he is ready to support Big Minh or civilian. They see the time going by with only four months till election day and consider that this is none too much.

5. So the members of the Directorate were nervous and they came to Ky on Monday. They recalled that the day before the Constitution was adopted, Ky had asked Thieu whether he was going to run or not. And Thieu had never said.

6. In Ky's own words: "The Generals said to me: You have more chance to win. You are more frank, and I (Ky) said to them: 'What can you do?' and so they said: 'We will ask Thang to go to Thieu and to explain the situation.'"

7. Comment: In other words, according to Ky, there was not an endorsement of Ky as the favorite of the military. It was an informal meeting of some (not all) Generals who were worried and concerned, and who wanted to explain the situation to Thieu and get an explanation out of him. End comment.

8. I said I was glad to hear his explanation and to realize that this was not an "ill advised ploy" (to use the phrase in 178636) regarding Thieu. I stressed the fact that if there was not a broad consensus among the military leadership, all the political progress that had been made would be jeopardized. The importance of the Generals being together was something which President Johnson had stressed in a very moving and persuasive way at Guam. To this Ky agreed.

9. I then said that there were plenty of honors to go around, that when men rise as high in the field of government as Ky and Thieu that it isn't a question of one being in and the other being out. If, for example, Thieu were to be President, then it would be quite understandable for Ky to have a very prominent Cabinet office--or whatever he wanted.

10. One thing was certain, I said, and that was that if there was a clash and if it became evident that individual political figures in Viet-Nam could not submerge their personal ambitions for the greater good of the nation, there would be some very long and very deep thoughts in Washington as to the capacity of Viet-Nam for self-government.

11. I then said I shared the concern of those who felt that this matter ought to be cleared up. I believed it had been dragging along to a point where further delay could be actually harmful. I told Ky that I planned to tell General Thieu that, while we obviously were not taking sides, the matter of who the military favored for President should be settled, that further temporizing was harmful and that to settle this question would clear the air. It seemed to me that one way to do it was in conversation between Thieu and Ky, either alone at first or with the other Generals all in the same room. It was a time to be frank and no one needed to lose face. (Comment: Ky had stressed to me how strongly he felt he did not want General Thieu to lose face. End comment.)

12. Ky then said he wanted to say something to me confidentially in the light of our close relationship, which was that when [garble--Ky?] on the day the Armed Forces Council met to ratify the Constitution, had said he would support Thieu if Thieu decided to accept, that at that time the Generals would have accepted Ky's word and would have supported Thieu. But now, he said, Thieu's hesitation has created a problem. They have lost confidence in him.

13. I asked what would they do if Thieu was the candidate and Ky was not. Would they support a civilian? Ky said he didn't know.

14. Comment: I intend to see Thieu and tell him that we think the question of the "military candidate" should be settled./4/

/4/Lodge saw Thieu on April 21. During the meeting Lodge informed him that although the U.S. Government would not intervene to decide who should be the military candidate, it was "concerned by the unsettling effect of this prolonged uncertainty" over the issue. Thieu replied that he previously had told the members of the Directorate that he would "be available" as a candidate if they gave him their support on a personal basis. He expected to announce his candidacy by May 1. He also asked Lodge to inform Johnson that the Generals would not fight over the matter. "We now have absolutely categorical assurances from Thieu and Ky that they are not going to have clash," Lodge reported. (Telegram 23667 from Saigon, April 21; ibid.) In an April 21 covering memorandum transmitting a copy of telegram 23667 to the President, Rostow observed that Thieu apparently had the "Presidential bug." He believed, however, that Thieu and Ky would "work it out." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Nodis Vol. V (A)) The Department remained concerned, however, that a leadership struggle would erupt after Lodge's departure and before Bunker's arrival in Saigon as the new Ambassador. In telegram 180382 to Kathmandu, Saigon, and New Delhi, April 21 (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 17 US-VIET S) and in telegram 180656 to Kathmandu, April 22, the Department advised Bunker to report to Saigon immediately after Lodge's departure. (Ibid., POL 15-1 VIET S) Bunker was in Nepal visiting his wife, Ambassador Carol Laise.

Lodge

 

139. Editorial Note

On April 20, 1967, U.S. planes attacked targets in the previously restricted area of Haiphong. The objective of the strikes was to destroy two additional thermal power plants which generated electricity used by key military installations in the Hanoi-Haiphong area. However, the administration was quick to point out that the new round of bombings was not an expansion of the war. (Telegram 178696 to London, Tokyo, Manila, Seoul, Canberra, Wellington, and Bangkok, April 20; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S) These strikes had been postponed twice during the President's absence from Washington: first, April 10-14, when he was attending the Organization of American States conference in Punta del Este, Uruguay, and second, April 14-18, when he was vacationing at the LBJ Ranch in Texas. In telegram 175129 to Secretary Rusk, Tosec 137, April 14, William Bundy and Nicholas Katzenbach unsuccessfully argued that the attacks should be further delayed as such military action would make the upcoming SEATO meeting and a conference of the troop-contributing nations appear to be "war councils." They also believed that the strikes would push the British still further toward a less supportive position on Vietnam. (Ibid.)

Expanded strikes against North Vietnamese military targets quickly followed the attack on the power plants. These bombings, approved by the President on April 22, began on April 24 as the RT 55 strikes during which two key enemy airfields (at Hoa Lac and Kep) were attacked for the first time in order to reduce the enemy's air defense capability. See Joint Chiefs of Staff, The History of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the War in Vietnam, 1960-1968, Part III, pages 41-5--41-8.

 

140. Memorandum of Conversation/1/

Washington, April 20, 1967.

/1/Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Special Files, Public Service, General File, April 1967. Secret. Drafted by Roy on April 21. The conversation is also reported in telegram 179762 to Moscow, April 21. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, EA/ACA Files: Lot 69 D 277, Vietnam File-Soviet, Communist Positions & Initiatives, 1967)

SUBJECT
U.S. April 19 Proposal Affecting the DMZ in Vietnam

PARTICIPANTS

Mr. Yuri N. Chernyakov, Chargé d'Affaires of the Soviet Embassy

W. Averell Harriman, Ambassador at Large
Chester L. Cooper, Special Assistant
J. Stapleton Roy, Office of Soviet Union Affairs

The Soviet Chargé d'Affaires, Mr. Chernyakov, came in at Governor Harriman's request. Governor Harriman said he wished formally to call to the attention of the Soviet Government the U.S. reaction to the Canadian four-point proposal on Vietnam of April 11. He gave Mr. Chernyakov a copy of the April 19 Department statement concerning mutual troop withdrawals from the demilitarized zone in Vietnam and noted that this was a very serious proposal which could lead to further discussions concerning an overall settlement./2/ We had called our views to the attention of the British and we wished also to inform the Soviets in their capacity as one of the Co-chairmen of the Geneva Conference./3/

/2/Since the DRV rejected Martin's overture on April 16, the Johnson administration issued on April 19 a proposal specifying an extension of the DMZ by 10 miles on either side, a concomitant mutual pull-back from the DMZ, and an ICC inspection of both sides of the DMZ. With the enactment of this arrangement, peace talks could begin, which "could be public or private and take place at any appropriate level and site that the Government of the DRV might suggest." For its full text, see Department of State Bulletin, May 15, 1967, p. 750. Two days later the DRV rejected the U.S. initiative on the grounds that it represented a permanent division of Vietnam and did not include its principal demand for the termination of U.S. bombing in North Vietnam. On April 23 the NLF also rejected the U.S. proposal. For these statements, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 917-918 and 920-921.

/3/Britain and the Soviet Union were Co-Chairmen of the Geneva Conference of 1954, the stipulations of which continued to apply in the case of Vietnam.

Governor Harriman then explained in some detail the relationship between the present U.S. proposal and the Canadian four-point proposal. He noted that the Canadian proposal, which we accepted, had stimulated our own. The U.S. proposal, however, goes further in several important respects, in that it specifically provides not only for mutual troop withdrawals from the 26 mile wide zone but also for further discussions.

Chernyakov asked how he should understand the fact that the U.S. statement made no mention of bombing. Would the bombing of North Vietnam be continued?

Governor Harriman pointed out that the U.S. proposal was not related to our overall bombing policy. It only affected bombing insofar as the 26 mile wide zone was concerned. It would not affect military action elsewhere.

Chernyakov stated he would convey the U.S. proposal to his government. He noted, however, that he had read in the press that the North Vietnamese had rejected the Canadian proposal, Hanoi's position being that the aggressors and the victims of aggression could not be equated.

Governor Harriman said we did not consider the article in the North Vietnamese press rejecting the Canadian proposal an official statement. We still hoped Hanoi would give serious consideration to our proposal, which gave hope that discussions could take place leading to a settlement. Our proposal was carefully drafted so as not to embarrass Hanoi. It deliberately made no mention of North Vietnamese troops in the South in recognition of DRV sensitivities. It calls only for withdrawals from the demilitarized zone. We felt the Canadian proposal required a response on our part. This proposal was an indication of our good faith. This was what we were telling the British, and we hoped the Soviets likewise would do their best to get Hanoi to consider the proposal seriously./4/

/4/Other world leaders were interested in the Canadian proposal. The Pope and President Johnson exchanged notes over it on May 3. (Telegrams 187214 and 187280 to Rome, May 3; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET) The President and Canadian Prime Minister Pearson discussed the cease-fire proposal at their meeting on May 25. In response to Pearson's query as to the chances of success for such a proposal, Johnson replied that he "thought the proposal had about as much appeal as a proposal to become a Yankee would have had to his Confederate grandmother." (Memorandum of conversation, May 25; Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Canada, Vol. I)

Chernyakov noted that at the same time that we were making this proposal, he had read in the press that we were considering bombing North Vietnam's cement plants in the vicinity of Haiphong and had bombed the power plants. Should the USSR expect further bombing in conjunction with our proposal?

Governor Harriman said he did not intend to discuss military operations. The President had made his position clear that the bombing would continue in the absence of reciprocal action by Hanoi. Our bombing policy was not changed.

If Hanoi's position was clear, so was the President's. (Governor Harriman again emphasized this point later in the conversation to insure that there was no misunderstanding on Chernyakov's part of the firmness of the President's position on bombing.)

Chernyakov commented that our proposal did not seem to take into account the North Vietnamese position revealed last March (i.e., by Hanoi's release of the Ho-Johnson exchange of letters.)/5/

/5/See Document 82. This exchange was made public by the North Vietnamese on March 21; see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1967, Book I, pp. 390-391.

Chernyakov then raised the point that each time the U.S. Government made an approach to the Soviets here, there was a leak to the press within a few days. The most recent example resulted from the Heck-Vorontsov conversation concerning the Indo-Pak arms embargo. The Embassy had conveyed this information to Moscow, but we subsequently told correspondents that we had informed the Soviets in advance. He referred specifically to a statement by the Department's spokesman on April 13 which stated: ". . . we did inform the CENTO and SEATO countries and the USSR and they indicated some appreciation for that information." Chernyakov objected particularly to the implication that the Soviets were also "appreciative". Dobrynin had met with the Secretary on an earlier occasion, and a story a few days later by Murray Marder stated that the Soviets had been told in advance of our intention to increase our bombing of the North. Chernyakov said this created difficulties for the Embassy.

Governor Harriman stated that if he were asked by the press about the present meeting he would simply say we had drawn the U.S. proposal to the attention of the USSR as a Geneva Conference Co-chairman.

In response to Governor Harriman's question, Chernyakov said that Ambassador Dobrynin was officially expected back in the next few days but he suspected that the Ambassador might find occasion to stay a bit longer in Moscow since his family was there and the May Day celebrations were approaching. He noted that he was holding the No. 2 position in the Embassy on a temporary basis, since he had not yet been officially confirmed as Zinchuk's replacement.

 

141. Editorial Note

The Joint Chiefs of Staff sent their views on the augmentation of U.S. military forces in Vietnam to Secretary of Defense McNamara in a memorandum dated April 20, 1967. In it the Joint Chiefs requested for the upcoming fiscal year a "minimum essential force" of two and one-third divisions, five tactical fighter squadrons, and additional naval and riverine forces for South Vietnam, as well as additional allotments of troops to man the strong-point obstacle system being designed in Quang Tri Province and aircraft to be stationed in Thailand. The JCS also noted that another dispatch of forces equal in size to this request "may be required" to achieve a "satisfactory conclusion to the war." Such numbers of troops were necessary "to retain the initiative and maintain momentum in the conflict." A call-up of the military reserve and Congressional action would be required in order to deploy these numbers of personnel. (Johnson Library, Papers of Paul C. Warnke, John McNaughton Files, McNTN XIV, Misc. 1967 (3)) In a May 1 memorandum to Secretary McNamara, General Maxwell Taylor supported the JCS call for the additional troops by late 1968. "I am aware that this schedule cannot be met without a call-up of reservists and an involuntary extension of terms of service but do not view this fact as an overwhelming objection," Taylor noted. "This threshold of decision in all probability must be crossed some time and the present timing on the heels of General Westmoreland's visit is a good one and should provide a convincing testimonial of our determination to see this thing through to a finish." (Ibid., National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. LXXII)

 

142. Editorial Note

The United States and its allies sought to demonstrate their determination to continue the war effort in Vietnam at three international conferences in late April 1967. The Council of Ministers of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) met at Washington April 18-20. In his opening address to the Foreign Ministers, Secretary of State Rusk declared that a show of the resolve of the SEATO member nations to keep South Vietnam non-Communist would bring about victory. "Eventually Hanoi must come to realize that it will not be permitted to conquer South Viet-Nam by force." For the full text of his statement, see Department of State Bulletin, May 15, 1967, pages 742-744. According to the text of the final communiqué of the meeting, April 20, the SEATO member states "reaffirmed their determination to maintain, and where possible to increase, their efforts in support of Vietnam in accordance with their respective constitutional processes." See ibid., pages 745-747. Documentation on the SEATO meeting is printed in Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, volume XXVII.

Directly following the SEATO Ministerial meeting, a summit of the seven allied troop-contributing nations met April 20-21 in Washington to discuss Vietnam. Background material on the conference is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, EA/ACA Files: Lot 69 D 277, Vietnam File-GVN. A summary of the conference was sent to the Embassies of each participating nation in telegram 180681, April 22. (Ibid., Vietnam File-US) According to the summary, the primary topic of discussion was the mechanism for achieving a peaceful settlement in Vietnam. Rusk told the delegates that "all efforts to bring Hanoi to the conference table had received only short and contemptuous rejections; we cannot stop our half of the war and permit Hanoi to continue its half." His conclusion was that despite the fact that the "outlook for peace now is not encouraging," the military pressure on North Vietnam and the support for South Vietnam had to continue. The representatives also lauded the progress that the South Vietnamese Government was making in terms of political development and the civil struggle against the Communist insurgents. (Ibid.) Records of this conference are ibid., Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET. A communiqué released at the conclusion of the conference noted that the participants had "reaffirmed their resolve to continue their military and all other efforts, as firmly and as long as may be necessary, in close consultation among themselves until the aggression is ended." For text of the communiqué, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pages 918-920.

A final meeting, that of the ANZUS (Australia-New Zealand-U.S. Security Pact) Council, was held April 21-22. The participants "reaffirmed their hope that North Viet-Nam, realizing the determination of the people of South Viet-Nam and their allies, would reverse its intransigent stand and manifest a willingness to bring the conflict to an end on fair and reasonable terms." For full text of this communiqué released on April 22, see ibid., pages 731-732.

 

143. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam/1/

Washington, April 21, 1967, 1 a.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted and approved by Rusk and cleared by Read. On April 18 Komer submitted the text of the cable through Rostow to the President. In a covering memorandum of April 18, Rostow told Johnson that he and Komer concurred in the transmission of the cable, which "might be helpful" to Lodge. "It fits his thought and ours; but he is only likely to be forceful if he receives guidance from you," he noted. The President approved Rostow's recommendation to "check it out" with Rusk and McNamara. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. LXIX, Cables) According to an attached note of April 19, McNamara telephoned approval. (Ibid.)

179529. From the President for Lodge.

1. As you prepare to pay your final calls, I have been mulling over your recent cables. Two problems stand out in my mind.

2. The first one is the absolutely crucial problem of ensuring that the Vietnamese military stay united among themselves in this critical pre-election period and that they loyally support the elected government which emerges. I personally emphasized this to Do and Bui Diem yesterday.

3. Thieu and Ky should understand that we cannot decide for them who should be the military candidate, and that we cannot force the military to rally behind that candidate. This is their job and they must face up to it. Please tell Thieu and Ky that each has said publicly that he would not oppose the other; we have accepted their statements at face value because we know they both are patriots. This is a critical period in which they and their colleagues must subordinate personal feelings and ambitions to the national interest. They must support the political process now in train and ensure that it does not fail. Disruption of military unity now, or failure of the military to support the proper conduct of the elections and to rally behind the elected government, would be disastrous for South Viet-Nam, for the support of the American public behind our effort in Viet-Nam, and for international support generally. This must not happen.

4. I know that you have been seeing Ky with good effect and are likely to see Thieu on this very issue. I of course leave to you how to get this message across, but as you prepare to leave there should be no doubt in Ky's or Thieu's minds of the depth of our feeling on this score. FYI. We continue to be concerned about what they may try to do if your departure creates a gap before Bunker's arrival. We are exploring this with Bunker. Since we are in a war situation, general protocol practice about avoiding an overlap between ambassadors need not apply. This is not an indication of any lack of confidence in Porter but a concern lest someone in Saigon decides to play tricks between you and Bunker. End FYI.

5. The second problem of critical importance is the revamping and remotivating of the Vietnamese armed forces for the vital task of pacification. This is covered in a separate message./2/

/2/This issue was discussed in telegram 179530 to Saigon, April 21. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S)

Rusk

 

144. Memorandum From William Jorden of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant (Rostow)/1/

Washington, April 21, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. LXIX, Cables. Secret. In a covering memorandum to the President, April 21, Bromley Smith wrote: "In response to your oral message, Premier Ky asked his Ambassador to reassure you he will not break the unity of the Vietnamese military. Attached is Bill Jorden's report of his conversation with Ambassador Diem who had talked to Ky." (Ibid.) The notation "L" on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.

SUBJECT
Message to Ky

Ambassador Diem has just talked personally with General Ky.

The Prime Minister sends his deep respect and warm greetings to the President.

He understands fully the President's message and the concern reflected therein./2/

/2/On April 19 immediately following a White House reception for SEATO Ministers, President Johnson met with Diem and Tran Van Do. He requested that they transmit to Ky a two-part message. First, Johnson cited the "absolute necessity" of continued cohesion among the Vietnamese leadership. Second, he stressed the need for the RVNAF "to carry as much of the military load as possible." That evening, Diem told Jorden that he had sent the message both to Ky and to an associate of his who worked in the Prime Minister's office. He assured Jorden that Ky and Thieu would "not let things get out of hand." (Memorandum from Jorden to Rostow, April 20; ibid.) In a conversation with Unger later that day, Diem confirmed that he had delivered Johnson's message to Ky. (Ibid.)

He is deeply aware of the problems raised. He is putting the stability and the unity of the armed forces above everything. Nothing must be permitted to shatter the unity of the ARVN.

A majority of the generals would like him to be the Presidential candidate. He is considering this. If he can be the candidate without causing a break in armed forces stability, he will do it. But if his being a candidate will break the unity of the Army, he will not do it.

Nothing must be permitted to happen to the unity of the army and this is the uppermost consideration in his mind.

Regarding the I Corps situation, he realizes that the picture has been created that the Americans are rushing in to fight, but nothing is said of the Vietnamese forces. He recognizes this can be a source of criticism for the President, and for him and his people.

ARVN units have been moved into areas now being vacated by those U.S. forces moving north to I Corps. He will try to do more. It is a problem for us both.

At the end, he repeated his deep respect for President Johnson. He recalled the pledge he made at Guam and he will live up to it. Nothing can happen to the unity of the Vietnamese armed forces; it must not be permitted.

Bill

 

145. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State/1/

Saigon, April 22, 1967, 0900Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Received at 5:29 a.m. and passed to the White House, DOD, and CIA at 6:20 a.m.

23740. Ref: State 178636./2/

/2/See footnote 2, Document 138.

1. The relative standings of Thieu and Ky within the military are not clear. They also appear to be subject to somewhat unpredictable change. The majority of the members of the Armed Forces Council seem to be carefully maintaining positions which will enable them to move in behind either Ky or Thieu when they judge the time is ripe and the outcome reasonably certain. This wait-and-see attitude is demonstrated by the apparent unwillingness of the Armed Forces Council to be committed. Neither do the military members of the Directorate wish to give the equivalent of a political endorsement, although they will eventually, though indirectly, probably take a position. The top officers do not want the lines clearly drawn because they want to avoid being divided into two opposing camps and because it seems inappropriate to act like a political nominating convention. They may be reluctant to make a choice which, if they guess wrong, could mortgage their futures or even end their military careers.

2. Even in the case of those senior officers who are pretty well identified as favoring Ky or Thieu, it would not be correct to say that at this time more than one or two are fully committed. General Cao Van Vien, for example, is believed to support Ky, but he probably still has a line out to Thieu and could switch to Thieu's camp if it seemed wise.

3. There are those who say that Ky seems to have a better standing than Thieu. Ky's probable supporters are said to include the Air Force and General Khang, Loan, Thang, Lam, Cao Van Vien, and Linh Quang Vien. Through the Air Force and Generals Khang and Loan, Ky can muster most if not all of the effective armed force in the Saigon area. This makes an armed coup against Ky rather unlikely and suggests that Thieu would have to reply on political maneuver.

4. The above does not take into consideration the possibility of a palace coup or some variant thereof. This possibility appears remote. Ky has assured me that this will not be done to Thieu and Thieu has given me comparable assurance.

5. Vietnamese politicians both in and out of the army are keenly conscious of our position and constantly seek to know our views on important questions. This is certainly true in the present case. It is possible that some individuals or factions might feel there was less chance of effective interference from us if they moved during the brief interim between my departure and Ambassador Bunker's arrival. I think however that this would be only one of many considerations in their minds, and not a ruling one at that. As I indicated in an earlier message, such a move does not seem likely.

6. I believe there is a real advantage in the American Ambassador here at this time not knowing the possible candidates well. Vietnamese observers will more readily believe that the U.S. is impartial than would be the case if I were here. No matter how impartially I acted in fact there would be impressions caused by the well known friendships which I have made over the years.

Lodge

 

146. Telegram From Bromley Smith of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant (Rostow)/1/

Washington, April 24, 1967, 2300Z.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. LX-IV, Cables. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to Rusk who, along with Rostow, accompanied the President on his visit to Germany April 23-26. (Ibid, President's Daily Diary)

CAP 67332. Subject: Lodge's farewell call on Ky. Saigon 23825./2/

/2/Dated April 24. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 15-1 VIET S) The text of telegram 23825 is repeated in this telegram.

1. I paid my farewell call on Ky, telling him how much it had meant to me to work with him during the past period of almost two years. I congratulated him on his capacity to grow and to learn new subjects; on his courage to do the things that needed to be done; and, above all, on his capacity to control himself so as not to get impatient, not to be impulsive, and not to be revengeful. I had observed during my life so many brilliant men who had nonetheless destroyed their careers by impatience, impulsiveness, and revengefulness. I said that I expected to be in Washington in the future and hoped that he would call on me if I could be of any use and, of course, that Bui Diem could always get in touch with me quickly.

2. He thanked me and said he thought "his most important role in the future was to build unity and stability." The Viet Cong, he said, "worry about Vietnamese progress in politics." He intends to place "maximum emphasis" on this problem which has such vital importance to Vietnam's place on the "international scene."

3. He said he had noted that the Vietnamese dislike a man who is holding office, but that a man who is out of office and acting unselfishly for the good of the country without possibility of self-seeking is popular. He saw a role for himself above the battle.

4. We discussed the forthcoming election and he agreed that if the Constitution was carried out, and if all the leading Vietnamese supported the new President, Senate, and Assembly, that the Vietnamese position in international affairs would be totally different. Hanoi would inescapably realize--whether they admitted it or not--that talk of a so-called coalition government was no longer in the cards.

5. If, he said, Hanoi were then to ask for neutrality, that would be no problem because a state of affairs in which Vietnam was neutral in fact as well as in name would be satisfactory.

6. He said he had had a telephone call from Bui Diem reflecting a conversation with the highest sources in Washington, and he had told Bui Diem not to worry. Lodge.

 

147. Memorandum by the President's Special Assistant (Komer)/1/

Washington, April 24, 1967.

/1/Source: Center for Military History, DepCORDS/MACV Files, Pacification Concepts: 1967-68. Secret; Eyes Only. This memorandum was sent first to Katzenbach, and then to McNamara and Vance. In a transmittal memorandum to the latter two, April 24, Komer argued that the memorandum "deserves careful study" and noted that it was "done in haste and deliberately designed to plead an alternative case." (Ibid.)

SUBJECT
Thoughts on Future Strategy in Vietnam

As I depart Washington for Saigon, I want to leave behind my own views on future conduct of the war. The story of our involvement in Vietnam is one of increasing commitment of US resources as we found the GVN (despite our help) increasingly incapable of meeting a growing threat. Without faulting this process, it also reflects a tendency to resort in our frustration to actions which we can control (e.g., bombing operations, US ground force operations) in lieu of the much tougher, slower, and less certain measures required to make the Vietnamese pull their weight.

I believe that we should re-examine this trade-off. With COMUSMACV asking for a major troop increase, with the bombing offensive widening--each with a series of corollary implications of potentially major magnitude (e.g. reserve call-up), we need to examine any alternative course of action which could optimize the chances of a satisfactory Vietnam outcome without such an extensive further step-up in the US share of the war. I believe that there is a series of measures which could get enough more out of our Vietnamese allies. Some are measures which we have previously rejected, but on grounds which look a great deal less compelling now when matched against the potential alternative. My reasoning follows:

I. What Are the Critical Variables Which Will Determine Success in Vietnam? I will state my case in bare outline, with emphasis on the next critical 18 months:

A. It is Unlikely that Hanoi will Negotiate. We can't count on a negotiated compromise. Perhaps the NLF would prove more flexible, but it seems increasingly under the thumb of Hanoi.

B. More Bombing or Mining Would Raise the Pain Level but Probably Wouldn't Force Hanoi to Cry Uncle. I'm no expert on this, but can't see it as decisive. Could it prevent Hanoi from maintaining substantial infiltration if it chose? Moreover, some facets of it contain dangerous risks.

C. Thus the Critical Variable is in the South! The greatest opportunity for decisive gains in the next 12-18 months lies in accelerating the erosion of the VC in South Vietnam, and in building a viable alternative with attractive power. Let's assume that the NVA could replace its losses, I doubt that the VC could. They are now the "weak sisters" of the enemy team. The evidence is not conclusive, but certainly points in this direction. Indeed, the NVA strategy in I Corps seems designed to take pressure off the VC in the South.

II. How Do we Maximize the Chances of a "Breakthrough" in the South? Therefore, if we could maximize the pressures of all kinds on the VC--direct and indirect--political, economic, psychological and military--we might at the optimum force Hanoi to fade away, or at the minimum achieve such success as to make clear to all that the war was being won. Such a course would also reinforce the pressures on Hanoi to negotiate. But if we can't get a settlement in 12-18 months, at the least we should shoot for such concrete results in South Vietnam that it might permit us to start bringing a few troops home rather than sending ever more out.

I confess here to a strong bias that we are already winning the war in the South. No one who compares the situation today to that of April 1966 (much less April 1965) can deny we're doing better. But many contend we've just stopped losing, not started winning. Much depends on one's confidence in our O/B estimates, which I for one question--especially with regard to VC recruiting rates and losses in the South. Much also depends on how much weight one gives to political trends, changing popular attitudes, etc. But I won't argue the case here--time will tell who's right. In any case, we're not drawing ahead clearly enough or fast enough to optimize our confidence in achieving a 12-18 month turnaround. So what more needs to be done?

A. How Much Would We Achieve from a Major New US Force Commitment? COMUSMACV is asking for 210,000 men no later than June 1968 and roughly 100,000 as soon as possible (on top of the 475,000 plus 60,000 ROK's, Aussies, etc. already programmed). However, MACV's justification for these added forces needs further review. To what extent are they based on inflated O/B estimates of enemy strength? If enemy main force strength is now levelling off because of high kill ratios, etc., would the added US forces be used for pacification? General DePuy estimates that 50% of US/ROK maneuver battalions are already supporting RD by dealing with the "middle war", the VC main force provincial battalions. How good are US forces at pacification-related tasks, as compared to RVNAF? What are the trade-offs? A major US force commitment to pacification also basically changes the nature of our presence in Vietnam and might force us to stay indefinitely in strength. Whether or not the added US forces would become heavily involved in pacification, however, another major US force increase raises so many other issues that we must ask whether this trip is really necessary.

B. What package of alternative measures designed to get the GVN to pull more weight--militarily, politically, economically--might reduce or obviate the need for a major US force increase? I believe that an urgent across-the-board attack on this problem offers sufficient promise to deserve analysis. Many measures, previously rejected because the cons seemed to outweigh the pros in each individual case, should be re-examined in the light of the new range of trade-offs involved. To me, some of their disadvantages look pretty pale compared to the potential costs of another 200,000 US troops and/or sharply stepped-up bombing of the North.

Moreover, we have been more permissive in dealing with recognized deficiencies of RVNAF and the GVN than we can afford to be any longer, given the alternatives involved. We must use every sensible means of persuasion, or if necessary pressures which we have shied from using in the past. The following is just an outline of the package which should be considered.

1. First is an all-out effort to get more for our money out of RVNAF. We have trained and equipped over 650,000 (and for so little cost that it is a good investment in any case). But can't we greatly increase the return?

(a) Insist on jacking up RVNAF leadership at all levels. All observers agree that this is RVNAF's most critical weakness. A massive attack on it could pay real short-run dividends. Insist on dismissal of incompetent commanders. Find US means for rewarding competent ones, such as withholding MAP from ineffective units.

(b) Insist on a Joint Command. Putting at least ARVN under Westy and his corps commanders might be the best short-run way to get more response out of ARVN. If it would ease the GVN problem, the contingents of the other five contributors could be added. Whatever the problems entailed, they seem small to me compared to sending another 200,000 men.

(c) Greatly Expand the US Advisory Structure, Especially with RF/PF. Here's another quick way to get more for our money. In some cases the troop to advisor ratio in RF/PF is 1,000 to 1. Only 1,200 advisors (the strength of one USMC maneuver battalion) might have many times the payoff.

(d) Expand RVNAF as a substitute for more US forces. Westy wants 50,000 more RF/PF in FY 1968. Let's consider 100,000 in a two-phase expansion.

(e) Increase RVNAF pay, housing, ration, and other incentives. Bull through a better promotion policy. The savings from cutting back on non-productive units and expenditures might finance much of the increase.

(f) Enrich RVNAF equipment. I'm told the rifles and carbines are poor, that more radios for RF/PF would help greatly, that new equipment would build up morale and effectiveness.

A crash program along the above lines would be cheap at the price, in fact so cheap that we probably ought to do most of it anyway. Piaster and manpower constraints are manageable in my view.

2. Expand civilian pacification programs along similar lines:

(a) We're turning out RD teams about as fast as feasible. So supplement them with "instant RD teams" on model of civil/military team in Binh Dinh.

(b) Even 44 more US advisors for RD teams would make a big supervisory difference. Ditto for 50 more US advisors for the police.

(c) Give RD teams and police all the equipment they need--from military stocks.

(d) Integrate the US advisory effort on pacification to provide a new forward thrust.

(e) Press harder for removal of incompetent or corrupt province and district officials.

3. Revamp and put new steam behind a coordinated US/GVN intelligence collation and action effort targeted on the VC infrastructure at the critical provincial, district, and village levels. We are just not getting enough payoff yet from the massive intelligence we are increasingly collecting. Police/military coordination is sadly lacking both in collection and in swift reaction.

4. Press much harder on radical land reform initiatives designed to consolidate rural support behind the GVN.

5. Step up refugee programs deliberately aimed at depriving the VC of a recruiting base.

6. Last but not least, use our influence discreetly to maximize the chances of smooth transition to an effective, popularly-based GVN. This is central to the proposition that we can get the Vietnamese to pull their weight. When we look at the alternative cost of taking over even more of Vietnam's war, political intervention looks less frightening. Can we afford more coups, or crises in Saigon which in my view could undermine our whole position regardless of how many troops we send?

III. Conclusions. Many more actions--large and small--could be added to the above illustrative list. My argument is simply that some such package of measures--carried through with real determination--may offer just as much prospect of accelerating the favorable trends in SVN over the next 12-18 months as major new US military commitments--and could obviate much of the need for the latter. And they would be a lot less costly to us.

The above package could be combined with other US unilateral measures--let's say a minor force increase to 500,000, accelerated emphasis on a barrier, and some increased bombing--to further optimize its prospects. Granted that my underlying premise is that we're already doing well enough in SVN--the critical area--to see light at the end of the tunnel. But my basic point is that this added package at least offers sufficient promise to deserve urgent review.

R.W. Komer/2/

/2/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

 

148. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam/1/

Washington, April 26, 1967, 8:10 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Approved by Unger.

183049. Ref: Saigon 23967./2/

/2/In telegram 23967, April 25, the Embassy reported on a "major battle" in the Constituent Assembly over the run-off provision in the Presidential election law. The minority group that favored the provision managed to gain temporary acceptance of the provision (but only if no candidate received more than 35 percent of the vote). The Directorate and its supporters strongly opposed such a proposition. (Ibid.)

1. Reftel and collateral evidence in FVS 14,196 and FVS 14,920/3/ indicates that run-off election is becoming key election issue. We continue to believe strongly that successful presidential candidate must obtain either majority or substantial plurality of vote (we question whether 35% is substantial enough plurality). President, as leader of nation, should benefit from prestige which sizeable percentage of popular vote accords him and thus be in better political and psychological position to conduct both his internal programs and his nation's foreign relations. In Viet-Nam, where body politic has long suffered from sharply divisive factors and where future Government will have to deal with well-disciplined and tightly organized communist group, this factor becomes even more significant. Moreover, international image of minority President, particularly if he is military man, is likely to be most unfavorable.

/3/Neither found.

2. On other hand, electoral law provisions on this issue could have considerable impact on outcome of elections, as you note para 3 reftel,/4/ and we tend to accept judgment of those Deputies who believe run-off increases chances of Southern--and presumably civilian--candidate.

/4/This paragraph of telegram 23967 reported that supporters of southern candidates Huong and Suu favored the run-off provision while supporters of the military candidate favored a single election.

3. Issue squarely before us, then, is how strongly we should push for inclusion in electoral law of run-off or similar device, recognizing that our judgment on this score could affect outcome of presidential election and that our position could be interpreted as biased in favor of civilian candidate. Moreover, if we push for run-off or similar device to insure that President is elected by substantial majority (at least 40-45% of vote), this could force Loan, for example, to take stronger measures to ensure a Ky election victory.

4. On balance, we believe you should continue to urge strongly that CA adopt run-off or similar provision, pointing out to Deputies and Directorate (especially Ky and Thieu) unfortunate implication of minority President both internally in SVN and internationally.

5. Request your prompt comment.

Katzenbach

 

149. Notes on Discussions With President Johnson/1/

Washington, April 27, 1967.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 200, Reading File, April 1967. Top Secret. This document is a typed version of summary notes taken by Christian at meetings that day among the President, Rusk, McNamara, Katzenbach, Vance, Komer, Rostow, Wheeler, and Westmoreland. This group's first meeting was at 10:35 a.m through 11:50 a.m.; it resumed meeting at 4:45 p.m. through 6:30 p.m. (Johnson Library, President's Daily Diary) Rostow's handwritten notes of these meetings are ibid., National Security File, Files of Walt Rostow, Viet Nam. Rostow prepared background memoranda on the meetings with Westmoreland, April 24, 9:55 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. (Ibid., Country File, Vietnam, Vol. LXX) Komer also prepared a memorandum to the President, April 27. (Ibid., Files of Robert Komer, Memos to the President, Jan.-May 1967) Westmoreland was in Washington for a week-long visit. He gave a speech at West Point on April 24 and appeared before a joint session of Congress on April 28. For his speech, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 921-922; for text of his remarks to Congress, see Department of State Bulletin, May 15, 1967, pp. 738-741.

1. Westmoreland: "Without these forces (the 2-1/3 additional divisions plus 5 squadrons, making a total of 565,000 men in South Vietnam), we will not be in danger of being defeated, but it will be nip and tuck to oppose the reinforcements the enemy is capable of providing."

"In the final analysis, we are fighting a war of attrition in Southeast Asia."

"What is the next step? A second addition of 2-1/3 divisions, another 100,000 men, probably in FY 1969."

2. Westmoreland: "I am frankly dismayed at even the thought of stopping the bombing program."

3. Westmoreland: "Cambodia may soon become a supplier of ammunition. The DRV's grand design incorporates the use of Cambodia as a supply base (first for rice and medical supplies as now, and later for ammunition) for DRV operations in South Vietnam."

4. Westmoreland: "The reinforcement of the First Corps has slowed down the assignment of the 9th Division to the Delta."

5. Westmoreland: "In summary, with the troops now in country, we are not going to lose, but progress will be slowed down."

"This is not an encouraging outlook, but it is a realistic one."

6. Westmoreland: "In the Fourth Corps, there is no threat of strategic VC victories and there are three good ARVN divisions there."

7. Westmoreland: "I believe we should confront the DRV with South Vietnamese forces in Laos."

"Operational plan 'High Port' creates an elite SVN division for this purpose. The US would build a road and logistic base for ARVN air and ground operations in Laos against the DRV base 609. The US would provide artillery and air support. Next, we would do the same thing for A Chau. Laos would become more and more the battlefield and this would take the pressure off the South."

8. Westmoreland: "This war is action and counter-action. Any time we take an action, we can expect a reaction."

9. Westmoreland: "It would be wise to think of the same plan [as that discussed for Laos] for Cambodia."/2/

/2/Brackets in the source text.

"I have contingency plans to move into Cambodia in the Chu Pong area. We would use a South Vietnamese force but we would like US advisors to accompany them."

10. Westmoreland: "The VC and DRV strength in South Vietnam now totals 285,000 men. It appears that last month we reached the crossover point. In areas excluding the two northern provinces, attrition will be greater than additions to the force."

11. President: "When we add divisions, can't the enemy add divisions? If so, where does it all end?"

Westmoreland: "The enemy has 8 divisions in South Vietnam. He has the capability of deploying 12 divisions, although he would have difficulty supporting all of these. He would be hard pressed to support more than 12 divisions."

"If we add 2-1/3 divisions, it is likely the enemy will react by adding troops."

President: "At what point does the enemy ask for volunteers?"

Westmoreland: "That is a good question."

12. Westmoreland: "With the present program of 470,000 men, we would be setting up a meat grinder. We would do a little better than hold our own. We would make progress, but we would have to use a fire brigade technique. Unless the will of the enemy was broken or unless there was an unraveling of the VC structure, the war could go on for five years. If our forces were increased, that period could be reduced, although not necessarily in proportion to increases in strength."

13. Westmoreland: "Other factors than increase in strength must, of course, be considered. We now have a professional US force. A non-professional force such as that which would result from fulfilling the requirement for 100,000 additional men by calling Reserves, will cause some degradation of morale, leadership and effectiveness."

14. Westmoreland: "With a force level of 565,000 men, the war could well go on for three years. With the second increment of 2-1/3 divisions, leading to a total of 665,000 men, it could go on for two years."

15. Wheeler: "The JCS is now reviewing possible responses to our further force buildup in South Vietnam. They consider we should be prepared to face the following: (a) North Korean pressure on South Korea to cause us to increase our forces in South Korea. (b) Soviet pressure on Berlin to cause us to reinforce NATO. (c) Volunteers sent to South Vietnam from the Soviet Union, North Korea, and Red China. (d) Overt intervention by Red China (for example, ChiCom movement into Thailand might be quite attractive to Red China)."

16. Wheeler: "Three other matters are bothering the JCS: (a) DRV troop activity in Cambodia. US troops may be forced to move against these units in Cambodia. (b) DRV troop activity in Laos. US troops may be forced to move against these units. (c) Possible invasion of North Vietnam. We may wish to take offensive action against the DRV with ground troops."

17. Wheeler: "The bombing campaign is reaching the point where we will have struck all worthwhile fixed targets except the ports. At this time we will have to address the requirement to deny to the DRV the use of the ports."

18. Wheeler: "In summary, the JCS believe the President must review the contingencies which we may face, the troops required to meet them, and additional punitive action against the DRV."

19. President: "What if we do not add the 2-1/3 divisions?"

Wheeler: "The momentum will die; in some areas the enemy will recapture the initiative. We won't lose the war, but it will be a longer one."

20. Wheeler: "Of the 2-1/3 divisions, I would add one division on the DMZ to relieve the Marines to work with ARVN on pacification; and I would put one division east of Saigon to relieve the 9th Division to deploy to the Delta to increase the effectiveness of the three good ARVN divisions now there; the brigade I would send to Quong Ngai to make there the progress in the next year that we have made in Binh Dinh in the past year."

21. President: "We should make certain we are getting value received from the South Vietnamese troops. Check the dischargees to determine whether we could make use of them by forming additional units, by mating them with US troops, as is done in Korea, or in other ways."

"President Park of Korea said he could form up two divisions of dischargees for supply support. Should we not plan on meeting the requirement for 100,000 additional men in part with South Vietnamese and Koreans? Could we not form an international division adding additional Thais and Australians as well?"

 

150. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Komer) to President Johnson/1/

Washington, April 27, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Robert Komer, Memos to the President, Jan-May 1967. Secret. The notation "L" on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it. In an earlier memorandum the same day, Komer underscored the need for the President to specifically request Westmoreland to improve the effectiveness of the ARVN. (Memorandum from Komer to the President, April 27; ibid.)

Handling Shift in Pacification. Bunker has asked me to come out soonest and I've told him that I hoped to be out about 1 May if you approved. I'd like to fly out with Westy (leaving Saturday)/2/ or Abrams (leaving Monday).

/2/April 29.

Arrival of all members of the new team will revive press queries on the new set-up. With Bunker then on the ground a full week, he could cut this short by announcing the decisions. Having him announce them as his would emphasize that he is top dog in Saigon. I'd urge he do so at a press conference so that he could cover the issue by announcing other matters as well (e.g. announcing Cooper as Wehrle's replacement)./3/

/3/Bunker discussed the Mission's reorganization in a May 11 press conference. See American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 926-928. Among his announcements was that Charles Cooper, a deputy to Komer at the White House, would replace LeRoy Wehrle as Counselor for Economic Affairs in June.

Assuming you decide to go the MACV route, the big criticism to head off is that this means further militarization of the war. I think that this can be knocked down by Bunker himself using the following leads:

1. You have appointed him No. 1 American in Saigon and given him full latitude to organize the US effort in the way he thinks best.

2. As an old corporation executive, he believes that unity of management and a clear chain of command down to the cutting edge is sound management practice.

3. Bunker thinks with Lodge that pacification is the "heart of the matter", and that the key prerequisite to pacification is security. This means our military should play a key role in the US advisory effort on pacification.

4. So Bunker does not regard pacification as a civil or military problem, but as a civil/military problem. Hence his solution is to have US civilians and military work together.

5. To achieve these twin goals (unified management of an integrated US civil/military advisory effort), Bunker has decided to put Ambassador Komer in to head it as a deputy to General Westmoreland. Komer will manage both civil and military aspects of US pacification role.

6. As senior US official in Saigon Bunker expects to personally oversee US pacification advisory effort as he will everything else. With Komer managing joint effort from within MACV civilian role will be greater, not less.

7. While single US line of authority down to province level is essential, integrity of new civilian agency (OCO) will be preserved. It will remain a separate entity under Komer doing those things which civilians more experienced at handling than military. Best senior people will be as senior pacification advisors at province and region regardless of whether civilian or military.

8. Bunker believes that net result will be greater efficiency and economy in this key endeavor. Would end by reminding everyone that pacification is primarily a GVN show. New organization does not mean more US troops in pacification. It means a unified US advisory and support role.

If Bunker will say the above we'll draw enough of the short-term sting to minimize its impact. We can so instruct Bunker once you approve.

R. W. Komer/4/

/4/Komer added the following handwritten postscript: "You were great today telling Westy to jack up the GVN and ARVN." Komer is referring to the President's remarks in Document 149.

 

151. Memorandum From Senator Mike Mansfield to President Johnson/1/

Washington, April 29, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Name File, Senator Mansfield. No classification marking.

SUBJECT
Vietnam

1. An Approach Via China

Our bombings will continue to make Hanoi ever more heavily dependent on China. The road to settlement with Hanoi, now, very likely runs by way of Peking rather than Moscow.

Make a quiet and clearly conciliatory approach to China. (i.e. Pursue my earlier suggestion of my trying to arrange a trip to Peking; to be effective for opening the way to official talks, however, it would have to have, at least, tacit Presidential approval and should be designed to get from Chou En-lai in particular for the President, the Chinese view of what is needed for a settlement in Viet Nam and for the restoration of more normal relations throughout the Western Pacific.)

2. An Approach Via United Nations

Take the initiative on two resolutions in the Security Council:

1. An invitation to governments or political groups (China, North Viet Nam and N.L.F. and Saigon included) to present before the Security Council their views on the war and to discuss possibilities of a solution.

2. A request for an advisory opinion from the International Court on the applicability of the Geneva Accords to the current situation in Viet Nam.

3. Border Barricade

I know this matter has been discussed by you and your military and political advisors, but I think, in spite of the cost and the manpower necessary, it is a possibility worth looking into. First, the proposal is to barricade the area from the South China Sea across the 17th Parallel into and across Laos to either Savannakhet or Takhek on the Thai-Laotian frontier. This would be defended by mined fields, electrical fences, and other devices calling for an increased concentration of men and matériel over the 175-mile to 200-mile strip.

Questions might be raised about interfering with Laotian "neutrality" but I would point out that Laos is engaged in the present struggle and also that on the basis of the 1962 Geneva Accords, it was stipulated that all foreign troops should be withdrawn from Laos. North Vietnamese troops are stationed with the Pathet Lao and have not been withdrawn. Militarily, as indicated, it would require more men and matériel, but there is no reason why the barrier could not be manned to a large extent by South Vietnamese troops in defense of their own country. Politically, such a line would bring about a greater guarantee of Cambodia neutrality, thus minimizing an ever-present difficulty.

On this basis bombing of North Viet Nam would not be necessary. The main objectives of stopping or decreasing considerably the infiltration of men and matériel into Laos, and on the other hand, bringing Hanoi to the conference table, have both failed in any event. A manned barrier would decrease the inflow of men into South Viet Nam tremendously and allow for a greater concentration of effort to bring about

stability without South Viet Nam itself, and to a very considerable extent confine the war to that country, which, as I understand it, is the country whose integrity and stability we have been trying to maintain. If this were done it is true that it would be at additional cost, but costs are going to be increased considerably anyway. It will mean more manpower, but manpower increases are going to occur regardless. Without losing anything, you meet the argument that bombing must stop before there is a possibility of negotiations. You confine your activity to a most limited, but at the same time the most important area, South Viet Nam; you lessen considerably the possibility of an "open ended" war, and you define an objective which is understandable by all and about which no questions can be repeatedly raised, as is the case at present.

In my opinion, if the present course of steady escalation is continued and as each escalating step fails to achieve its objective, the pressures will continue to increase on you and the possibility of a war with China will become more apparent. The bombing of Haiphong, in my opinion, will just mean a step-up of supplies by rails and roads into North Viet Nam from both China and the Soviet Union and the bombing of the airfields around Hanoi will only bring about a shifting of the planes from that area to South China, which in turn will raise the questions of "hot pursuit" and "sanctuaries". If we do become involved with China over North Viet Nam, it is my opinion that the wide and deep gulf which now exists between the Soviet Union and Peking will be "papered" over and they will unite against us and, furthermore, they will have the support in some form or other of the other Communist countries in the world.

I hope you will pardon me for laying these possibilities before you, but as you know, since our days when you were the Majority Leader and I was your Assistant, and since you have become President and I have become Majority Leader, I have never given you an opinion but that I thought it worthwhile and in the nation's best interests. I have endeavored to do this on a constructive basis with an awareness of the difficulties you face and the responsibilities which are yours and yours alone in the last analysis. You may recall that when you were the Majority Leader and I was your Deputy sitting next to you, that on occasion I would lean over and tug at the back of your coat to signal that it was either time to close the debate or to sit down. Most of the time but not all the time you would do what I was trying to suggest. Since you have been President I have been figuratively tugging at your coat, now and again, and the only purpose has been to be helpful and constructive. I am sure that every suggestion I have made has been given consideration by you and I appreciate their courteous consideration. One last word--in my personal opinion, the hour is growing very, very late.

 

152. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson/1/

Washington, April 30, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Name File, Senator Mansfield. No classification marking. The notation "L" on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it. The next day Rusk publicly listed 28 peace proposals made by the U.S. Government that Hanoi had rejected. The text of his May 1 remarks is in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 925-926.

Dear Mr. President,

Secretary Rusk has now read and considered Senator Mansfield's proposals./2/ He has also talked to Ambassador Goldberg./3/

/2/See Document 151.

/3/Goldberg and Katzenbach discussed the Mansfield proposal with Rostow the previous day. Describing it as "a gimmick," Katzenbach stated his opposition to the proposal, while Goldberg favored at least undertaking the effort to submit such a UN resolution. (Memorandum from Rostow to the President, April 30, 11:45 a.m.; Johnson Library, National Security File, Name File, Senator Mansfield) On May 1 the President discussed the UN approach off the record at a breakfast with Senators Mansfield and Morse, Rusk, Katzenbach, Goldberg, and Presidential aide Joseph Califano. He did so again on May 3 (with Rostow replacing Califano). Mansfield sent a second memorandum to the President on May 3, in which he disputed Katzenbach's assertion that the proposal would be interpreted as "phony." It could only be viewed as phony if the administration pursued it accompanied by "some unwitting action or ineptitude." Such a proposal would not make the United States appear "either foolish or weak but rather willing to walk the extra mile." (Ibid., Vietnam, Mansfield Memo & Reply)

1--He is ready to take up in the Security Council Senator Mansfield's proposals.

2--Senator Mansfield should be clear that this proposal will be opposed by the Secretary General and a number of other members of the Security Council who will not wish to press this proposal because Hanoi has made clear that it does not wish the United Nations to get in a peace-making role in Southeast Asia.

3--With respect to visit to Communist China, the Secretary of State is strongly opposed. It would be a major intervention in a troubled situation. The Soviet Union would be upset and suspicious. Above all, Senator Mansfield should remember that he is "an officer of the United States Government," as a member of the legislative branch. Therefore there would be great confusion among our friends in free Asia, including the fear that we were about to sell them out.

4--The Secretary of State believes the proper way to proceed with respect to Communist China is to elevate the Warsaw talks to the Foreign Ministers level./4/ He has been hesitant to propose this until the situation within Communist China has somewhat settled down.

/4/These talks began in 1958 in the aftermath of the second Offshore Islands crisis.

5--Secretary Rusk does not share Senator Mansfield's conviction that Hanoi is now under the control of Peking, and that therefore the route to peace is through Peking. The evidence remains that they have balanced rather well their position between Moscow and Peking, maintaining a high degree of independence.

6--In respect to the World Court proposal, the World Court does not have jurisdiction in this problem. It is most doubtful that we can rally more than a few votes for the World Court to accept jurisdiction.

Walt W. Rostow comment:

I'm in general agreement with Secretary Rusk. There may be some advantage in holding up the move in the Security Council, however, until we hear at the end of the week what signals or messages Dobrynin brings back from Moscow./5/

/5/According to Soviet officials at the United Nations, their government's opposition to the consideration of the issue of Vietnam in the Security Council remained intense; Goldberg was informed that the "US ought to realize the USSR would never tolerate UN consideration of the issue." (Telegram 5373 from USUN, May 19; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S/UN) On April 26 the State Department released a statement noting that the Soviet Union declined to use its "good offices" as a means of approaching the North Vietnamese on the matter of allowing Red Cross inspection of American prisoners of war in the DRV. See American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, p. 924.

Signed,

WWR


Return to This Volume Home Page

  Back to top

U.S. Department of State
USA.govU.S. Department of StateUpdates  |   Frequent Questions  |   Contact Us  |   Email this Page  |   Subject Index  |   Search
The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.
About state.gov  |   Privacy Notice  |   FOIA  |   Copyright Information  |   Other U.S. Government Information

Published by the U.S. Department of State Website at http://www.state.gov maintained by the Bureau of Public Affairs.