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 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 201-221

201. Telegram From the Embassy in Norway to the Department of State/1/

Oslo, June 14, 1967, 1630Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL NOR VIET N. Secret; Priority; Exdis.

4531. For the Secretary. Subject: Norwegian conversation with North Vietnamese.

1. FonMin Lyng called me in June 14 to report conversation which took place June 1 between Ambassador Ole Algard, Norwegian Ambassador Peking, and North Vietnamese Ambassador to Peking Ngo./2/ Lyng gave me Norwegian text report of meeting which he asked that I transmit to Secretary and his immediate advisors, stressing his desire subject be held closely with no publicity of any kind concerning this conversation. Lyng said GON not in position to evaluate conversation's significance if any, but Secretary had once asked him to pass on any interesting conversations Norwegians might have in Peking. If US Govt wished Ambassador Algard to pursue this or any related subjects with North Vietnamese in Peking, GON stood at our disposal. Algard said North Vietnamese Ambassador intended broach matter along similar lines to his Danish and Swedish colleagues in Peking. Ngo had prefaced conversation by saying it was his impression Nordic countries, although very good friends of US, did not entirely share US view of Vietnam situation.

/2/Reference is to DRV Ambassador to the PRC Ngo Minh Loan, usually referred to in the cable series as Loan.

2. Following is my informal rendition Algard's report, transposed from first to third person:

3. "Ambassador Ngo underlined strongly North Vietnamese Govt disposed toward negotiations. At same time they were deeply mistrustful of Americans' intentions in Vietnam. Steady escalation and sending of new troops indicated Americans had intention of staying permanently in Vietnam.

4. "Ngo underlined North Vietnamese Govt imposed only one condition for negotiations, namely that bombing of North Vietnam be stopped. Clearly having in mind the Chinese, he went to lengths to underline that speeches from other quarters which imposed other conditions including full American withdrawal from South Vietnam did not reflect North Vietnam Govt's thought. On North Vietnamese side one gave decisive weight to stop in bombing because this was viewed as respect for North Vietnamese sovereignty and such a respect was an absolute condition for coming to conference table, but was also the only condition. When they had come to conference table, North Vietnam position would be very flexible. 'We are,' said Ambassador Ngo, 'ready for very far reaching compromises to get an end to the war.' Ambassador Algard noted that recently one had impression that North Vietnamese side was cooler toward negotiations. Ambassador Ngo denied this strongly. He said that formerly when North Vietnam showed an interest in negotiations Americans had taken such interest as a sign of weakness and with results of stronger escalation. This was background against which one must judge some recent speeches on North Vietnamese side. Provided there would be a stop in bombing, North Vietnam was ready at any time for negotiations and far reaching compromises.

5. "In this connection there was discussion of U Thant's role. Amb Algard said Norway strongly supported U Thant's efforts to get negotiations underway and Norway had absolute confidence in U Thant in this connection. Therefore Norwegians had been disturbed by statements of Chinese which appeared to have intention to undermine U Thant and to look with distrust upon his capacities as mediator. Amb Ngo made it very clear that North Vietnamese did not share Chinese estimate of U Thant. To be sure U Thant's last proposition was unacceptable to North Vietnam, but North Vietnam valued U Thant's peace efforts and judged him Asiatic statesman with full understanding of what the war in Vietnam involved.

6. "Amb Ngo said he hoped developments would not take such form that North Vietnam must ask for foreign, and in first instance Chinese, help. That was one thing that they would do their utmost to avoid. To question under what conditions would North Vietnamese Govt feel forced to ask for help, he said that beforehand one could not determine fixed criteria. He said however that an American invasion of North Vietnam in itself would not necessitate foreign help. North Vietnam had an army of 400 thousand men which would be capable of mastering such a situation. Amb Algard had impression that only danger of direct occupation of all North Vietnam would force North Vietnamese Govt to ask foreign help. It was plain Amb Ngo considered it very important to clarify North Vietnamese position on question of foreign help.

7. "At end of conversation Amb Algard brought up question of American prisoners in North Vietnam and said it had caused concern, including concern in Norway, that North Vietnamese had so strongly underlined these men were not war prisoners but war criminals. Amb Ngo underlined that this was point of principle. Fact North Vietnam is formally not at war with US and following international conventions on handling of war prisoners does not therefore apply. If on North Vietnamese side they said they would handle war prisoners in accordance with such conventions they would thereby legalize American participation in war. He said American prisoners were treated on 'man to man' basis, but he would not be more precise. Algard said even if North Vietnamese Govt on grounds of principle would not apply relevant international conventions, he believed it would be of great importance for North Vietnamese prestige if people were convinced the prisoners were well treated. Even if they would not permit inspection by the Red Cross, it should be possible to find other means of inspecting prison camps, for example, through UN or other international organizations, in such a manner that did not prejudice North Vietnam's point of principle in this matter. Amb Ngo said he understood this was a question which preoccupied a great many men and which could be damaging to North Vietnam and he would not exclude that the North Vietnamese side would take a new look at this question."/3/

/3/This potential negotiation channel was code-named Ohio. In telegram 213389 to Oslo, June 20, the Department noted that Loan took the initiative for the discussion and that his message was being conveyed through "Nordic representatives," which made it appear even more earnest. The most interesting aspects of the contact, the Department believed, were Loan's statements that the DRV was prepared for compromise and would be flexible. The Department requested that Algard continue the conversations with Loan. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL NOR VIET N) On June 23 Tibbetts passed this request to Lyng, who declined to report to Loan that his government had informed Washington of the June 1 meeting so as to "not muddy waters." Lyng would allow messages to be exchanged by pouch and not by coded cable as the U.S. Government wished. Despite Lyng's "cold feet," Tibbetts believed that Algard would be given enough leeway to act as a useful intermediary. (Telegram 4679 from Oslo, June 23; ibid.) The Department maintained "complete confidence" in the ability of Lyng and Algard to conduct the exchange in an appropriate manner. (Telegram 215936 to Oslo, June 24; ibid.) However, on June 29 Algard reported that Loan, like various other DRV representatives abroad, had been recalled to Hanoi for consultations. (Telegram 4755 from Oslo, June 20, and telegram 219355 to Oslo, June 29; both ibid.)

Tibbetts

 

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

Saigon, June 15, 1967, 1230Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Received at 9:39 a.m. and repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD and passed to the White House, where it was retyped for the President. Rostow sent it to the President under a covering note which read: "Herewith Bunker leans on Thieu. No clear answer yet--and pretty sticky." The notation "L" on the covering note indicates that the President saw the telegram. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President, Walt Rostow, 6/1-8/2/67, Vol. I)

28170. 1. In one hour talk with Thieu last night after his return from I Corps I took up with him the matter of the unity of the armed forces and its relationship to the Presidential elections as I had with Ky earlier./2/ I recalled to him the President's very deep concern that the electoral process should not lead to a division within the military and the repeated assurances both he and PM Ky had given me in the past that this will not be permitted to happen. I said that in recent days we have had reports from the press and from people that have talked with him that he was planning shortly to announce his candidacy for the Presidency. Since PM Ky had long ago announced his candidacy it seemed to me that we will be faced with a situation to bring about a split in the armed forces. I realized that General Vien had announced that the military would not support any political candidates for President and I welcomed this statement of intention. I feared, however, that the reality was that the presentation of two candidates from the armed forces both of whom had close friends within the forces would inevitably result in a division of loyalty and support among the military.

/2/See Document 198.

2. I said that I hoped and had been led to believe that he and the Prime Minister would discuss this difficult question personally and privately in order to find an acceptable solution but I understood that they had not done so. Therefore I had to say to him very frankly that I thought it was urgent and essential for him and the Prime Minister to discuss this matter directly with a view to finding a solution that would assure that the armed forces and the country would not be divided. I informed Thieu that as I had been unable to see him earlier I had already talked to Prime Minister Ky and impressed upon him the vital necessity of discussing this matter frankly together and arriving at a solution.

3. It was not our desire to take sides on the question of who should become President but rather to make sure that the constitutional electoral process strengthened the country and brought about true national unity rather than further dividing the nation. I felt sure that as a true patriot we could count upon him to recognize the importance of achieving these objectives and to do his best to bring them about.

4. Thieu replied at length and for him with considerable emotion. He said that he not only recognized the necessity for unity of the armed forces but could assure me that the military would remain united whether there were two or three or four candidates from the armed forces. They wanted to stay clear of politics and get on with the war. It was not the armed forces but what some people were doing which was tending to create disunity in the country and to make people doubt that the elections would be fair and honest. He then referred directly to some of Ky's activities, the latter's attempted use of some members of the armed forces such as General Tri and General Thang in support of his candidacy, the flagrant abuse of censorship, and General Loan's activities. "How can you expect the public to believe that elections will be fair and honest when the remarks of the Chief of State are censored? What do you think the public reaction is when people see signs reading Prime Minister Ky's government is the government of the poor. It is not Ky's government, the Directorate is the government and I happen to be its chairman."

5. Thieu went on to describe Loan's activities in bringing pressure to bear on the provincial heads of the national police and on province chiefs to support Ky. He said that General Thang and the RD organization will be the next to feel the pressure. He added that all these activities of Ky and his associates were widely known to the press and the public generally and he said "You do not have to take my word for it. You have ample means of intelligence and you can find out for yourselves."

6. Thieu then went on at some length to stress his view of the imperative need for fair and honest elections if the people were to have any confidence in the government. Otherwise he said there would be a return to the days of Diem and eventually there would be another coup.

7. I recalled to him the recent statements appearing in the press that he would become a candidate and said that in our last conversation he had indicated that he had not yet definitely made up his mind. I asked him if he had yet done so and he replied that he had intended to become a candidate and would have a civilian running mate. He repeated his previous statement to me that he had little money at his disposal, would not ask for the support of any members of the armed forces and had as yet no organization and therefore his chances of being elected were not good. Nevertheless, it was a matter of conscience with him to become a candidate and to do what he could to assure honest elections. As things stood now he could not guarantee honest elections yet as chief of state he would be held responsible. If he was not able to bring about a change he would prefer to resign rather than be blamed for something he was unable to control.

8. I said that we shared his conviction that elections should be fair, free and honest but we also felt that it was essential that unity of the armed forces should be maintained and the war prosecuted with the utmost vigor. I therefore felt it was urgent that he and PM Ky should get together without delay and try to come to some understanding. Granting that both were well intentioned and sincerely believed that unity of the military could be maintained if there were more than one military candidate, I could not accept this to be a realistic view of the situation. It could not be expected that the US could continue the huge contribution it was making in men, money and resources unless the Vietnamese themselves avoided internal dissension and exerted their utmost efforts also. Thieu replied "Yes, that is true, your contribution is tremendous and people believe that your interest in the situation here is so great that if the elections are not honest you will share part of the blame."

9. Comment: Thieu was non-committal about his willingness to talk with Ky. It is apparent that his resentment at Ky's aggressiveness and activities runs very deep. While it is difficult to know what is really in the back of his mind his statement that he would be a candidate is the most categorical he has yet made to me. Whether this will be his final decision is difficult to say, this may depend on what other factors are brought into play. Nevertheless for the present we must assume that he will be a candidate and plan our next steps accordingly. These we are considering and will have further comments and recommendations.

Bunker

 

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

Washington, June 15, 1967, 10:45 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Walt Rostow, Bombing. Top Secret. The notation "L" on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it. McNamara met with the President, along with other members of the NSC, from 1:10 to 2:35 p.m. on June 13, and did so again from 11:55 a.m. to 1:06 p.m. on June 15. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary) No notes of these meetings have been found.

Mr. President:

Here are my views on bombing policy.

1. Bob McNamara believes that we may have to live with the war through 1968 and beyond. He holds that we can best do this if we adopt a relatively low-key strategy. This means two things:

--We should not go for a big troop increase but work patiently and gradually to improve the performance of the Vietnamese; and

--Limit our bombing to the region south of the 20th parallel.

He believes this is the setting in which the U.S. public will best accommodate itself to seeing the war through; and he holds that in this setting the forces of moderation in Hanoi are most likely to move towards a gradual decline in the level of hostilities and, perhaps, negotiations.

2. Pending the results of the investigation of manpower requirements by Bob, Bus and Nick, I am inclined to think that we need:

--more troops to work with the Vietnamese in getting at the provincial main force units and thus lay the base for pacification;

--a decision for some limited call-ups would impress Moscow and Hanoi more than anything else that we have the capacity to see the war through, which is the critical issue of judgment in Hanoi; and

--that if we do this, we need a strong bombing policy in the northern part of Viet Nam, but short of direct attack on shipping. (Current evidence is that the port is bottlenecking for one reason or another and, therefore, it is internal transport and concentrations of supply rather than ships which are the appropriate attritional targets.)

3. Therefore, I would propose:

--that you give the Russians an interval of several weeks, perhaps via the Kosygin trip, to get Hanoi into serious negotiations, while holding bombing in the north well away from Hanoi and Haiphong;

--and then make your decision on manpower and bombing policy together, as a package, after Bob returns./2/

/2/McNamara and Katzenbach traveled to Vietnam July 7-11.

Walt

 

204. Memorandum From the Special Assistant for Vietnamese Affairs, Central Intelligence Agency (Carver) to Director of Central Intelligence Helms/1/

Washington, June 16, 1967.

/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, SAVA (Carver) Files, Job 80-R01720R, GAC Chrono, Jan 67-Sep 67. Secret; Sensitive. The previous day, George Carver briefed the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) on the situation in Vietnam. Carver responded to numerous questions about the ability of the U.S. Government to achieve victory in Vietnam. In response to Clifford's noting of rising dissent in governmental circles, Carver rejoined that in his personal opinion more troops were needed but that "if we regain the strategic initiative, and make real progress in pacification, and avoid a political debacle, then the war can be won." Asked about a bombing cessation, Carver stated his opposition to such a measure because the leadership in Hanoi would consider it "as a real political victory for them." In response to a question by Taylor as to whether the bombing should be increased, Carver responded that the bombing program should concentrate in the South but that restrikes and some random bombing could occur in the North "to keep the enemy off balance." (Ibid., Executive Registry Subject Files, Job 80-R01580R, PFIAB 14)

SUBJECT
15 June Meeting at State on Canadian Proposal

1. On Thursday, 15 June, Mr. William Bundy convened Mr. Cooper, Mr. Greene/2/ (of INR, representing Mr. Hughes), Mr. Habib and myself to discuss the Department's response to a Canadian proposal.

/2/Fred Greene, Director of Research and Analysis for East Asia and Pacific, INR.

2. In essence, Foreign Secretary Paul Martin had broached to Secretary Rusk the idea of our suspending our bombing in return for an ICC policing of the DMZ./3/ The object of the meeting was to review this proposition and, specifically, work up the text of a "Dear Paul" letter from Rusk to Martin.

/3/See footnote 3, Document 133.

3. There was a wide range of discussion which I tried to bring into focus by insisting that we initially decide whether we wanted to make a pitch for international propaganda purposes (confident that Hanoi would reject) or wanted to make a serious overture that might be picked up. The consensus conclusion was that Hanoi was unlikely to accept any effective policing of the DMZ, but that our proposition should be one we could live with if Hanoi did take it up. Mr. Cooper raised the thought of our working through the Soviets, an idea the rest of us swiftly shot down. Mr. Habib and I stressed the need of advising the South Vietnamese early in the game if we did anything with the Canadian proposal, certainly before either the Indians or the Poles were informed since one of these two (if not both) could be counted on to leak our overture to Saigon.

4. We finally decided that the proposal was a non-starter if it involved nothing more than a few ICC observation teams in the DMZ. If, however, the ICC could, or would be willing, to put in a substantial force (a minimum of 3,000 men) which would engage in active patrolling by foot, jeep, boat and helicopter throughout the length of the DMZ, the proposition merited further consideration. We also decided that the first step should be to determine whether the Canadians were willing to talk in terms of--and help raise--a force of this size operating under a sufficiently broad charter.

5. The following specific immediate courses of action were agreed upon:

a) Bundy will draft a letter to Martin along the lines outlined above which we will then review./4/

/4/Not further identified.

b) Bundy will endeavor to persuade the Secretary, and anyone else who needs to be persuaded, that under no circumstances should this Canadian proposal even be mentioned to the Soviets during Kosygin's visit.

6. I will keep you advised of what, if anything, further develops on this activity.

George A. Carver, Jr./5/

/5/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

 

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

Saigon, June 16, 1967, 1015Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Received at 8:20 p.m. and passed to the White House where it was retyped for the President. In the covering note transmitting the copy to the President, Rostow wrote: "In my judgment, Bunker should not go forward with his proposal to get Ky to send Loan away (p. 3) until you, Sec. Rusk and Sec. McNamara walk around the proposition most carefully. There's flavor of impending political crisis here." A handwritten note by Jim Jones conveys the President's response as follows: "Walt, serious--doubt this. Express to Sec. Rusk my concern." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President, 6/1-8/2/67, Vol. I)

28218. Subject: Thieu-Ky elections. Reference: State 210584/2/ and 210835./3/

/2/Document 196.

/3/See footnote 2, Document 198.

1. Dept will have seen my reports of separate conversations June 14 with Ky and Thieu (Saigon 28090 and 28170)/4/ and is aware of Thieu's announcement made same day in Hue and Saigon (Saigon 28094)./5/

/4/Documents 198 and 202.

/5/In telegram 28094 from Saigon, June 14, the Embassy reported Thieu's announcement of his official candidacy. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S)

2. Some additional rigidity of positions and tension have been injected into the military side of the picture by Thieu's public declaration, although the civilian candidates are clearly pleased by this development. I have once again urged both Ky and Thieu to come together promptly and attempt to work out an amicable understanding, but I am not optimistic that this will be done, or that if the meeting comes about, much progress will be made. As I have reported, Ky is determined to run and to win, and as of now he appears prepared to use whatever means are needed for this purpose unless we bring our influence to bear directly and forcefully on him regarding some of the pressure moves he has already initiated to assure his election. I have impressed upon him that some of the methods he has been using can damage his own image to such an extent that it may affect both his chances of election and if elected his ability to govern.

3. Thieu's candidacy has made Ky's task much more difficult by assuring some reduction of army votes and support for him. This was undoubtedly one of Thieu's chief objectives/6/ another perhaps being to lay the groundwork for combining forces with a civilian ticket, for example, as Prime Minister to Huong if this could be agreed. Running on his own Thieu will weaken Ky's support. In combination with Huong he would in addition improve the latter's prospects. We have heard that supporters of Huong and Thieu have talked but we have no confirmation that they have reached any sort of understanding.

/6/In a June 16 memorandum to Katzenbach, which discussed this telegram, Harriman observed: "I gain the impression that Thieu has announced his candidacy because he is concerned with Ky's behavior. He probably knows even more about that than has been exposed by recent telegrams from our Embassy in Saigon, which is certainly bad enough. It may be necessary to deal with Ky's behavior before the problem of two military candidates." (Ibid., POL 14 VIET S)

4. We do not see how dual military candidacies or Thieu's ultimate joining with a civilian ticket can fail to have some divisive effect on military especially on regional grounds. Ky will feel greater urgency to demonstrate that he is a winner and to develop a band-wagon atmosphere in order to attract both military and civilian support. He has already been resourceful in doing this and, by moving rapidly and effectively, he has undercut any intention by Thieu to do the same. Thieu probably now sees his candidature as a last chance to sabotage Ky's efforts and also as an opportunity to join a winning combination against Ky. All of these factors make increased military involvement in political maneuvering probable and, if not checked, the result could be to impede the Vietnamese military effort at a critical juncture. While I think it will be difficult to sterilize the military from this political process, as General Cao Van Vien has announced, I believe a genuine further effort in this direction should nevertheless be made. I am now trying to arrange a small luncheon with Thieu, Ky and Vien to bring them together in intimate and informal surroundings to discuss this problem. I would hope as a minimum to secure their agreement to a public statement subscribed to by all three reaffirming Vien's earlier announcement and containing specific instructions to the armed forces to refrain from further involvement. I would also hope to get an agreement that the statement would be circulated to officers and ranks and that specific instructions would be issued to corps and division commanders placing responsibility on them to see that the instructions are carried out. This should help the situation but the problem will remain and will require constant vigilance and prodding to see that some effect is given to the instructions.

5. I do not believe that we can bring about Thieu's withdrawal by direct pressure on him without running the unacceptable risk of failing and of giving Thieu a major weapon to use against us and against Ky, who would then be the "American candidate." Our chief role in the constitutional process should be to assure that it proceeds on a reasonably fair and equitable basis and that the result broadens the popular base of the Vietnamese Government and increases national unity for prosecution of the war and negotiation of the peace. A secondary, but important, objective is to bring into office as qualified and effective a team of leaders as possible for these same purposes. Fundamental to the primary objective, of course, is a fair election, and Ky's current actions are very rapidly destroying this possibility. All political elements are fully aware of what is going on and have concluded that Ky is getting away with it because the Americans support him and condone his methods. Even if we think Ky is the most efficient and energetic leader on the scene, and this is not entirely certain, his election as a result of clearly repressive measures would in the long run destroy his effectiveness and sow the seeds of disunion and dissidence. The chief ones to benefit in the end from this process would be the Vietcong and Hanoi.

6. To demonstrate that we stand for a fair election ahead of support for any one individual, I am convinced that we must force Ky to take certain measures to counteract the damage that has already been done. One possibility would be prompt exportation of General Loan, perhaps on invitation to an extended training visit and program in the U.S. This would be symbolic and possibly easiest for Ky to accept once he is convinced that we will not tolerate the course he is following and that we are prepared to engage him publicly on this score. A quiet removal of Loan from the scene would be understood by all and might not involve too direct loss of face by Ky himself, especially if he personally instructs Loan to absent himself, as he apparently did on the earlier trip to Washington.

7. Once this move has been taken and if we can get Ky to initiate other quiet measures to control censorship and to assure equal facilities for all candidates, there might then be a basis for seeing how we could encourage the leading candidates to prepare the ground for working together in a government of national union whatever the election outcome may be. (I have reported that Ky claims to be working in this direction with Huong and if elected would plan to take other civilian elements into his government. Thieu seems to be working along the same lines.) This will obviously be a delicate and difficult undertaking, but I would hope that once the election is publicly cleansed, we would be in a position to work quietly with the principal candidates and their supporters to impress upon them the absolute necessity from their viewpoint and our own of bringing about such a coalition so long as the war continues. Essential ingredients in this process would be employment of the talents of the most highly qualified individuals to fill key government posts, a full and responsible role and authority for the armed forces in the government, and an understanding with the new legislative leaders that the war effort must take precedence over less urgent objectives until an acceptable peace has been attained. Only through some such broad understanding and cooperation among the key political elements--military, civilian, regional, religious, and minorities--can we hope to overcome the divisive effects which are now evident and which are already undermining the political process.

8. I would also hope that it might be possible to get all the candidates to state publicly that they would abide by the verdict of the electorate and would support whatever government emerged as the result of fair and free elections./7/

/7/In telegram 212155 to Saigon, June 16, the Department concurred with Bunker's general assessment and directed him to press Thieu, Ky, and the other Generals "on getting the military establishment sterilized to the extent possible from the political process." The Department did not agree with Bunker's proposal to force Ky to commit to a fair election and doubted that he would remove Loan. (Ibid.)

Bunker

 

206. Memorandum From the Ambassador at Large (Harriman) to President Johnson/1/

Washington, June 17, 1967.

/1/Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Special Files, Public Service, Subject File, Johnson, Lyndon 1967. Top Secret.

SUBJECT
Possible Kosygin Talks on Vietnam Settlement

Background:

Your meeting with Kosygin offers a unique opportunity for progress towards negotiations for a peaceful settlement in Vietnam. Direct or indirect cooperation of the Soviets is, I believe, essential to get talks going.

There is undoubtedly a difference of opinion within the Kremlin on this question, as is always the case on important matters. During the war, I knew that this was true even in Stalin's Politburo, at least until he made the decision.

From my talks with Kosygin two years ago and his actions in London last February, it is clear that Kosygin believes Soviet interests are best served by the ending of hostilities in Vietnam. However, of first importance in Soviet foreign policy is their conflict with Peking, and Moscow will not be anxious to get out in front and give credence to the accusation that they are conniving with the United States. In addition, Kosygin still smarts under what he considers a deliberate personal affront because bombing commenced during his visit to Hanoi.

Recommended Action:

Under all these circumstances, I believe that to achieve positive results from your discussion with Kosygin it is important that you make some unilateral gesture. I therefore recommend that you inform him that you have decided to de-escalate the bombing, perhaps in accordance with the 20th Parallel proposal, without any commitment as to the length of time this restraint would hold. You might suggest that you are not going to make this decision public, but that he is free to inform Hanoi if he wishes. This gesture on your part would unquestionably improve Kosygin's position with his colleagues, and perhaps make it possible for him to carry on an exploratory discussion with you in an objective manner on what each side might do to encourage a de-escalation of the fighting and a commencement of discussions.

Comment:

Although Kosygin is a devoted Communist, his first concern is solving in a pragmatic way their internal economic problems. I believe you will find him interested in further progress in the control of nuclear weapons and curtailment of military expenditures if Vietnam can be gotten out of the way.

I would not be discouraged if little progress can be made on fundamental agreements on the Middle East. This is an area in which the Soviets have attempted to expand their influence at our expense for the last dozen years with the expenditure of billions of dollars in military and economic aid. Nevertheless, I would not rule out progress on what Dobrynin in his talk with Dean called the Number One subject, namely, Vietnam./2/

/2/This meeting between Rusk and Dobrynin took place from 3:05 p.m. to 3:55 p.m. on June 16, with Thompson present. (Johnson Library, Dean Rusk Appointment Book, 1967) A record of their discussion is in a memorandum of conversation, June 16. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S) Dobrynin repeated this remark in a meeting alone with Thompson later in the evening. (Memorandum of conversation, June 16; ibid., POL 7 USSR)

W. Averell Harriman/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

 

207. Editorial Note

The impending visit of Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin to New York in order to attend meetings at the United Nations presented the Johnson administration with an opportunity to engage the Soviet leader in talks on a number of important issues, including the war in Vietnam. On June 19, 1967, President Johnson discussed on the telephone with Senator J. William Fulbright the chances for successful talks during Kosygin's impending visit. As to Kosygin's willingness to be forthcoming on Vietnam, Johnson commented: "He has just been to London, Bill, and got the hell clobbered out of him because all you doves said he worked out a deal to sell them out, and it didn't work. Now, he didn't have a deal to sell them out, and they don't put it that bluntly. But that's the way they put it in their circles. When they read--when China reads--that he and Wilson had a deal that could bring this war to an end, they think he was over there acting as a broker. Now he didn't do that at all, and they misinterpreted. But their desire to stop the war and to really blame me got the best of them. The Wilson-Kosygin deal was a pure phony. It had no--it was just about as much as U Thant's deal back there in Burma. It was just as much a phony. They sent a message to North Vietnam asking them if they wouldn't go along here and try to work this thing out. North Vietnam immediately took it up with the Chinese and subsequently sent a delegation there. And they just got reamed out good and said if you keep playing with these damned Russian traitors you're going to find yourself alone. So, a burnt child dreads a fire. He's not going to get back in this unless he can deliver something, and I don't think he's quite ready to deliver it now because I don't think he has that horsepower with North Vietnam. I think we got as good a reading on it as anybody." (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Fulbright, June 19, 1967, 10:57 p.m., Tape F67.12, PNO 1 & 2)

 

208. Memorandum From the Deputy for Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (Komer) to the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Westmoreland)/1/

MACJO1R

Saigon, June 19, 1967.

/1/Source: Center for Military History, DepCORDS/MACV Files, Westmoreland Memos--RWK 1967-68. Secret; Eyes Only.

SUBJECT
How to Get Our Case Across to McNamara

1. We must convince Washington that there is something more than stalemate in prospect. The most credible way is to demonstrate that we are already achieving substantial momentum, but that it could still take mighty long to achieve ultimate success unless we increase that momentum. In other words, we're already on the right track but need added resources to increase the pressure. I frankly believe that we are succeeding better than we realize. The picture in this country is surely much better than it was a year ago, much less two years ago. This should be brought out more in the McNamara briefings.

2. A major reason why so many believe we face stalemate is that no matter how much we increase the kill ratio or favorable weapons ratio or defector ratio, enemy strength seems to remain the same. Thus Vietnam appears to be a never-ending war. I won't contest the 6,500 infiltration rate, given the added NVA units showing up on O/B. But I seriously question the estimate of continued 7,000 VC in-country recruitment. Phil Davidson honestly says that this is only a best guess (and could be off by 15 percent as I recall). Yet if this is becoming increasingly an NVA war, VC strength must be going down. We must get a better fix on it. Perhaps my suggestion that the incident trend in II-IV Corps be separated out from that in I Corps would furnish a basis for showing that we are achieving greater success everyplace but I Corps. Perhaps we should also use a range of 3/5,000 for in-country recruitment if we can justify it.

3. To show my own estimate of the momentum I think we can achieve in pacification, I am adding to my wrap-up briefing for McNamara the attached prognosis chart. Since I did not display it at the pre-briefing, I would appreciate your reaction.

4. Perhaps a similar military prognosis by you, either at the beginning or at the end of the regular briefing, would be even more useful. You could cite the increasingly favorable kill ratio, weapons ratio, Chieu Hoi figures, evidence of declining VC morale and logistic difficulties, opening of LOC's, etc., as basis for a judgment that we are gradually grinding down the VC/NVA. Then you could point out that if several added factors come into play--increased RVNAF size and effectiveness, ground interdiction of Laos LOC, varying increases in Free World Forces, etc.--you believe that we could achieve a clear upper hand in SVN by say mid-1968. Note that I say a "clear upper hand." You obviously cannot predict that the war would be over by any specific date, but you could estimate that the pressure on Hanoi to fade away or negotiate would become overwhelming once it fully hoisted aboard that the war was inexorably being lost. I believe that the VC in the South already are coming to recognize this, but that Hanoi is hoping for some external factor such as U.S. impatience to save it from defeat by attrition. In any case, a clear-cut prognosis given by you would pull together the present set of disparate briefings and set a constructive tone.

R. W. Komer/2/

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

 

Attachment

1967-68 PROGNOSIS

If we can achieve:

1. Successful creation of functioning, reasonably stable, popularly-based GVN.

2. Continued or increased momentum in anti-main forces campaign and opening of LOC's.

3. Substantial add-on to RVNAF pacification security forces and some increase in RVNAF quality.

4. Doubling of RD Teams before and '68 plus supplementary civil/military teams and locally-trained RD teams.

5. Increased Chieu Hoi rate from 1700 a month in 1966 to 3750 in 1968.

6. Success in new attack on VC infrastructure.

7. Continued thickening of US advisory structure.

8. Better pacification planning and management control.

Then we should see substantial, visible momentum in pacification over next 12-18 months. Since above sub-goals are probably realizable in large measure, I see chances of achieving demonstrable pacification progress during 1967-68 as at least 2-1.

 

209. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency to the Department of State/1/

Washington, June 19, 1967, 1406Z.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Vietnamese (South) Elections 1967. Secret; Eyes Only; Nodis. The telegram was transmitted to Rostow, who then forwarded it to the President. On the June 19 covering memorandum, Rostow wrote: "This is a critically important cable sent by Amb. Bunker via the back channel. It is being held most closely at State. There will be no action on it, of course, without your considering it. Nick may raise it at lunch tomorrow." The handwritten notation "L" on the covering memorandum indicates that the President saw the telegram. Katzenbach, McNamara, Helms, McGeorge Bundy, Rostow, and Christian met with Johnson for the regular Tuesday Luncheon from 1:06 p.m. to 2:20 p.m. on January 20. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary) No record of the meeting has been found.

CIA 7697. Note to Secretary of State Rusk (eyes only) from Director CIA.

Ambassador Bunker has sent the following message to me for passing to you eyes only. You will note Ambassador Bunker's parenthetical introduction to the text. (Saigon 8185, DTG 191253Z)

(Following is text of message which Ambassador Bunker requests be passed to Secretary of State Rusk. Ambassador has requested that knowledge of this proposal be held to minimum. Outside of Station, proposal is known only to Ambassador Bunker, Deputy Ambassador Locke, and General Westmoreland. Latter two have concurred.)

"1. I have become concerned at the deteriorating political situation here which has resulted from several factors. One of these, of course, is General Thieu's announcement of his candidacy for President, with results which are well known to the Department. Of much greater seriousness, however, are the rather blatant election-rigging tactics of General Loan. A number of sources have brought Loan's tactics to our attention and they are covered thoroughly in a CAS report, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]./2/

/2/A CIA report on Loan's activities apparently based on this cable was sent to Bundy; see footnote 2, Document 211.

"2. Loan's tactics have created a situation in which much of what we have succeeded in doing over the past year in working toward a constitutional government is being vitiated within a very short time. Loan's actions are so widely known that, as long as he remains in his present position, the results of the September election will remain in doubt regardless of how well in the end it may be conducted. Even if Ky takes measures to rein in Loan and to insure that the election is conducted fairly, very few Vietnamese will have faith in the fairness of the result if Loan remains as Police Director General. The implications for our position here, elsewhere abroad, and at home are too obvious to need spelling out.

"3. In thinking about this problem we must, however, realize that some of the blame is probably shared by Thieu. While such a judgment is of necessity uncertain, it is notable that there was no solid evidence of any intention on the part of Ky and Loan to rig the election until Thieu tossed his hat rather tentatively into the ring on 20 May. From that point on, we began to see a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity. The most offensive was carried on by Loan and was aimed at utilizing the administration and police machinery nationwide to insure a Ky victory.

"4. If Ky were not virtually certain to win, whether by proper or improper means, and if he were not on balance the best available candidate, though not exactly a prize package, the problem could be viewed from a different perspective. However, since we shall almost certainly have to contend with him as the President and dominant political force for some time to come, it is in my judgment urgent that we take steps to restore faith in the fairness of his administration and of the honesty of the forthcoming elections.

"5. I have been carefully examining the means which might be employed to exert pressure on Ky to put his house in order. Although I recognize the weight of points made in Deptel 212155,/3/ I nevertheless feel that he must be persuaded that Loan, however valuable he may be to Ky as the latter's most trusted lieutenant, has now become a pernicious force whose continued presence in his present office neither Ky nor ourselves can in our own best interests continue to tolerate. I think there are ways of persuading Ky of this unhappy fact while at the same time maintaining our good relations with him personally.

/3/Attached but not printed; see footnote 7, Document 205.

"6. If we are able to arrange for Loan's removal from the scene, this will, of course, probably be a temporary measure and should be managed with suitable attention to saving face. Since it would be difficult for him to be removed from office and remain in the country without continuing his undesirable activities, one obvious solution is to arrange to have him sent to the United States for training, perhaps at one of the military staff colleges. It would be helpful if the Department could look into this possibility./4/

/4/Johnson wrote the following note next to this paragraph: "Look into."

"7. The advantages which will flow from Loan's removal are, of course, considerable. The most important of them is that the Vietnamese whose opinions count will probably, almost without exception, interpret his departure from the scene as an earnest of the GVN's intention to conduct a fair election. Loan's removal, precisely because it is rather a drastic step, is one of the few measures which would be so interpreted. We are entitled to hope that a major share of the credit for Loan's removal will accrue to Ky, whose image at the moment badly needs refurbishing. A very large share of the credit is also certain to accrue to our own government, thus minimizing any basis for charges that we are supporting a corrupt regime.

"8. Over and above what we do about Loan, we need to act energetically to prevent any recurrence of this type of problem. Since Thieu's actions have contributed importantly to creating the problem in the first place, there may be measures which we can take to exert behind-the-scenes pressure on Thieu to withdraw from the Presidential race. If so, we shall reduce the dangers to Ky's candidacy, making it easier for him to run an honest campaign. We are actively investigating these measures with help from CAS.

"9. The core of the problem which we face, however, remains the fact that Ky does not have enough experience or political wisdom of his own at this point to conduct his campaign without sounder advice than he can command from his compatriots. It is therefore incumbent upon us to establish a special relationship with Ky in order to exert on him the sort of continuous influence which is impossible through formal official contacts. [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]

"10. The disadvantages of giving any type of backing to any particular candidate are, of course, numerous and well known, and our public policy of remaining neutral as between the various candidates has been reiterated many times. I believe, however, that in light of present circumstances it is essential that this public posture be supplemented by covert efforts to protect our enormous equity in a successful election meeting reasonable standards of fairness and honesty. In addition, some other rather considerable advantages will result from a covert program.

"11. Overall, the advantages of initiating a program of covert action are as follows:

"A. An indication to Ky that we have definitely decided to support him under certain circumstances against other candidates should help reconcile him to the loss of General Loan between now and the elections. He will feel that he is trading one advantage for another, but certainly will know that, on balance, he has made a tremendous gain in receiving our support. This support should increase his confidence and reduce his temptation to rely on blatantly illegal tactics.

"B. A covert channel will enable us to conduct a continuing exchange of views with Ky, as well as funneling advice to him on problems of mutual concern. Such a channel should reduce his dependence on the advice of his more undesirable henchmen.

"C. We shall be better able to exert pressure on Ky to develop a constructive program calculated to draw support from many groups which might otherwise be unwilling to gather behind him. We may, therefore, hope to achieve a degree of political unity which, under other circumstances, might never be possible.

"D. A covert relationship will facilitate monitoring all pre-election activities to insure that the campaign is as technically clean as possible, and particularly that the security services are not used by Ky's group to exert unfair pressures on his opponents. We should make a particular effort to prevent blatant misuse of the censorship power.

"E. Just as important, of course, is the fact that, once elected, we shall have in being a working relationship which should greatly facilitate our influencing the new administration in the direction of an efficient and wise conduct of affairs.

"12. Once a [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] relationship is established with Ky, it is quite likely that he will request some financial support for his campaign. I am assured that this can be done under secure circumstances, and I think we should stand ready to give such help; not only will it increase our influence with Ky in regard to his conduct of political affairs, but it may also help him avoid unwise alliances and dependence on questionable business deals in his effort to finance his political activities. We are, however, not at this point in a position to give any indication of the scale of the financial support which might be required.

[1 paragraph (12 lines of source text) not declassified]

"14. I think you will appreciate that it is not possible in this difficult and complicated situation to spell out in complete detail the steps which we would take in the covert field, but I can assure you that I will follow and control them closely, working in consultation with the CAS Station Chief. I would hope for your approval to proceed in the very near future, since the present situation does not permit of much delay. Signed, Ellsworth Bunker."

 

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

Saigon, June 20, 1967, 0830Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Bundy Files: Lot 85 D 240, Bunker Proposal. Secret; Exdis. Received at 6:20 a.m. and repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.

28409. Ref: Saigon 28218, State 212155./2/

/2/See Document 205 and footnote 7 thereto.

1. At my invitation Thieu, Ky and General Vien came to my house for lunch June 19, together with Ambassador Locke and General Westmoreland. My purpose was to bring Thieu, Ky and Vien together in informal surroundings to discuss the question of unity of the armed forces and see whether it would be possible to get some agreement on their part to a public statement subscribed to by all three reaffirming Vien's earlier announcement and containing specific instructions to the armed forces to refrain from involvement in the political situation. I proposed to suggest to them that such a statement be circulated to officers and ranks with specific instructions issued to corps commanders to see that the instructions were carried out.

2. I also wanted to discuss with them certain matters related to the visit of Secretary McNamara and Under Secretary Katzenbach. The luncheon took place in an informal and cordial atmosphere with no evidence of strain between our Vietnamese participants.

3. We informed them of Secretary McNamara's wishes to make this a strictly working visit and to avoid ceremonial and protocolary affairs. General Westmoreland outlined plans which had been prepared for the Secretary's field trips.

4. We then got into the question of additional free world troops, a subject too much discussed in public by both Thieu and Ky, and made it very clear to them that it would not be possible for the President to accede to request for additional troops unless maximum use were made of available Vietnamese manpower. We found ready acceptance on their part of the fact that this would be necessary. General Westmoreland suggested as a measure preliminary to mobilization that the terms of those presently in service be extended and the age of induction reduced. There was agreement by the Vietnamese that this should be done. General Vien suggested that he issue orders for extension of service now without making any public announcement before the elections. There seemed to be general agreement that this would be a good procedure.

5. On the subject of mobilization, Ky asserted that it was important that this should be done as soon as possible (after the elections) by the new government, that the number of Vietnamese troops should be substantially increased and that they certainly could not expect additional free world troops unless they made a greater effort themselves. He felt that mobilization would actually improve morale in the country and would make the people more determined to bring the war to a successful conclusion. Both Thieu and General Vien acquiesced in this view.

6. We then entered into the question of the desirability of a joint statement of non-involvement of the armed forces in politics pointing out that two important principles were involved: (A) free, fair and honest elections, and (B) concentration of the armed forces on fighting the war. Both Thieu and Ky replied that General Vien had made such an announcement and that they had endorsed it frequently. I said that General Vien's statement had been made some time ago and I felt that it needed to be reinforced and pointed out that rumors were already circulating casting doubt both on the possibility of free elections and the non-involvement of the military: it was not necessarily a fact that mattered so much as what people believed to be true. Consequently I felt it made sense to anticipate these rumors and what was likely to appear in the press. I pointed out that both honest elections and concentration by the military on the war effort had a direct bearing also on the manpower problems we had previously discussed; the free world could not be expected to furnish additional forces if the Vietnamese military was diverted from concentration on the war effort.

7. Ky said that he would be willing to sign such an agreement. Thieu felt that it would be adequate if General Vien should reiterate his statement and instruct his troop information division to see that it was implemented. General Vien then suggested that since the Directorate was the government, it would be a good idea to have the Directorate issue such a statement. Ambassador Locke, General Westmoreland and I all felt this would be even better than having a statement signed by Thieu, Ky and Vien. Ky said that the matter could be taken up at a meeting of the Directorate later today. (Still later at General Vien's reception celebrating Armed Forces Day, Ky told Ambassador Locke and me that he would host a dinner for his Generals and would bring up the matter there. Thieu, however, was rather noncommittal.)

8. I do not know what the present odds are on having such a statement issued, but I think that in the light of our talk today if something is not forthcoming within a few days, I will at least be in a position to prod all three into taking some action.

9. We had a general discussion also on other aspects of the war, methods to hold off infiltration, the effectiveness of the bombing and the great importance of the RD program. We made clear the great importance we attached to continued progress on both the military front and in revolutionary development during the election period. They agreed that efforts on these fronts should not be diminished by diversion of attention to the elections.

10. Comment: In view of the friendly and informal atmosphere which prevailed throughout the meeting, the fact that everyone present participated freely in the discussions and that agreement had been reached on several important matters, Ambassador Locke, General Westmoreland and I felt that the luncheon had been very worthwhile and that we should repeat the practice at periodic intervals. While I do not expect any miracles to result, it is an opening wedge and I think further such meetings may prove useful.

Bunker

 

211. Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Bundy) and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (Habib) for East Asian and Pacific Affairs/1/

Washington, June 20, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Vietnamese (South) Elections 1967. Secret; Nodis.

SUBJECT
Analysis of Ambassador Bunker's Proposal for Political Action in Viet-Nam

Ambassador Bunker's Proposal

1. Remove Loan from Viet-Nam.

2. Seek to assure Thieu's withdrawal from the Presidential race.

3. Mount a covert operation of advice and assistance for Ky.

Factors Involved

1. Bunker believes that Loan's activities in support of Ky have reached a point where the bona fides of the election are seriously threatened. Furthermore, he believes that as long as Loan remains in Viet-Nam, and regardless of attempts to curb him, a Ky victory will not be acceptable or defensible in or out of Viet-Nam.

Comment: Loan's present activities are pernicious./2/ However, Loan serves Ky in many ways, not the least of which is as a watch-dog against the possibility of coups or conspiracies against Ky. Loan is an organizer and a man of action, who has proven his worth and loyalty to Ky many times. He is tough and ruthless, but he can be influenced although not controlled. Ky will not be easily persuaded to get rid of Loan; in fact there is strong doubt that he would do so unless it were made an absolute demand on our part with penalties to follow if denied. Ky's first reaction to our demand would be to insist that he can and will control Loan's activities. Moreover, Loan might not go easily and we could face a move by Loan (with the support of his organization, other generals and the Baby Turks),/3/ to put pressure on Ky to reject any demand for his removal.

/2/In an undated memorandum to Bundy, Douglas S. Blaufarb of the CIA listed the various activities of Loan on behalf of Ky, which included smuggling, bribery of candidates by the National Police, innuendoes against other candidates, extortion of government ministries, and interference in local elections. In the June 20 covering note to Bundy, Special Assistant John R. Burke suggested that the assertions were "somewhat thin" and often "contradictory" and that several of the reports "could be interpreted as misleading." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Bundy Files: Lot 85 D 240, Bunker Proposal)

/3/"Baby Turks" was a nickname for the young, ardent ARVN officers in the colonel and lieutenant colonel ranks.

2. Ky's campaign organization includes a number of military and civilian elements other than Loan. Control over them, and limitation of undesirable practices, involves such people as General Khang of III Corps, the commanders of the Air Force, Minister of Information Tri, Minister of Revolutionary Development Thang, and a substantial number of province chiefs and lesser officials.

Comment: Removing Loan will not prevent the organization from pursuing his tactics. The best way to attempt to limit undesirable activities on their part is through Ky. To do so we need not necessarily get in bed with Ky. Rather we should keep before Ky, in as forceful a way as possible, the consequences of his actions and the limits involved. We should also maintain the closest possible contact with other candidates, making it clear we are not supporting anyone.

3. A covert program of advice and assistance to Ky would need to be kept absolutely secret. Despite the assurances given to Ambassador Bunker [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] we doubt very much that this can be done. To be effective our involvement would need to be in depth, and this would drastically increase the chance of word getting around.

Comment: If it becomes known that we are backing Ky, the consequences are obvious and they include the possibility that other candidates will withdraw and point the finger at us. It is, of course, possible that other candidates will withdraw if we do nothing and Ky mounts an unfair campaign. But we would not be the cause and the accused. If we keep our "neutrality" we could at least try to influence other candidates to stay in the race, offer them evidence of our desire for a fair race, and be able to make plausible our actions in support of limitations on mis-use of the Ky organization.

4. General Thieu is at this time quite determined to run. We do not see what can be done or said to him by us that will change his mind. Loan's head would probably not be sufficient. If Thieu were to become aware of the U.S. involvement with Ky that is proposed, we run a real risk that he might try to upset the apple cart within the government and the military.

5. The unity of the military, in particular the avoidance of an outright struggle among the principal leaders, remains essential. A move against Loan, a clear stand for Ky, and an attempt to force Thieu to move over, could add to the pressures working against the precarious balance that exists. Thieu's candidacy has already placed strains on the ties holding the military together, but unless he discovers an underlying lack of support and accepts this reason for his withdrawal, we should be wary of putting direct pressure on him.

Alternative Courses of Action

1. Accept Bunker's proposal--to do so at this time runs too great a risk of either a) a confrontation with Ky if he refuses to remove Loan; or b) unduly and unnecessarily involving ourselves with Ky's victory with the probability that our role will be known; or c) upsetting the military balance. Covert support runs a serious risk of exposure, and it is questionable how successfully we could staff it.

2. Place great pressure on Ky to limit Loan's actions and those of the other excessively zealous supporters. This means putting Loan on a tight rein. It should involve an approach to Ky through a [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] intermediary, with most specific charges and suggestions. This to be supported in less specific terms by Ambassador Bunker. We might also forthrightly crank up Bui Diem and send him back to Saigon with the message.

3. We could modify Bunker's proposal by leaving Loan in place (or having him give up one of his hats, e.g. the Military Security Service). However, this would be ineffective and might even lead to an impression he would simply work harder on using the police politically.

4. We could consider offering Ky support, and at the same time offer one or more of his rivals support. We might be able thus to work both sides of the street, but the complexity of the operation and the risk of exposure are probably such that we could not pull it off with any clear gain.

Recommended Course:

We recommend holding off on accepting Ambassador Bunker's proposal at this time. We should inform him of our views along the lines of the attached cable/4/ and solicit his further comments. In the meantime the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] close to Ky could explore the various possibilities in discussion with Ky, with subtlety and no promises. At the same time our Embassy should strengthen its lines to the civilian candidates Huong and Suu. Our current line should be a step-up of measures to influence Loan and the others around Ky, to work on Ky himself directly and through people like Bui Diem.

/4/Not further identified, but see Document 213.

 

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

Washington, June 20, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Vietnamese (South) Elections 1967. Secret; Nodis. On his covering memorandum to the President, June 20, Rostow wrote: "The reason for his recommendation on page 2 is:--time is very short, in Bill's judgment; --Bui Diem is trusted by Ky. If not this route, then Bob should get out there fast." A handwritten postscript by Rostow reads: "Perhaps you might talk to Bui Diem on the three key points (p. 2)." The President wrote in response: "I agree, see me."

SUBJECT
Ambassador Bunker's Proposals

I would have to vote against the proposals. I don't think they will work. I think they would do more harm than good.

First, I simply do not agree with the Mission's appraisal--shared to a great extent by State--that Ky is the only choice and that any other would be a disaster. As you know, I think highly of Ky and he might be an effective President. But I have come to believe that the healthiest thing that could happen in Viet-Nam right now would be the election of a civilian. The best government I can think of would be: Huong as President, Big Minh as Vice President, Ky as Prime Minister, and Thieu as chief of the Army.

Ky is a military man--and there is a strong stream of opposition to continuing military rule. He is a Northerner, and the electorate is largely Southern, and regional feelings are strong. He is young, and there remains a deep underlying respect for maturity. Moreover, his campaign, thanks to the activities of Loan and others, is rapidly becoming a source of bitterness.

A good many Vietnamese believe deeply that Ky's election would be proof-positive that corruption, pressure, and bribery dominated the political process.

I urge that we not get out too far on a "Ky is the only man for us" limb.

Further, on the proposals:

--The kind of direct U.S. involvement proposed would be a grave mistake. It would be known. It would put us right in the middle of internal contention. And I recall too many people getting burned in the past when they felt one Vietnamese was indispensable.

--The removal of Loan would not in itself solve the problem of chicanery and manipulation. There are plenty of eager successors in the wings. It would have some useful cosmetic effects, but they would not be long lasting if the same practices persisted.

--I am utterly convinced that a power play against Thieu would backfire badly. It would become widely known, and would put us in a bad light with many thinking Vietnamese. His future is going to have to be worked out in a Vietnamese context.

--Financial assistance for one candidate is a bad idea. This, too, will become known.

This being said, what do we do?

I would favor the following:

1. I would put real heat on Ky to rein in his followers, to do it fast, and to make it stick. I would call in Bui Diem and lay down the law and urge him to return immediately to Saigon with the message. I think you should do this rather than State; it would underline the President's concern and strong feeling.

There are three principal items that need correcting:

--the use of the police and security apparatus in support of Ky;

--inept use of censorship on political matters;

--Ky's use of his position and the machinery of government for political purposes.

I would stress that a dishonest election would undercut our President's position and endanger continued American support. I would state that we are not going to consider any additional U.S. involvement unless we are convinced that Viet-Nam has a reasonable political future and that Vietnamese are putting their country ahead of themselves.

2. Some Vietnamese of real standing and ability has to be put in charge of Ky's campaign. General Thang is an obvious choice, though the blow to RD is obvious. But, again, we get into the indispensable man argument. RD would be a good assignment for Big Minh, though he probably wouldn't take it. How about General Thi? How about a civilian?

3. Instead of backing one man, we should be working closely with all candidates. With the deep involvement we have in Viet-Nam, it is shocking that our contacts with the country's leading politicians is so tenuous. I would pick four good men to work with Ky, Thieu, Huong and Suu on a full-time basis. We should touch base regularly with the others, too, but it is less important.

Our contact men should have plenty of political savvy and solid empathy for the Vietnamese. They could provide advice, suggestions, and ideas, and help to keep their man on the track. They would make clear that the U.S. interest was in real democracy and the development of a solidly-based political process. They would also, by their actions, make clear our strict neutrality in the electoral process.

4. The Ambassador should stay very aloof from these proceedings. We have had a succession of envoys who have hurt themselves by over-involvement in politics and personalities. We are involved--and deeply--but I urge that we keep the Ambassador out of the front lines.

These, in any case, are my sentiments.

As a footnote: how much money are we putting into the Vietnamese police program? How many advisors do we have working on police and security services and how effective are their contacts with Loan and his subordinates? Doesn't our help--and our contacts--give us any leverage at all? Someone should look into this angle.

Bill

 

213. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency to the Station in Saigon/1/

Washington, June 20, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Vietnamese (South) Elections 1967. Secret; Most Sensitive; Immediate. In a covering note to Katzenbach, Rostow, and Bundy, June 20, Carver wrote: "At Mr. Bundy's request, the attached cable--the final text of which was confirmed to me telephonically by Mr. Rostow--was transmitted via Agency channels to Saigon at 2200 EDT, Tuesday, 20 June 1967. No distribution of this cable has been or will be made by this Agency save to the three recipients of this memorandum."

CIA 0644. For Mr. Hart only. The Department of State has requested that the following cable be passed through our channels to Ambassador Bunker. Please give it to him personally and make no further distribution he does not specifically direct. We would appreciate cabled confirmation of his receipt of this message.

Begin Text:

We have weighed your message to the Secretary (CAS 8185)/2/ with the greatest care. Highest levels have approved this cable designed to give you our thoughts and to elicit your comments.

/2/See Document 209.

1. While we do not finally reject your proposal, our initial reaction is strongly negative. We particularly note your underlying judgment that Loan's activities have reached the point where, even if he reforms and elections are conducted reasonably honestly, very few Vietnamese will have faith that this has been the case so long as he has remained in his present position. However, your proposed approach raises the most serious problems, as you are of course well aware, and we believe we should at least have an exchange on all the factors and explore whether there is some lesser step that might be attempted before we decide whether to hit Ky frontally on any form of proposal that involves the removal of Loan.

2. For your comment, here are some of the factors that worry us:

A. We could certainly place Loan in some military training course here, and this has the advantage of making his absence temporary. At the same time, given his high visibility and close identification with Ky, we simply do not see that any assignment for him--military training, an Ambassadorship, whatever--would be read in all politically conscious circles (as well as the military) as anything other than an admission of serious wrongdoing by Ky. Would not Ky regard it as a tremendous loss of face? Might not Loan himself react in some highly disruptive way, perhaps even to the point of organizing a group to get Ky to reverse his decision or even to attempt a seizure of power? And would it not break up and demoralize Ky's whole inner group?

B. The effect on Thieu's candidacy seems to us equally uncertain. In a sense, Ky's loss of face would be Thieu's gain, and Thieu would be in a position to say that his candidacy had been undertaken in order to prevent or limit the improper use of government influence in the election, and the Loan removal satisfied him that this would be the case. However, we have grave doubt that Thieu would accept any such reasoning. Might he not decide all the more firmly to run, feeling that he had Ky at a disadvantage with the clear admission of wrongdoing implied by the Loan removal? Might he not, alternatively, press to get rid of others in Ky's entourage such as Tri and Khang, against whom he is equally bitter and who can with some plausibility be linked to the pattern of excessive government involvement? In short, do we really gain or lose with respect to the Thieu/Ky split and the serious chance of continued military division during the campaign?

C. Our assuming a covert supporting role with Ky may indeed be the only price that would get Ky to accept the removal of Loan, but it is a terribly stiff one. Almost certainly Loan himself would be aware of the deal, and we would be to a large extent at the mercy of both Ky and Loan in keeping our role truly covert. To a great many people who do not accept--as we do--your judgment that a Ky victory is the best outcome we can hope for, suspicion and attack would come naturally. Exposure would appear particularly likely if we injected financial support. Above all, we simply do not believe that, in the over-all atmosphere of Vietnamese politics, any extensive relationship could be kept from becoming public. The danger of exposure might be somewhat reduced to the degree that we were able to keep our relationship with Ky on at least the ostensible basis of advising with respect to conducting an honest election, but this is no real cover for an extensive program such as you envisage. If we were exposed, or even widely assumed to be supporting Ky covertly, the effect not only on the election but on the standing of a future Ky-led government could be almost fatal.

D. In any event, we would wish to examine any plan for covert action in real detail before agreeing to it. We have doubts not only about keeping it secret but about [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] capabilities to handle it effectively.

3. With these objections in mind, we have thought hard about any alternative ways of bringing about the removal of Loan. We can frankly think of no specific threat or inducement that would do this. A threat to support any of Ky's opponents would surely be unwise (and in the case of Huong, impractical, since we suppose he would not accept covert support even if offered). We are almost driven to consider comments to Ky that would have the effect of threatening him with a change in our whole USG policy of support for South Vietnam if he allows Loan to stay and thus prejudices adequate and accepted integrity of the elections. We do not rule out threatening remarks in this direction--and indeed they would have substantial basis--but it is at best a last resort.

4. Hence, we wonder if, on balance, the removal of Loan is really of such primary importance as to be worth the risk and cost. In searching for alternatives, one appears to be a determined effort to persuade Ky to keep Loan and others on a really tight rein. We are prepared to admit that Loan's actions to date will still have the contaminating effect you cite, and you are of course aware of pending stories, for example by Denis Warner, that will very soon hit us all hard on his conduct. If there is any way to reduce the impact of his staying, it obviously lies in the most dramatic pattern of conduct by Ky of extended reform that can be devised. Part of this might even be a reconsideration of our previous strongly negative attitude on having General Thang resign and become Ky's campaign manager, coupled with an announcement that all officials remaining in the government would stick to their jobs, and that Thang would be responsible for seeing that this was done. We realize that this could have a serious effect on Thang's future usefulness, and on the RD program during the election period. But unless there is somebody with an equal reputation for integrity to throw into the breach, this might be an essential part of this least worst proposal.

5. Along this line, the first move would be a direct approach to Ky. In the first instance, we believe this might be by your best [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] contact, who would have the advantage of not involving your personal credit to the same extent, and leaving the way open for more drastic representations by you if later required and approved. Accordingly, we would like your comment on a possible approach to Ky which might be along the following lines:

A. USG regards reports of activities of Ky's leading supporters, notably Loan, as totally destructive of whole pattern of reasonably and visibly fair and honest elections that USG regards as essential. Here you would use as many specifics as possible.

B. From its wide contacts, USG is clear that these activities are widely known in SVN political circles and also to responsible US reporters. We expect that there will shortly be extremely damaging stories that will both affect US opinion and have bad playback in Vietnam.

C. Result of present trends can only be to sour entire atmosphere in SVN and produce a situation in which Ky may win, but without any prospect of getting wide civil-military support necessary for successful leadership of his country.

D. USG is not opposing Ky candidacy and indeed considers he has substantial potential for leadership. Nor does USG feel that Ky should refrain from using normal advantages of incumbent government. He should well know the difference between this sort of activity and the kind of excesses now reported to us as being committed. Recent Korean experience should show Ky the damage that can come to even a strongly-based leader such as Park by excessive and corrupt practices by subordinates.

E. USG had been prepared to consult with Ky covertly on ways to have election honest and also limits within which he could make proper use of his normal advantages as incumbent.

F. With all these factors in mind, USG urges Ky immediately to frame convincing correction program, discuss it with contact, and put it into effect. Essential element in any such program would be convincing measures to bring Loan under control and to have all officials confine themselves to their proper duties.

6. The next question is how to get Thieu to withdraw his candidacy. A further attempt to do this might be made if Ky responded to our approach by setting up a real correction program, and if Ky at the same time made a firm offer of chief of the army for Thieu. Alternatively, might Thieu now be finding the limits of his support, so that he could be persuaded by a hard and direct approach even before the correction program is undertaken? Clearly, on your analysis, part of Ky's reason for unleashing Loan has been the Thieu candidacy, and we might have to work out the correction program and Thieu's withdrawal simultaneously.

7. Next, whatever steps we take with Ky and Thieu, we believe that we must have close and continuing contact with principal civilian candidates in any event, and wonder whether there is more we might be doing in this respect. Such contact would be designed to keep them from taking any drastic action, and to keep close reading of their feelings. Moreover, in terms of the effect on Ky, we believe it should be overt and known to him, and mention of this might be included in our proposed approach by [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] contact.

8. Finally, we believe Bui Diem might be able to play a constructive role. He has told us that Ky wants him back very soon and we could urge him to return at once and give him clear picture of depth of our concern. We doubt whether we should go beyond message in para 5, A-D, with him, however, leaving the real bite of E-F to your [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] contact.

9. Throughout this effort we know that you will have clearly in mind that whatever course we follow we should keep as a primary objective the avoidance of any action which would add to the chances of military disunity. In particular we would like your judgment as to consequences that an action against Loan would have within the group of the military leadership supporting Ky and among the so-called "Baby Turks."

10. Finally, we need your views on how McNamara/Katzenbach visit can best be fitted into any course of action. If you feel it wise to keep this matter wholly in the hands of yourself and members of the Mission, we will completely understand, but the visit may provide special opportunities, and it could be difficult in any event to avoid mention of these central subjects during the visit.

 

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

Washington, June 20, 1967, 6:45 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President, 6/1-8/2/67, Vol. I. Confidential. The notation "L" on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.

Mr. President:

Claiborne Pell came in at 6:00 tonight with the attached letter and memorandum of conversation for you./2/

/2/These attached documents, not printed, relate to Pell's meeting of June 19 with Mai Van Bo, DRV commercial representative in France. In the memorandum of conversation, Pell recounted his 1-day trip to meet with Bo. According to Pell's memorandum, Bo told him that the DRV would enter into negotiations with the United States if the bombing was ended "without condition." Pell asked Bo, who was returning to Hanoi for consultations, to ask his superiors to consider an expanded pre-cessation agreement on mutual de-escalation. The Senator considered the meeting important due to Bo's statement on bombing and an expressed "willingness to negotiate very shortly after cessation of bombing." According to a de-briefing of Pell by Bundy on June 29, the Senator had missed a previously-arranged meeting with Bo on May 27 in Paris, a period when Pell traveled to the Pacem in Terris conference in Geneva. (Memorandum of conversation by Bundy, June 29; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET) During the same conference, Bo spoke along the same lines with Baggs and Ashmore; a report of the meeting is in a memorandum from Ashmore and Baggs to Katzenbach, June 14. (Ibid., POL 27-14 VIET/AZTEC)

We've known one another a long time, but he began by saying quite formally that, as a Senator, he would like to ask for an interview with you. He said he had only asked to see you three times. Of these, two had turned out to be useful, in his judgment: that is, his presentation of his views on Germany and the railroads.

Now he was asking to talk with you directly face to face on Viet Nam./3/

/3/Johnson finally met with Pell to discuss his effort on July 13. (Johnson Library, President's Daily Diary) No notes of the meeting have been found. Rostow asked for the opinion of the State Department; Read reported in a July 31 memorandum: "The Department feels that as presented this formula would not be a workable solution to the Vietnamese conflict." (Ibid., National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. 2 B, Misc. Memos) In early August Pell missed an opportunity to meet with Bo, but did receive a message from him on August 30 stating that Bo had "nothing new to say." Pell sent it to Bundy on September 14, who forwarded it to the President. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Bundy Files: Lot 85 D 240, Top Secret WPB Chron., Sep/Oct 1967)

I promised to deliver his message.

He said that he was "disappointed" in the interview. He had flown over on Sunday night/4/ and returned on Monday night from Paris. Despite his disappointment, it should be noted:

/4/June 18.

--Bo's formula is exactly like Kosygin's. They have dropped "permanent" in discussing a cessation of bombing;

--they say negotiations "will begin" rather than "could begin."

I explained to Pell how difficult it would be to stop bombing if they continue to violate the DMZ and put pressure on our men in I Corps. He said it was for precisely that reason that he pushed "mutual de-escalation" as part of the package ending the bombing.

This request of Bo to see Pell fits in with a number of other indications we have had, stemming from North Vietnamese rather than from Eastern Europeans.

Since the roads in Laos are out with rain, the question to raise with the Vietnamese by one or another of our channels is simply this: if we stop bombing, will you stop crossing the DMZ?

If we wanted to make it more subtle and take into account the problem Kosygin raised with Wilson about the units now in the South, we could say: would you stop sending military units or formations across the DMZ? Implicitly that would mean that fighting would have to stop but they could still try to infiltrate replacement supplies into the South, if we couldn't catch them.

Walt

 

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

Saigon, June 21, 1967, 1130Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Priority; Nodis. In a June 22 covering note transmitting the telegram to the President, Rostow wrote: "Herewith Amb. Bunker's eighth weekly telegram, full of plans and policy." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 8B(1)[A] Bunker's Weekly Report to the President) The notation "L" on the covering note indicates that the President saw the telegram. This telegram is printed in full in Pike, The Bunker Papers, pp. 52-59.

28493. For the President from Bunker. Herewith my eighth weekly telegram:

General

1. The second of the reports of top priority matters mentioned in my weekly telegram of May 31,/2/ i.e. action program for stepping up revolutionary development has been submitted to me by Ambassador Komer. I believe it represents the most complete and comprehensive study including definite and specific recommendations for action that we have had on revolutionary development. Ambassador Komer's proposals have been approved by General Westmoreland and myself.

/2/See footnote 6, Document 186.

2. Based on a detailed assessment of where we stand today on pacification, the report develops an action program to give pacification a new thrust during the last half of 1967 and to plan for more rapid advances in 1968. We have given the program the name of Project Takeoff as an indication that we expect to make more rapid progress from here on out (I hope Walt Rostow will recognize the implied compliment). As soon as possible we want to get the GVN to adopt the principles of Project Takeoff and to subscribe to a set of action programs. One thing we want to guard against especially is that the pacification program should not slacken during the election period. Just the opposite should occur. Elections and movement toward responsible representative government is a fundamental part of pacification. Elections should support and foster other pacification efforts and vice versa.

3. In order to get moving rapidly we have limited ourselves to the selections of the most important and most pressing programs in order not to dilute our efforts or overtax the somewhat limited capacities of the GVN. They are the following eight action programs:

A. Improve 1968 pacification planning.

B. Accelerate the Chieu Hoi program.

C. Mount an intensified attack on the Viet Cong infrastructure.

D. Expand and improve support by the Vietnamese Armed Forces. We hope to add as soon as possible 50,000 RF/PF troops and another 50,000 in 1968, the bulk of which will be assigned to pacification.

E. Expand and supplement RD team effort and employ also substitute techniques to achieve a more rapid expansion of the pacification program. An example is the combined civil-military teams used in VI Corps by General Vinh Loc to carry on RD work in hamlets which RD teams because of lack of trained personnel are unable to cover.

F. Increased capability to handle refugees.

G. Improve and expand the National Police and the police field forces. We hope to bring the National Police up to the year end goal of 74,000 and to expand the police field forces to 17,000.

H. We plan to increase the advisory structure and increase the number of ARVN battalions in direct support of RD programs from 53 to 60 or more. We also plan to put greater stress on night patrolling, active defense instead of digging in, and rapid employment of mobile reaction forces.

4. As is so often the case, GVN performance remains the crucial factor. Nevertheless I believe by this programming technique, with direct program management on the U.S. side and the systematic evaluation of progress and problems, we cannot help but achieve some increase of effectiveness of the pacification effort. If certain other things happen concurrently, and I believe there is a good chance this will, such as the successful creation of a functioning, reasonably stable, popularly based government, increased momentum in the anti-main force campaign, a substantial increase in numbers and quality of the pacification security forces, an increase in the Chieu Hoi rate, success in our new plans for attacking VC infrastructure together with better pacification planning and management control, I believe we should see demonstrable and visible pacification progress during 1967-68.

5. The relative lull in military operations which I mentioned in my last message has continued. I believe this has been due to the splendidly executed offensive operations undertaken by General Westmoreland beginning in late April which I referred to in my June 7 message./3/ The enemy has been badly hurt, has been kept off balance, and his time schedule has been disrupted. General Westmoreland's strategy of anticipating enemy threats has paid off handsomely.

/3/Document 192.

6. The enemy's offensive thrust has been blunted but not eliminated. Enemy pressures (from two and possibly three divisions) continues along the DMZ. Infiltration through Laos continues steadily and the use of Laotian and Cambodian sanctuaries gives the enemy great and, to my mind, unwarranted advantages. It seems to me apparent therefore that the crux of our military problem is how to choke off NVN infiltration. If ways can be found to do this effectively, it should have at least following advantages:

A) It would drastically reduce the dimensions of our problem in South Vietnam. Militarily we would be dealing only with the Viet Cong whose problems of recruitment and supplies would be enormously multiplied lacking the assistance and reinforcements of North Vietnam. I believe the result would be that the Viet Cong would eventually wither on the vine.

B) After the infiltration is choked off, it should be possible to suspend bombings at least for a period and thereby determine whether there is substance to the statement in many quarters that Hanoi would then come to negotiations; we should at least call their bluff.

C) Tensions now existing between the U.S. and Vietnam on the one side and Cambodia on the other should be, over a period of time, relieved and our relations with Cambodia improved, even though initially Sihanouk might continue to allow the NVA/VC to use Cambodia as a haven and a source of certain supplies.

7. The means to be employed to achieve this objective, of course, present many difficult and delicate problems, both military and political. I have confidence, however, that with imagination and ingenuity these can be met. What is involved, of course, are operations within Laos but I do not believe this fact should present insuperable obstacles. The North Vietnamese Government is a signatory to the 1962 Geneva Accords but its forces have been in Laos both before and since the signing of the agreements. Is it now using Laos as the main route for infiltration into South Vietnam. Is it not logical and reasonable, therefore, that South Vietnamese troops should oppose and combat North Vietnamese offensive action by whatever method can be devised in order to prevent the invasion of their country?

Guarantees, of course, would have to be given to the Lao Government by the South Vietnamese, and I believe should be underwritten by us, that Vietnamese troops were on Lao territory for defensive purposes only and would be withdrawn immediately peace is secured. The operation, especially in its preparatory stages, should be carried out with as much security and secrecy as possible. I have made some recommendations as to methods we might use to achieve these objectives in my Top Secret Nodis message to Secretary Rusk (Saigon 28293),/4/ which you will have seen. This is a matter which I believe we should pursue with the utmost concentration.

/4/Not found.

[Here follows discussion of the Thieu-Ky rivalry, Senatorial candidates, the military situation in I Corps, economic matters, the Chieu Hoi program, and casualties.]

Bunker

 

216. Memorandum of Conversation/1/

Glassboro, New Jersey, June 23, 1967, 3:15-4:30 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 7 US. Top Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Krimer. Other parts of the day's discussions between the two leaders are ibid. In a June 21 memorandum to the President, Rostow suggested that above all other U.S.-Soviet issues, especially in light of overtures from the North Vietnamese and recent apparent moderation on the part of the Soviets, "the serious case for talking with Kosygin is Viet Nam." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, USSR, Hollybush II) Several papers on what the President should expect in his talks with Kosygin specifically regarding Vietnam were composed by Cooper and sent to Katzenbach. (Memorandum of June 16 and memoranda of June 22 by Cooper; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S) Complete documentation on the Glassboro Summit is in Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, volume XIV.

PARTICIPANTS

US
President Lyndon B. Johnson
William D. Krimer, Interpreter, Department of State

USSR
Alexey Kosygin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR
Victor Sukhodrev, Interpreter, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Kosygin informed the President in strictest confidence as follows: In anticipation of a meeting with President Johnson he had two days ago contacted Hanoi in the person of Tran Van Dong [Pham Van Dong] as to what he could do during his meeting with the President to help bring this war to an end. Just now, while he was having lunch with the President, a reply from Hanoi had been received. In substance, it amounted to the following: Stop the bombing and they would immediately go to the conference table. Mr. Kosygin did not know what the President's views of this proposal would be, but he wanted to express his own opinion very strongly, to the effect that he thought the President should follow-up this proposal. It provided for the first time the opportunity of talking directly with Hanoi at no risk for the United States. He asked the President to recall the experience of President de Gaulle of France who had fought in Algiers for seven years and still wound up at the conference table. He was sure of the North Vietnamese will to continue to fight for many years if necessary. And what would the President accomplish? He would carry on a war for ten years or more, killing off the best of the young people of his nation. Mr. Kosygin knew that American soldiers fought well, that they knew how to fight, and that they fought willingly since they believed that they were fighting for their country. The young people of the Soviet Union in similar circumstances would also fight just as well. In his view, it was now time to end the war and to sit down at the conference table and then the President could see what would develop. This could be the very greatest problem which the two of them could resolve here together today: to end this obnoxious war and to let the rest of the world breathe easier because the danger of it spilling over into a bigger war had been removed. He repeated once again that this message was intended for the President only; that this was not to be made public in any way.

The President replied that first of all he agreed to the limitation on disseminating the information provided. Secondly, however, he asked what would happen if we went to the conference table this very minute; would this mean that fighting would continue as it had during the Korean armistice negotiations?

Chairman Kosygin replied that he could not guarantee that the war would end, neither could he guarantee however that it would escalate. With great emphasis he made the point that while the President thought he was fighting the Chinese in North Korea, Mr. Kosygin had to tell him that he was actually helping the Chinese in achieving their very worst designs.

The President said that China represented the very greatest danger to both countries at present, and that he certainly did not want to do anything that would promote Chinese policy.

Mr. Kosygin asked the President to bear in mind that this meeting between them was of an emergency nature, that time was short and that if time were available they would be able to explore the most delicate problems at greater length. While he considered North Viet-Nam's proposal to be the President's own business, he emphatically believed that now the President had ample reason to sit down and negotiate with North Viet-Nam. He had not wanted to take any responsibility upon himself in speaking on behalf of North Viet-Nam and it is for this reason that he had asked for a statement of their position and had received this reply just an hour ago. If the President could see his way clear to follow the proposal, this would be an immense step forward in the right direction. Sooner or later American forces would have to be withdrawn from Viet-Nam and it was better sooner than later. Could the President imagine what great sighs of relief would be heard throughout the world if such a truly historic decision were taken by him now. At several different times in the past, the President had sought an intermediary between the US and North Viet-Nam and had even considered using the offices of some second rate countries, which carried no weight in the world, but here and now there was an opportunity to engage in direct negotiations with Hanoi and he earnestly urged the President to weigh this possibility. Mr. Kosygin would still be in New York on Saturday and Sunday/2/ and would be glad to transmit any reply the President had to make.

/2/June 24 and 25.

To the President's question of when the Chairman expected to leave the United States, Mr. Kosygin replied that he was leaving on Monday and added, again in confidence, that he would visit Cuba on the way home.

The President asked for additional clarification on the following points: He was informed to the effect that North Viet-Nam had five divisions deployed immediately north of the DMZ. It was the best advice of our military people that if the bombing stopped, these five divisions would be brought to bear upon our Marines immediately south of the DMZ, resulting in a great many casualties among our boys. Mr. Kosygin surely realized that should this happen following the President's decision to stop the bombing, he would be crucified in this country for having taken the decision.

Chairman Kosygin thought that from a practical point of view the question could be put as follows: If the bombing stopped today, representatives of the United States and North Viet-Nam would meet tomorrow, wherever the President wished--Hanoi or New York or Moscow or Paris or Geneva or any other place. From that point on, it would be up to the negotiators to work out what was to follow. In establishing such direct contact with Hanoi, the President could present all questions between the United States and North Viet-Nam and the other side could do the same. Certainly, this could save hundreds of thousands of lives which would otherwise perish in vain. The President could set the condition that if the bombing were stopped, representatives of the two countries should meet at any place designated in, say, two days. Without such direct contact, no solution was possible. The President did not know what they wanted and indeed North Viet-Nam did not know what the President wanted. Mr. Kosygin urged the President to try this step, which in addition carried no risk to the position of the United States. He urged the President to weigh this proposal, he did not then ask for a reply today, he asked the President to think it over./3/

/3/During a working dinner between members of the Soviet and U.S. delegations on June 21, Gromyko had told Rusk that the Americans "were turning things topsy-turvy in wanting talks to precede end to bombing. Only way which to create situation where talks could mature is to stop bombing unconditionally." (Telegram 5848 from USUN, June 22; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL US-USSR)

The President asked the Chairman whether he would and could provide assistance at the conference table, if such a meeting took place, in obtaining self-determination for the people of South Viet-Nam?

Mr. Kosygin replied that he could not decide this question independently without advice from North Viet-Nam. But, if by tomorrow night the President could inform him of his views and conditions on this question, he would immediately transmit them to Hanoi for a reply.

The President again asked the Chairman whether, assuming that we got to the conference table, the Soviet Union would and could help us obtain an agreement providing self-determination for the people of South Viet-Nam which would ultimately enable us to withdraw our forces. The President had formerly informed Mr. Gromyko that if such an agreement could be obtained, we would be prepared to withdraw our troops regardless of former investment in the area. He would interpret free elections in South Viet-Nam under the supervision of the co-chairmen as fulfilling the conditions of such an agreement.

Mr. Kosygin replied with a suggestion that the question the President had asked him be formulated on paper without reference to Mr. Kosygin or the USSR, that it be addressed to North Viet-Nam, and be given to Mr. Kosygin for immediate transmission to Hanoi. Such a statement should preferably be brief and clear and he, Mr. Kosygin, would consider this to be an important step forward.

The President asked Mr. Kosygin when and where he could meet with him if he would give favorable consideration to addressing such a question to North Viet-Nam? He suggested another meeting with the Chairman on Sunday afternoon at the same place, in other words, at the Glassboro State College./4/

/4/A message was prepared that called for a halt to operations by both sides across the DMZ following the cessation of bombing and the opening of talks. See Document 217. The President conditioned the message with the following: "I want you to know that if talks do not lead to peace or if protracted talks are used to achieve one-sided military advantage against us, we shall have to resume full freedom of action." (Memorandum from Rusk to Johnson and attachment, June 24; Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, USSR, Hollybush II, Addendum)

[Here follows discussion of arms control and the Middle East.]

 

217. Editorial Note

On June 25, 1967, following a luncheon and a meeting on defense systems and the Middle East, which lasted from 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., the President conferred with Kosygin from 3:20 p.m. to 6:09 p.m. on matters relating to Vietnam. (Johnson Library, President's Daily Diary) At this session, the President gave Kosygin a message to transmit to the North Vietnamese which read:

"The United States anticipates that it could stop the bombing of the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam. The United States further anticipates that, following the cessation of bombing, there could be immediate discussions between representatives of the United States and the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam. These discussions could be held in Geneva, Moscow, Vientiane, or any other suitable location. The United States further anticipates that its own and allied forces in the northern provinces of South Viet-Nam would not advance to the north and that elements of the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam in the northern part of South Viet-Nam and in the southern portions of North Viet-Nam would not advance to the south. The United States anticipates that, if discussions are held between its representatives and those of the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam, all questions which either side might wish to raise could be raised. The United States would hope, on the basis of the anticipations expressed above, that the results of such talks could be the stabilization of peace in Southeast Asia. The United States would be glad to know of the reactions of the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam to the thoughts expressed above." (Attachment to memorandum from Rusk to the President, June 24; ibid., National Security File, Country File, USSR, Hollybush II, Addendum)

Notes of the June 25 meeting are in a memorandum of conversation between the President and Kosygin, June 25. (Ibid.)

Kosygin's lukewarm response led to a generally pessimistic assessment of the Glassboro Summit. In a June 28 meeting immediately before Ambassador Bui Diem departed for Saigon in order to brief South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu, Ambassador at Large W. Averell Harriman told the Ambassador that "there was no movement on either the Middle East or Vietnam problems." Harriman added that as far as negotiations were concerned "Kosygin held to the standard Soviet line." (Memorandum for the Record by Cooper, June 28; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Special Files, Public Service, Chronological File, June 1967)

President Johnson commented along the same lines when he briefed former President Dwight Eisenhower on the meeting during a telephone conversation of June 25:

"On Vietnam, he said we got to stop our bombing. We've got to pull out (that's what he said on television) and just get all of our troops out. That we were the aggressors there; we were the invader there; we were the perpetrator of aggression. Not anything else will do--no substitute. We exchanged some views and I asked some questions of him in that connection, and asked him--what would happen if we stopped our bombing, would they talk and if so how long and would it be another Korea talk to delay it or would it be serious, what could come from it and could he guarantee, underwrite, or ensure or what did he think. The net of it was just another line of 'stop the bombing, send your troops home, then things will work out.'" (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Eisenhower, June 25, 1967, 9:44 p.m., Tape F67.13, PNO 1 and 2)

Additional documentation on the Johnson-Kosygin meetings is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 7 US.

 

218. Telegram From the Station in Saigon to the Central Intelligence Agency/1/

Saigon, June 26, 1967.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S. Secret; Sensitive. A June 26 covering memorandum from Carver to Read explained that the reports carried in [text not declassified] and TDCS DB-315/02242-67 reported Ky's decision, which was based upon meetings that two of his advisers had with [text not declassified] of the Saigon CIA Station. "Ambassador Bunker, who was of course kept fully conversant with these developments, told Mr. Hart he was delighted with the initial apparent result of the advice passed quietly to Ky through the informal channels outlined above and suggested that additional advice to Ky be passed through this mechanism, provided the necessary policy approval is obtained from Washington," Carver reported. (Ibid.) Rostow's covering note transmitting the telegram to the President, June 26, reads: "Here is where Bunker stands on Loan-Ky-Thieu. Could be worse." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Vietnamese (South) Elections 1967) A notation on the note indicates that the President saw the telegram.

CAS 8486. Following is the text of a message which Ambassador Bunker approved at 1820 hours (Saigon time) 26 June and asked to be passed to the Secretary of State:

"I have studied the Department's message of 21 June, received through CAS channels,/2/ in the light of Ky's decision to rein in Loan as first reported in [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]./3/ Ky's proclaimed intentions, which have been reported fairly liberally in the press, will have a salutary effect if he follows through on them in good faith.

/2/CAS Hqs. Message No. 0644. [Footnote in the source text. The cable is printed as Document 213.]

/3/TDCS DB-315/022242-67. [Footnote in the source text. The report was not found.]

"It appears that, although Ky's welcome decision to restrain Loan was the result of a number of pressures on him, the program which he put forth was in fact one suggested to him behind-the-scenes by some of his close associates. (CAS Headquarters has further information on this subject.)

"The fact that Ky was so receptive to constructive advice on this occasion indicates that we would be missing an important opportunity by not insuring that he continues to receive sound advice in the future. What is necessary, in my view, is a more or less continuous consultation with Ky as outlined in the Department's para 5E./4/ This would allow us, for example, to follow up with him to be sure that he actually implements the plans for fair treatment of all candidates to which he has given considerable publicity during the past few days. Unless we do ride herd on him on this matter, however, I regret to say that I have grave doubts that he will in fact live up to his promises.

/4/i.e., para 5E of CIA Hqs. Message No. 0644. [Footnote in the source text.]

"What I have in mind, therefore, is not in any sense an 'extensive' program, nor one which is likely to lay us open to embarrassing charges. Within the framework of advising Ky on ways to keep the election honest, we can also give him advice on acceptable uses of his present position in the interests of his own candidacy. If he takes our advice to heart, as I believe he may, we will be much better off having him run a successful, more or less orderly, and reasonably honest campaign on the basis of our behind-the-scenes guidance than we could be if he is left to his own rather unpredictable devices. The latter alternative will almost certainly lead to abuses of power for which, however impartial our position may in fact have been, we will receive rather widespread blame.

"I agree that part of our continuous consultation with Ky can be carried out via an American CAS representative, and propose to proceed with an updated version of what the Department has suggested in its para 5. [7 lines of source text not declassified]

"As I said in my message of 19 June through CAS channels (CAS Saigon Message No. 8185),/5/ I believe we should stand ready to consider giving covert financial help if Ky requests it. However, there is no evidence to indicate at the moment that Ky is actually in need of such help. I suggest, therefore, that consideration of this problem be deferred until the arrangements which I have proposed above have given us a better idea of Ky's thinking about the conduct of his campaign and his plans to support it.

/5/Sent in CIA telegram 7697, Document 209.

"On the problem of General Thieu, the passage of time has resulted in the battle lines forming and stiffening, and I rather doubt at this late date that Thieu can be persuaded to retire from the contest. Whatever the effect of his candidacy on military unity, it would probably be counterproductive for us to try to do anything about it. I believe, therefore, that we will be best advised to throw our influence in the direction of doing everything we can to keep Ky's campaign reasonably honest and his treatment of other candidates as fair as can be expected. If he then runs the sort of campaign which we would like him to and does not abuse his hold over the national administrative structure, he should increase the respect with which he is already held in many quarters. Given the considerable lead which Ky probably has over any of the other principal candidates, under these circumstances the damage which can be done by Thieu's rival military candidacy will be held to the minimum and, all in all, we should come out of the affair in September reasonably well.

"I hope you will agree that, under the circumstances, the modest actions proposed above provide our best hope of realizing full advantage from forthcoming elections. Should the Department disagree with the actions proposed above, I hope you will let me know in the very near future."

 

219. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State (Katzenbach) to President Johnson/1/

Washington, undated.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Vietnamese (South) Elections 1967. Secret. Rostow sent this memorandum to the President on June 28 at 9:55 a.m. with the comment: "Herewith Nick, having thought over your instruction at lunch, asks that we give Bunker a chance to comment before we execute the order." A notation on the covering note indicates that the President saw the memorandum. The regular Tuesday Luncheon met on June 27 from 1:20 p.m. to 2:40 p.m. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary) No record of the meeting has been found.

SUBJECT
Message to Ambassador Bunker

I have prepared the attached to carry out your instructions at lunch./2/

/2/The attached draft instructions to Bunker requested that he inform Ky and Thieu that the inability to decide on one military candidate, as promised at Guam, "presents a grave threat to unity of military and apparently has contributed to atmosphere of doubt on honesty and integrity of elections." The Ambassador should add that the President wanted the issue "worked out at once--and commitments kept--on some fair basis of common understanding." (Ibid., National Security File, Intelligence File, Vietnamese (South) Elections 1967) A revised and expanded version of this message was sent and is printed as Document 222.

I respectfully urge, however, that you amend the message to permit Bunker to comment and to give his view on the wisdom of this major step. This could be done simply by inserting the words "subject to your comment if you see any objection" at the very beginning of the message.

I believe Ambassador Bunker's judgment is necessary for the following reasons:

a. He himself clearly believes that it is fruitless at this moment to try to get Thieu to withdraw. (His CIA/channel cable received yesterday.) So does Westmoreland./3/

/3/The last sentence is handwritten by Katzenbach. Reference is to Document 218.

b. All our information, for example from Tran Van Do, tends to support the judgment that Thieu is so bitter at Ky that he will not pull out now.

c. In our own judgment, the proposed action at this time would be construed by both men as telling Thieu to get out in front of Ky. At the time the promise was made to you in Guam, both men were on even terms. This is no longer so. Ky is much further along than Thieu in every respect having picked a running mate, set up an organization, and all the rest. Thieu has not done any of these things and is thus the only one in a position to withdraw without drastic loss of face.

d. A renewed intervention in these conditions can only mean to Thieu that we are backing Ky. Since the message would be delivered in the presence of both, any action taken under it would almost surely be leaked by one or the other very rapidly. Ky would treat it as an American endorsement not only of his being the military candidate, but his being the candidate backed by the US.

e. For these same reasons, the message in oriental terms would be a drastic blow to Thieu's face and prestige if he acted on it. Far from getting him to withdraw, there is a very substantial chance that it would dig him in for keeps. As matters stand, he still might withdraw if he sees Ky's strength is too great and if Ky has removed his present grounds for claiming that Ky is acting corruptibly and excessively.

f. Both Ky and Thieu have individually been reminded of the Guam promise several times, and once as a direct message from you./4/

/4/In a handwritten footnote Katzenbach noted the times Ky and Thieu were contacted on the matter and by whom: "Ky--April 20-Lodge; May 30-Bunker; June 14-Bunker. Thieu--May 4-Westmoreland; May 26-Bunker; June 15-Bunker."

In short, it is my own considered judgment that the message is at best a gamble and involves certain built-in drawbacks. At the very least, I believe you should have Ambassador Bunker's judgment before directing him to proceed in this manner.

Nicholas deB Katzenbach

 

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

Saigon, June 28, 1967, 0930Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Rostow sent this telegram to the President under a covering note dated June 29 in which he stated: "Herewith Amb. Bunker's mid-year summary. The priorities are clear: the task is to move on them." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 8B (1)[A] Bunker's Weekly Report to the President) The notation "L" on the covering note indicates that the President saw the telegram. This telegram is printed in full in Pike, The Bunker Papers, pp. 60-68.

29059. For the President from Bunker. Herewith my ninth weekly telegram:

A. General

1. The half way mark in 1967 coinciding as it does with the completion of two years of the present government and with the approaching elections may mark a good time to attempt to cast up a balance sheet of developments here. We shall be doing this in detail during the visit of Secretary McNamara and Under Secretary Katzenbach next week. This is obviously a difficult and complicated undertaking involving many questions of judgment and some imponderables. I thought it might be worthwhile, however, if I were to attempt a summary of the more important elements relative to the present situation and prospects ahead as I and others here see them.

2. The military situation has greatly improved. The North Vietnamese army has not won a single major victory in the South, on the contrary has suffered ever heavier losses on the battlefield. At home much of their infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, half of their aircraft destroyed, an estimated half million people diverted to repair of war damage, and the movement of men and supplies made infinitely more difficult. Food shortages have developed. It seems apparent that physically and materially the country has been badly hurt.

3. By contrast South Viet-Nam has made substantial progress in a good many ways. On the political front there has been a stable government for two years, a Constituent Assembly has been elected, a Constitution drafted and promulgated, village and hamlet elections held and Presidential and Congressional elections scheduled for September and October.

4. Inflationary pressures are severe, but these have been kept under reasonably good control. While prices have gone up, food supplies are ample.

5. Vietnamese armed forces are being steadily improved and in many instances have turned in excellent performances.

6. Pacification is gaining some momentum.

7. Defections to the GVN under the Chieu Hoi program are running at nearly twice the 1966 rate.

8. There are other aspects of the picture, however, which must be considered. While the enemy offensive has been blunted, it has not been eliminated. Infiltration continues from the North at an estimated rate of 6,500 a month. Hanoi's determination does not seem to have been seriously affected by the severe physical punishment it has taken. Indeed there is one school of thought which holds that North Viet-Nam is determined to continue the struggle with the expectation that we will eventually tire of carrying the heavy burden involved in our effort. There is apparently no present indication of Hanoi's desire to enter into negotiations. And it seems quite possible that the Soviets and Communist China may have some kind of open end commitment to keep North Viet-Nam supplied with weapons and matériel.

9. On the South Vietnamese side there are also problems.

10. With two military Presidential candidates there is danger that the armed forces will become politically involved and diverted from the essential task of fighting the war.

11. As far as the electoral process itself is concerned, Ky's arbitrary use of censorship and General Loan's activities have been subject to widespread criticism. Serious doubt has been cast on the possibility of holding honest elections.

12. Although ARVN/RF/PF have been greatly improved, there is still a long way to go. Leadership, ability to cope with guerrilla warfare, and security are areas in which there are still substantial deficiencies.

13. This is especially true of the ARVN/RF/PF involvement in the pacification program. The crux of the program is adequate Vietnamese motivation and involvement, for pacification in the final analysis must be done by the Vietnamese. No matter how efficient the organization of our role in pacification may be, without Vietnamese carrying the main burden the program cannot succeed.

14. This is true not only of pacification but of all the other aspects of the effort here--military, economic, political, and social. Lack of involvement and motivation are evident in the apathy, inertia, widespread corruption and incompetence one finds in many areas of the civil administration.

15. In this connection I believe that we lack adequate means of finding out what the Vietnamese people are really thinking and what their aspirations are. There is no fully adequate opinion-taking organization here, such as we had in the Dominican situation. I believe this is a serious deficiency for we ought to know more about what Vietnamese are thinking, especially the 55 percent to 60 percent of the population which lives outside of the cities. However, from soundings throughout the country, security and social justice, especially getting rid of corruption, seem to be highest on the list. There is obviously great deficiency in both.

16. While there is much work still to be done on many counts and many obstacles to overcome it seems to me that we should continue to concentrate on our main priority objectives. I believe these to be:

A) A vigorous, imaginative and flexible prosecution of the war within acceptable limits. Here, as I have stated previously (Saigon 28293),/2/ it seems to me that the crux of our military problem is how to choke off NVN infiltration. I believe ways can be found to do this effectively and that we should pursue this matter with the utmost urgency.

/2/See footnote 4, Document 215.

B) Through free and honest elections establishing a broadly based, stable, functioning, constitutional government. It will require constant vigilance on our part to see that electoral procedures are kept free and honest; and that the fact of their being so is credible. There is fortunately evidence now that our pressures on Ky in this respect are beginning to have some effect.

C) An expedited pacification program which will win the allegiance of the Vietnamese people including the Viet Cong, and which offers them the opportunity to become part of the social fabric of the country.

D) Reorientation of the mission of the Vietnamese armed forces and their revitalization with increased emphasis on improvement and quality.

E) The optimum use of available manpower. This study is already underway under Ambassador Locke. We have discussed some of the problems including the need of mobilization after the elections with Thieu and Ky. We have found them both receptive and understanding of the need to move ahead on this vitally important matter.

F) Economic stability and development. Economic stability will depend on our ability to restrain the inflationary pressures. Economic development is an essential means to political progress especially as it affects the more than half of the Vietnamese who live in the villages and the hamlets. Production can be increased through imaginative and carefully conceived programs, despite the war. Looking to the longer run, it seems to me that the work of the Lilienthal group in planning long range economic development is both important and hopeful. I doubt if there is any better political weapon than involving the Vietnamese people in their own development, to let the people themselves plan and carry out activities through which they can increase their incomes and improve their lives.

17. There is obviously much work still to do. Balancing out the pluses and minuses, however, I find none of the latter insuperable. The Vietnamese are intelligent, hard-working, and if properly guided, encouraged and well led can perform effectively. I believe that we are making steady progress and are gradually achieving our aims in Viet-Nam. If we stick with it and reinforce the success already achieved, I am confident that we shall come out very well in the end.

[Here follows discussion of political, economic, and military matters.]

Bunker

 

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

Washington, June 28, 1967, 10:30 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President, 6/1-8/2/67, Vol. I. Confidential. Received at 11:20 a.m. The notation "L" on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.

Mr. President:

For what it's worth:

1. My gut feeling is that Hanoi is moving towards negotiations.

2. Critical to its decision is whether we have the domestic and international base to give Westy his 200,000 extra men. If we don't, they may sweat us out an extra year or so.

3. Therefore, we should firmly proceed down the track you outlined to the King of Thailand yesterday./2/

/2/The President met alone with King Bhumipol Adulyadej in the Oval Office from 5:20 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. on June 27. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary) The memorandum of their conversation, June 27, is ibid., National Security File, Country File, Thailand, Vol. VI, Memos 3/67-8/67.

4. Without being too noisy about it we should keep the heat on the transport facilities around Hanoi and especially the transport links between Haiphong and the other ports and Hanoi. We've found something of a bottleneck there.

5. If this view is right, we may never have to use the 200,000 men--just as we never had to conduct the great offensive of 1919 or actually invade Japan at the end of 1945.

6. The Soviet performance in the Middle East and Kosygin's talks at Hollybush/3/ have strengthened your position in Hanoi.

/3/Reference is to the Glassboro Summit.

Walt


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