1964-1968, Volume V, Vietnam 1967|
Released by the Office of the Historian
240. Notes of Meeting/1/
240. Notes of Meeting/1/
Washington, July 13, 1967, 1:25-2:45 p.m.
/1/Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson's Notes of Meetings, 7/13/67. Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the Family Dining Room of the White House.
NOTES OF THE PRESIDENT'S MEETING
[Here follows brief discussion of a White House ceremony honoring retiring Admiral McDonald and of the Congo.]
The President said that General Westmoreland was returning tonight to South Carolina to pick up his wife and then return to Vietnam.
General Westmoreland said that Congressman Rivers had asked him to stop by his office this afternoon. The group agreed this would be a good idea. General Westmoreland said he saw Senator Russell for five minutes during the ceremony, and all agreed that this was sufficient.
Secretary McNamara said that there was "complete accord" on how to proceed on the troop question. He reported to the President that 19 or 21 battalions would be required and that total troop strength would run 525,000./2/
/2/On July 20 Wheeler submitted to the President JCSM-416-67, a detailed list of forces for the increased strength of U.S. military forces in Vietnam. In a memorandum to Wheeler, August 10, McNamara offered tentative approval for the recommended force augmentation. On August 14 McNamara formally approved the Program 5 deployment. See The Pentagon Papers, The Senator Gravel Edition, Vol. IV, pp. 523-528. The plan for the Program 5 deployment approved by the President on July 12 (see Document 238) included augmentation of 33,297 Army, 4,234 Navy, 2,242 Air Force, and 7,523 Marine Corps personnel, which amounted to a total addition of 47,296 for an authorized strength in South Vietnam of 525,000.
The Secretary pointed out there may be some press speculation on this figure, particularly after testimony he has made on the Hill to the Congressional committees. The Secretary said that the field commanders would be supplied with the men required.
The Secretary said that the discussions which were begun in Vietnam with General Westmoreland and with his staff were continued this morning. The Secretary reported "complete agreement on this." The Secretary said that the matter must be discussed with the allies before final decisions are made.
General Wheeler reported that the Australians might be able to provide one additional battalion. He said he had military reports that the Australians are ready and willing and that the Australian government would be receptive to a request for additional troops.
General Wheeler also reported that he did not believe any troops could be obtained from the Philippines. He said perhaps one additional combat brigade could be required from the Koreans. He said that the Thais should be asked to fill out their regular combat team with at least two more battalions.
Secretary McNamara said that it was possible to say that the Vietnamese planned to increase their force units in Vietnam. He said, however, it would be unwise to announce this now. The Secretary said we must talk to our allies before any discussion of this is made public.
General Westmoreland said that for reasons of military security that we should not make any announcement of troop levels or planned increases.
Secretary McNamara said that the figures could be held reasonably tight for a few weeks. The Secretary said there must be a plan in the Department, there must be proposals put down on paper, and there must be Congressional testimony on the defense budget. All of this would result in leaks eventually, the Secretary said.
General Wheeler said that the military and the Secretary of Defense are in accord on the troop decision. General Wheeler said this meets the need for Vietnam.
General Westmoreland said there is a plan to organize a division in South Vietnam, taking Task Force Oregon and organizing it into an Americal Division such as was organized during World War II. General Westmoreland said this would be handled by picking up bits and pieces of units which are currently in action.
General Westmoreland pointed out that over the past two years a logistical base has been developed which can support the current force level of combat troops and many more. He pointed out that this meant that additional troops coming into Vietnam could be used for combat rather than some being used for support and some for combat as has been the policy in the past.
General Westmoreland said that by developing a very substantial logistical base that the units were capable of supporting many more combat troops than now are deployed.
The President asked the group whether or not he should send General Taylor and Clark Clifford on Presidential missions designed to discuss with the allies possible troop increases on their part.
Secretary McNamara and the group said yes, that General Taylor was highly respected and that Clark Clifford was a logical choice.
Secretary McNamara said the situation of more Thai troops will be a new burden on General Westmoreland rather than a benefit. He pointed out the reason for needing to get more Thai troops into South Vietnam was to teach them how to defend themselves.
The Secretary said that more Australians and Koreans would be a valuable asset to the total effort.
The Secretary and General Wheeler agreed that "we should put the bite" on Thailand for a larger troop commitment. They said that the Thais must be prepared to help themselves. Both agreed that it would be appropriate to send Clark Clifford and General Taylor to Vietnam first to consult with the allies in Vietnam and see how they are doing in the field before going to the countries from which they are sent to meet with the leaders of those countries./3/
/3/See Document 253.
On the question of censorship all said that the price which would have to be paid for censorship would be too great. Secretary McNamara, George Christian, General Westmoreland and General Wheeler said that while they are for censorship at times, that we would pay a terrible price for it.
George Christian said that censorship would be a morass. He said, "We cannot do it." General Wheeler said that the correspondents in Vietnam are immature, naive and hostile. Secretary McNamara said he had talked with USIA Director Leonard Marks this morning. Marks had just returned from Vietnam. Marks told the Secretary that the correspondents are too young and have no in-depth background about what has taken place in Vietnam. They are out there to win Pulitzer prizes for sensational articles rather than objective reporting.
It was agreed that no censorship would be taken.
General Westmoreland said on the matter of troop strength that he was delighted with the outcome of the deliberations.
He said that with the additional men "we will have a formidable force." With the troops, General Westmoreland said that progress can be accelerated once the troops are deployed and placed.
General Wheeler said that General Westmoreland is fully satisfied. He agreed we must talk to our allies about the total package.
General Westmoreland said that he had not asked for any specific number of troops. He asserted that his recommendations have been honored.
The President asked the group if we stop the bombing and if elections are held, would South Vietnam go Communist?
Secretary McNamara said, from what he had learned in the field, definitely no--the country would not go Communist.
[Here follows discussion unrelated to Vietnam.]
241. Draft Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Ambassador to Vietnam (Bunker)/1/
/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Vietnamese (South) Elections 1967. Secret; Sensitive. An attached covering note from Read to Rusk, July 13, indicates that Habib drafted the cable; Bundy, Katzenbach, and the CIA cleared it; and Rostow's clearance would be sought before its transmission. An attached covering memorandum from Rostow to Rusk, July 14, reads: "The President is against any financial support to candidates in the Vietnamese elections--presidential or parliamentary." According to notations on the covering note, the telegram was received in Saigon on June 16 via CAS channels, but a copy of it as sent has not been found.
For Ambassador Bunker from the Secretary of State.
1. I concur in the program of action you outlined in your message to me of July 11./2/ However, I wish to ensure that our program of advice to Ky is in support of the Thieu-Ky ticket, with Ky as the organizational focal point, and is not a device that Ky can use as leverage to maneuver Thieu aside. Thus, you should inform Ky through the established channel that he needs to work out his relationship with Thieu to their mutual satisfaction and campaign energetically within the framework of those understandings. Continuation of our action program should be firmly based on the precondition that Ky and Thieu do in fact achieve a clear understanding between them on their relationship in the campaign and after the elections. I realize that such a relationship will be subject to change in light of developments.
2. In this connection, we have better contact with Ky than Thieu, and what we know of the Thieu-Ky relationship comes largely from Ky or from Ky supporters. We need adequate access to Thieu so we can cross check Ky's version of his understandings with Thieu. Moreover, we need a better relationship with Thieu to avoid his misunderstanding our position and to allay those suspicions of us that seem to bother him.
3. Regarding your last paragraph, it is my understanding that the program consists of guidance and advice in return for information and influence and that any recommendation regarding material support will be submitted to Washington for approval. Material support is to be considered within the effort outlined in your para 3E and will not involve direct financing of the Thieu-Ky presidential campaign itself.
4. Independently of the effort with Ky, modest financial support for individual candidates for the legislature is acceptable in principle and I await your recommendations.
5. I would welcome your views regarding the relationship we should develop with any of the major civilian candidates. We think such relationships could be more or less open and could usefully serve to show Thieu and Ky that we are interested in real competition. They would also meet possible leakage concerning our role vis-à-vis Ky and cover the contingency of a civilian victory.
242. Telegram From the Station in Saigon to the Central Intelligence Agency/1/
Saigon, July 14, 1967, 1115Z.
/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S. Secret; Sensitive. Transmitted to the Department of State under cover of a memorandum from Carver to Read. Despite the lack of direct funding for the Thieu-Ky campaign from Washington, the CIA Station succeeded in having Ky arrange the establishment and funding from Vietnamese sources of a front organization, the All-Vietnam Bloc, in order to legitimize and ensure the election prospects of the military slate. (Telegram CAS 9395 from Saigon, July 18; Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/ISS Files, Job 78-32R, Box 1, Folder 11, ARC) In addition, although money was not given directly to the Thieu-Ky campaign, according to telegram DIR 38735 to Saigon, September 27, Acting Secretary of State Katzenbach authorized payments as high as [text not declassified] each to Deputies of the National Assembly who would guarantee that they would vote in favor of confirming the electoral victory of Thieu and Ky in the validation vote on October 2. (Ibid.)
CAS 206. The following is the text of a message from Ambassador Bunker to the Secretary of State released by the Ambassador at 1115 hours, 14 July 1967:
"In a previous message this week,/2/ in which I recommended that CAS be given approval to conduct a political action program, I mentioned a political alliance which Ky and his advisors have been planning. Comprised of Hoa Hao, Cao Dai and VNQDD elements, this grouping has been envisaged by Ky as the nucleus for the main thrust in support of the Thieu/Ky campaign./3/ The benefits that a civilian group in this role affords are many; it has, as well, the potential for the broad-based, post-election political party which Vietnam needs.
/3/In a July 17 memorandum to Bundy, Carver reported the substance of TDCS DB-315/02780-67, July 15, a record of a conversation between Ky and [text not declassified], which contained intelligence information on Ky's plans for his front organization. Ky declared that he was "now besieged on all sides by people asking for funds with which to support the Thieu/Ky ticket, including dozens of aspirants running for the Senate or Assembly." Ky stated that it was necessary for him to reject these requests due to his limited funds. He also mentioned that he would like to merge two other groups, the one behind retired General Tran Van Don and labor leader Tran Quoc Buu with the front containing the other religious and political parties. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S) The U.S. Government was kept informed of Thieu-Ky campaign affairs through a covert contact initiated in mid-July. A July 17 memorandum from Carver to Bundy, summarized TDCS DB-315/02783-67, July 17, a report on the first meeting between [text not declassified] the Prime Minister's designated intermediary, and [text not declassified] of the CIA Station. At this meeting [text not declassified] mentioned [text not declassified] that funds were needed to support GVN officials who had resigned to run for office. (Ibid.)
"Plans now call for the public launching of this alliance at a mass rally to be held in Saigon on August 1st, the official opening day of the campaign. Obviously the more active this alliance becomes in support of the Thieu/Ky candidacies, the less the government will be vulnerable to the charge of depending solely on its military and governmental powers to insure election in September.
"CAS is proposing through its own channels that financial support be given now to the alliance to allow it to put its plans in motion as expeditiously as possible. An equal amount will be provided by the Thieu/Ky forces to maintain the momentum through the campaign.
"In addition to the Presidential support consideration, CAS has raised the question of financial assistance to a selected number of their Parliamentarian assets. In no instance is the sum contemplated large, but the support will enable us to exert some political influence on those who are elected to see that the new government gets off to as favorable a start as possible. I have had an opportunity to review the listing of individuals who may be given support. I recommend that both of the CAS requests be favorably received in Washington."
243. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State/1/
Saigon, July 14, 1967, 1230Z.
/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S. Secret; Exdis. Received at 11:11 a.m.
1082. 1. I saw Ky the morning of July 13. Our discussion was relatively brief due to the arrival of Tran Van Huong for courtesy call on PriMin.
2. I informed Ky that I had heard reports from several sources that since he had agreed to withdraw from the Presidential race and to run with Thieu that he was undecided as to what course to follow in the campaign--i.e. to play a passive role or to work as actively for the joint ticket as he had done for his own Presidential candidacy. I told him I thought it highly important that he should take an active part in the campaign, that he has much to contribute to the ticket and to his country. I mentioned that the measures for reform which he had described to Secretary McNamara and to me were impressive. It was in his own interest and that of the country to work for the opportunity to bring some of his ideas for reform to fruition.
3. I told Ky again that I considered his decision to step down from his Presidential candidacy was commendable and clearly taken in the interest of the country and of the armed forces. I felt that his action has increased his prestige and the measure of his character. I suggested to him a parallel in President Johnson's acceptance of the Vice Presidency in 1960.
4. Ky said that as a matter of fact his troubles just began on June 30, that the ten or twelve days since then had been bad. People have been coming to him constantly, asking why he stepped down, why he allowed himself to be out-maneuvered by Thieu. He has replied to them that he took the decision consciously. He hadn't allowed himself to be out maneuvered. He felt the decision was necessary in the interest of the armed forces and of the country. The Buddhists have come to see him, the Cao Dai, the Hoa Hao and others. All are seeking his advice as to what they should do. It has brought home to him sharply the dangers and the divisions which threaten the country in this period and he feels that he is the only one who can keep these under control.
5. I told him that if this is true, then he has an even greater responsibility to take an active part in the campaign. Pursuing this further, I asked him directly whether he had a definite understanding with Thieu. He replied simply "Yes, I have", adding, however, that it remained to be seen whether Thieu sticks to his word. In this regard, he said, the armed forces leadership has decided that they should hold more frequent meetings, at which, of course, Thieu and Ky would be present, in an effort to try to reestablish the cordial relationship which formerly existed among the top Generals.
6. Ky reiterated that the whole situation has kept him under a heavy strain and that he really ought to get away for a few days. I urged him to do so.
7. We discussed campaign issues briefly, Ky said that he felt two primary issues are corruption and how to end the war. On the latter he again stated, as he had to Secretary McNamara, that the GVN is always ready to talk to Hanoi./2/ In this connection I called his attention to reports that a number of North Vietnamese Ambassadors had been recalled to Hanoi. I said it was not clear whether this was routine or not but suggested that he might in view of this make a public statement renewing this expression of willingness to talk to Hanoi.
/2/See Document 236.
8. On the question of negotiations, Ky stressed that they need careful preparation and are not something to rush into. With an elected and stable government the GVN can begin to approach the problem, but with careful step by step preparation of any moves to be made. The danger with the line being taken by Au Truong Thanh and others of his ilk is that they are not thinking through the problem. I had the feeling that while Ky feels strongly on the peace issue that he is not likely to press it in the campaign unless he is pushed into it by his opponents.
9. I took occasion to refer to the question of Big Minh and commented that I thought their position would be much stronger if the decision to reject his candidacy and keep him out of the country should be fairly based on legal considerations, since I understood the objections filed by General Vien and the corps commanders referred only to the threat to national security. I added that I, of course, recognized that this was their business and was sure they were conscious to the sensitivity of how the matter is handled. Ky agreed with my views but made no other comment.
10. I also raised again the desirability of inviting international observers to come to Viet-Nam during the campaign and to view the elections. I repeated points I had made with him previously stressing that the spotlight in which South Viet-Nam finds itself demands a level of perfection in the conduct of the elections well above the role observers could play in offsetting harsh or biased press criticism. He agreed with all I had to say but made no commitment. (Do has told Calhoun that a formal invitation will be sent to U Thant and FonOff is considering other possibilities.)
11. Our discussion was cut off by the arrival of Tran Van Huong for his appointment. I intend, therefore, to see Ky again in the next few days to pursue it, particularly as I wish to go into greater detail as to his reaction to the progress of the elections and his attitude toward the campaign. I also intend to see Thieu for a similar discussion with him, and I am seeing Bui Diem this evening./3/
/3/In telegram 1164 from Saigon, July 15, Bunker reported Bui Diem's statements that some younger officers believed, as a result of Ky's stepping aside, that the United States was backing Huong for President, a charge that Bunker denied. Diem also affirmed that a written agreement between Thieu and Ky existed, and mentioned that a crucial meeting of the ARVN general officers would be held on July 17 in order to resolve problems surrounding the Thieu-Ky candidacy. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S) At that meeting, according to a report given to Bunker by Diem, a second document emerged that "sought to spell out the arrangements in more precise detail." (Telegram 1476 from Saigon, July 20; ibid., POL 15-1 VIET S) In a meeting with Bunker on July 16, Thieu did not affirm the existence of a written agreement but did state that he would divide power with Ky. (Telegram 1232 from Saigon, July 17; ibid.)
244. Notes of Meeting/1/
Washington, July 14, 1967.
/1/Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson's Notes of Meetings, 7/14/67. Top Secret; Eyes Only. The President met with Clifford, McNamara, Katzenbach, Wheeler, Rostow, and Tom Johnson from 12:51 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary)
The President said to Clark Clifford that he wanted Clifford and General Maxwell Taylor to go to Saigon, be briefed on the operations there, then go to the nations fighting with us in Vietnam to see what additional assistance could be rendered.
More importantly, the President said he wanted the mission to review with the allies what we are doing in Vietnam. In short, to give them more information about the war effort.
President said that he wanted the effort to be kept extremely quiet, that he wanted no advance publicity on the mission, and that he wanted it handled under the cover of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
The President added:
--The Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board is a good cover, since Clifford is chairman and Taylor is a member.
--The reports to the heads of governments will let them "know that we are thinking about them, make them feel informed."
--It would be an effort to determine how much more the allies could do in Vietnam in troop additions.
--Clifford can be advised by McNamara and Wheeler how much each nation can supply in troops before the Presidential mission departed.
Clark Clifford asked these questions:
--Should we make any new contacts with nations who are not represented in Vietnam now? Malaysia was mentioned. (Secretary McNamara said he did not think any troops could be arranged from Malaysia.)
--Should the allies be advised in advance of this mission?
It was agreed that a cable would be prepared to indicate the fact that Taylor-Clifford would be visiting. The President would send it./2/
/2/See Document 253.
Clifford cautioned against expecting the team to return with any signatures on the line.
The President warned that the mission should get into the troop question slowly.
Rostow indicated that the toughest area would be the Philippines. Secretary Katzenbach said that Holt and the South Vietnamese [Australians?] will be willing to give additional troops.
General Wheeler added:
--The Australians will give one battalion and one battery now and would give one battalion and one more battery by September, if asked.
--The Australia politicos are ready to be asked.
The President said the generals--both in the Pentagon and in Vietnam--must be told not to talk about the level of troops. He mentioned the lead on troops in morning newspapers, and the speculation on numbers (by Max Frankel of the Times).
The President said "we are going to send Westmoreland the troops he needs. I told him that. That has been our policy and will continue to be."
The President said that the details on numbers of troops must be worked out. "We have a general idea and a general meeting of the minds on numbers."
The President continued:
--"We want to see what these people are willing to do.
--"I would hope that the South Vietnamese would
a. Drop their draft age to 18.
Clark Clifford concluded by saying he did not want to leave the impression any firm commitments would be brought back.
245. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson/1/
Washington, July 17, 1967, 10:05 a.m.
/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President, 6/1-8/2/67, Vol. I. Top Secret. The notation "L" on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
Herewith my net recommendations for immediate changes in bombing the northern part of North Viet Nam.
1. Reduce the present 30 nautical mile radius restricted area around Hanoi to 10 and the 10 nautical mile radius around Haiphong to 4. Authorize armed reconnaissance through North Vietnam and coastal waters, except populated areas, the ChiCom buffer zone, and restricted areas.
2. Move the northern boundaries of the Sea Dragon area and the coastal armed reconnaissance area to 20 degrees309.
3. Mine inland waterways up to the ChiCom buffer zone as the Mark 36 destructors become available.
4. Restrike Hanoi TPP.
Study and report to President:
A. Casualties likely to result from attack on Red River Bridge.
B. State of repair and value of re-attack on other targets in Hanoi restricted area, notably following transport targets: the Van Dien Supply and Vehicle Depots, Hanoi RR Repair Ship, Yen Vien RR Classification Yards, Nguyen Khe Storage, and Kinh No Vehicle Repair.
C. Value of further narrowing of Hanoi and Haiphong restricted areas to, say, 8 nautical miles and 2 nautical miles, respectively.
246. Editorial Note
On July 17, 1967, the Special Committee of the Vietnamese Constituent Assembly, established to certify electoral slates, recommended that the Assembly reject the military ticket headed by Chief of State Nguyen Van Thieu and Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky and instead accept the opposition candidacy of former Head of State Duong Van Minh. According to telegram 1381 from Saigon, July 19, the man behind such political maneuvering was Ky himself, who envisioned using the challenge to the military as an excuse to dissolve the Assembly and divest his ticket of Thieu, which would again position Ky as the leading Presidential candidate. The next day, the top Vietnamese Generals, fearing that the crisis was "an American maneuver to bring in a civilian ticket," prevented the Assembly from voting against the Thieu-Ky candidacy. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S)
On July 18 Bui Diem, the Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States, then in Saigon, telephoned Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker to inform him that the military had concluded that it might have to engage in "some strong action" as a result of the Special Committee's recommendation. Bunker suggested that if they could not work out the situation with the Assembly, Thieu and Ky needed to "consider the possibility of stepping aside" in order to avoid the impasse. Bunker also warned that his government "absolutely would not countenance any sort of coup if that was what the military had in mind" by its statement. (Telegram 1409 from Saigon, July 19; ibid., POL 27 VIET S; this telegram is printed in full in Pike, The Bunker Papers, pages 86-91) Additional analysis by the Embassy staff is also in telegram 1307 from Saigon, July 18. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S)
As a result of pressure from the Generals, the Assembly reversed the recommendation against the Thieu-Ky ticket late on July 18 and approved ten other candidacies, but disqualified the candidacies of seven opposition slates, including those of Minh and Au Truong Thanh, the leading peace candidate, on the grounds that Minh's running mate had once had French citizenship and that Thanh had Communist connections. In the aftermath, the Embassy was concerned by the action and suggested it would "leave political atmosphere somewhat tense and embittered." (Telegram 8796 from Saigon, July 18; ibid., POL 27 VIET S)
247. Notes of Meeting/1/
Washington, July 18, 1967.
/1/Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson's Notes of Meetings, 7/18/67. Literally Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room from 6:06 to 7:30 p.m.
[Here follows discussion relating to the Middle East, the Congo, and Latin America.]
On the matter of Viet Nam bombing policy, the President read a letter to the group from a man in Arizona and quoted such in saying that U.S. people do not think the U.S. is sincere in its desire to end the war. The letter said, "People believe that civilian heads have ignored the advice of the military." The President said he read the letter only because he believes it is symptomatic of what we will be facing on the Hill and around the country in coming months.
Secretary McNamara then reviewed targets which CINCPAC have recommended. Secretary McNamara said that there are 129 targets which have not been authorized, some of them in the 25 mile China buffer zone. Secretary McNamara said they are largely unimportant targets, many within the ten mile radius of Hanoi and some within the four mile circle of Haiphong. He said there is a very strong potential for civilian casualties if these targets are struck.
Secretary Rusk asked to look at the specific targets. Secretary McNamara provided him with a list and the Secretary said he would need until noon Wednesday before his judgment could be given. Secretary McNamara said the targets near the center of Hanoi are not worth the loss of a single U.S. plane or pilot. The Secretary said the military commanders in Viet Nam are interested in "free bombing."
The Secretary said twenty three targets would be proposed within the four mile center of Haiphong. The Secretary said if these targets are permitted, ships will be hit. The Secretary said he would recommend at least seventeen targets which are outside of the Hanoi-Haiphong perimeters except one MIG base, because the MIG base is heavily defended and the MIGs are of no threat to us at this point. There was a general discussion of the bombing strategy.
Secretary McNamara said, "Mr. President, your responsibility is to the people of this country. Whatever you feel we must do, let's do it."/2/
/2/On July 20 the execution of RT 57 began.
On the Taylor-Clifford mission, the President read a proposed draft of a message to be sent to the U.S. Ambassadors in the six other nations fighting with the U.S. in Vietnam./3/
/3/See Document 253.
The President made changes in the draft and returned it to Walt Rostow for editing and cabling.
The President then asked if a seven-nation Summit could be held in the Pacific before the Vietnam elections. Walt Rostow said he did not believe there should be one until "we have a government in Vietnam." The President said, "We may need a Summit for them to win their elections." No decision on this matter was reached.
248. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Bundy) to Secretary of State Rusk/1/
Washington, July 18, 1967.
/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Bundy Files: Lot 85 D 240, Top Secret WPB Chron., Jun/Aug. 1967. Secret; Exdis. In a July 18 memorandum to Bundy, Hughes indicated that INR concurred with the views expressed in this memorandum. (Ibid., Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S)
1. I have the general feeling that the North Vietnamese have been put under considerable strain by our bombing pressures since April. This is reflected in the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] sensitive messages./2/ Perhaps stronger evidence is provided by a rather long domestic exhortation of late June, which came to our attention only last week, in which there was a strong suggestion of weaknesses in domestic performance and morale.
/2/As reported in telegram 686 from Paris, July 13, Manac'h informed Embassy officers that Mai Van Bo had approached him on June 3 in order to request the French to take the initiative in starting negotiations. French officials told the Embassy that they had informed Bo that they would decline further involvement because they were not cognizant of the previous exchanges between Johnson and Ho. (Ibid.) In addition, Ha Van Lau, the DRV liaison to the ICC, told Manac'h his government would like to have the French intervene as a mediator in the war and propose a return to the Geneva Agreement of 1954. (Memorandum from Hughes to Rusk, June 16; ibid., POL 27-14 VIET)
2. Hanoi must be disappointed at the lack of outcry, at least compared with their hopes, in US and world critical circles, since April. This, too, is supported by the sensitive [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] messages.
3. Hanoi is almost certainly just concluding some kind of review of the situation. The death of Nguyen Chi Thanh, however it happened, must have been a blow, and a loss to the hard-line faction./3/ Ho himself has been little in evidence for some time, his only reported recent activity being to lay a wreath at Thanh's bier, although not to attend the funeral. It is at least plausible from all this that there is a broad strategic debate between "doves" and "hawks", although it seems most unlikely that Hanoi would move seriously toward peace. What seems much more likely is a tactical maneuver of some sort.
/3/The DRV officially labeled Thanh's death as due to a heart attack on July 6. In an intelligence note to Rusk, July 13, Hughes noted INR's speculation that Thanh, a Politburo member in charge of COSVN, most likely died in the South during a U.S. bombardment in June. (Ibid., POL 15-1 VIET N)
4. The deterioration in China seems steadily more marked, and has been reflected in extremist postures in Burma and Hong Kong. We all believe that Chinese behavior is less predictable than at any time in the past, which is one consideration. A second is that the Chinese situation must be worrying Hanoi. The North Vietnamese quite explicitly criticized Mao, without naming him, a month ago, and the Chinese have been notably silent toward Hanoi, except for an outburst of praise of Nguyen Chi Thanh. It seems overwhelmingly likely that there are significant Hanoi-Peking frictions.
5. The Soviets do not seem to have made any move whatever in the past three weeks. One can only surmise that they are watching Hanoi as closely as we are, and perhaps with a better sense of what is under way. Hanoi's total silence on the Glassboro meeting/4/ adds to the inference that they have been disturbed both by that meeting and by Soviet behavior in the Middle East, and this might mean that any increase in Soviet influence arising from the Chinese situation is balanced by a skepticism of Soviet firmness. The major Soviet factor appears to be avoiding any further attacks on shipping./5/
/4/See Documents 216 and 217.
/5/See Document 188.
6. There is no major pending visit or other event that need affect our diplomatic policy. Miki goes to Moscow this week, but with only a broad general picture of our thoughts and no specific message.
7. We really have no good indication what Hanoi might be cooking up. However, we have the intriguing CAS report of remarks in Stockholm calling for some sort of "signal", apparently even our refraining from bombing the dikes (as I read the report)./6/ The same report says that Hanoi is assuming we will hit the dikes, and the report at least has the backing of an Hanoi claim that we in fact did so on July 13--which we are checking. Apart from the normal sensitivity on the dikes, one might just see in these reports a fairly resigned attitude toward continued pressures in other respects.
/6/According to a July 13 memorandum from Hughes to Rusk, a Swedish Foreign Ministry official reported that at the Stockholm World Peace Council conference on Vietnam, two North Vietnamese representatives told him that a cessation "need not necessarily be declared unconditional," since a simple halt in the bombing would lead to negotiations that would begin "very soon" after such a pause. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET S) These encouraging remarks followed various signs for peace including the recall by the DRV of seven key representatives abroad and a statement by Trinh in an Austrian newspaper interview on July 2 that "there will be no difficulties" should the United States decide to seek a peaceful settlement. (INR Briefing Note, July 6; ibid.)
8. Hanoi's reading of the McNamara mission and last week's announcements would be crucial,/7/ but we really have no indication. One can suppose that they would read the news from here as indicating that we were firm, although not ready to go up rapidly, and that we were putting more weight on the South Vietnamese.
/7/A reference to the President's July 13 news conference in which he, along with Westmoreland and McNamara, announced that, while not specifying any exact number, "some additional troops are going to be needed and are going to be supplied." See Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1967, Book II, pp. 690-696.
9. Hanoi is doubtless encouraged by the attack on the Danang Air Base and the successful raid on Hoi An. It remains an open question whether their northern offensive is producing gains commensurate with the losses and degree of effort involved.
a. Broadly speaking, I think these factors argue against anything drastic at this moment, but are perfectly consistent with selected re-strikes as necessary even in sensitive areas. I continue to believe that the important thing is to create the impression of steady firmness, without a major shift in any direction. Whatever the debate in Hanoi, this seems the best way to affect it.
b. At this point, we should certainly avoid anything that gets us too close to the Chinese border in any respect. Apart from the question of Chinese reaction, this could tend to knit together Hanoi and Peking.
c. In the light of a possible early Hanoi maneuver, our plans should not be too fixed. Even if a public tactical maneuver were readily identified by us as just that, sharp bombing immediately after could set off hostile criticism that would encourage Hanoi.
249. Memorandum From Vice President Humphrey to the Under Secretary of State (Katzenbach)/1/
Washington, July 18, 1967.
/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S. Secret.
As the Vietnamese election date approaches,/2/ it is important that we be prepared to use our leverage in Vietnam to make certain that the much-advertised election in September can plausibly be regarded as a free and honest election.
/2/September 3 was the date of Presidential and Senatorial elections.
If the military directorate is permitted to implement its plans to eliminate both Big Minh and the civilian candidate Au Truong Thanh, it is inevitable that public opinion in the United States--and probably in Vietnam--will have serious doubts about the integrity of the election.
It seems particularly unwise to permit the elimination of Au Truong Thanh, a genuine civilian candidate, not just another general, like Big Minh. No one here or in Vietnam believes that the man whom Ky personally appointed as Finance Minister two years ago is a Communist, since his record indicates the contrary. In his case, unlike that of Big Minh, there seems to be no possibility that he would win. Permitting a peace candidate to run would do much to convince people here that the election was an honest one and that the people of Vietnam were given a choice.
I understand that a final decision will be made on this within a few days. I suggest that we use our leverage--and despite what some may say we do have leverage over the military directorate--to prevent the military from disqualifying Thanh, and thereby discrediting the electoral process, and undermining our claim that a representative government will be elected in September through a free and honest election./3/
/3/In his July 26 reply to Humphrey, Katzenbach noted that the disqualification of Thanh was already an accomplished fact; given the attitudes of Assembly members, attempts to dissuade the Assembly "were unsuccessful." He remonstrated that the disqualification of Thanh and Minh did in fact occur at the hands of an elected body and also that the qualified candidates would "provide the electorate with a considerable choice." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S)
250. Telegram From the Station in Saigon to the Central Intelligence Agency/1/
Saigon, July 19, 1967, 0846Z.
/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Vietnamese (South) Elections 1967. Secret; Most Sensitive. Helms forwarded the telegram to the President on July 19. On his covering memorandum to the President, also July 19, Rostow wrote: "Herewith Amb. Bunker reports how he is proceeding to guide the Ky campaign. No U.S. funds are involved." (Ibid.) The notation "L" on the covering memorandum indicates that the President saw the telegram.
CAS 0208. Please pass following message to the President from Ambassador Bunker as a CAS supplement to Ambassador's weekly Presidential report.
1. In line with guidance received from the Secretary of State on 16 July,/2/ a CAS officer has established an arrangement for continuing clandestine contact with [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]. The case officer [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] has been in contact with Ky in connection with certain CAS operations against the Viet Cong since February this year. The purpose of the new arrangement, however, is to permit us to keep abreast of Ky's election campaign and to offer advice on how it can be conducted as cleanly as possible.
/2/See Document 242.
The contact between [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and the CAS officer is completely clandestine. Ky instructed [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] to be absolutely frank with the CAS officer in discussing the Thieu/Ky campaign organization and its activities, as well as to listen to American suggestions on the conduct of the campaign. It was made clear [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] at the outset that Ky must work out his relationship with Thieu to their mutual satisfaction and campaign energetically within this framework, and further that the American advisory role is based on Thieu and Ky arriving at this understanding.
3. The relationship with [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] has already produced a valuable insight into the way in which Thieu and Ky are attempting to put together a campaign organization. Basically, it appears that Ky's supporters, who are numerous and effective politicians in comparison with the mere handful of Thieu's advisors, will do most of the work in organizing the campaign while placing Thieu designees in various key positions in the campaign organization which are visible to the public eye.
251. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State/1/
Saigon, July 20, 1967, 0200Z.
/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 15-1 VIET S. Secret; Priority. Received at 11:06 p.m. and repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.
1536. Ref: Saigon 1475./2/
/2/In telegram 1475 from Saigon, July 20, Bunker reported Thieu's explanation that the Special Committee of the National Assembly voted against the Thieu-Ky candidacy in order to "show its independence of the military." (Ibid.)
1. I had a talk with Prime Minister Ky late in the afternoon of July 20 and we went over some of the same ground that I had covered in my morning talk with General Thieu (reftel).
2. Ky gave me essentially the same explanation about the vote in the Assembly Special Committee that Thieu had given me (para 3 reftel). Ky then described the early morning meetings with corps commanders on July 18 along the lines described earlier by Bui Diem (Saigon 1381)./3/ Ky acknowledged that some of the Generals had given credence to the rumor that the Americans had been involved in the Special Committee action. He said he had told them this was ridiculous and they had calmed down in the course of the meeting. During that morning, according to Ky, checks with their people in the Assembly reassured them that the vote would be satisfactory. (Comment: This confirms Bui Diem's statement to me at our second meeting that same morning.)
/3/See Document 246.
3. I mentioned to Ky that we had heard that Loan felt the Americans were out to get him. I said that we, of course, had nothing against Loan himself although as I had myself said to Ky we felt that he had been overzealous early in the game and that this had not helped the situation either for the government or Ky. Ky said he had entirely agreed and had therefore pulled Loan back at that time.
4. We then got on to the matter of working arrangement between him and Thieu. Ky felt that this was moving in an encouraging way and said that he was in fact at the moment meeting with the entire Directorate to consider broad policy questions relating to reorganization of the RVNAF, pacification, formation of a Cabinet, and broad policy relating to negotiations for a settlement. He said these discussions were going well and that when they had reached a more definite state he would want to discuss them with me and also talk about the general division of work envisaged. He said that a statement regarding these policy matters would be issued August 3rd, the opening day of the campaign. Presumably it will constitute a Thieu-Ky platform./4/
/4/The telegram has no signature.
252. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson/1/
Washington, July 22, 1967, 4:30 p.m.
/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President, 6/1-8/2/67, Vol. I. Secret. The notation "L" on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
It may be useful if I set down for you some thoughts on the possibility of relative early negotiations to end the war in Viet Nam. I start, of course, on the assumption that this is a long shot; and, even more important, the only way to maximize the chance of an early end of the war is to proceed on the assumption that the war will last a long time.
Having said that, here are my thoughts.
1. The most important element that may be operating is the one on which we have least evidence; namely, the possibility that Hanoi now estimates that the U.S. election of November 1968 will not prove to be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. On the basis of U.S. public opinion polls and the position of various Republican politicians--perhaps underlined for them by the Russians--they may now judge that, if the Republicans win, the military pressure on them will not decrease and might even increase. In that sense, Gen. Eisenhower's reported statement this morning/2/ and other hawkish Republican statements work our way. It is possible also that positions taken by certain dovish Senators who indicated that they are not prepared to accept Hanoi's terms, may also be helpful; for example, Senator Pell's talk in Paris with Mai Van Bo./3/
/2/In a Republican circular, Eisenhower expressed his view that the United States could not win a "war of gradualism." The former President suggested that Congress consider an official declaration of war. See The New York Times, July 22, 1967.
/3/See footnote 2, Document 214.
2. If this hypothesis is correct, they must rationally estimate the consequences of certain trends in the war not over an 18-month period, but over a period up to, perhaps, 5-1/2 years. Here are the trends they must then confront.
--The slow decline of the Viet Cong manpower pool--which has yielded stagnation or reduction in the size and effective strength of Viet Cong main force units and impairment of the Viet Cong infrastructure;
--As a result of the Viet Cong manpower situation, the need to insert into South Viet Nam increased North Vietnamese regular forces to keep the total Communist war effort in the south from collapsing under the weight of U.S. and Allied forces;
--The increase in effectiveness of our bombing operations in North Viet Nam, notably against electric power and the transport system into and out of Hanoi and Haiphong, accompanied by a decline in the effectiveness of their air defenses and a marked reduction in our loss rates in aircraft and pilots;
--A rising requirement for foreign aid to Hanoi to compensate for the losses suffered through bombing--a trend which is increasing the leverage of the USSR and the Eastern European countries in Hanoi;
--Increasing anxiety about the difficulties inside Communist China and some lapping over into the Chinese population of North Viet Nam of the Red Guard movement.
3. I have spent some time reading literally hundreds of particular intelligence reports on the situation in the various provinces of South Viet Nam. They show, in different degrees, strain on Viet Cong morale and manpower; a weakening of military effectiveness; increased concentration on finding food and recruits rather than actual military operations; but no definitive break in the resilient Viet Cong structure./4/
/4/In a July 14 memorandum to Rusk, Hughes recounted tentative CIA analysis that desertions of NVA regulars in South Vietnam might be becoming a problem for Hanoi. CIA reported receiving isolated reports that suggested "a broadening of the base used to recruit men for the South." The accession of less dedicated groups of recruits could mean further increases in the rate of NVA desertion. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, EA/VN Files: Lot 71 D 87, POL 1 July-Sept. 1967 NVN)
4. Similarly, as nearly as I can assess it, the bombing of North Viet Nam is hurting them, but not to the point of necessitating an early decision.
5. As recent public statements indicate (see, for example, attached)/5/ there is clearly a hard-line group in Hanoi prepared to persist; but the group may be growing, who believe that time is no longer their friend.
1. We should make every effort to increase the pressure on them: in the South and in the North.
2. Do not discourage the view that the Republicans may be even tougher: perhaps there are ways of quietly spreading this line in places it might get picked up--Paris, Moscow, etc.
3. Be prepared if they should approach us soon rather than late; but not be surprised if an approach is delayed, because governments tend to operate on urgent situations rather than projected trends--and they may have some time in hand before the situation becomes acute.
253. Editorial Note
From July 22 through August 5, 1967, General Maxwell Taylor and Clark Clifford, members of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, visited allied nations contributing troops to the war effort in Indochina, as well as South Vietnam itself. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs William P. Bundy discussed the nature of the mission in a memorandum of July 15. Although the official purpose of the trip was to consult the other member nations of the Manila Pact, Bundy acknowledged that a more vital yet privately-held aspect was to secure additional force contributions from these governments. Bundy noted the problem of public and international reaction to the U.S. Government's requests for military assistance from third countries. He suggested that the schedule might have to be adjusted in order "to avoid an impression of great urgency." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Bundy Files: Lot 85 D 240, Top Secret WPB Chron., Jun./Aug. 1967) In a memorandum written 2 days earlier to Rusk, McNamara, Rostow, and Katzenbach, Bundy outlined the inherent difficulties in making such an approach. Careful consideration had to be taken, especially since additional contributions would open up the administration to charges of recruiting "mercenaries." Also, some governments, like that of the Philippines and the Republic of Korea, "could pay significant domestic political prices for new contributions." (Memorandum from Bundy to Rusk, McNamara, Rostow, Katzenbach, July 13; ibid.)
Telegram 9005 to Bangkok, Canberra, Manila, Saigon, Seoul, and Wellington, July 18, contained the text of a Presidential message that Taylor and Clifford would take to the leaders of Thailand, Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand, requesting their concurrence in the purpose of the mission. The message reads:
"I have now had the opportunity to review fully Secretary McNamara's findings from his recent visit to Vietnam, and I have sent you a summary of the highlights.
"In the meantime, it seems evident to me that Hanoi has been reviewing its position. While we think it unlikely that they have reached any serious decision in the direction of peace--and may indeed be headed in just the opposite direction--it seems entirely possible that we shall be confronted in the near future with some new tactical move. In any event, there is much to discuss concerning Hanoi's attitude, including the question of the possible effect in Hanoi of the apparent steady deterioration and increasing extremism in Communist China.
"In light of these developments, I have been giving thought to the need for full consultation among all the Seven Nations with forces in Vietnam. The April meeting of our Foreign Ministers was most helpful, but I believe we should plan on the next occasion to cover all the major strategic and diplomatic issues.
"Accordingly, I have asked my most experienced and trusted advisors, Mr. Clark Clifford and General Maxwell Taylor, to travel to Saigon for a review of the situation, and then to make their observations available to my colleagues in the capitals of the other nations with forces in Vietnam. Mr. Clifford and General Taylor have participated fully in our review here of the McNamara findings, and have been intimately associated over a long period with the whole situation. I repose the fullest trust and confidence in them.
"The fundamental purpose of the trip would be, then, interim consultation on all aspects of the Vietnamese problem.
"With the momentum we have achieved, it is more than ever vital to convince Hanoi that we mean to keep up the pressure. We must meet and defeat whatever Hanoi may do in the South, while continuing to deal effectively with thrusts across the border by North Vietnamese forces and with the infiltration routes and sources of supply in North Vietnam.
"The Vietnamese themselves fully recognize that they must do more, and General Westmoreland feels substantial additional need for external help. Accordingly, Messrs. Clifford and Taylor will be in a position to review these questions with you on a totally private basis as fully as possible, and to indicate the actions that we ourselves have in mind." (Ibid., Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S)
Additional documentation on the trip is ibid., POL 7 US. Both Clifford and Taylor discussed their trip in a news conference at the White House on August 5. The text of their remarks is in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pages 948-950.
254. Memorandum by the Chief of the Far East Division, Central Intelligence Agency (Colby)/1/
Washington, July 25, 1967.
/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President, 6/1-8/2/67, Vol. I. Secret; Sensitive. The memorandum was the result of an inspection trip taken by Colby to the Saigon Station. On July 27 Helms forwarded the memorandum to the President, emphasizing that it reflected the fact that "this Agency is going flat out in its effort to contribute to the success of the total US program in Vietnam and is utilizing the full range of professional resources, skill and imagination available to us." (Ibid.) In his covering memorandum to the President of the same date, Rostow described it as "a heartening report" with a first paragraph that "gives the feel." (Ibid.) The notation "L" on the covering note indicates that the President saw the memorandum.
I. The Operating Climate
1. The impressions I obtained of the CIA Station's activities in Vietnam on this trip are significantly different from the impressions obtained on previous visits. During earlier periods, in looking at the Station one saw a harassed but imaginative band of officers wrestling with a variety of challenges and launching new programs in an effort to throw up some obstacles to slow the Viet Cong momentum and protect us from the fragility of the Saigon Government (the GVN). On this occasion, I saw a Station with a clear and important role in the overall American effort, working as a full and highly regarded member of a Country Team and possessing the initiative in the contest with the Viet Cong. The Station is still over-committed, but is efficiently structured to make a significant contribution for a force of its size.
II. Organization and Personnel
2. Some of the Station's programs in the past were remarkable innovations, unique in the quality of their execution. Yet since they were small, even though well polished, they were precious indications of future promise more than major contributions to a current war effort. That day is now over for several reasons, including the greater numbers of our Agency personnel now on the scene, the vast improvement of the Station's organization into regional groups under effective chiefs, and the fact that our officers are approaching programs as participants in a joint effort and as co-workers with their colleagues in other agencies, rather than as parochialists.
3. Today we have [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] American personnel on duty in Vietnam as members of the Vietnam Station. By contrast, there are around 460,000 US military in Vietnam, of which about 10,000 are intelligence personnel. AID's strength in Vietnam is about 2,000, the Embassy has about 230 people, and USIA about 120. Although in light of our total worldwide responsibilities it will be difficult to increase our career personnel input, our activities in Vietnam must and will be supplemented by the utilization of additional military and contract personnel in order to provide the manpower necessary to execute programs of the scope and variety of those in which the Station is engaged.
III. Principal Program Areas
4. The Attack on the Communist Apparatus: As the immediate military threat is pushed farther from the populated areas, it becomes ever more important to eliminate the Viet Cong apparatus (also known as the political control mechanism or infrastructure) in order to free the people of South Vietnam from the Communists' covert authority. The importance of this task has been underlined by Ambassador Komer and is well recognized by the Station. The Station is hard at work collating our knowledge of the Viet Cong political structure at all levels in order to facilitate the identification and capture of key Communist cadre. The 7,000-odd low-level reports that we pass to our military colleagues each month now not only include order of battle type information on the strength and location of Communist military units but are including a steadily growing amount of intelligence on important Communist officials, i.e., their identities, functions and physical locations. This is a healthy sign. In this endeavor the Station is exploiting a variety of information sources including its [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] interrogation centers at both provincial and national levels, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] (informants resident in contested hamlets), and a mass of detailed information received from around 5,000 Vietnamese who carry out the "Census Grievance" program. At the same time, some of our best officers are utilizing the most professional techniques in pursuing [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] covert operations aimed at key members of the enemy's highest level command structure in order to open channels of communication to individuals in this key target group so that we can tempt them to defect, persuade them to act as we would have them act or, at a minimum, sow doubts among them.
5. Revolutionary Development: The reorganization of the American Revolutionary Development effort has been a major step toward improving the control of US efforts in the "Other War," and will help to ensure that the programs of all US agencies will aim at concentrated objectives. The 24,000-odd Revolutionary Development cadre currently in training [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] constitute the foundation stone of this RD program. While these cadre are by no means perfect, their training, motivation and techniques have stimulated a series of efforts to emulate them and thereby extend their effectiveness or profit from the experience gained in developing the concepts which guide their activities. It is heartening indeed to see some of the results of this activity, to visit, for example, a Delta hamlet of 160 families with an elected council and a self-defense force of 78 young men, located in an area where only six months ago an RD team began its work with 12 families who lived there more or less under Viet Cong authority. It is even more heartening to see how many similar communities have been stimulated and supported and how these communities are succeeding in throwing off enemy domination. The Station has conclusively proved the importance of the cadre program to this "Other War." It has also shown that this program can be carried forward from local to area victories as has happened, for example, around Quang Ngai city. Two years ago Quang Ngai city was an urban island in a Viet Cong sea. Now, in its environs, the Viet Cong are being pushed southward and ever farther away.
6. Political Intelligence and Action: In the political field, Ambassador Bunker relies heavily on the judgment, initiative and professional techniques of our Station and its officers. The Station is operating under his specific and detailed command and providing him the flexibility he needs in the delicate process of constitutional and electoral development. On the Ambassador's behalf we are developing discreet relationships and covert assets than can be manipulated to sponsor the emergence of what appear to the outside world as genuinely Vietnamese political initiatives, constitutional provisions and electoral platforms. This same network of relationships and assets will also help provide coverage of GVN political plans and intentions and early warning of political moves which would be counter to US interests.
7. Other Programs: While the manifold programs outlined above are massive by our Agency's standards, they do not comprise the whole of our Station's efforts. In addition to these programs, the Station is also carrying on other activities: it has developed and controls several sources reporting from [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]; it has sponsored a team [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] showing a commitment to the Vietnam war by working with Vietnamese youth in the countryside. Through other Station programs, North Vietnam is being subjected to a variety of psychological pressures, including pressures from clandestine radios spreading defeatism and arousing fear of Mao's Red Guards.
IV. Major Problems
8. The Police-Type Function of Civil Control: I do not mean to suggest that all problems have been solved; many still remain. We still have not properly organized the essential police function, i.e., we have not established a police apparatus capable of eliminating the Viet Cong's covert control of the hamlets and keeping the Viet Cong away once they have been forced out. A major effort in this field is being built around Ambassador Komer's "Infrastructure Intelligence Coordination and Exploitation" (ICEX) organization which is largely based on a [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] proposal prepared at Ambassador Komer's request. ICEX is in its earliest stages and I do not think we have yet recognized the full scope of the staffing requirements that this Agency and the military will have to meet if the ICEX approach is going to work. Much needs to be done to improve the effectiveness and interaction of various Vietnamese components capable of taking direct action against identified infrastructure elements including the Police Field Forces, the Provincial Reconnaissance Units [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], the regular police and the Regional and Popular Forces. Much work must also be done on extending the impact of Revolutionary Development teams in order to permit the coverage of a decisive percentage of the total population. Various tentative efforts are being made along these lines such as the "Quarter Zone" activity in Binh Thuan province, the civil-military teams in Binh Dinh province, the hamlet self-defense elements and others; but both a conceptual and practical job still needs to be done in this vital area.
9. Revolutionary Development Follow-Up: It is also clear that some mechanism must be developed to ensure a proper follow-up of the special attention which has been provided by an RD team once the team leaves the hamlet in which it has been working, otherwise there is a pronounced tendency to fall back to earlier Vietnamese governmental failings which often contributed to produce the problem in that hamlet in the first place. This is primarily a job for Ambassador Komer, but the Station will certainly work closely with him in attempting to solve it.
10. Needed Organizations and Political Institutions: It is also plain that additional forms of popular organization, especially in the non-governmental field (e.g., trade unions and, eventually, political parties), must be developed in order to strengthen the fabric of Vietnamese society and render the Vietnamese capable of protecting themselves against Viet Cong probes, political as well as military. This is only one aspect of the fundamental problem of assisting Vietnam in its process of transition from government by mandarinal or military authoritarianism to government based on an engagement of the people in a common endeavor. Again, this is an overall American problem but one to which the Station can contribute substantially through the political expertise of its own officers and through some of our [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] assets which, under Station direction, can extend their own [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] influence to help the Vietnamese in this difficult process of political evolution.
11. The Top Level Communist Target: Despite progress achieved, we still have far to go in upgrading our sources and in improving our production on the top policy levels of the Viet Cong, so that we can gain intelligence capable of providing the basis for strategic setbacks to the Communists in addition to providing accounts of the Communists' past activities.
12. In sum, though it appears to me that the war is by no means over and there are certainly fragile elements in the overall picture, it is very clear that my Soviet or Chinese counterpart's report must exhibit great concern over the Viet Cong's mounting problems and the steady improvement in the ability of both the South Vietnamese and the Americans to fight a people's war. My counterpart can quite properly ascribe a substantial share of responsibility for both Communist problems and anti-Communist improvement to the activities of our Vietnam Station.
255. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson/1/
Washington, July 26, 1967, 8:45 a.m.
/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Manila Nations Conference, Clifford-Taylor Trip, Aug. 1967. Secret; Nodis. A notation "L" on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
Herewith the report on Clifford-Taylor talks with Thieu-Ky./2/
/2/Not printed. It is a retyped copy of telegram 1871 from Saigon, July 25, which reported on the meeting that day of Clifford, Taylor, Bunker, Westmoreland, and other officers of the Embassy with Thieu, Ky, and their principal advisers.
--Reaffirmation of prompt 65,000 Vietnamese military manpower increase.
--Thang's request that we stop publicly criticizing pacification (problem is really inadequate ARVN security performance, not Thang's effort with special cadres, etc.).
--Ky's suggestion of pre-summit foreign ministers' meeting in Saigon and that Australia be considered for summit site.
--Ky's recommendation that summit be held in late October or November.
--Bui Diem's suggestion that Vietnamese assume some responsibility for asking for additional troops--and not leave job wholly up to U.S.
In addition, there is reference to a critical point for the future. Do, the Foreign Minister, notes that without a strong Vietnamese party structure, the NLF cannot be invited to shift from organized war to organized politics: they would be a "Trojan horse." When peace comes, the Communists certainly will take an organized role in politics, legally or otherwise; and, at the right time, the offer to do so may be helpful to a settlement.
Therefore, the build up of a large national non-Communist party in South Vietnam remains essential for political stability.
256. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State/1/
Saigon, July 26, 1967, 1210Z.
/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Received at 11 a.m. and passed to the White House at 7:30 p.m. In a covering note transmitting a retyped version of the telegram to the President, July 27, Rostow wrote: "This is the most solid piece of analysis in a single place of progress in Viet Nam. I believe it should be: --edited and repeated to our diplomatic posts; --used with the Congressional leadership." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 8 B (1)[A] Bunker's Weekly Report to the President) The notation "L" on the covering memorandum indicates that the President saw the telegram. This telegram is printed in full in Pike, The Bunker Papers, pp. 92-101.
1954. For the President from Bunker. Herewith my thirteenth weekly telegram:
1. Two developments of importance relating to the elections took place during the past week as the result at least in part of persistent persuasion and patient prodding on our part. The first was the lifting of press censorship which has encountered a very favorable reaction here. The second was the invitation sent by the Foreign Minister to U Thant urging that he send United Nations observers to Viet-Nam during the elections. In his letter the Foreign Minister expressed the view that the presence of such observers would clearly testify to the determination of the GVN to hold free and honest elections and that their presence would afford the United Nations organization an excellent opportunity to obtain a first-hand picture of what the situation in Viet-Nam really is. He has informed me that invitations are being sent to local diplomatic missions and to all countries in which the GVN has representation. These are both measures which I have been urging Thieu and Ky to take for some time and I think the fact that they have done so has given a feeling of considerable confidence to the civilian candidates and to the public generally.
2. Other actions which have contributed to the feeling of confidence are the promise of equal access for all candidates to communications media and transportation and the calling off of General Loan in his over-zealous activities on behalf of Ky's candidacy before the Thieu-Ky ticket was put together. Moreover within the past week both Thieu and Ky have said to me that they are fully conscious of the fact that with a combined military ticket they must take added precautions to see that the elections are clean.
3. At the meeting which Clark Clifford and Max Taylor had yesterday with Thieu, Ky and their colleagues,/2/ Clark stressed the fact that nothing could be more damaging to our common cause abroad than the impression that the elections were not honest. Thieu for his part said that they must be entirely honest and fair in order to show the Vietnamese people that the GVN really wants a democratically elected government which can defeat the enemy and promote a better life for its citizens. These are all constructive developments. But obviously the process will need watching and no doubt guidance as we get into the active campaign. I will of course continue to keep a sharp eye on this question and we will maintain the necessary pressure on the government.
/2/For a summary, see Document 255.
4. The press of course will be watching the whole electoral process with a critical eye as they do almost everything here. It is a strange thing that in a country which is engaging in its first real experiment in democracy and under wartime conditions they seem to be expecting standards which have not yet been achieved in countries far more mature politically, even in the United States. Nevertheless it is typical of the cynical and skeptical attitude of a large part of the press here. This is a situation similar to that we faced in dealing with the Dominican problem where many of the press came with preconceived ideas and were not to be persuaded by the facts of life. The difference is that here it is on a bigger scale.
5. This came out at the brief press conference which Clark Clifford and General Taylor held on their arrival./3/ A reporter for NBC here made the statement that pacification is not going well, that there had been no spectacular military victories, that ARVN does not show any signs of becoming an effective fighting force and later on in the course of the conference made even more damaging statements about ARVN, intimating that our field commanders do not trust the courage and loyalty of ARVN soldiers. Since I and my colleagues here are convinced that we have been and are making steady progress, I had assembled some factual data for Clark and Max Taylor detailing developments which have taken place in the military, political, economic and manpower areas, and the current status of the Viet-Cong. They felt that this information would be useful to them in their visits to the remaining six countries. Although I have covered some of these matters in my reports of recent weeks, it might not be amiss to summarize our views on the situation here as we see it.
/3/See The New York Times, July 26, 1967.
Military Progress and Strategy in General
6. Our war against the main forces and guerrilla forces of the enemy has been going well. As evidence of this we have, during the past year:
A) Defeated enemy forces in battle wherever found and disrupted his plans for major offensive across the DMZ and in the highlands, denying him the psychological victory he seeks.
B) Contained the enemy along the Cambodia-Pleiku-Kontum border.
C) Reduced significantly enemy infiltration by sea, so as to force his reliance on infiltration through Laos and across the DMZ.
D) Increased security in the coastal areas of I and II Corps, dealing a major blow to guerrilla forces. This has disrupted the enemy's source of manpower and supplies in the area, forcing him increasingly to rely on Cambodia for supplies and North Viet-Nam for men.
E) Destroyed Viet Cong base areas north, west and east of Saigon, thereby pushing the enemy deeper into the jungles.
F) Significantly increased percentage of "secure" and "open" roads and waterways, including the opening of all major roads and waterways to daylight traffic in the vicinity of Saigon, the opening of Highway 1 along the central coast from Phan Rang to the DMZ except for a short stretch along the I Corps-II Corps boundary, and the keeping open of Highway 19 from the coast to the Highlands and Highways 21 and 14 in the Highlands, as required to support operations.
G) Improved the ratio of enemy killed to friendly killed and enemy weapons captured to friendly weapons captured.
A) We have improved our intelligence and have developed a flexible logistical base. Port facilities are greatly improved.
B) New highly sophisticated weapons (bombs, mines, detection devices) have been developed, and some used with great success.
C) ARVN units dedicated to the main force war, while not consistent in their performance, have vastly improved as indicated by many battle victories, which were scarce a year and a half ago. Particularly have ARVN units fought well in joint operations with U.S. units, aided by U.S. artillery and air support.
7. However, the enemy still has capability of replacing troops and supplies, is giving troops better and more sophisticated weapons, has been able to mount destructive mortar and rocket attacks on our air fields and bases, and is determined to continue war, gambling on a changed political situation in the U.S. or South Viet-Nam.
8. We believe our future strategy should be
A) To continue, improve, and intensify our present tactics of
(1) containing enemy main unit forces in the South Viet-Nam border area, (2) searching and destroying enemy forces within South Viet-Nam, (3) guarding our bases and devising better methods of combatting rocket and mortar attacks against them, (4) destroying enemy base areas, (5) interdicting infiltration of men and supplies into South Viet-Nam by the present kind of operations on land and sea and in North Viet-Nam, and (6) improving security in the countryside which is partly a function of all our other military activities.
B) To adopt whatever new tactics are necessary to stop or slow to a trickle infiltration by the enemy of men and material through Laos into South Viet-Nam.
Progress in the Political Field
9. Since early April of this year, most of the people in Viet-Nam in areas secure enough to hold elections have gone to the polls twice, once to elect village councilmen and the second time to elect hamlet chiefs. Local elections of this kind are important to the Vietnamese people because they restore to them the autonomy they once had, and provide an important base for the future involvement of the people in local government. They represent one of the present government's most significant reforms.
10. Eleven Presidential tickets and 48 10-man senatorial lists will be voted on in the September 3 elections. There are three major Presidential slates: (1) Chief of State Thieu and Prime Minister Ky; (2) former Prime Minister Tran Van Huong and respected southern Buddhist leader, Mai Tho Truyen; and (3) National Assembly Chairman Phan Khac Suu and Dr Phan Quang Dan. Senatorial contenders represent a broad cross section of Vietnamese non-Communist society and include many of Viet-Nam's most prominent political figures. This is a healthy sign of interest in the constitutional process and the importance attached to the forthcoming elections. As noted above the prospects for fair and honest elections have been much improved as have the prospects for post election cooperation between military and civilian elements. If, as we hope and believe probable, a broadly based military-civilian government can emerge from the elections, it will be a long step forward in creating public confidence in and support for the government. This in turn should provide increased stability and a broader base for carrying forward the activities of government in all areas. Progress toward the development of a democratic constitutional process has been a major achievement and one which will have great psychological impact both in Viet-Nam and abroad.
[Here follows discussion of the favorable economic outlook; problems in the countryside; manpower issues; pacification; the July 25 conversation among Bunker, Clifford, Taylor, Ky, and Thieu; the upcoming Vietnamese political campaign; and figures for Chieu Hoi and killed-in-action.]
257. Memorandum From the Special Assistant for Vietnamese Affairs, Central Intelligence Agency (Carver) to Secretary of Defense McNamara/1/
Washington, July 26, 1967.
/1/Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 72 A 2468, Vietnam 380 Pacification (Jul-) 1967. Secret. A stamped notation, dated August 19, indicates that McNamara saw the memorandum.
1. The mainspring of the Communist insurgency in South Vietnam is the Communist organization, built around an elaborate, interlocked hierarchical structure of controlling committees ranging from COSVN (the Central Committee of the "People's Revolutionary Party," the name the Communist Party uses in South Vietnam), through six regional committees, (Communist) province committees and their subordinate district committees to the Communist village committees. Collectively, this committee structure and the personnel who staff its various components are referred to as the Communist organization, apparatus or "infrastructure." The term "infrastructure" is often misleading, however, since it is sometimes employed in a technical sense to denote members of this committee structure, which stops at the village level, and sometimes in a non-technical generic sense to denote all VC activists, adherents or sympathizers many of whom, of course, reside in hamlets or elsewhere throughout the countryside.
2. As I indicated in our conversation on the return trip from Vietnam, the formal attack on the Communist organization--as a structured bureaucratic entity--is perforce targeted at village level and above, and this is why the briefing we were given on CORDS/ICEX had this focus. The general attack on the Communist target, however, obviously has to go below the village to the hamlet and population-mass level.
3. To support this general attack, the CIA Station in Vietnam has developed five programs, two of which are specifically aimed at the hamlet and population-mass level target. These programs are:
a. The Hamlet Informant Program
4. The Hamlet Informant Program: Within a rural community, there is very little that goes on that does not become a matter of common knowledge to members of that community. In Vietnam, this means that hamlet residents and villagers recruited as secret informants are able to report on the identities of Viet Cong cadre and sympathizers (village and district committee members, propagandists, tax collectors, etc.), and on members of local guerrilla forces. In 1964, in conjunction with Police Special Branch elements at province and district headquarters, the CIA Station undertook a program for systematically recruiting such informants in hamlets programmed for "pacification." Informant reports provide identification and biographic information on individual VC and frequently include sketches of their location within a hamlet. Informants are also able to produce low-level, low-grade tactical information (for example, early warning information). Reports are disseminated at sector level and district level. Over four thousand informants have been recruited (throughout South Vietnam) under this program and their activities produce around four thousand reports each month.
5. The Census Grievance Program: The Census Grievance Program, also begun in 1964, is a specialized program, the main overt purposes of which are to assist Province Chiefs in determining the political sympathies of the province population and to establish a mechanism for the articulation of aspirations and redress of grievances. A covert purpose and an important product of the program is to develop information from hamlet residents and villagers on the local VC organization and activities. The product is very similar to that obtained from the above described Hamlet Informant Program.
6. The Census Grievance Program is implemented through the use of one or two man units established in accessible hamlets. A person-by-person census is conducted in each such hamlet and the local Census Grievance unit uses the data collected in continuous regular interviews of each hamlet family. These units are directly responsible to the Province Chief and they provide him with an instrument through which popular grievances and aspirations can be ascertained. The Census Grievance cadre, in the course of these interviews, produce a large volume of infrastructure and tactical information on the Viet Cong which is disseminated immediately to local users. As of 1 June 1967, approximately 4,000 Census Grievance units with about 5,250 cadre, were providing information on VC personnel, installations, caches, etc. These units (one to a hamlet) produce about 1,800 reports per month. Their activity, despite the similarity in nomenclature is separate from that of the Census Grievance components of RD teams, which also produce intelligence of this nature.
7. Province Interrogation Centers (PICs): Inadequate exploitation of captured, arrested and defected Viet Cong led our Vietnam Station (in the summer of 1965) into undertaking the construction and operation of interrogation facilities in the provinces. This program, developed in conjunction with the Vietnamese Police Special Branch, now has 33 PICs in operation (seven more will be completed at an early date). The purpose of each PIC is to provide in-depth interrogation reports from VC prisoners and ralliers on biographic information of VC known to them in their villages and hamlets, to include a sketch of the location of the individual's domicile. (In theory, local forces will then act upon this information by raids and capture of identified members of the Communist organization.) In addition to personality information, prisoners are immediately interrogated for any information that is of immediate tactical interest to local US or GVN military or paramilitary forces. They are later debriefed in depth on their knowledge of the VC political apparatus, its plans and its policies. The individual interrogation reports are distributed to Vietnamese US/Free World Forces at district, province and higher echelons, as appropriate.
8. Outside of its interrogation function, each of the PICs also has a collation section into which interrogation reports are deposited along with intelligence reports from other Vietnamese intelligence organs. Biographic cards are filed alphabetically by hamlet, village, district and province as are reports broken down by specific topics such as "VC Taxation," "VC Security Apparatus," etc. The biographic material is readily retrievable for the preparation of "black lists" of identified VC to support military and pacification operations. The cards are cross-indexed to individual biographic interrogation reports giving additional details.
9. Agent Penetration Operations: In conjunction with both the Police Special Branch (PSB) and the Field Operations element of the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), our Station runs joint agent penetrations of the Viet Cong apparatus. These operations, directed against the People's Revolutionary Party and the National Liberation Front, involve agents located, for the most part, in village and district Viet Cong committees. These operations produce a substantial amount of information useful tactically by military elements, and also produce a large volume of intelligence on Communist cadre, information on political and economic activities, etc. An average of 1,000-1,200 reports are produced and disseminated monthly as a result of these operations.
10. Province Reconnaissance Units (PRU): PRU teams, whose primary functions are to gather intelligence on and conduct special operations against the VC organization, are currently operating in 28 provinces under the direct cognizance of the Province Chiefs. The PRUs operate mainly in contested areas and in VC-controlled areas (usually at night) against identified Communist officials. In areas where heavy military action is underway, the teams are frequently used for military reconnaissance purposes. In the six months ending 30 April 1967, the PRUs conducted 1,658 operations, from which 2,340 reports were produced. A total of 814 VC captured in these operations provided substantial information on the VC organization, from hamlet to province level.
11. Inter-Agency and Combined Intelligence Activities: In addition to the above programs, we are engaged in a series of other activities against the Communist organization which are undertaken on a combined and/or joint basis with MACV and the GVN:
a. District Operations Intelligence Coordination Centers (DOICC): During the latter part of 1966, our Station undertook the creation of district coordination centers, and established several prototypes in I Corps. These centers, established with the cooperation and support of the US Marine units in the area, include participation of all Vietnamese intelligence collection agencies operating locally. The purpose of the centers is to break down the mutual jealousies and poor coordination practices of the Vietnamese agencies, to function as information clearing houses and collation centers, and to eliminate delays in dissemination of information. This concept has proven successful and is now being applied in many districts throughout Vietnam.
b. Combined MR IV Task Force: This organization was established in December 1966 to provide an intelligence collation and coordination center for the VC Military Region IV (Saigon, Cholon, Gia Dinh, and immediate environs). It is staffed by Vietnamese, MACV, and CIA personnel and data collected is incorporated in the MACV machine records repository for prompt retrieval. We understand that this concept is being expanded into II Corps.
c. Screening Operations: In conjunction with the Vietnamese Police Special Branch, our Station organizes support for combat units in screening detainees and refugees, mainly in the various cordon and search type operations. Mobile screening centers have been created to facilitate this support. Police Special Branch develops suspect lists from information from all of the foregoing programs, and provides interrogation and check-point support for military units. These techniques have succeeded in identifying numerous Viet Cong detained in the course of operations, and have the effect of denying the VC the ability to hide among the population.
d. Infrastructure Intelligence Coordination and Exploitation Structure (ICEX): This new staff structure is designed to bring all the foregoing programs, as well as a number of MACV programs, under the operational control of Deputy to COMUSMACV for CORDS (Ambassador Komer) and into an integrated and sharply-focused attack on the VC organization. ICEX coordinators (CIA Regional Officers) have been appointed to the staffs of Senior Corps Advisors, and to the staffs of Sector Advisors (CIA or MACV officers), in order to achieve unified line of command and a sharp stimulation of anti-infrastructure operations.
12. Conclusion: In short, though much remains to be done, there are programs already in operation directed against the hamlet and population-mass level Communist target in addition to existing or newly developed programs directed against the formal organizational structure whose lowest command unit is the village committee.
/2/George Allen signed for George Carver above Carver's typed signature.
258. Memorandum From the Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs of the Embassy in Vietnam (Calhoun) to the Deputy for Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Komer)/1/
Saigon, July 27, 1967.
/1/Source: Center for Military History, DepCORDS/MACV Files, GVN Corruption 1967. Secret; Noforn.
/2/In this attached July 6 memorandum to the Chairman of the Embassy's Corruption Committee, Thomas Dunlap, Komer suggested blacklisting GVN officials believed to be engaged in corruption and then instructing U.S. advisers to avoid them. By this mechanism, the identified individuals would "lose face."
1. I have read with interest your suggestions to the Inter-Agency Committee on Corruption for the collection of information on GVN officials who are believed, but not proven, to be corrupt, on the basis of which American advisors would refuse all but minimum contact and cooperation. The Committee's reply has been discussed with me and I have also noted General Lansdale's thoughtful comments on this matter./3/
/3/Lansdale's July 21 memorandum to Komer, Calhoun, and Dunlap noted the opportunity presented to address the corruption issue by a provision in the new Constitution for an "Inspectorate." He argued that this organization should be encouraged and strengthened by the Mission. (Ibid.)
2. I agree that the level of corruption in Viet-Nam has reached a point where, as you point out, it has become a key obstacle to pacification. We must find a way to reduce it, and we must act more vigorously than we have done. General Lansdale has addressed himself to some of the steps we might consider in the coming weeks to encourage and assist responsible elements within the GVN to seize the opportunities offered by the new governmental framework to act against corrupt elements. This point was touched upon briefly in the Committee's reply. I think we ought also to look more carefully at what we Americans can do to reduce the incentives and opportunities for corruption. Among these measures might be the relocation and careful control of bars and brothels frequented by Americans, and the reduction of piaster expenditures by civilian as well as military personnel. The restoration of "sign-off" or veto authority over the distribution of USAID commodities to American Provincial Advisors would seem desirable, although I understand from USAID that we may have to seek Congressional action to make "sign-off" meaningful. I believe we must keep our concern over corruption continuously before GVN officials at the highest level.
3. The discreet collection of credible although unproven reports about corrupt GVN officials as suggested by you and agreed upon by the Committee may prove useful and I am quite agreeable to its compilation by the Committee.
4. I think it is evident, however, that the uses to which this information might be put, as well as the means which would be necessary to verify much of it, raise fundamental questions concerning the relationship of our Government with the GVN. As the Committee points out, in order to effect rapid reduction in corruption the United States would have to acquire, and be willing to exercise, at least the power to veto appointments of Province Chiefs and ARVN officers of divisional commander rank and responsibility. The assumption of such sweeping prerogatives entails an invasion of the sovereignty of the Republic of Viet-Nam so great that it could and would be argued thereafter that United States is indeed the neo-colonialist power its critics and enemies allege it to be.
5. Our policy in Viet-Nam has been and is based on different, indeed quite contrary, premises. We have believed that self-determination is good for the Vietnamese people and that the exercise of control by outsiders is bad; we have believed that lasting changes for the better in Vietnamese society must be brought about by the Vietnamese themselves, with our aid, encouragement, and prodding, but not at our discretion. I believe that the more representative government which is emerging in Viet-Nam must be the vehicle for eliminating the social evils which beset the people. I do not think we can or should do this job for them.
6. It may be argued that there are many Vietnamese who, despairing of the present situation, would welcome our taking over. Although I recognize that there are some Vietnamese who feel that way, and that among them are able and dedicated patriots, I do not believe that most Vietnamese do. The majority would detest us for such a take-over and our enemies would benefit by exploiting this feeling.
7. I might add that it is my opinion that even if we should wish to assume such sweeping powers, I doubt our ability to exercise them effectively. Our personnel are not trained nor our people motivated to carry out the police and administrative functions the assumption of such sovereign power would entail.
8. I believe the Committee has accurately defined the degree of control which the US would have to exercise to effect a rapid and dramatic reduction in the level of corruption in Viet-Nam. I do not think it would be wise for us to seek such control./4/
/4/In a memorandum of July 27 to Komer, the Committee responded at length to the concerns raised in his July 6 memorandum. For any measures against corruption to be effective in the short term, the Committee concluded that "a major change in the relationship between the United States Government and the Government of Viet Nam would be necessary." The necessary "leverage" in order to ensure progress would involve U.S. Mission veto power over the appointment of province chiefs and division commanders. The "blacklist" concept was adopted, although any such findings would be termed instead "incident reports." (Ibid.)
259. Memorandum of Meeting/1/
Washington, July 28, 1967, 3 p.m.
/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S. Top Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Cooper. The meeting was held in Harriman's office.
Mr. Habib provided a run-down of the South Vietnamese elections. Habib stressed that our Mission in Saigon was well aware of the importance of a fair election, and he cited some favorable omens (such as the new Press law) which should offset the impression that the elections would be fixed. Habib felt that General Ky's reference to a possible coup was another case of Ky's poor public relations. There was a brief discussion of whether Security Chief Loan should be removed from Vietnam during the course of the election campaign; on balance, it was felt that we should not press for this.
Mr. Read and Mr. Habib described the present state of play with respect to negotiations. There was little new or solid. Many of the North Vietnamese Ambassadors who had gone to Hanoi had not yet returned to their posts. Current active channels were the contacts between the Swiss Ambassador and the North Vietnamese Ambassador in Warsaw (we will know more about this during the week);/2/ the possible reestablishment of the contact between the Japanese and North Vietnamese Ambassadors in Moscow;/3/ and the unfinished conversation between the Norwegian and North Vietnamese Ambassadors in Peking./4/ Nothing further has been heard from the two unofficial French representatives who went to Hanoi. (Cooper will pursue this with Kissinger.)/5/
/2/DRV Ambassador to Poland Do Phat Quang tried to find out from his Swiss counterpart what the U.S. Government was "actually thinking" about contacts with his government. (Telegram 9112 from Warsaw, July 19; ibid., POL 27 VIET S)
/3/From July 1966 through January 1967, the Japanese Ambassador in Moscow met with the DRV Ambassador to discuss a formulation to end the war in Vietnam. The contacts terminated when the DRV Ambassador left Moscow. (Telegrams 111909 and 118870 to Tokyo, January 3 and 14; both ibid., POL 27-14 VIET) With the arrival of a new DRV Ambassador in May, the U.S. Embassy attempted to re-open contacts. (Telegram 197426 to Tokyo, May 18; ibid.) In a conversation on July 10, Bundy briefed the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, Shimoda, on acceptable terms for ending the hostilities in preparation for Prime Minister Miki's visit to Moscow (as did Kohler on July 18). (Memoranda of conversation, July 10 and 18; both ibid., POL 27 VIET S) Additional documentation on this contact is ibid., POL JAPAN-VIET N.
/4/See Document 201.
/5/See Document 263.
There was some discussion with respect to the significance of the withdrawal of some North Vietnamese units into North Vietnam from the area around the DMZ. It was agreed they would prepare a suggestion to the Secretary that the Russians be queried in a low key as to the significance of the withdrawal. (I have since been informed that the Secretary had already put the question to Dobrynin in conversations during last week. As yet there has been no reply.)
Cooper gave a brief run-down on the meeting of IDA consultants at Falmouth on the barrier. He outlined a brief scenario as to how the barrier might be used in connection with negotiations.
Governor Harriman stressed the need to prepare to move forward on the negotiations front following the GVN elections. He also stressed the need to keep all contacts with the Soviets alive and active./6/
/6/Harriman made this suggestion to Rusk in a July 28 memorandum. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Special Files, Public Service, Confidential File, July 1967 General)
260. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State/1/
Saigon, July 29, 1967, 0816Z.
/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 15-1 VIET S. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.
2016. 1. In a talk which Calhoun and I had with Bui Diem July 28, I asked him about the way things were going between Thieu and Ky. Bui Diem said that he thought their personal relationship was improving and that they were working together quite well on the campaign and related matters. When I pressed him, he said he foresaw some future problems, particularly after a new government is formed, in the role of the military leaders. He said a collegiate form of control was emerging among the top military leadership and that the latter would seek to continue this control if Thieu and Ky were elected. He did not know what form this might take, but was worried about its relationship to broader civilian-military cooperation and to the Constitution.
2. In this connection Bui Diem said that they were still attempting to spell out more clearly the understanding between Thieu and Ky regarding the division of responsibilities./2/
/2/In telegram 2105 from Saigon, July 29, Bunker reported more on this conversation. He confronted Bui Diem about Ky's offhand remark about resorting to a coup in the event of unfair elections, and sternly repeated his previous warning that "we could not contemplate any such action as a coup." (Ibid.)
261. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson/1/
Washington, July 31, 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. Secret. The notation "L" on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
On bombing and retaliation.
The Communists are using mortars as their equivalent to our bombing in the North. Like them, we have hit airfields, barracks, and military installations. These mortar attacks are particularly attractive to them at a time when Viet Cong capabilities have somewhat diminished to make conventional guerrilla attacks.
The question is, therefore, what additional targets might we add which hurt them and made military sense, in retaliation for their increased use of mortars.
I surveyed the possibilities over the week-end.
Here, in order of priority, are some possibilities.
--Phuc Yen and Gia Lam airfields. These are MIG bases and Gia Lam is an international airport, similar to the one attacked near Saigon.
--Red River bridge. A mile long. With special care should be attackable without significant civilian casualties. Fits the transport offensive now being mounted.
--The three Hanoi radio stations. The military case is not strong; although they are the source of vicious propaganda throughout Southeast Asia, including Northeast Thailand. They are all out in the country and would involve virtually no civilian casualties. (I, personally, have always thought pretty well of these targets because radio Hanoi is a symbol of the regime's power and regional pretensions. Some of the Intelligence people say they would miss the broadcasts as a source of information.)
--Ministry of National Defense. They have struck quite close to the MACV compound. We're not sure they meant to attack. But an attack on the Ministry of National Defense would bring the war home to some of the military bureaucrats.
Hanoi TPP is ripe for re-attack when other conditions are ripe; but having been attacked before would not be a sign of our upping the ante in retaliation for mortar attacks on us.
Finally, you should know the Air Force is presenting a plan to Bus Wheeler for cutting the transport lines more systematically around Haiphong and seeking to slow down supply movements more effectively. A quite serious and interesting proposal. No attacks on ships involved./2/
/2/According to a July 31 memorandum from Ginsburgh to Rostow, Wheeler generally concurred with the Secretary of the Air Force's plan, SM-519-67, July 26, which called for the increased concentration of bombing on LOCs (Alternative C in Brown's recommendations) and a lifting of restrictions on target areas. (Ibid., Misc. Memos, Vol. 2B)
262. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson/1/
Washington, August 1, 1967, 10:15 a.m.
/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President, 6/1-8/2/67, Vol. I. No classification marking. The President wrote on the memorandum: "To McNamara for action with 3 Sen[ators] involved." Another handwritten note indicates that McNamara received the report by telephone.
Fritz Hollings/2/ called me. Having spent a vacation in South Carolina next door to him two years ago, we are friends.
/2/Senator Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC).
He reported as follows.
He is very worried about the mood on Viet Nam among the men whose support you really need in the Senate for Viet Nam--in particular, Senators Russell, Stennis and Byrd. He says the mood is affected by stories of the Marines getting ambushed in the DMZ, damage to the carrier, and a general feeling that we are on a treadmill in Viet Nam. Dick Russell's view is that we should "declare war or get out." Stennis', that we are vastly overcommitted and that we are fighting at the level "the enemy dictates."
He says this mood of frustration lies behind the support for Fulbright's resolution./3/
/3/On July 31 Fulbright submitted a resolution requiring Senate assent to "national commitments" to foreign nations.
I said that there were two facts as seen from the Executive Branch:
--In the wake of McNamara's trip we have never had the Saigon and Washington teams so completely agreed that in military terms we were making good progress; we could see a process under way that really gave light at the end of the tunnel; and, in fact, our greatest anxiety and caution was the Vietnamese election.
--In substance, what was happening was that the manpower pool under the control of the Viet Cong in the South was being run down slowly but surely, and the North Vietnamese could not or would not put in enough forces across the DMZ or otherwise to divert effectively U.S. forces from maintaining effective pressure on the Viet Cong, along with the South Vietnamese, the Koreans, etc. The North Vietnamese have had to withdraw from I Corps the units which had been fighting there for rest and refit after their engagements with Marines.
I concluded that in fact we were on a winning track if we had the capacity to sweat it out.
He said it was extremely important that we conveyed all the evidence for this view to these key Senators./4/
/4/According to notes by Rostow, at the weekly foreign policy luncheon of August 1, Nitze was given the task of gathering the necessary "evidence" to persuade Hollings' Senate colleagues on an informal basis. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Walt Rostow, Meetings with the President, July through December 1967)
263. Editorial Note
On August 1, 1967, Henry A. Kissinger, a Harvard University professor of government and part-time consultant to the Johnson administration, submitted a memorandum reporting the opening of a new channel of contact with the North Vietnamese regime that would become known as Pennsylvania. At the Pugwash conference of international scholars, held in Paris in June, Herbert Marcovich, a French biologist and long-time acquaintance of Kissinger, proposed an unofficial visit to Hanoi in order to further the cause of peace. Marcovich proposed to travel with Raymond Aubrac, a director in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and a man well-known to Ho Chi Minh and Pham Van Dong. Based upon discussions with Ambassador at Large W. Averell Harriman and his aide, Chester Cooper, Kissinger briefed Marcovich in late June and early July on the negotiating position of the U.S. Government, particularly emphasizing the need for a "quid pro quo" from Hanoi in response to an end to the bombing. Although stressing his own private citizen status, Kissinger promised to report any result of the effort to Washington.
Marcovich and Aubrac traveled to North Vietnam July 21-26, and they met once with Ho Chi Minh and twice with Pham Van Dong. At a July 24 meeting with Pham Van Dong, they informed him of their informal arrangement with Kissinger as a conduit to the U.S. Government and presented a two-stage proposal for opening peace talks that involved a halt to bombing in conjunction with North Vietnam's assurance that "the rate of supplies should not increase under this step." Dong responded: "We want an unconditional end to the bombing and if that happens, there will be no further obstacle to negotiations." The cessation did not have to be officially declared as long as it simply occurred; a "de facto" stoppage was acceptable. Marcovich and Aubrac came away believing that negotiations would follow the termination of bombing "within a matter of days." The next day, Dong again emphasized that although he preferred a public statement from the United States declaring that bombing would end unconditionally, none was necessary. Dong even conceded that some U.S. troops would have to remain in South Vietnam until a political settlement evolved, and he reiterated his government's desire to not impose socialism on the South, where a broad coalition government could include members of the present regime. There would be no delay in negotiations once the bombing ended.
When they returned to Paris on July 28, Marcovich and Aubrac briefed Kissinger fully on their meetings. Kissinger advised them to inform Mai Van Bo and Vo Van Sung, top North Vietnamese diplomats in Paris, of their talk with him. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/ PENNSYLVANIA)
An August 2 synopsis of the beginnings of the contact by Chester Cooper and part of Kissinger's report are reprinted in Herring, The Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War, pages 717-725. Additional documentation on Pennsylvania is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S-AH Files: Lot 71 D 461, Kissinger Project; ibid., Bundy Files: Lot 85 D 240, Kissinger 1967; and Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Pennsylvania.
264. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State/1/
Saigon, August 2, 1967, 1330Z.
/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Received at 3:45 p.m. Rostow sent a copy of the telegram to the President on August 3. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 8 B (1), Bunker's Weekly Report to the President [1 of 2]) The notation "L" on the covering memorandum indicates that the President saw the telegram. This telegram is printed in full in Pike, The Bunker Papers, pp. 102-110.
2289. For the President from Bunker. Herewith my fourteenth weekly telegram:
1. At the end of last week I had talks with both Thieu and Ky on a variety of subjects but especially concerning various aspects of the forthcoming elections./2/
/2/Bunker's discussion with Thieu is reported in telegram 2082 from Saigon, July 30, and his discussion with Ky in telegram 2029 from Saigon, July 30. (Both in National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S)
2. Ky said that he felt preparations were going ahead well and was pleased that unanimous agreement had been reached among all the candidates regarding use of radio and television facilities, transportation, and joint meetings throughout the country in which all candidates would participate. He remarked that a few protests, with some threats to boycott the elections, had been made by some of the Cao Dai and militant Buddhists whose tickets had been rejected. He did not, however, envisage a situation which could not be satisfactorily handled, and observed that members of the Cao Dai as well as Buddhists were scattered through all the tickets. He expressed some concern about the ability of voters to choose among the great number of Senate candidates and confirmed his intention to tie in about six Senate lists to the Thieu-Ky slate so that the voters could identify them as allied with their ticket. He expressed the hope that other candidates might follow a similar course.
3. I raised with both Thieu and Ky a suggestion that they encourage a number of qualified Viet Cong ralliers to present themselves as candidates for the lower house elections noting the advantages that this might offer in promoting the GVN's national solidarity program. Both agreed that this was a useful idea and could provide further incentive to both the Chieu Hoi and Doan Ket programs. Thieu observed that there might be a problem in finding qualified men since most of the ralliers were relatively uneducated, but said that he would nevertheless pursue the matter. He rather shared Ky's doubts that disgruntled Cao Dai or the extreme Buddhists would be able to create trouble which could not be readily handled. He thought instead they would work "underground" advising people to vote against the military ticket and probably favoring Phan Khac Suu as being a benevolent figure more favorable to their interests, with the added prestige of age and white hair. Thieu gave an interesting description of the importance of age not only in terms of political support, but also in pacification, and indeed the whole realm of bringing the country, especially the villages, into the modern age of science and technology. He stressed the importance of taking into account the prestige and influence of elders on the attitudes of the villagers. The Communists in the beginning had failed to recognize this and as a result had had numerous failures. Thieu said the most effective way for the government to instill new ideas, for example with respect to pacification, was first to convince the elders who in turn would then be able to influence the younger elements to adopt them and put them into effect.
4. In response to my question about the platform and campaign plans for the Thieu-Ky ticket, he said they proposed to handle the campaign in a rather low key fashion. Their ticket had certain inherent advantages especially in meeting popular desires for stability, continuity, and security which the military element can best provide. At the same time, the armed forces would be considered among the strongest proponents of peace since they were the heaviest sufferers from war. He added that obviously a large measure of military support would accrue to the ticket also and they would not wish to appear to be exerting pressure on either the armed forces or provincial and district chiefs. He planned to state this clearly and publicly again.
5. In discussing the Senate lists, Thieu commented on the complexity of the problem for the average voter and confirmed Ky's statement about affiliating six slates with their own ticket. He stressed the importance of the executive and legislative branches working together in wartime. I noted that there had been a number of protests about upper house lists which had been disqualified and observed that the U.S. press had been quite critical. Thieu said he recognized this and that he was reviewing these protests personally. He said that so far his conclusion was that the disqualifications were justified on the grounds given.
6. A matter which has been of considerable interest to us has been the status of the Statut Particulier drafted by a Congress of Montagnard representatives under the chairmanship of General Vinh Loc in order to meet some of the aspirations and concerns of the FULRO, most of whom are now in Cambodia, and other Montagnard tribes. Ky announced at the end of June that the Statut would be promulgated and the intention of the government to set up a Ministry for Montagnard Affairs, but no action has been taken. I brought up the matter with both Thieu and Ky. Thieu said he was presently examining the Statut, that he thought it was in order and conformed to the Constitution and proposed to promulgate it in August at a ceremony in Pleiku or Banmethuot. This should be helpful in stimulating the return of the approximately 2,000 to 3,000 FULRO now in Cambodia and giving the Montagnards generally a greater feeling of identity with the social structure of the country./3/
/3/Following a period of protracted crisis, on May 2 the GVN concluded negotiations with the Montagnards on the implementation of an October 8, 1966, tentative agreement on granting increased political autonomy and greater civil rights to the tribesmen. Thieu signed the decree proclaiming the Statut Particulier on August 29. Documentation on U.S. efforts to involve exiled FULRO leader Y Bham Enuol in the resolution of the matter is ibid., POL 30 VIET S.
[Here follows discussion of general and military matters.]
30. The formal campaign opens tomorrow. In the countryside as well as here in Saigon, there are many banners and signs urging the people to register and vote. One slogan reads: "Only with independence are there elections, only with elections is there independence."
31. Thieu and Ky have kept in the public eye with a series of well publicized ceremonies and inspection visits to the provinces. Tran Van Huong has also managed to be quite visible, mostly by means of frequent press interviews. Phan Khac Suu has relied mostly on his role as Assembly chairman for pre-campaign public exposure, but he recently made a bid for more attention by calling on General Thieu to reduce the death sentence which a military court handed down on the youthful student slayer of a high school professor.
32. One interesting but not unexpected development is that Duong Van Minh (Big Minh) is throwing his support to Tran Van Huong. Huong and his people apparently arranged for Big Minh to be interviewed in Bangkok by an ABC correspondent, then got the story translated and circulated it to the local papers. The local press carried the story this morning, many with a picture of Mrs Minh calling on Huong before departing Saigon for Bangkok. Huong told an Embassy officer that he does not expect that Minh will be allowed to return before the election. Asked if he intends to use Minh in his government if he wins the election, Huong said that he fully understands the need for military-civilian cooperation but did not say whether Minh would be in his government.
33. The joint formal campaign schedule, as planned by the Central Election Campaign Committee (composed of representatives of all the candidates), includes a television appearance by all eleven Presidential slates tomorrow evening. Each slate will have five minutes. Four of the slates will also have ten minutes each on the radio tomorrow night, with the remaining seven getting radio time on the evenings of August 4 and 5. The Presidential slates will also have radio time on ten other evenings in the course of the campaign, each slate to have a total of 25 minutes. Each slate will have a total of three television appearances, for a total of 25 minutes each.
34. Personal appearances in the provinces begin August 6 with a visit to Quang Tri. The candidates will be able to visit 20 provinces, plus four joint appearances in the Saigon-Gia Dinh area. We understand that the major candidates, including General Thieu, will go on at least some of the joint trips to the provinces.
35. The upper house campaign arrangements are somewhat confused. The sheer number of the candidates--480 on 48 slates--makes joint public appearances in the provinces a logistic impossibility, or at least this is the view of the Central Election Campaign Committee. The committee has in fact ruled out any public meetings with voters, though press conferences are permitted. The eliminated Senate slates, particularly those of the militant An Quang Buddhists and the CVT labor union, are continuing to express their dissatisfaction. Thanks to the lifting of censorship, their indignation is getting full coverage in the local newspapers.
36. Although at least one of Tran Van Huong's chief campaign managers continues to say that his workers in the provinces are being harassed by the police, the evidence now available to us suggests that the campaign will most likely be cleanly and fairly conducted. The absolute equality of radio and TV time for all slates in fact goes further than we do in the United States in giving all candidates an even break. It seems likely, however, that a large number of the province chiefs will let it be known that they favor the Thieu-Ky slate. This will be enough in many rural areas to insure a heavy vote for the government slate.
37. Many Vietnamese observers believe that the combined Thieu-Ky ticket is weaker than the old Ky-Loc ticket, in large part because of the disappointment of the Ky supporters. Important groups such as the Hoa Hao and the Catholic Greater Solidarity Force were all but fully committed to Ky; now they have not yet formally made up their minds to back the Thieu-Ky ticket. In part their hesitation stems from the suspicion that Thieu and Ky will not stick together. It also reflects anti-military feeling, which is increased by the Thieu-Ky merger.
38. Perhaps an equally important reason for the hesitation of many groups is their hope of striking a better political deal with the government slate. As I mentioned, the Thieu-Ky ticket intends to back six Senate slates. Most of the major political groups have one or more Senate slates, and they may be angling for government support of their Senate candidates in return for their support to the Thieu-Ky ticket. Despite the hesitation and divisions of some major groups over the question of whether to back Thieu-Ky, we continue to expect that Thieu-Ky will win by a respectable margin.
39. Communist reaction to the coming elections is now somewhat clearer. The Viet Cong's governing body, the NLF Central Committee Presidium, has called for a boycott of the election. We do not believe that they have either the political or military strength to seriously disrupt the elections. They have the military forces to hit selected targets very hard, but when the target is millions of voters and thousands of polling stations, they do not have the resources to be effective.
40. We have some reports, including press stories, that indicate the military intend to exercise their influence in the new regime through a modified Armed Forces Council. This would be a group of the senior Generals, probably corresponding roughly to the present military membership of the Directorate. There is of course every reason to believe that the military do intend to continue to influence the government, and it is not surprising that they should want to form such a committee for the purpose. The Constitution in fact makes provision for an Armed Forces Council, the organization and regulation of which is to be prescribed by law.
41. The danger, of course, is that the military will seek to perpetuate government by a military junta and will not permit meaningful civilian participation in the new government. Ky recently added to the fears of those who suspect that the Generals merely intend to put a thin civilian facade on their present government by military committee. He was reported by the press, apparently accurately, as threatening a coup if the future government proved to be "unworthy," corrupt or pro-Communist. I have already let Bui Diem and Ky know my strong views on any such possibility and I intend to reiterate them to Ky later today.
42. I have impression that both Thieu and Ky are well aware of the need to set and maintain legal institutions and procedures, and I hope that Ky's remark was merely another unfortunate example of his penchant for off-the-cuff shockers which he really does not mean. I must say, however, that it appears certain that the military leaders were thinking very seriously of at least dissolving and probably arresting the Assembly on the morning of July 18. The absolute need for civilian support and participation in the government is thus a lesson which they seem to have learned only in part. Some of the corps commanders in particular have evidently not yet absorbed it.
43. It will require constant attention and some pressure from us to oblige the military to continue to expand the area of civilian participation and control in the government, and to give meaning and influence to the new constitutional bodies which make up the necessary checks and balances in the new government. This will have to be a gradual process, and it cannot be realistically expected that it will be accomplished at one stroke by the September elections. Fortunately most of the leading civilian politicians seem to understand this point, though they are not always willing to admit it.
[Here follows discussion of economic and military matters.]
265. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam/1/
Washington, August 2, 1967, 1753Z.
/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President, 8/3-27/67, Vol. II. Secret; Nodis; No Distribution Outside Department. Drafted and approved by Rusk and cleared by Read. On a covering note, Rostow wrote to the President: "This highly private message from Sec. Rusk to Amb. Bunker will interest you." A notation on the covering note indicates that the President saw the telegram.
14979. Literally eyes only for the Ambassador from the Secretary. This is a highly personal message from me to you on the eve of the opening of the electoral campaign period in Viet Nam. Its purpose is to substitute for a stream of subsequent messages about clean elections which might otherwise flow out of Washington because of much nervousness here and the great sensitivity of this point. I will do my best to keep everyone from trying to show Ellsworth Bunker how to suck eggs. I just want you to know that I have complete confidence in your determination to do everything possible to ensure fair and clean elections and will not be heckling you on a day-to-day basis.
What may be helpful to you will be a special and frequent press roundup from here on this subject so that you will know reactions here and will in the process have some arguments in hand which you can use when needed with the South Vietnamese. I will arrange for Bundy to provide you such a series.
It was not surprising to me but very heartwarming to hear from McNamara, Katzenbach and others how quickly you have gotten on top of things and what general admiration and respect your American colleagues and the South Vietnamese have for the job you are doing.
266. Memorandum From William J. Jorden of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant (Rostow)/1/
Washington, August 3, 1967.
/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President 8/3-27/67, Vol. II. Secret; Eyes Only. In his covering note transmitting the memorandum to the President the next day, Rostow noted: "Bill Jorden maintains a useful, special tie to Bui Diem." A notation on the covering note indicates that the President saw the memorandum. (Ibid.)
The Ambassador just returned from Saigon--with a bad summer cold, but otherwise in good spirits.
He was under instructions from both Thieu and Ky to convey good wishes to President Johnson and to assure him that the two of them are working together, determined to maintain the military unity they had promised.
Diem spoke quite movingly about their feelings toward our President. He quoted Ky as follows: "President Johnson is carrying many heavy burdens. He has so many problems to deal with. And yet, because of circumstances, he must worry about Viet-Nam every day even though we are at the other end of the world. We must try not to add any more to his worries. He is our friend."
Thieu and Ky are determined to stick together. Diem admits, however, that there is little love between them--and even less between some of their followers. But past bitterness has been smoothed over and the new ticket is working out.
Diem thinks there is little doubt that Thieu-Ky will win the election. But he has cautioned both men--and their supporters--not to fall prey to over-optimism. They have several important strikes against them--both are military men, neither is a Southerner, both are relatively young. Diem would not hazard a guess on what percentage of the votes the ticket would get; he thinks that with the campaign just getting underway, any estimates now would be meaningless. It is clear he believes the military ticket will get less support than Ky alone would have garnered.
Diem thinks there is fairly strong Southern and civilian support for Huong and Suu. Surprisingly, he said he thought Huong had lost some ground in the last week or so and that Suu has gained strength, especially in Saigon.
There is an agreement between Thieu and Ky that the latter will have a decisive voice in future government policies and actions. The reported new military committee has Ky as its chairman and Thieu as a regular member. Diem thinks Ky will run the committee, not vice-versa.
Ky's plan for post-election action calls for a thorough reshuffling of the Government. The main emphasis will be on five ministries--Defense, Pacification, Chieu Hoi and Information, Foreign Affairs, and Economy and Finance. General Vien is slated to become Defense Minister. Ky plans a thorough-going overhaul of the armed forces and General Thang will be responsible for carrying it out. Diem expects changes from top to bottom--probably most corps commanders and many division commanders will be replaced.
There will be problems of "face" in giving Thang this job because he is a relatively junior general. On the other hand, he is widely respected as honest and incorruptible. His base operations probably will be as Deputy Chief of Staff. A more senior general will be chief of staff.
Thang will also have responsibility for the security elements of pacification--ARVN as well as PF and RF. A civilian will be in charge of the action programs of RD--health, education, agriculture, etc.
Diem is likely to be called back to Saigon to work in the new government--either to revamp Viet-Nam's foreign ministry or to take charge of the confused information program.
Thieu and Ky followers have been busy preparing a political platform for the campaign. Diem said Thieu's preference was for statements of broad principles. He (Diem) had advised Ky to get in some specifics--particularly on land reform, education, and the like.
Ky hopes to be able to begin developing a national political party after the election. It will be based on the present coalition of forces that is supporting Thieu-Ky as well as those supporters who are successful in the Senate and House elections. Ky says that the main problem for this enterprise is going to be money and an appealing national program.
A friend of mine, Dan Duc Khoi, has just been moved into Ky's inner office by Bui Diem to help Ky with press relations. If anyone can give Ky good advice in this area, it is Khoi.
General Loan is still bitter with Ky because of the latter's withdrawal from the Presidential race. The same is true of Thang and General Tri. But Diem had long talks with all of them and the latter two, at least, seem mollified.
There is surprisingly wide interest in the coming elections. Diem says that the people in Saigon seem to talk about little else these days.
Diem asked what we were concerned about these days as regards Vietnamese politics. I told him:
--keeping the military on the tracks;
267. Memorandum of Meeting/1/
Washington, August 3, 1967, 4 p.m.
/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Cooper. The meeting was held in Harriman's office.
The principal subject of discussion was the Kissinger report of his conversations with Marcovich and Aubrac upon their return from Hanoi./2/ There was general agreement that the conversations, as reported by Kissinger, were of considerable potential significance. Assuming that the two Frenchmen were reporting accurately (Kissinger is confident that they were), there were at least four statements made by Dong that are of particular interest, and worth further study and follow-up:
/2/See Document 263.
1. The North Vietnamese will be ready to meet secretly with the U.S.
2. An apparent softening of the DRV position with respect to the NLF.
3. A recognition that U.S. forces would have to remain in South Vietnam until after a political settlement.
4. A willingness to accept a "de facto" cessation of bombing.
On the other hand, it was generally agreed that much of Dong's views would not be acceptable to us and that further hard bargaining would be necessary before we could reach agreement with Hanoi.
It was decided that Kissinger should contact Marcovich and Aubrac, indicate that he had been down to Washington, had found considerable interest in their report, had assurances that their trip and their findings would be held very closely, and that arrangements would be made to pick up certain materials that they had brought back from Hanoi.
It was also agreed that Kissinger, accompanied by Cooper, would go to Paris on or about the 16th of August to meet with Marcovich, and possibly Aubrac, to discuss certain aspects of their report and possibly to pose some questions for further clarification./3/ (It is assumed that Marcovich would contact Mai Van Bo after such a meeting.) It was also agreed that members of the Negotiations Committee would study Kissinger's report closely and be prepared to discuss it in further detail at the next meeting of the Committee.
/3/Cooper made this suggestion in an August 3 memorandum to Harriman. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Subject Files, Vietnam--General, July-Dec. 1967) In an August 3 memorandum to Cooper, Fred Greene noted that while Dong had not deviated from an insistence upon linking a halt with talks, the conversations with the two Frenchmen "do offer potentially useful lines for further consideration and possible exploration." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA)
[Cooper met with Kissinger on Friday/4/ and agreed with him on the following: Kissinger would call Marcovich this weekend and convey the agreed-upon information; he will indicate that he and a member of Governor Harriman's staff will be prepared to go to Paris some time in mid-August to meet with Marcovich, at which time Marcovich could turn over the film and other materials he brought back from Hanoi. Some time later next week, when Kissinger and Cooper can firm up their travel plans, Kissinger will make another call to Marcovich, arranging an appointment. It is agreed that we would aim for a meeting on the 17th of August, returning to Washington the next day.]
/4/July 30. Brackets in the source text.
The Negotiations Committee also discussed the forthcoming elections in Vietnam, and agreed that Ambassador Bunker should be provided with an outline of certain aspects of the election campaign that have special significance for public reaction here. This would be supplementary to the daily press summary. A memorandum on election guideposts, prepared by Mr. Cooper, will be used by Mr. Habib as a basis for drawing up a message to the Ambassador./5/
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