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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Office of the Historian > Foreign Relations of the United States > Johnson Administration > Volume V
Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Volume V, Vietnam 1967
Released by the Office of the Historian
Documents 306-334

Pennsylvania and Overtures to the Enemy, September-October

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

Washington, September 6, 1967, 1756Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 15 VIET S. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Bundy and revised in White House, cleared by Thompson and Walt Rostow, and approved by Rusk.

32591. For Ambassador from Secretary.

1. My separate cable/2/ gives you one idea that we believe you should discuss urgently with Thieu at the first opportunity.

/2/Not further identified.

2. In general, highest authority hopes that new government will be as forthcoming in effort to bring NLF into constitutional political process as it can be without excessive US pressure and without threatening unity of government itself.

3. If you think it wise, we believe you should explore with Thieu and Ky as soon as possible the question of either covert approaches or some possible offer to the Viet Cong relating to their entering into political life in SVN under the constitution. If Communism is interpreted as a technique for seeking power and governing by dictatorial one-party rule, acceptance of the Vietnamese constitution and organized political activity within it by Communists could be regarded as compatible with Article 4./3/

/3/Article 4 of the 1967 Constitution contained a statement of opposition to Communism in any form and prohibited any activity designed to publicize or carry out Communism. For text of the Constitution, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 897-909.

4. We are aware of possibilities that discreet channels may be about to open up for covert approach and these channels--if Thieu and Ky now know about them--would be one possibility. A public offer might have its own merits and could be undertaken separately from covert and private approaches.

5. Since any such approach or offer raises question of the right of the VC to form their own political party, we recognize that this is a bridge GVN has not yet been willing to cross, and it in particular may be more than is wise to put to them at the present time. However, we would like your judgment on question of putting this matter to them and including this feature. If you see no problem, you are authorized to go ahead as far as you like along these lines at your first contact.

6. As a variant or supplement to the above, one idea that has occurred to us here would be that of suggesting a local amnesty for the Viet Cong in selected areas, for example the IV Corps area. We recognize that this would involve more careful planning and an assessment of military factors, but would like your preliminary views./4/

/4/In his reply, telegram 5646 from Saigon, September 11, Bunker cautioned against raising the issue of Viet Cong political participation during the current period of political maneuvering between the civilians and the military. "For us to inject such a prickly and politically explosive question prematurely into the midst of this delicate negotiating process would, in my opinion, be unwise and possibly counterproductive," he argued. Bunker also noted that the GVN would never consider organized Communist activity as permissible under Article 4. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 15 VIET S)

Rusk

 

307. Instructions for Henry A. Kissinger/1/

Washington, September 7, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Pennsylvania (cont.). Top Secret; Nodis; Pennsylvania. A handwritten notation by Read, dated September 8, reads: "OK'd by Sec. Rusk & Sec. McNamara. Read and memorized by Kissinger."

Dr. Kissinger will fly to Paris from Boston late on September 8, arriving Paris Saturday morning, September 9.

Kissinger will first meet with Marcovich. He will caution M strongly against any disclosures of the contact by M or A, and note increasing US impatience at failure to receive any reply from Hanoi. He will contrast US restraint to date with numerous attacks sustained by US in the South. Arguments about US actions on August 21, 22, 23 will be countered, as previously, by noting the comprehensive nature of the US bombing cessation proposal.

Kissinger will advise M that if Bo wants to see him, HK is prepared to meet with Bo. Kissinger will indicate that a private meeting between him and Bo is preferable, but if M and/or A's presence appears unavoidable, this should not prevent HK's meeting with Bo. We would welcome obtaining HK's impressions of a conversation with Bo.

If a Kissinger/Bo meeting occurs, Kissinger will attempt to learn as much as he can from Bo about DRV reactions concerning the contacts to date. HK will note the total absence to date of any response, substantive or procedural, from Hanoi in this or any other channel.

If pressed about future US bombing in and around Hanoi, Kissinger will simply note that there has been no bombing in this area since August 24 and avoid giving any direct or indirect indication about future actions. HK will advise Bo where he can be reached at any time and note he will have to leave Paris "fairly soon" without implying any assurance or ultimatum in connection with a specific departure date./2/

/2/Rusk received a telephone call from McNamara the previous day, notes of which read: "M[cNamara] said he understand that Kissinger had called in this afternoon about the fact there was no answer. Seventy-two hours was involved and did not seem like an ultimatum. M suggests K be told this doesn't represent an ultimatum. M said any reasonable period was acceptable to us. Sec said there was the question of what happened on the 21st and 22nd. M said we wanted to clear the record as much as we could." (Notes of telephone call between McNamara and Rusk, September 6, 5:45 p.m.; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telcons, 1961-1969 and Presidential)

Mr. Kissinger will report promptly all developments through Embassy Paris cable facilities./3/

/3/In telegram 34110 to Paris, September 8, Read requested that Kissinger be allowed to file messages "at any time of day or night" and that only the Ambassador and DCM know of his activity. (Ibid., Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA)

 

308. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Helms to President Johnson/1/

Washington, September 7, 1967.

/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (Helms) Files, Job 80-B01285A, DCI (Helms) Chrono Aug-Dec 1967, 01 Aug-31 Dec 1967. Top Secret; Eyes Only. In a covering note to Rostow, Helms wrote: "1. This is the evaluation of the Kissinger project which the President requested yesterday. Would you please forward it to him. 2. If there is any other type of analysis which you would like applied to this project, please let us know. Meanwhile, I was given to understand that the approach 'would be turned down' by the other side. Has this in fact happened?"

SUBJECT
The Kissinger Project

The Exchanges with Hanoi

1. The approach to Hanoi through Kissinger's contacts in France was made in two phases. The proposal was first broached informally during a visit to Hanoi on 24 and 25 July by two French intermediaries, who carried a general message of US interest in negotiations./2/ The approach was intended to assure the North Vietnamese leaders of our willingness to stop bombing the North in return for some assurance that Communist forces in the South would not be reinforced. The North Vietnamese premier expressed interest and told the intermediaries that an unconditional end to the bombing would lead promptly to negotiations. He said Hanoi would prefer a public statement but would "settle for" a de facto cessation. The premier did not commit himself on the issue of resupply of Communist forces in the South.

/2/See Document 263.

2. In August a more precisely worded message was formulated in consultation with Washington and was presented by the same intermediaries to Hanoi's diplomatic representative in Paris./3/ This second message, which was cabled by the North Vietnamese to Hanoi on 25 August, expressed US willingness to halt the bombing "with the understanding" that this would lead quickly to productive talks, either in secret or publicly announced. It also stated our "assumption" that Hanoi would not take advantage of the cessation of airstrikes. The message further suggested that if Hanoi wanted to preserve the secrecy of negotiations, it might prefer that bombing operations be reduced rather than ended abruptly. To lend authenticity to the message, it was accompanied by an assurance that the immediate Hanoi area would not be bombed for a period of ten days--24 August to 4 September.

/3/See Document 293.

3. When the bombing restriction expired on 4 September, no response had been received from Hanoi, either to the US message or to the request of the French intermediaries to return to North Vietnam for further discussion. Hanoi's Paris representative asked the intermediaries to contact him again on 6 September for further word. The bombing restriction meanwhile was extended through 7 September.

Analysis of Hanoi's Reaction

4. Hanoi may not have taken seriously the first approach through this channel in view of its "unofficial" character. The authenticity of the second message, however, can hardly have been mistaken. There are several possible reasons for the North Vietnamese delay in making a clear-cut response to the US proposal. Hanoi may well have concluded that the message signified no real movement in our position toward its requirement of an unconditional halt to the bombing. The reference to our "assumption" that Hanoi would not capitalize on the cessation to reinforce Communists in the South may have been misconstrued as a condition or as a demand for reciprocal action. Moreover, the suggestion that a limited de-escalation of the bombing would preserve secrecy more effectively than a sudden cessation could have been interpreted by Hanoi as a US "trick" to side-step the North Vietnamese demand for unconditional action.

5. Another reason for Hanoi's silence so far may relate to timing. The second message came shortly after an intensified bombing effort against Hanoi, was delivered during an unofficially declared lull in such strikes, and carried the implication of renewed attacks at the end of ten days. North Vietnamese leaders may have viewed this sequence as a not too subtle attempt by the US to apply the carrot-and-stick technique. In addition, much has been going on during this period, including the North Vietnamese national anniversary celebrations and the elections in South Vietnam. These distractions, added to the difficulties of making a collective decision on so controversial an issue as negotiations, could have made ten days look like a short time to the Hanoi leaders. It is worth noting that in the Tet bombing pause last February, Hanoi complained vigorously about the limited amount of time it was given to answer President Johnson's message. In any case, the setting of a deadline for acceptance would be likely to have a counterproductive psychological impact on an antagonist who is confident of his ability to outlast his adversary.

Conclusion

6. Hanoi's failure to date to respond to the US initiative could well be related to a combination of factors of timing and interpretation, reinforced by its deep-seated distrust of US motives in the area. The tone of the premier's remarks to the intermediaries in July suggests a greater interest in getting talks started than we have noted in the past. This may represent merely a tactical shift, however, for we see nothing in his private statements or in his recent public pronouncements indicating a significant change in Hanoi's position. North Vietnamese leaders continue to insist on an unconditional stop to the bombing and a settlement based on their "four points." They show no sign yet of any readiness to compromise these objectives.

 

309. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wheeler) to the Chiefs of Staff of the Army (Johnson) and Air Force (McConnell), the Chief of Naval Operations (Moorer), and the Commandant of the Marine Corps (Greene)/1/

CM-2630-67

Washington, September 9, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Col. R.N. Ginsburgh's Reports. Secret; Eyes Only. In a September 23 covering note to the President, Rostow wrote: "Bob Ginsburgh made this sensitive in-house document available to me on a personal basis. It reflects a real anxiety among our best military; although they may be over-impressed with the Fulbrights and Galbraiths of this world." The notation "L" on the covering note indicates that the President saw the memorandum. The memorandum can also be found at the U.S. Army Military History Institute, Harold K. Johnson Papers, Close-hold #3, 372-391.

SUBJ
Attached Memorandum

1. I have read with great interest and very substantial agreement the attached memorandum written by General DePuy regarding the aftermath of the war in Vietnam. Just the other day I related to you an anecdote concerning General Jacquot, a distinguished and very senior French general who at one time was CINCENT, as to the effects of the French Wars in Indochina and Algeria upon the morale and stability of the French Armed Forces. At that time, I expressed the apprehension that the American Armed Forces could lose the support of the American people in pursuing the war in Vietnam.

2. General DePuy's memorandum carries my thought a bit further, because I was thinking in terms of the present while he is thinking in terms of the aftermath of the Vietnamese war. Nevertheless, I think his points are well taken and should be earnestly considered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Earle G. Wheeler

 

Attachment

Memorandum From the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (DePuy) to the Director, Joint Staff (Goodpaster)

Washington, September 8, 1967.

SUBJECT
The End of the War in Vietnam and Its Aftermath

1. Without debating the desirability of the matter I am convinced that the war in Vietnam will be brought to a close at US initiative sometime within the next 18 months. I am further convinced that a major effort in this direction will be mounted no later than the traditional Christmas cease-fire in December of this year.

2. The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the military services, and the country as a whole, should be greatly concerned about the after-taste. If US disengagement has the flavor of a military defeat, or even military frustration, it will take years to repair the damage to morale, the traditions, and even the concept for employment of military forces in the national defense.

3. We have lived through one such experience in the case of Korea. Without reopening the details of the debate which took place at the end of the Korean war, it can be said that public attention was not focused on the successful defense of South Korea but instead was focused on the restrictions and inhibitions on the use of military force. The after-taste which persists to this day was that the military operations had been frustrated and were therefore not successful. However, for reasons political and psychological, the war was terminated by the highest authorities in the land.

4. It is not difficult to visualize a similar denouement in Vietnam. The fact is, that the North Vietnamese have been clearly and unmistakably prevented from taking over South Vietnam by military force. We now are faced with the choice of describing this as a military success or a military failure. This is not an easy choice to make and it may even be impossible to make such a choice, but there are some powerful reasons why the matter should be addressed and carefully thought out by the Joint Chiefs of Staff themselves and by the services individually and collectively:

a. Many brave lives have been spent and the families of those soldiers, sailors, air men and marines deserve to be told that these lives were not spent in vain--that they were spent in the process of achieving a very important national military objective--the very objective we set out to attain in the first place.

b. If the after-taste is not one of success from a military standpoint, one can foresee enormous problems in the post-war period in connection with the rationale for military forces. In short, there will be many who say that military forces are not able to cope with wars of national liberation and that therefore, such forces need not be maintained.

c. The organization, tactics and techniques of the military forces will be thrown open to question and doubt as a part of the same reaction which pertains to paragraph 4b above.

d. American military forces have a tradition of success on the battlefield from which stems much of their strength, discipline, and effectiveness. It would be tragic if this tradition were to be sacrificed through a misinterpretation of the military outcome of the war in Vietnam.

5. It is already clear that the pressures of an election year will cause partisans of various kinds to accentuate any differences, real or imagined, between the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Administration on the conduct of the war. However well-meaning these attempts may be, and disregarding the substance of the issues, there is a very real danger that the net effect will suggest a military failure where in fact there has been none.

6. What I am suggesting is that the Joint Chiefs of Staff might find it highly desirable in the long range interests of the United States and the armed forces to accentuate the positive in their discussions and testimony, not so much in terms of future prospects but in terms of concrete accomplishments already evident from both a strategic and tactical standpoint in Vietnam. In short, and given the limited nature of the war, the main military objective has already been accomplished.

7. I recommend that you discuss this with the Chairman so that he may, if he sees any merit in the proposal, in turn discuss it with the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

W. E. DePuy
Major General, USA

 

310. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State/1/

Paris, September 9, 1967, 1340Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Flash; Nodis; Pennsylvania. Received at 11:07 a.m.

3070. From Kissinger.

After the Thursday evening meeting/2/ I phoned M from Washington and asked him to request A to return to Paris. My reason was to give M a pretext for recontacting Bo--though I did not suggest it--and to balance M's naive humanitarianism with some political knowledge. Also I wanted A to lend his weight to any message to Bo.

/2/Rusk met with Bundy, Read, and Kissinger at 11:10 p.m. on Thursday, September 7. (Johnson Library, Rusk Appointment Book, 1967) For Kissinger's instructions, see Document 307.

I saw M and A within an hour of my arrival. (A arrived in Paris half an hour after I did.) M began the conversation by telling me that he had seen Bo on Friday Sept 8. He had called him after my phone call and received an appointment within 15 minutes. He had informed Bo of my request that A return to Paris. In his characteristic naive manner M told Bo that A and he would vouch for me but that he knew me for only 5 years. Therefore if Bo wanted additional reassurance perhaps Millionshikov could be invited to come to Paris and verify the origin of the Hanoi mission. Bo who was extremely affable throughout rejected this proposal. He said that the existing channel of M, A and K was quite satisfactory. Moreover there was a great need for secrecy and for this reason the number of people involved should be kept to an absolute minimum. Bo then asked how long I planned to stay in Paris. When M said about ten days Bo replied that if there was no bombing of Hanoi something could well happen in that period. As M was leaving Bo said that Pugwash had served as a useful pretext to start the conversations but that it was now necessary to keep the info to the smallest group possible. (These remarks which run so counter to M's instincts have dampened his ardor for informing the Continuing Committee of Pugwash.)

A then asked me why I had requested him to return to Paris. I replied that I wanted to be blunt. For the last 10 days A and M had presented very forceful arguments about the bombing of Hanoi on August 21, 22 and 23 and the need to continue existing restraints. I did not agree with many of these views and I was convinced that the bombing on August 21, 22 and 23 was the result of technical military judgments unrelated to the current proposal. Nevertheless I had transmitted their views as fairly as possible to our responsible officials. Now it seemed to me they had an obligation to present our case to the other side with equal force. From the Washington perspective it appears that a major American initiative has simply been ignored. Nor is this an isolated instance. Our officials have gained the impression that communication with Hanoi is a oneway street. We would not be asked to exercise unilateral restraints over a prolonged period without any signal from Hanoi about our overture. M asked whether Washington would "stand by" during the ten days of my visit here. I replied that Washington was still waiting for some reply to the message of August 25.

A then intervened to say that he thought an early meeting between Bo and me was essential so that Hanoi could send a reply while I was still in Paris. He proposed to call Bo immediately in my presence to set up an appointment for A and M. (Note: A had arrived 30 minutes after I did so that any prearrangement would have had to be by long distance phone.) A then called Bo who came to the telephone immediately. A said he had had a long and very important conversation with me and wanted to see Bo, Bo suggested they come immediately. M remembered that his wife was expecting A and M for lunch so the appointment was set for 14:30 Paris time. I shall see A and M at 16:00 and report immediately./3/

/3/In telegram 3072 from Paris, September 9, Kissinger reported that Marcovich had stressed that the administration was "growing impatient" because the North Vietnamese had failed to respond to the August 25 message. Bo replied that the message remained under study. In addition to the reply, he was also awaiting authorization for a direct meeting with Kissinger. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA)

(Note: If I leave my apartment I shall inform the Embassy duty officer of a phone contact.)

Bohlen

 

311. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Rusk and the President's Special Assistant (Rostow)/1/

September 9, 1967.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telcons, 1961-1969 and Presidential. No classification marking. Transcribed by Rusk's secretary at 12:45 p.m. Rusk and Rostow talked on the telephone between 11:17 and 11:58 a.m. Rostow was with the President at the LBJ Ranch September 6-10. (Johnson Library, President's Daily Diary)

TELEPHONE CALL FROM MR. WALT ROSTOW

R. just had long talk with the Pres. P. asked R. question re this UN business./2/ R. simply did not really know. Question is whether Goldberg really knows this is a precarious exercise and we in general should be prepared to get out of it or is he being hard and hopeful about it. Sec. would think more the former than the latter. Sec. had a talk with Goldberg following meeting with the Pres. G. does think a way to get out is to have a further meeting with Mansfield and Morse et al and report to them on the soundings. He thinks the way to close it out is to call the roll and see what the prospects are and look at them and then say to hell with that!/3/

/2/In speeches in the Senate on May 15, 18, and 24, Mansfield called for U.S. support of a Vietnam peace initiative in the United Nations. See Congressional Record, Vol. 113, pp. 12593-12594; 13213-13214; 13728. On August 7 Mansfield publicly called for an end to the bombing of the North, the completion of the barrier, and the reintroduction of the failed UN resolution of January 1966 on Vietnam. In a memorandum to the President responding to Mansfield's points, August 7, Rostow noted U Thant's advice against bringing the question of Vietnam into the United Nations. Rostow added: "The heart of the matter is not the UN, however, but what the USSR can and will do." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President, Walt Rostow, Vol. II, 8/3-27/67) The administration began exploring the feasibility of such a resolution. In a memorandum to Rusk, August 29, Sisco wrote: "Bill Bundy tells me the President wants to be sure that Mansfield understands that there is no undertaking to go to the Security Council unless we can get the nine necessary votes and that there is no commitment in connection with such a possible initiative that we would stop the bombing or reduce it." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S) By early September Goldberg had made quiet approaches to the Representatives of Britain, Canada, Denmark, and Japan on the issue. (Telegram 31350 to Seoul, September 2; ibid.)

/3/In telegram 67807 to the President, September 9, Rostow confirmed that Rusk had fully conveyed to Goldberg the President's "view of the UN Viet Nam initiative." Goldberg received "soundings" from not only the Soviet delegation but also the British, Canadian, and Australian representatives that implied "opposition or grave reservations" to the proposed resolution. Rusk reported the results of the "soundings" to Mansfield and other Senators who supported the resolution. (Ibid., National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, CAP Cables)

The other thing P. has on his mind is some sort of a meeting with Thieu perhaps--however, he is aware that some sort of a bilateral meeting with him might look as though Thieu would be receiving his instructions. Other than that he is thinking of us meeting with Bunker in Honolulu--asked how far Honolulu was from Saigon. Sec. said about same distance as from here--it is a half-way mark. R. said he thought it might be very worthwhile to have a talk with Bunker. R. passing this on as a thought P. has in his mind and Sec. might wish to give it some thought./4/

/4/This meeting did not occur until July 1968.

Sec. asked if R. would be around this afternoon. R. will. Sec. expects to be getting something more from Kissinger shortly./5/ A meeting is now going on between the other two and the other fellow. R. said the Pres. is very much interested in that--asked for R. to give him the history of how this came about and R. reviewed the facts with Sec.

/5/Rostow telephoned the President on September 11 and reported that Rusk had received a "pretty negative" message from Kissinger. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telcons, 1961-1969 and Presidential) For Kissinger's report, see Document 315.

 

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

Washington, September 11, 1967, 8:25 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam 3 I, Targets. Top Secret. The notation "L" on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.

Mr. President:

Herewith the pros and cons of attacks on the port of Haiphong and the four airfields (Phuc Yen, MIG base; Cat Bi, MIG capable; Mac Bai, air defense center; Gia Lam, MIG capable and transport)./2/

/2/On September 5 attacks on specific targets in the Haiphong restricted area were authorized. Attacks on the Phuc Yen air field were authorized on September 28 but were cancelled. The President did not authorize strikes on the MiG bases until October 23.

Against bombing port of Haiphong:

--Difficult to avoid hitting Soviet and other ships.

--Alternative offloading facilities available with inconvenience, either across the beaches or at other smaller ports.

--Weather prospects make it likely that attacks could only be intermittent and, therefore, closing of the Haiphong port by bombing may not be possible unless accompanied by intensive mining of harbor approaches.

--Bombing debate would intensify, both here and abroad, as risks of confrontation with Soviet Union and Communist China increased or were judged to have increased.

--Heavy civilian casualties probably unavoidable.

Pro:

--Bombing of North Viet Nam has increased normally large dependence on imports for both military and civilian purposes, notably food imports.

--Haiphong warehouses probably contain substantial stocks of military and civilian goods.

--Effective bombing of Haiphong may bring Hanoi close to necessity for decision on ending the war--or asking USSR and Communist China radically to enlarge war under circumstances where a positive response from Moscow and Peiping is not foregone conclusion, given state of war in the South and difficulties of intervening effectively in the South.

Airfields:

Pro:

--Would reduce not merely MIG attacks on our aircraft but free attacking aircraft from anxiety and diversion, increase bombing accuracy, reduce number of jettisoned bombs and improve pilot morale.

--Although remaining MIGs may operate from ChiCom bases thereafter, their effectiveness would be reduced because of their short range.

--Little civilian damage and few, if any, casualties.

--Little or no increase in public controversy over bombing in U.S. or abroad.

Against:

--Attacks are not essential: direct and indirect effects of MIGs are not a vital factor.

--Dispersal of MIGs on airfields, revetments, etc. make it possible that strictly military cost benefit ratio of attacks unfavorable: aircraft and pilot losses may outweigh direct and indirect military gains.

--Possible shifting of aircraft to ChiCom bases would raise issue of sanctuary and increase pressure for airfield attacks inside Communist China./3/

/3/The President added the following handwritten note: "in some quarters. (Likely get from Cong, not military)."

Walt

 

313. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense McNamara to President Johnson/1/

Washington, September 11, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 2D Barrier. Secret. The notation "L" on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.

I understand you were surprised by my comments at the Thursday, September 7, news conference on the so-called infiltration barrier in Vietnam./2/ At fault may be my failure to acquaint you with the inquiries from the press which forced us to make a public statement. In this memo, I have summarized the current status of the project.

/2/At the September 7 news conference, McNamara outlined in the barest terms the obstacle system that would be installed along the DMZ, presenting the barrier as a means of avoiding stronger military action in Vietnam. He also stated that the final recommendations of the Stennis subcommittee amounted to a call for widening the war in Vietnam, and thus intimated that the barrier could avoid such a calamity. See American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, p. 987.

What the System Is. The term "barrier" being popularized by the news media is a misnomer. The anti-infiltration system will not be a wall nor a Maginot Line type of barrier. The system will consist of (1) an obstacle line across part of South Vietnam just south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and (2) an air-supported interdiction capability centered mostly in Laos. The initial segment of the obstacle line will consist of six strong points, three base camps, and about 8 miles of barbed wire, mines, detection devices and observation posts. This initial obstacle segment is to be installed by November 1, 1967. Thereafter, the obstacle line will be extended to about 15 miles.

The rest of the anti-infiltration system--the major part--will be the air-supported system consisting of air-delivered mines, warning bomblets, and sensor devices. These warning devices and sensors constitute the unique part of the system. When infiltration is detected, strike aircraft will be called in. The actual attacks will be carried out by units already in operation in Southeast Asia.

This air-supported system in turn has two parts, (a) an anti-vehicle system, and (b) an anti-personnel system. The systems differ in the types of warning devices and sensors employed as well as the geographic areas for employment. The anti-vehicle system will be concentrated in central Laos, with initial installation in November-December 1967. The anti-personnel system will initially be installed in eastern Laos, about a month after the anti-vehicle system. If necessary, the anti-personnel portion will be extended eastward from the Laos/SVN border toward the obstacle line.

Resources and Costs. The approved program of 525,000 personnel for South Vietnam included the manpower for the anti-infiltration system. The two year costs (FY 1967-68) are now estimated at about $780 million. Nearly 60 percent of these costs are for munitions which would have been procured in one form or another in any event. The remaining costs are for R&D, new sensors, and modification of existing aircraft to deploy and monitor the mines and sensors.

Why Is the "Barrier" Necessary. To counter the infiltration of men and supplies from North Vietnam, we have used air and sea power against North Vietnam; air power and ambush operations in Laos; and air, ground, and sea actions south of the DMZ. For the period September 1, 1966 to August 31, 1967, we flew over 40,000 attack sorties in Laos and over 50,000 attack sorties in the southernmost portion of North Vietnam. We have increased the U.S. fighting strength in the northern part of South Vietnam by more than 30 percent since December 31, 1966. Yet the infiltration not only continues but has increased. One of our impediments in interdicting the enemy has been our inability to locate him and concentrate our firepower. Any attempt to more precisely locate the enemy, accompanied by selective interdiction in depth, offers the potential to reduce his effectiveness.

Expected Benefits and Risks. We do not expect to stop infiltration cold. Dr. George Kistiakowsky, one of our consultants on the project, expects, however, that truck attrition can be increased two or three hundred percent. He thinks we may get thirty percent attrition against personnel. Our present personnel interdiction level is surely much less--recent prisoner reports indicate it may not exceed two percent. While the effectiveness of the system will not be known for three to six months, the new system will dramatize North Vietnam's involvement in the war as well as our essentially defensive operations in South Vietnam. Furthermore, if effective at all, the components should be useful in other parts of Southeast Asia (or the world) where selective detection and strikes are desired.

To be realistic, Dr. Kistiakowsky's forecasts may be optimistic. The system is comprised of numerous elements which must mesh well for effectiveness. Research, planning, production, and training are proceeding concurrently on many of the elements. Initial results may be degraded as a result. In addition, the aircraft delivering the mines and sensors, and monitoring the anti-vehicular and anti-personnel subsystems, may be vulnerable to significant attrition. There is the risk, too, that expectations for impressive early results will create clamor to substitute the new anti-infiltration system for other military measures.

The Military View. Opinion among the military ranges from General Wheeler's advocacy and optimism to General Greene's opposition. For the most part, the Chiefs and General Westmoreland look more favorably upon the idea now than they did a year, or even six months, ago. General Wheeler told the Stennis Subcommittee/3/ that he was ". . . almost positive that the sensors and munitions that we are developing will give us the capability of obstructing and disrupting the flow of men and material to the South." General McConnell was less enthusiastic in telling the Subcommittee:/4/ "It will certainly contribute to some extent. I do not believe that it will contribute to the extent that the most enthusiastic proponents believe that it will." General Greene said:/5/ "From the very beginning I have been opposed to the project. My feeling is that the job could be done by the addition of . . . troops operating on a mobile basis below the DMZ and supported by tremendous quantities of naval gunfire, air and artillery support." General Westmoreland's staff said in Saigon in July that "We hold high expectations that the system, providing it meets design specifications, will complement greatly our on-going anti-infiltration efforts."

/3/In testimony on August 16.

/4/In testimony on August 22-23.

/5/In testimony on August 28.

My Press Conference Remarks. Planning and development of this system have been underway for over a year. As work progressed, the amount of outside inquiry increased. As the Chiefs' responses indicate, Senator Stennis and the Preparedness Subcommittee showed particular interest in the project and there were leaks from the Committee to the press. General Westmoreland wired on August 26, 1967, that, because of increasing media interest, public affairs guidance for the project would be required in the near future. Press comment increased during the first week of September, culminating in Joseph Kraft's article from Saigon on the morning of my press conference. I was forced to reply--I chose to do so by a short statement. Copies of my statement and Kraft's article are attached./6/

/6/Neither printed. Kraft's editorial asserted that the only benefit of the barrier would be an end to the bombing of the North and an opportunity for the opening of peace talks. See The New York Times, September 8, 1967.

Robert S. McNamara

 

314. Telegram From the Special Assistant for Vietnamese Affairs (Carver) to Director of Central Intelligence Helms/1/

Saigon, September 11, 1967, 0203Z.

/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (Helms) Files, Job 80-R1720R, GAC Files, Folder 9, Misc. Documents--1967 to 1975. Secret; Priority Director. The telegram was an attachment to a memorandum from Carver to Helms, November 28, 1975. (Ibid.)

CAS 1826. For Knight only from Funaro./2/ Rybat Wren.

/2/Knight was Helms' pseudonym; Funaro was Carver's. Carver led a delegation of representatives from CIA, DIA, and INR to Saigon in order to resolve discrepancies between MACV and CIA regarding enemy order of battle estimates.

1. So far, our mission frustratingly unproductive since MACV stonewalling, obviously under orders. Unless or until I can persuade Westmoreland to amend those orders, serious discussion of evidence or substantive issues will be impossible.

2. Since root problems, as we all recognize, lie much more in political public relations realm than in substantive difference, I had hoped to get Sharp, Westmoreland, Komer and Bunker agreement on presentational packaging question before addressing evidence and specific figures. Variety of circumstances, however, torpedoed this plan. In Bangkok on 8 September Sharp's morning obligations at SEATO and my 1415 plane made 1300-1330 only possible time for our meeting. As Sharp coming up Embassy stairs, he grabbed by Hannah who, when informed Sharp going to 1300 appointment with CAS Washington representative, stood stiffly on his prerogatives as DCM and swept Sharp into his office. Thus I missed Sharp, though I was able to give gist of Wofact position to Admiral Ready. When team arrived Saigon 8 September, we learned both Westmoreland and Komer had taken off for weekend of leave in, respectively, Manila and Bangkok. Thus working sessions had to commence without controlling policy questions resolved.

3. On 9 September, MACV J2 and staff devoted whole day to briefing us on revised MACV estimate, which widened rather than narrowed our differences. MACV now sticking on 119,000 main and local force figure, 29,000 admin services, 65,000 guerrillas and 85,000 political cadre for (by no coincidence) military and political or total of 298,000. MACV also adamant that no figure or quantified estimate be given for other elements VC organization such as self defense, secret self defense, assault youth, etc. (14.3 draft figures are 121,000 main and local force, 40-60,000 range on admin service, 60-100,000 range on guerrillas, 90,000 on political cadre, and 120,000 for others.)/3/

/3/This is a reference to NIE 14.3, which was being updated. See Document 397.

4. 10 September devoted to systematic review of evidence and methodology on admin service and guerrillas. We did not argue 2,000 drop in main and local force (which probably defensible) or 5,000 drop in political cadre which, at the moment, was secondary issue. I attempted to clear atmosphere by opening session with strong pitch for careful look at data category by category, without considering ultimate total until analysis each separate category completed, and by outlining how presentational and public relations issue could be handled in fashion beneficial to MACV and US Government credibility wherever we come out. I also explained, in low key and with all possible tact, that National Estimates were DCI estimates; that other USIB members could dissent, but no one could tell the USIB Chairman/4/ what his estimate had to be. My remarks seemed well received but had no influence on the behavior of General Davidson/5/ or his subordinates.

/4/ Helms was Chairman of the U.S. Intelligence Board.

/5 General Phillip Davidson, Chief of MACV J-2 (Intelligence).

5. 14.3 case on admin service and guerrilla figures most ably presented by Messrs. Adams and Hyland./6/ Though to discomfiture of our hosts this case patently stronger than MACV's, it waved aside by General Davidson. Two examples convey the picture: estimate draft figures include 17,000 admin service at district level; MACV only accepts 5,000. Mr. Adams explained how our district level figure developed from admin to combat troop ratio extrapolated from documentary evidence covering 14 districts. General Davidson tore into this, saying 14 district base too slim for extrapolation of valid nationwide figure. Soon thereafter, however, officer who presented MACV case on this point had to admit (in response Davidson's own questions) that MACV 5,000 figure based on only three districts and, even here, MACV had made downward adjustment in what documents actually said. No matter, Davidson would not budge. When challenging MACV's adamant refusal to quantify estimate of irregulars (self defense, secret self defense), we pointed out 14.3 draft figures taken unchanged from July 1967 MACV study on irregulars. Again, no matter, no give. Even DIA team most irritated. After session, Mr. Fowler/7/ grumbled "We did not travel 8,000 miles to be insulted."

/6/Samuel Adams, an analyst in the CIA's Office of Current Intelligence, and William Hyland, Chief of the CIA's Office of National Estimates Far East Branch.

/7/George Fowler, principal DIA analyst for Vietnam.

6. Variety of circumstantial indicators--MACV juggling of figures its own analysts presented during August discussions in Washington, MACV behavior, and tacit or oblique lunchtime and corridor admissions by MACV officers, including Davidson--all point to inescapable conclusion that General Westmoreland (with Komer's encouragement) has given instruction tantamount to direct order that VC strength total will not exceed 300,000 ceiling. Rationale seems to be that any higher figure would not be sufficiently optimistic and would generate unacceptable level of criticism from the press. This order obviously makes it impossible for MACV to engage in serious or meaningful discussion of evidence or our real substantive disagreements, which I strongly suspect are negligible.

7. I hope to see Komer and Westmoreland tomorrow (11 Sept) and will endeavor to loosen this straitjacket./8/ Unless I can, we are wasting our time. To show, however, that we are willing to go even beyond the last mile, Messrs. Hyland, Moor and Adams are going to sit down with MACV's working level analysts and review the evidence on admin service, guerrillas and political cadre document by document.

/8/CIA telegram CAS 1926 from Saigon, September 12, reported on the next day's unproductive meetings among Carver, Davidson, and Komer. In a position paper presented to the MACV representatives (sent to Helms as CIA telegram CAS 1925 from Saigon, September 12) Carver retreated on the quantification of irregulars, which had been the main obstacle to consensus on the part of MACV. He held firm, however, on the figures for the numbers of political cadre and those enemy personnel in the administrative services. (Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (Helms) Files, Job 80-R1720R, GAC Files, Folder 9, Misc. Documents--1967 to 1975)

8. For cosmetic reasons, given the situation and the fact that Komer and Westmoreland will not arrive until 11 September, it would be a political error for us to leave on 12 September as planned./9/ Thus we will have to remain an additional day or two for appearance's sake if nothing else. If I can budge Westmoreland, this whole matter can be resolved to everyone's satisfaction in a few hours of serious discussion. If I cannot, no agreement is possible.

/9/In CIA telegram 34454 to Saigon, September 11, Helms requested that the team not leave Saigon without his prior approval. (Ibid.)

9. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] have both seen this message. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] left afternoon 10 September.

 

315. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State/1/

Paris, September 11, 1967, 1901Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Nodis; Pennsylvania.

3143. From Kissinger. As requested I am submitting my comments on the text handed by Bo to M this morning:/2/

/2/Telegram 3097 from Paris, September 11, described the meeting that day between Bo and Marcovich at 9:30 a.m. and transmitted the Embassy's translation of Bo's message, which was in French. (Ibid.) The English translation reads: "The essence of the American propositions is the stopping of the bombing under conditions. The American bombing of the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam is illegal. The United States should put an end to the bombing and cannot pose any conditions. The American message has been communicated after an escalation of the attacks against Hanoi and under the threat (menace) of the continuation of the attacks against Hanoi. It is clear that this constitutes an ultimatum to the Vietnamese people. The Government of the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam energetically rejects the American propositions. The position of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam is that the United States should cease definitely and without conditions the bombing and all other acts of war against the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam. It should withdraw American troops and satellites from South Viet-Nam, recognize the National Liberation Front of South Viet-Nam and let the Vietnamese people themselves regulate their internal affairs. It is only after the unconditional stopping by the United States of the bombing and all other acts of war against the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam, that it would be possible to engage in conversations." In a covering memorandum transmitting telegram 3097 to the President, September 11, Rostow wrote: "Here is the latest from Kissinger. Today Bo responded to M with the same rigid formulation with which we are so familiar. The only possible point of interest is that he asked for a reply. Secretaries Rusk and McNamara are working on a reply, which should come over mid-afternoon. This sounds to me a little as though they plan to make the contact in Paris public. But it is barely conceivable that it is the opening move in having a Bo-Kissinger conversation." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, PENNSYLVANIA) The English translation is printed in Herring, The Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War, pp. 737-738.

Substance of the message: The first paragraph of the message is ambiguous about American "conditions." It could refer to the proposal of negotiations or the threat of resuming attacks on Hanoi.

The last paragraph represents an advance over those previous exchanges with which I am familiar in three respects: (1) For the first time Hanoi has answered an American proposal and not closed the door on further negotiations. (2) Hanoi demands the recognition of the NLF but seems to have dropped the previous insistence that the NLF be accepted as the "most authentic representative" (I do not have the full text available). (3) It states that negotiations would follow a bombing cessation. (Note: These views probably reflect incomplete knowledge of all exchanges.)

Future course: We have two choices: (A) To take the message at face value and end the A-M channel; (B) To treat the message as a first step in complicated bargaining process. The advantage of the first course is that it could bring home to Hanoi that there is a penalty for failure to negotiate. Its disadvantage is that it will close off the A-M channel and severely limit the negotiating option for several months at least. Also, it leaves the public record more ambiguous than one would like, especially with respect to the bombing of Hanoi.

The advantage of the second course is that it permits a fuller exploration of Hanoi's mood and intentions. Also, it will give us an opportunity to improve the public record. The danger is that unless carefully handled it may convey a sense of excessive nervousness to Hanoi.

Nevertheless, on balance I would favor going along a little further with the A-M channel, especially in view of Bo's comments on Saturday and his repeated reference to an answer this morning. Even if Hanoi has decided to negotiate, it would begin with a rather intransigent tone for its public record. An answer could have the following elements: It could refer to the last sentence of Hanoi's message and point out that the American proposal envisages an end of bombing to be followed by the opening of negotiations. If Hanoi read the American message as involving conditions this might reflect a misunderstanding. K is in Paris and available for the clarification of both messages. With respect to the bombing of Hanoi we could say that this problem was dealt with by our offer to end the bombing altogether. We might then draw a distinction between those actions which precede the opening of negotiations such as the first sentence of the last paragraph and items which are the subject of negotiations themselves such as the list in the second sentence of the last paragraph (withdrawal of troops, etc.). It would certainly be appropriate for Hanoi to place the latter issues on the agenda of any discussions together with other items which we might wish to introduce. There could be another reference to any availability for clarifications.

On another matter, I discussed with M what he would do if this approach failed. I told him that any public disclosure would wreck not only this initiative but also threaten comparable efforts which might be undertaken in the future. I also told him that I would dissociate myself from him and A if he ever used the information about this effort publicly. M gave me his word that he would make no public statement "even if you drop an H-bomb on Hanoi." However, if the bombing of Hanoi is resumed he plans to make a full report to the Elysée. He offered to show me the text before he submitted it and to give me an opportunity to correct it.

Bohlen

 

316. Editorial Note

On September 12, 1967, Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms submitted to President Johnson a report entitled "Implications of an Unfavorable Outcome in Vietnam." Written by intelligence analysts in the Office of National Estimates, the report dealt with the impact of the failure to sustain the non-Communist state in South Vietnam. This failure would not come as a result of a complete military and political collapse of the U.S. effort in Vietnam, but would evolve from the likely compromise solution that would result from a peace settlement negotiated within a relatively brief period of time and to the advantage of the Vietnamese Communists. The risks of an unfavorable outcome in Vietnam were considerable. The authors of the report described the permanent damage that would result to the United States in the international arena, the internal dissension that would follow, and the destabilization that would arise in other areas of Southeast Asia. They mitigated their conclusions, however, by suggesting that "such risks are probably more limited and controllable than most previous argument has indicated." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Outcome CIA Study)

 

317. Memorandum From the President's Assistant (Jones) to President Johnson/1/

Washington, September 12, 1967, 1:25-3:10 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, Meeting Notes File, Folder #4, 1/67-11/67. Top Secret.

SUBJECT
Weekly luncheon with Secretaries Rusk and McNamara, Walt Rostow and George Christian (General Harold Johnson also was present)

The meeting convened in the West sitting room with the President asking how we arrived at the 30 targets.

McNamara said the number was originally 427. The Joint Chiefs did not recommend 77. Of the 350 which they did recommend, 320 were approved including those that were approved last week. In re-examining the 30, the Joint Chiefs recommended against 13 of the 30, including small targets such as 4 or 5 small POL's, a small tire factory and concrete works. Of the 17 remaining, some were redesignated targets. McNamara pointed out that CINCPAC has been adding targets, thus the total number is increased. In summary, McNamara said 324 targets have been authorized, 262 have been struck, and 62 have not been struck, but have been authorized.

The President said the new Polish Ambassador was quite vehement when he presented his credentials to the President Tuesday morning./2/ The President said the Polish Ambassador remarked that peace was just ready in Hanoi when the United States bombed.

/2/The presentation of credentials by the Ambassadors of Poland, Jamaica, and Ecuador occurred 12:23-12:28 p.m. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary)

Secretary Rusk replied that "if his Foreign Minister had not tried to play tricks when we sent messages, he would not feel that way."/3/ Rusk said he will review this with him.

/3/Reference is to the Marigold exercise of the previous year in which Polish diplomats acted as intermediaries in an aborted effort to open negotiations between North Vietnam and the United States. See Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, volume IV.

McNamara said we have an adequate bank of targets for the period that lies ahead. He said probably about 18 of the targets are in the 10 mile circle of Hanoi. McNamara said General McConnell feels that we do not need to ask for any new target authorization today.

Rusk said that restrikes cause him no problem, subject to the 10 mile circle.

McNamara pointed out "the weather has been very bad. Only a couple got into the Haiphong area." McNamara said that of those that haven't been approved yet, the Joint Chiefs would recommend 29. Of the total of 29, 18 are in the Hanoi area and 10 or 11 in the Haiphong area. Beyond that, 36 more targets for a total of 65. In the 29 targets there are 5 which even McConnell questions, McNamara said. For example, he questions Gia Lam. But McNamara said we are not ready to ask for these authorizations yet.

Rusk said he was opposed to Gia Lam "because I may have to go in there myself."

The President asked "have we just hit one of the ports authorized last week?"

McNamara said, yes--just Cam Pha. McNamara said the pilots reports indicated some extensive damage but no photo reports are in yet to establish the damage. McNamara pointed out that these damaged facilities will not stay out long because they are primarily goods rather than facilities that were bombed.

Rusk reported that his State Department briefing of the Baltimore Sun editorial board proved very successful.

The President said Ambassador Bunker asked him to spend some time with Eugene Locke. The President said he did that Monday night and the two of them went over the "Blueprint" which Locke brought back from Vietnam./4/ The President said he asked Locke to break it down. He wants to take what has been done in Vietnam and try to point up what has genuinely happened there. The President noted that no one can carry an election if he does not show hope of victory to his people. The President said General Johnson and General Larson's appearances were helpful, but he pointed out that we need to wrap up a package for the things that have gone well and list them, along with the problems that still lie ahead. On balance, we have not been losing, the President said, and we will change it a lot more. The President said we should say that the enemy cannot hold up under this pressure.

/4/See Document 296. Locke also listed his recommendations in a background memorandum of September 12. His recommendations for South Vietnam included, under the general category of improving security in the countryside, raising ARVN effectiveness by engaging in combined operations with U.S. forces; a "crash" program to put U.S. advisers with the RF/PF; additional Korean troops; expedited delivery of troops to MACV to be used as "maneuver battalions"; and the expansion of riverine patrols and assault forces. In addition, Locke advised building more jails to detain suspects of the VCI; the use of other government organizations to engage in RD work; an effort to rid the GVN of corruption and make it more efficient; and broadening the political base of the national government. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Chron. File on Negotiations--1967) This memorandum is printed in part in Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, vol. XXVIII, Document 310.

The President then asked General Johnson to have the Joint Chiefs "search for imaginative ideas to put pressure to bring this war to a conclusion." He said he did not want them to just recommend more men or that we drop the Atom bomb. The President said he could think of those ideas. The President asked Johnson to have the Joint Chiefs come up with some new programs. He pointed out that when this Congress comes back in January they will try to bring the war to a close either by getting out or by escalating significantly. The President asked Walt Rostow to put on a chart the good items represented in the "Blueprint."

The President then read excerpts from the "Blueprint." (Copy of this is attached.)/5/

/5/Not attached, but see footnote 4 above.

After reading paragraph B from the "Blueprint" memorandum concerning approval of an elite battalion-size South Vietnamese force with U.S. advisors to raid enemy supply bases in Laos--Secretary Rusk replied that we can do a good many things with Souvanna Phouma if the President will spend an hour with him when he is here this fall.

The President said yes, I have already agreed to that.

In response to Paragraph A concerning approval and expedition of "Dye Marker" program for electronic devices in Laos to be used in connection with the air program--McNamara said that "Dye Marker" is a barrier and he does not expect any trouble in Laos.

Again referring to Paragraph B (the South Vietnamese and U.S. troops raiding the enemy supply bases in Laos)--General Johnson said it will become known in Laos because of the way the correspondents travel out there. General Johnson pointed out that this meant violation of the Geneva Accords of 1962. He also said that this action would create no military problem.

Rusk pointed out that the key problem is getting Souvanna Phouma aboard.

The President said if we get Souvanna aboard, then should we go ahead and do it?

Rusk replied, yes.

The President asked that we give some thought on how we can do this.

Rusk said maybe we can get some Laotian troops in on this.

McNamara says this is worth doing if we can do it, and if we can keep from destroying Souvanna.

The President then read from Paragraph D concerning "obtaining for Laos corridor work additional propellor type aircraft by the beginning of the next dry season."

McNamara replied that there are "lots of aircraft there now." He pointed out that the weather has been bad and also that not many trucks have been moving down the corridor. McNamara said that Westmoreland has not asked for any propellor aircraft that has not been approved.

General Johnson agreed with McNamara.

Rusk asked "if we couldn't fly a good many planes out of Laos as Laotian planes, even with our pilots."

McNamara said "we don't have to Dean, because we have time . . ."

The President then read from paragraph 2-B concerning additional U.S. advisors.

McNamara said that that's already part of the 525,000 commitment.

In response to the President's reading from the "Blueprint" of obtaining additional troops from other free world nations--McNamara pointed out that Prime Minister Holt of Australia said he wanted to wait until after the elections before he sends more troops.

The President replied, "I think I could tell Clark that it's hard to fight a war if we have to wait on the elections." We had to do that with the Koreans.

McNamara said we should also really move on Thailand. McNamara pointed out that last week the Thais said they would send 3,000 instead of the original 10,000 request. He said it's no use talking in small terms. It would be better that they send none than 3,000.

[1 paragraph (1-1/2 lines of source text) not declassified]

Rusk said we might bait the Thais by offering to leave behind U.S. equipment such as jeeps, trucks, etc. after the war is over.

The President said "OK . . . go ahead."

The President then read further from the "Blueprint" memorandum concerning the expansion on a crash basis to maximum extent of our absorptive capacity of river patrol boats and river assault boats; also intensifying our operation in North Vietnam in every productive way short of bringing Russia or China into the war; and building adequate provincial jails on a crash basis to screen and detain Viet Cong infrastructure, plus jails on islands to permanently hold Viet Cong infrastructure. The President said Ambassador Locke reported that some of the Viet Cong have been captured so many times and put in jail and then the Americans leave the vicinity and the Viet Cong come back in and release their prisoners. The President cited one example of a Viet Cong who was captured, blindfolded and put on the helicopter for evacuation. The captured Viet Cong reached out and fastened his seat belt with the blindfold on without any trouble. The President said that the captured Viet Cong had less trouble fastening his seatbelt blindfolded than Mrs. Johnson does with both hands and her eyes open. The President also reported that Locke said there is no question that we were right in changing the pacification program from AID to Westmoreland. The President said he understands Bunker and Westmoreland were sending in this "Blueprint" report for our approval.

McNamara said that 90% of the military aspects of the "Blueprint" are already appropriated.

At this point --2:10 p.m.--the group went into the family dining room for lunch.

[Here follows brief discussion of Greece and Turkey.]

The President suggested that a speech or magazine or newspaper article be written saying that if South Vietnam, the Philippines, Korea, Thailand, New Zealand, etc. have a population of about 100 million--don't match the American troop commitment, then they are really going to give Johnson hell.

The President then directed McNamara to have all his service people exposed as much as possible in the movies, etc. to the bond drive. The President said "we must finance this war."

The President later asked if Mansfield will be back with his U.N. plan and does Goldberg know it won't work.

Rusk said he knows our policy. Rusk pointed out that a nose count at the U.N. indicated that it just won't work.

The President asked why don't we take a plan to the U.N., then get defeated.

Rusk said that some U.S. Senators such as Morse would misinterpret this as a repudiation by the world body of the United States policy in Vietnam.

The President said John Knight wrote a pretty good article.

Rusk replied that he sat at the table with Knight when the Publishers were here last week and reported that Knight "seemed like a fellow who agrees with you but didn't want to get caught at it." Rusk said Knight felt the reporters in Vietnam were using "too much muscle and were all acting like junior Presidents."

At 2:40 p.m. General Johnson left. Johnson told the President that General Earle Wheeler was feeling fine and the doctors said he is making exceptional progress. Johnson reported Wheeler is due to be released from the hospital Wednesday, September 13, and that he probably would be calling the President for an appointment.

The President directed me to tell Marvin Watson that General Wheeler should be brought in whenever he calls.

The President then took up the Kissinger report./6/ The President asked Rusk if he has confidence in Kissinger's trustworthiness and character; is he a dove and a critic of our policy.

/6/Document 315.

Rusk said he is confident of Kissinger's trustworthiness and character and that basically Kissinger is for us.

Walt Rostow pointed out that Henry Kissinger is a good analyst and his only weakness is that "he may go a little soft when you get down to the crunch."

Concerning the peace overtures, the President asked why shouldn't we quit explaining so much and just say "we will stop bombing, if a conference is arranged and if it will lead to fruitful discussions."

The President than asked, "who is M?"

Rusk replied--Marcovich, and he's not a Communist. Rusk said A is a Communist.

Rusk said that he feels it is important to keep this message the same as what we said before. Otherwise, we would be charged with bad faith. Rusk also pointed out that the great tendency among the Communist nations is to get us to say something new.

McNamara said "I do not see the need. It weakens the public appeal." McNamara pointed out that "they charged us with conditions and I think it should be unconditional."

The President asked why we couldn't agree to stop bombing if it will lead to prompt and productive discussions.

He pointed out that if they continue to fight, then we can go back after our discussions have begun, and resume our bombing policy.

McNamara said he agrees with the President.

Rusk said "It really turns on what our policy is. Are we prepared to go through with a series of talks that may not be productive. Then if the talks are not productive, you are faced with the decision of resuming the bombing. I'll go along if you want to change our policy."

The President pointed out "we did not have reciprocity when we had the bombing pause. The conditions are prompt and productive discussions to have a bombing cessation. That has more conditions than the pause."

Rusk said he does not mind leaving the sentence out. However, he knows that if we are not prepared to follow through, then we have a public record and they may make us eat our words.

Rusk said he saw Ambassador Lucet today who reported that [Mai] Van Bo said he had nothing new from Hanoi, and any new peace movements would have to come elsewhere. "My guess is that we won't get very much from talks. We will be faced with the position of resuming the bombing because the other side had bad faith," Rusk said. Rusk also said that if we call it a permanent cessation, then we are faced with having to break the talks and be criticized by the world, and if we call it a pause, then the talks are off anyway.

Rusk said that unless we are willing to redesign the proposal of August 25,/7/ the issue is how the proposal will read. "If you want to impress the dives, you drop the third paragraph. If you want to protect our flank, you keep it in."

/7/See Document 293.

McNamara said "don't change the proposal, just drop the sentence."

Rostow proposed the compromise using the basic proposal of August 25 with the caveat of taking out what McNamara wanted out but protecting Rusk by identifying it by reference to the August 25 proposal. That way Rusk was covered and McNamara got the sentence out. Rusk and Rostow then edited the proposal as follows: "The U.S. Government sought in its proposal of August 25--a proposal which the DRV has in front of it--"

Rusk and Rostow then agreed that they were both happy with this. Rusk said "this gives us the flexibility and it gives us a chance to test these fellows again. If we get into serious talks, we must get A and M out of it."

[Here follows brief discussion relating to arms talks.]

The President then turned to the subject of legislation and said he thinks that McNamara should get his bills passed by the Congress before he talks about anything else, including barriers or anything. He believes that we have not flexibility until the appropriations bill is out of Congress.

The luncheon adjourned at 3:10 p.m. and Rusk, McNamara, the President then walked to the South Lawn and to the President's office.

 

318. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France/1/

Washington, September 12, 1967, 2102Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis/Pennsylvania. Drafted by Bundy and Katzenbach; cleared by McNamara, Harriman, Walt Rostow, and Read; and approved by Rusk.

35967. For Kissinger. Ref: Paris 3097./2/

/2/See footnote 2, Document 315.

1. You should get in touch with M promptly to say that you have a message from USG and that you believe its importance warrants direct communication with Bo. Ask him to convey this promptly to Bo.

2. If Bo agrees to see you, you should give him the English and French texts of the message from the USG, English text of which appears at the end of this cable.

3. We hope this message will provide an opportunity for you to meet with Bo and to use the occasion to probe as far as possible Hanoi's present views and its apparent misunderstanding, unintentional or intentional, of the USG position with respect to negotiations. In order to have free and frank discussion you should state that you are familiar with past contacts and proposals with DRV and welcome an opportunity to see if past misunderstandings can be clarified by such discussion. In this connection you should make following points:

a. The USG has consistently attempted to phrase its proposals in conciliatory language, seeking to be as realistic as possible, and addressing certain key problems which are essential to the success of any diplomatic approach. The replies of Hanoi have not been responsive to these proposals and have not yet addressed key elements thereof.

b. The failure of Hanoi to deal with these proposals and Hanoi's interjection of outside factors such as specific military actions in the field, have raised doubts in the minds of USG officials as to the willingness of Hanoi to enter into productive discussions. For example, Hanoi's attitude toward the kind of restraint we have employed in this channel is particularly baffling. If we bomb near Hanoi we are accused of bringing pressure. If we voluntarily, and without any suggestion from Hanoi, impose a restraint on our actions and keep this up without time limit--as we have in fact done--we are accused of an ultimatum.

c. Another example of DRV actions that puzzle the USG relates to secrecy. The USG conducted contacts through the Poles which we kept secret but which were divulged by others through a number of sources. The contacts and correspondence of last winter between President Johnson and President Ho were conducted in deepest secrecy, yet Hanoi made them public. This pattern of action led US officials to question whether Hanoi simply seeks a propaganda purpose rather than serious discussions.

4. We would encourage you to use your own background information in line with the above ideas to probe as deeply as you can the attitude of Hanoi. We are interested in your assessment of the possibilities of serious negotiations.

5. English text of US message follows:

Begin Message: The United States Government believes that the September 11 message from the Democratic Republic of North Vietnam may be based on a misunderstanding of the American proposal of August 25. The American proposal contained neither conditions nor threats and should not be rejected on these grounds.

It has been the understanding of the United States Government that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam would be willing promptly to engage in productive discussions leading to peace when there was a cessation of aerial and naval bombardment. The United States Government sought to confirm this fact in its proposal of August 25--a proposal which the Democratic Republic of Vietnam has in front of it.

In the view of the United States Government military activities prior to such cessation are totally irrelevant to the objective of productive discussions leading to peace. In this connection, the United States Government points to the fact that military activities in South Viet-Nam by the forces opposed to the Government of South Viet-Nam were greatly increased during the period in which its proposal was under consideration in Hanoi. Indeed, during the period from August 25 onward, when the United States voluntarily undertook not to conduct bombing action in the vicinity of Hanoi, the forces opposed to the Government of South Viet-Nam acted without any restraint whatsoever and engaged in a particularly determined terrorist campaign aimed at the recent elections there.

The August 25 proposal of the United States Government remains open. End Message.

French text of US message follows by septel.

6. The above is written on the assumption that Bo agrees to see you. He must in any event respond to the information from M that you have an important message even though he will probably have to receive additional instructions from Hanoi. You should conduct your initial conversation with M in such a way as to leave open the possibility that the message could be delivered through M and A should Bo be unwilling to see you. Clearly it would be desirable to have A on hand if we have to pursue this course of action. We are anxious to have you talk with Bo but do not want to close the door to the other possibility.

Rusk

 

319. Summary Notes of the 575th Meeting of the National Security Council/1/

Washington, September 13, 1967, noon-12:55 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings File, Vol. 4, Tab 57. Secret; Sensitive; For the President Only. According to the President's Daily Diary, Vice President Humphrey presided over the meeting until the President arrived at 12:31 p.m. Also in attendance were McNamara, Rusk, Katzenbach, Sisco, Goldberg, Helms, Nitze, McConnell, Marks, Rostow, Christian, Davis, Smith, and Neal Peterson. (Ibid.)

Major Issues of the 22nd General Assembly

The President: In the absence of Secretary Rusk, asked Under Secretary Katzenbach to give his estimate of what is likely to cause us real trouble in the forthcoming General Assembly meeting.

[Here follows brief discussion of issues relating to the United Nations that do not involve Vietnam.]

5. As to Vietnam, we didn't have much luck on gaining support for an initiative in the UN Security Council. We may not even get enough support to subscribe our draft resolution; but even if we do, we would encounter trouble blocking attempts to vote a resolution calling for unilateral cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam.

Mr. Katzenbach said he would defer to Ambassador Goldberg, who would present a paper summarizing the major issues we expect to face in the General Assembly.

[Here follows brief discussion of the Middle East.]

2. Vietnam--[Ambassador Goldberg] Summarized his soundings in New York on our proposal to take an initiative in the Security Council. The plan would be to sponsor a resolution calling for the reconvening of the Geneva Conference.

Our friends are timid and reluctant to join us in this initiative. They say they don't know what the end result of such an initiative would be. Amendments could be attached to our resolution which would be difficult to handle. They fear begging a course of action when they cannot estimate where it will end up. If our friends stood with us to the end, there would be little risk of unsatisfactory outcome. However, they do face domestic problems.

The reply to the President's question is that the Soviets oppose our effort to get the Security Council into the Vietnam problem. Of the 15 Council members, only 3 fully support our initiative. They are two Latin American states (Argentina and Brazil) and Nationalist China.

Disagrees with Secretary Rusk, who had said that if our initiative in the Security Council did not succeed this time we could just as easily try it at a later time. This is not so because as of January 1 the Council membership changes. The new composition of the Council will result in our being unable to gain sufficient votes for our resolution, even though we will still retain sufficient support to block action by the Council to which we are opposed. Pakistan replaces Japan on the Council--a net loss in terms of support of our Vietnam policy.

After January 1 the Russians may propose a resolution condemning our bombing of North Vietnam. We could defeat such a resolution.

The outcome of a U.S. initiative in the Council might well end up in disagreement and inconclusively; but he favored going ahead with the initiative even under these predicted circumstances. Many would say the United States initiative had been rebuffed. We would gain support if we tried, even if we failed.

The President: Will someone state the other side of this argument?

Secretary McNamara: Our initiative would end up as a rebuff. He was not concerned about the reaction to our receiving a rebuff, but felt there was a net loss if our opponents could say that the reason we were rebuffed was because of our current bombing policy. This would put pressure on us to end the bombing.

Under Secretary Katzenbach: We can only lose if we undertake an initiative in the Security Council. We risk facing a situation in which an amendment to our resolution would condemn our bombing policy. Our friends, put in an impossible position, might well choose to abstain. If you knew in advance you could not get a satisfactory resolution, the debate resulting from this effort would not contribute to a peaceful climate.

Ambassador Goldberg: If we took an initiative, the Security Council would flounder in a state of disagreement.

The President: In the event this happened, would we be ahead of where we now are? Senator Mansfield would probably say, yes, we would be; but the Senator does not see clearly all the evils which are predicted. We should wait till Mansfield gets back from Japan to talk to him candidly about the situation as we see it. Those who urged us to take an initiative would say, after the effort failed, they didn't realize that the situation would develop as it had.

[Here follows discussion on arms control and a number of other issues unrelated to Vietnam.]

Bromley Smith

 

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

Saigon, September 13, 1967, 1015Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Received at 7:28 a.m. A notation on the covering memorandum from Rostow transmitting a copy of this telegram to the President indicates that he received it at 5:30 p.m. and that the President saw it. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 8B(1) [B]) This telegram is printed in full in Pike, The Bunker Papers, pp. 160-167.

5825. For the President from Bunker. Herewith my twentieth weekly telegram:

A. General

1. With the elections for President, Vice President, and the Senate behind us cries of anguish have gone up from some of the defeated candidates. Eight of the defeated Presidential candidates issued a written statement declaring that the elections had been fraudulent and that the signers would request the National Assembly to invalidate the elections. Tran Van Huong and Ha Thuc Ky did not join in the declarations. In a second rather general declaration issued yesterday, six of the candidates (Phan Khac Suu, Hoang Co Binh, Truong Dinh Dzu, Tran Van Ly, Nguyen Hoa Hiep, and Vu Hong Khanh) again denounced the "dishonest practices of this government," the failure of the government ticket to receive more than 35 percent of the total vote in spite of the exertion of pressure and illegal practices, exhorting the people to speak out against this suppression and pointing out to the people and Government of the United States that the policy carried out in Viet-Nam must conform with the will of the Vietnamese people, that otherwise it will be doomed to "bitter and total failure." The prime beneficiary of concerted action by the defeated candidates would be Truong Dinh Dzu, who ran second, and I believe the other candidates have only limited interest in helping Dzu to further his personal ambitions.

2. Among the Presidential protesters, Dzu seems to be the most active. He ran a notice in the Saigon Daily News yesterday morning "apologizing for having missed a meeting with Charles Doe and informs all foreign newsmen that he is available at any time, mornings from 9 to 12:30 at his law office and afternoons at his house from lunch time to 5:00 p.m. Thank you in advance." He apparently has little else to do.

3. In addition to complaints by the Presidential candidates, one has been filed by an Assembly Deputy, Trieu Van Tuc, and four by voters.

4. Some other protest voices have also been heard. Four student groups have jointly declared that the elections were "rigged and arranged by a foreign hand." Militant Buddhist leaders told a meeting at the An Quang pagoda on September 9 that the elections had been rigged, but their strongest condemnation was against the government for having signed the new Buddhist charter. I suspect that the government will act to prevent any serious difficulties by such elements.

5. The press in general seems to be taking a more responsible view of the election results than have most of the defeated candidates. The general view taken by the press of the elections seems to be one of a job well done. A number of papers have commented on the need for national solidarity and for the losing candidates to form a loyal opposition. Thoi Dai very sensibly told the losers to either cooperate with the government or form an opposition bloc.

6. It does not seem to us that the complaints, fifteen in all, have much substance, or that they provide adequate grounds for invalidation of the elections. However, the losers are not only dissatisfied, but are taking it hard and may give us some difficult moments before the election results are finally certified.

7. The Assembly meets today to announce the temporary results of the election. It will meet again in late September after court rulings on violations of the election laws have been submitted to it and the Central Election Council has examined complaints with respect to the conduct of the voting. The Assembly must vote by October 2 at the latest on the validity of the elections. While, as I have said, in our judgment it is very doubtful that the Assembly will be able to document to any degree of thoroughness the charges that the Presidential election was rigged, Deputies have not always voted in the past strictly on the basis of facts. In this instance, other pressures and interests could play a significant role in the way they vote. Ky, if he were so inclined could, for example, instruct 30 or so Deputies loyal to him to vote against validation in an effort to discredit or unseat Thieu or he could simply threaten to do so in an effort to exact concessions from Thieu. The eight Deputies who ran on the upper house slate associated with Dzu could also pose a problem as could scattered oppositionists who did not have a stake in orderly Constitutional development.

8. Our initial reading of the mood of the Assembly is that the followers of Tran Van Huong and Ha Thuc Ky will not engage in any efforts to discredit the elections, partly because they hope to be represented in Thieu's government and because one of Ha Thuc Ky's upper house slates has been elected. The combined strength of their followers in the Assembly is about 30 Deputies. The mood of the pro-GVN democratic alliance bloc, the largest bloc in the Assembly, is at this stage harder to gauge. Only two out of the more than 20 members of the bloc who ran for the upper house did so successfully. Piqued by their failure and with an uncertain political future, they might go along with the mood to throw out the elections.

9. We are taking the line with the Deputies that the question of validation is very serious and that unless there is extensive, substantial evidence that the election was rigged, the election of Thieu should be validated. We are also volunteering our impression, based on extensive observation not only by ourselves and our observers but observers from the other countries, that the election was an honest one and that if any cheating took place, it did not affect the outcome. In talking with Thieu yesterday, I impressed on him that a bit of judiciously applied GVN pressure and persuasion would appear to be in order.

10. Only this morning in talking with Ky, I brought up the subject of the Assembly attitude toward the elections. He recalled that he told me before the campaign started that we should expect some protests and disorders after the elections, especially from the An Quang Buddhists and perhaps students also who had been stirred up by the Buddhists, and remarked that a student demonstration was taking place while we were talking. He said that these demonstrations are confined to a relatively small group of so-called leaders in Saigon, but that the rest of the country was calm and quiet. He was quite confident it would remain so. He said that he understood fully the importance of responsible action by the Assembly in performing its function in regard to the elections and understood what the effect would be on opinion in the United States and elsewhere should it fail to act responsibly. He assured me that means were available to him and the GVN to see that the members acted responsibly and he proposed to do so. This is reassuring in view of some rumors that have come to us that Ky, feeling that he had been snubbed by Thieu and dissatisfied with the way in which the latter was going about the formation of his government, might use his influence to upset the results. He assured me that he had no intention whatever of taking any such irresponsible action.

11. In this immediate post election period the first order of business has been to focus on the effort to put together the new government. There is inevitably a period of maneuvering in which conflicting interests held in check during the campaign period begin to emerge. The Thieu-Ky relationship is being subjected to strain heightened, I fear, by the entourage of each in their attempt to promote their own interests and positions.

12. This has centered around differences of opinion between them regarding appointments to Cabinet posts and Ky's own responsibilities in the new government. These problems were discussed at a meeting of the inner circle of Generals with Thieu and Ky last Monday./2/ The issues were not resolved then and it was agreed that another meeting would be held on Saturday, the 16th./3/

/2/September 11.

/3/See Document 332.

13. The post of Prime Minister is still open. Thieu informed me yesterday that he had offered the post to Tran Van Huong who had turned it down, Thieu said, on the ground that he did not want to serve with Ky. Thieu expressed some relief that Huong had refused since he believed that Huong would find it difficult to work as a member of a team. He is now looking for a capable civilian, a Southerner, preferably a Buddhist, to fill the position. Ky is still insisting on Nguyen Van Loc whom Thieu does not feel has either the stature or the capacity for the job. We are inclined to agree with his estimate.

14. The other matter is Ky's own role and responsibility in the government. He expressed to me this morning his keen disappointment that Thieu had not made any approach to him on this, and said that he had made it very clear when he accepted the Vice Presidential spot that he would not be content with being merely a figurehead for the next four years. If this were to be the case, he would return to the air force. I have constantly urged Thieu to be forthcoming in regard to his relationship with Ky and have said that I would expect that he would make good use of Ky's energy, abilities, and talents. I have suggested to him, for example, that Ky might be given responsibility for coordination of all of the pacification programs within the government. Yesterday I urged Thieu and this morning Ky to get together and work out this problem openly and frankly between themselves.

15. One of the difficulties has been that members of their entourages out of self-interest try to exacerbate the rivalry. We have a report that at a meeting of the inner circle last Monday, Thieu and Ky agreed that they would dismiss any member of their entourages found to be spreading rumors designed to deepen the rift between them. We are following this matter closely, using both persuasion and some judicious pressure and I have confidence that this can be worked out by the Vietnamese themselves just as the problem of the single military ticket was resolved last June.

16. Both Thieu and Ky are in agreement that the government must be given a new face and that it must put forward a dynamic program which will enlist the enthusiasm and support of the people. In this connection we are developing a statement of suggested policies and programs which we intend to put in their hands for use in preparation of a statement or declaration to the people of the new government's program./4/

/4/In a September 10 memorandum to the Ambassador, Lansdale suggested ways to advise and assist the newly-constituted GVN. He cautioned against the application of direct pressure on the Vietnamese leadership due to nationalistic pride and political inexperience. He suggested that small, informal lunches between top Vietnamese and American officials would provide the best means for jointly deciding upon critical actions, which included cooperation between Thieu and Ky, formation of a broadly-based government with integral civilian participation, and removal of Corps commanders from political responsibilities. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 8D 6/67-1/69, Mission Council Action Memos) Bunker also advised against applying too much pressure on the GVN leaders. In telegram CAS 254 from Saigon, September 9, he wrote: "I believe that they thoroughly understand this point, and, if anything, it has been made too often and too openly to them. There is only so much that the traffic will bear at any one time. I believe that further explicit pressure may be counterproductive and that we must leave to them the exact way in which they bring this about." (Ibid., White House Cables-Back Channels-Incoming, Outgoing)

B. Political

17. After all the time and effort that went into the preparation and organization of the Presidential and Senate elections, it is not surprising that they have continued to dominate political developments during the past week.

18. As I reported on Sept 9 (Saigon 5550),/5/ I delivered your warm and encouraging message to Gen Thieu the previous evening. Substantial portions of your message have been prominently displayed in the Saigon press. Thieu himself has no reservations about the desirability of a broadly-based government with predominantly civilian representation, and is himself deeply involved in negotiations with his recent opponents to achieve this objective. He is fully aware of the complicated personal and political problems involved. In addition to the offer made to Huong, Thieu also said that he planned to sound out Phan Khac Suu on a post in the government though he felt this would have to be pretty much in an honorary capacity because of Suu's physical and mental condition. In addition, Thieu told me he personally tried to find, among supporters of Huong, Suu, and Ha Thuc Ky, representatives whom they might suggest for government posts and who could be included./6/

/5/In this telegram, Bunker reported that Thieu displayed "a slight sensitivity" when he read the part of the President's letter relating to the creation of a broadly-based government. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 15-1 VIET S)

/6/As reported in telegram 5821, September 13, the previous evening Bunker discussed potential Cabinet members with Thieu. In addition, he broached the idea of an overture by the GVN to Hanoi. (Ibid.) In telegram CAS 358 from Saigon, September 14, Bunker cautioned that any such initiative had to be taken in close cooperation with the U.S. Government. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, White House Cables-Back Channels-Incoming, Outgoing)

[Here follows discussion of additional political issues, the military effort, and pacification.]

Bunker

 

321. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State/1/

Paris, September 13, 1967, 1053Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Flash; Nodis/Pennsylvania. Received at 7:49 a.m.

3243. From Kissinger. I have some concern over the message I have been asked to transmit to Bo./2/ As I understand it, the purpose of the present effort is to determine whether Hanoi would be willing to enter productive negotiations if we stop bombing and other military activities against the North. In my view, the exchange with Hanoi should therefore, focus on this essential proposition. I am afraid that the last three sentences of the proposed message will enable Hanoi to confuse the issue by introducing a whole list of irrelevant considerations such as the Hanoi view of the elections, the legitimacy of the Saigon government, the fact that Hanoi is not responsible for the actions of the people of SVN, its rejection of the term "terrorist" and so on.

/2/See Document 318.

I would therefore propose that the third paragraph of the message be replaced by the following:

"As a demonstration of its good faith and in order to create the best atmosphere for the consideration of its proposal the United States voluntarily undertook not to bomb Hanoi from August 25 onward--the day on which its proposal was submitted to Hanoi. This restraint has been maintained even though activities by opposing forces in the South have in fact been stepped up since August 25.

The August 25 proposal of the United States Government remains open."

I could then make the points of the original version in my oral commentary./3/

/3/According to a notation on a memorandum from Rostow transmitting a copy of this telegram to the President, September 13, 10 a.m., Johnson approved Kissinger's recommended change. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Pennsylvania (continued))

Bohlen

 

322. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State/1/

Paris, September 13, 1967, 1100Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Secret; Flash; Nodis/Pennsylvania. Received at 7:57 a.m.

3242. From Kissinger. I saw M at breakfast and told him that I had a reply to Hanoi's message which I had been instructed to deliver to Bo personally. M replied that every time I brought a message we bombed the center of a North Vietnamese city./2/ If this happened one more time he was no longer prepared to serve as channel. I told him that the target decisions were based on technical judgments and meteorological conditions. The only useful discussion seemed to me to be an end of all bombing which we have offered rather than a debate over individual tactical targets.

/2/Campha and Haiphong were bombed during the previous 2 days.

Nevertheless in view of M's state of mind and in order to give the greatest degree of formality to the request for an interview with Bo I told M that I would give him a personal message from me to Bo. This seemed to me to have the added advantage that Bo could transmit a specific request to Hanoi rather than his interpretation of M's interpretation of my words. The text of the message in English and French was given to M in a sealed envelope on plain paper and unsigned.

In English and in French the text of the message is as follows:

English text:

I have a reply from the United States Government to the Hanoi message which was received on Monday./3/ I have also been given a commentary on this message. Because of the importance of the United States reply and because the commentary refers to other discussions with Hanoi which we have promised not to reveal I have been instructed to deliver it personally. I am available for a meeting at any time and at any place which is convenient to Mr. Mai Van Bo.

/3/September 11.

[Here follows the French text of the same message.]

M called Bo immediately and received an appointment within half an hour. I shall see him immediately afterwards around 1200 Paris time.

I did not tell M of our "fall-back" position that he could deliver the message if Bo refuses to see me in order to create a maximum incentive for a personal meeting. If Bo refuses to see me, I shall tell M that I must ask for new instructions. After a suitable interval I shall then give him the message to transmit to Bo.

To prepare for this contingency I have asked M to request A to return to Paris. His political savvy will be helpful if recourse to the French channel becomes necessary.

Bohlen

 

323. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France/1/

Washington, September 13, 1967, 2240Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis/Pennsylvania. Drafted and approved by Bundy and cleared by Read.

36928. For Kissinger.

1. As you meet tomorrow with M and possibly with A as well, you may use following information to meet any charges that by hitting in the center of Haiphong we are in any way significantly escalating or acting so that Hanoi is entitled to feel we are hurting the chances of communication.

2. Attacks on 11 September in Haiphong area were conducted, and we believe accurately, against Haiphong bridge and railroad yard two miles north-northwest of the city itself, on railroad and highway bridge one mile west of the center of town, and a major warehouse 1.5 miles north of the town and across the river. All of these targets are away from the major port area and any built-up area that can properly be called the center of town. The closest target to the center, the railroad and highway bridge, is virtually in the same location as the major power plant and adjacent cement plant that have been hit in the past, power plant having been hit a total of three times, most recently on June 26.

3. Other targets equally close to anything that can be called the center of town have been hit in May and earlier in September on one occasion. All of these targets are so located that in our best judgment the attacks could be conducted accurately and with minimum risk of any significant civilian casualties. All are, in terms of type, the same kind of communication facilities and major supply installations (the warehouse) that we have hit on other occasions and in other areas.

4. Thus, the Haiphong attacks conducted on September 11 were not in our judgment a significant escalation either in terms of location or type of target. We have every reason to believe that the attacks were conducted accurately. Whether there were civilian casualties in Haiphong is a matter we do not now know, but we do know that an unrelated incident near Haiphong took place about September 8 or 9. This was that a North Vietnamese SAM site located in the eastern quarter of Haiphong city itself fired two SAM missiles in the direction of American aircraft orbiting off the coast several miles away. One of these SAM missiles apparently misfired and landed and exploded near an Italian ship that was lying off-shore waiting to unload. A second apparently exploded in the air over a similar ship. However, this was not in connection with any attacks by us in the Haiphong area on these days, although the result may well have been to build up the picture of attack on Haiphong.

5. If M and A should raise the question of attacks on the Cam Pha port, to the northeast of Haiphong, it is true that this port was attacked this week, as it had been on June 2, 1967. However, as has been announced here (but doubtless not by Paris press) the attacks were very carefully directed against supply installations and care was taken that there were no ships in harbor. (This is of course less a North Vietnam problem than the problem of foreign shipping.) In any case, the attack on Cam Pha was not a new act.

6. Since dictating the above, we have your 3288 in which Bo's complaint seems to be that we hit "within one kilometer" of the center of Haiphong./2/ This doubtless relates to the railroad and highway bridge, which as noted above is about one mile west of the center of town. However, the point here is that it is adjacent to the power plant and also the Haiphong cement plant, both of which have been hit in the past. All three are clearly marked and separated from the center of town by the small stream which the railroad and highway bridge crosses. With the accuracy that we now believe is achieved by our pilots, attacks on these are not attacks on populated areas, and we believe the risk of significant civilian casualties has been minimal. FYI: To the best of our knowledge Hanoi has made no specific charge that we hit populated areas in the September 11 attacks. However, you should not bring this up lest it suggest to them that they should make such a charge. End FYI.

/2/See footnote 2, Document 324.

7. In light of Bo's stress on closeness to the center of town, you may wish to confine your rebuttal to the railroad and highway bridge and its proximity to other targets hit in the past, simply noting that any other targets in the Haiphong area that were hit on the 11th were at substantially greater distances and more clearly away from populated areas.

Rusk

 

324. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State/1/

Paris, September 13, 1967, 15052.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Flash; Nodis/Pennsylvania. Received at 12:31 p.m.

3257. From Kissinger. Bo saw M on short notice today at 12 noon. I met with M for ten minutes after this interview which lasted thirty-five minutes. Since M had to go to meeting which will occupy him all afternoon he could give me only the first of the conversation. In effect, Bo said that as long as the threat to bomb Hanoi was maintained he could not meet with me. However, he would be glad to receive any communication from me through M orally or on the basis of this morning, that is a message on a plain sheet of paper in a sealed envelope. M had the impression that Bo might prefer the latter method.

Accordingly when I see M at 1700 today I propose to ask him to see Bo first thing in the morning./2/ I shall tell him that I have asked for instructions about delivering the message through M. In the meantime he should give Bo the following statement (drawn from my instructions) in English and French together with a renewed request for a personal meeting:

/2/Kissinger reported on the afternoon meeting more fully in telegram 3288 from Paris, September 13. (Ibid.) In telegram 3329 from Paris, September 14, Kissinger reported that as a result of Bo's suggestion for written communications, he would ask Aubrac and Marcovich to make separate copies of his unsigned messages, both private and official, and translate them into French. Bo could use the same method. (Ibid.)

"Hanoi's attitude with respect to the kind of restraint we have employed in this channel is baffling. If we bomb near Hanoi we are accused of bringing pressure. If we voluntarily and without any suggestion from Hanoi impose a restraint on our actions and keep this up without time limit we are accused of an ultimatum. In fact, the American proposal contained neither threats nor conditions and should not be rejected on these grounds."

I shall tell M that the sentences are drawn from my instructions. If Bo refuses to see me, I shall have M pass on message early tomorrow afternoon. If you disapprove of this procedure, I shall simply ask M to deliver the message tomorrow morning. Please advise as soon as possible.

Bohlen

 

325. Telegram From the Special Assistant for Vietnamese Affairs (Carver) to Director of Central Intelligence Helms/1/

Saigon, September 13, 1967, 1225Z.

/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (Helms) Files, Job 80-R1720R, GAC Files. Secret; Immediate Director. The telegram was an attachment to a memorandum from Carver to Helms, November 28, 1975.

CAS 1983. For Knight only from Funaro./2/ Ref: A. Saigon 1925 [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], B. Saigon 1926 [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]./3/

/2/Knight was Helms' pseudonym; Funaro was Carver's.

/3/See Document 314 and footnote 8 thereto. A typed note added at a later time notes that these two cables were "messages to Knight concerning the VC strength estimates."

1. Circle now squared, chiefly as result of Westmoreland session (and perhaps Komer dinner). We now have agreed set of figures Westmoreland endorses. Mission seems on verge of successful conclusion, though final t's to be crossed tomorrow.

2. Komer dinner was relaxed, frank, cordial and (most usefully) private. We reviewed whole estimate exercise. I gave blunt outline of weaknesses in MACV case, of peculiar MACV behavior, and of fact that agreement impossible unless climate improved enough to permit serious discussion. Komer did not agree with our substantive position and repeated some caustic remarks about the estimate but he did listen.

3. On morning 13 September, General Davidson advised me Westmoreland meeting would do nothing but formalize our impasse, since Westmoreland would never accept our position. When meeting convened (with Abrams, Komer, General Sidle (PIO)/4/ and INR reps attending), Davidson gave rather biased account of proceedings, noting our impasse on figures, saying he thought our paragraph written to avoid quantifying irregulars (last para Ref A) unacceptable and outlining his draft cable by which General Westmoreland could advise General Wheeler of our inability to agree. Komer weighed in with replay of his thesis, recommending acceptance MACV position but acknowledging logic in some of Washington views. I then reviewed history and context whole estimate, the Saigon discussions, and the rationale behind each of the joint Washington representative figures, and (as tactfully as possible) the way the procedure through which national estimates produced reduced our negotiating latitude. I also took up "quantification paragraph," indicating that Davidson had quoted out of context and showing why we thought it met both Washington and MACV needs. I concluded with general remarks tracing history of U.S. military estimates on Vietnam since 1956, noting that consistent record of underestimation plus recent (i.e. McChristian)/5/ methodology which required constant retroactive juggling had contributed mightily to our credibility problems, that we needed baseline which would not have to be adjusted again, and that when in doubt we well advised, from all angles, to err on side of caution rather than optimism.

/4 Brigadier General Winant Sidle, Chief of MACV's Public Information Office.

/5/Major General Joseph A. McChristian was the former MACV Chief of Intelligence.

4. Westmoreland most cordial and receptive. Said he agreed with most of my observations and could see the clear logic behind both sets of figures, which were really not that far apart. He also saw the rationale behind our "irregular quantification" paragraph and had no problems with it, though he would want to take a final look at it in writing. He asked if I would convene both the Washington and MACV analysts to review the evidence once again and see if we could resolve our differences.

5. When the analyst meeting was convened (with Davidson represented by his deputy) I took Westmoreland at his word, usurped the chair, and announced that all constraints on totals were off and we could settle down to serious discussion of evidence and issues. During about four hours of brisk discussion we hammered out the following set of agreed figures, which General Westmoreland has already endorsed: main and local force 119,000, admin services 35,000-40,000, guerrillas 70,000-90,000 for military total spread of 224,000-249,000. Political 75,000 to 85,000.

6. On the whole, I think we can live quite comfortably with the above figures (which the DIA team and INR rep endorse). We have no dispute on the main and local force 119,000 figure. The text of the operative sentence in our admin service paragraph (see Ref A) now reads "In light of these considerations, we estimate that there are now at least 35,000-40,000 administrative service personnel who are performing essential administrative support functions full time." The rest of the paragraph is unchanged. We gave a little cosmetically but I think this preserves the essence of the judgment in the 14.3 draft./6/

/6/See footnote 8, Document 314.

7. There has been some adjustment on guerrillas, but the new figure (70,000-90,000) appreciably lifts MACV's previous total (65,000) and has the same median (80,000) as the spread in the 14.3 draft.

8. We gave a little on the political figure, partly to keep MACV on the reservation with respect to the guerrillas, partly because MACV did have a case on double counting (some bodies in both military and political figures, though this was not the reason MACV whacked the figure yesterday), and primarily because the discussion and evidence convinced me that this is not a very good figure anyway. Our present definitions are not adequate or sufficiently precise, we include much more than the real "leadership" and exclude many (e.g. security elements) of whom formal cognizance should be taken.

9. On above, with endorsement Messrs. Hyland and Moor/7/ and DIA reps and concurrence General Davidson, I am initiating major study to refine our political categories and hence improve our political holdings. To this end, Mr. Adams will remain Saigon to go over whole subject in detail with MACV analysts and our ICEX officers. Further work will then be carried on in Washington under Mr. Moor's aegis.

/7/Dean Moor, an expert on North Vietnam in the CIA's Office of Current Intelligence.

10. Our agreed figures and irregular quantification paragraph being given General Westmoreland in writing tomorrow. Once he adds signature to already expressed verbal approval our mission successfully completed. I have 1500 hours appointment with Ambassador Bunker on 14 September and shall give him full report./8/

/8/In his meeting with Bunker, Carver reported on the agreement with MACV on the figures but left out "details now better forgotten" pertaining to the negotiations that led to the coordinated estimate. (Telegram CAS 2043 from Saigon, September 14; Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (Helms) Files, Job 80-R1720R, GAC Files)

11. General Westmoreland has requested I work with General Davidson and General Sidle to prepare scenario for press backgrounder. I have accepted your concurrence. Please advise./9/

/9/In telegram CAS 1988 from Saigon, September 13, Helms responded: "Have no objection to your undertaking what General Westmoreland asks, but do not feel that such press backgrounds should be related in any way to NIE process. Will make determination only after you return here whether or not estimate will be issued." (Ibid.)

12. On returns, early reservations out of Saigon almost impossible obtain. Subject your approval (please advise immediate) I have authorized Messrs. Moor and Hyland use their present 14 September PanAm reservations. I have reservation for 16 September but will not leave until you concur. Request our wives be advised of these travel arrangements./10/

/10/The delegation left Saigon as scheduled.

 

326. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State/1/

Paris, September 15, 1967, 1205Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Flash; Nodis/Pennsylvania. Received at 8:56 a.m.

3414. From Kissinger. I saw M this morning./2/ He told me that A would not arrive until 0900 tomorrow morning (Saturday). He called Bo in my presence and asked for an appointment at 1200 tomorrow. Bo agreed and asked whether I had heard from Washington. As instructed by me M said that I was still waiting authority to transmit the message through A & M. He asked Bo whether he had any comments on the paper handed him yesterday. Bo replied that he would make his comments tomorrow. (Note: This was said even though he did not know whether A & M would have U.S. response to hand to him.)

/2/In telegram 3383 from Paris, September 14, Kissinger reported on Marcovich's meeting with Bo that day at noon. Marcovich told Bo that Kissinger had requested guidance from Washington, a ploy that Kissinger described as necessary "to gain time and to see whether delay might not produce a personal meeting." Marcovich also handed Bo the message relating to procedures for exchanges. (Ibid.) In reporting this meeting to the President, Rostow wrote in a September 14 covering memorandum transmitting both cables: "I think Henry is playing it quite correctly." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Pennsylvania (continued)) The notation "L" on the covering note indicates that the President saw the cables.

M proposed to tell Bo (if A agrees) that should I leave Paris without having received a communication from Bo, A & M can only conclude that Hanoi does not want negotiations. I shall meet A's airplane together with M and spend the time before the Bo interview with both of them.

Recommendation: (1) I wonder whether it might help to add the words "without time limit" to the next to the last sentence of the message which would then read: "This restraint has been maintained without time limit even though activities by opposing forces in the South have, in fact been stepped up since August 25." The sentence would then be consistent with the phraseology of the message handed Bo yesterday (see Paris 3257)./3/

/3/Document 324.

Bohlen

 

327. Telegram from the Department of State to the Embassy in France/1/

Washington, September 15, 1967, 1039Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis/Pennsylvania. Drafted by Read, cleared by Walt Rostow and Bundy, and approved by Rusk and Katzenbach.

38057. For Kissinger. Ref: Paris 3414./2/ We agree to the recommendation contained in the last paragraph of reftel.

/2/Document 326.

We are concerned, however, about M and A expressing to Bo the view that if you leave Paris without having received a communication from Bo they would conclude that Hanoi does not want the negotiations. Even though they underscore the fact that it is their personal view, Bo might read it as having the flavor of an ultimatum and having come to him at the direction of the USG in spite of the disclaimer by M and A.

At the same time, we are equally concerned that there be no misimpression on the part of M and A or Bo that the USG has given a renewed assurance against bombing in the vicinity of Hanoi. We do not want them to think that they have such an automatic assurance valid indefinitely into the future. The mere fact that there has been no bombing in that area since the 24th of August must not be interpreted by them to constitute any such assurance. If you think that M and A are under any wrong impression in this regard or that they may have imparted to Bo any such view, we think it important that this point also be clarified in the discussions scheduled for September 16./3/

/3/Kissinger's response in telegram 3486 from Paris, September 16, reads: "I will make certain that M and A do not relate need for an answer to my presence in Paris. With A's return, conversations are likely to be more business-like and less emotional. M and A have been told nothing about bombing in the vicinity of Hanoi, except that the current restraint has no fixed time limit. The only other reference to the bombing of Hanoi was in the brief note handed to Bo on Thursday which M did not see. However, M and A believe that a new bombing of Hanoi would end their usefulness as a channel and they will then report to the Elysée. Though they have promised to let me vet their report, it makes it advisable not to let them see more than absolutely necessary. In my conversation with M and A tomorrow morning prior to the Bo interview, I shall take care to leave no ambiguity about the concerns expressed in reftel." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA)

Rusk

 

328. Memorandum for Record/1/

MACJOO

Saigon, September 15, 1967.

/1/Source: U.S. Army Military History Institute, Papers of William C. Westmoreland, History File 22, Sept 10-30, 1967. Confidential.

SUBJECT
Meeting with Prime Minister Ky, 1130-1230 hours, 15 September, at VNAF Headquarters

1. Ky opened the conversation by saying he had just visited Bien Hoa and had had a chance to fly in the Army's new Huey Cobra helicopter. I expressed delight that he had flown in this new aircraft. I then told him about the early arrival of Gun Ship II, a C-130 aircraft equipped with multiple guns and illumination and sensor devices. We will be in touch with him to arrange for an inspection of this new ship.

2. After congratulating Ky on the way the elections were planned and carried out to include the security arrangements by the Vietnamese Armed Forces, we proceeded to discuss general events. The following pertinent comments were made by Ky:

a. There is little prospect that the Constituent Assembly will invalidate the elections. Also, we should not worry about students, Buddhists, or other demonstrations which he feels have no momentum.

b. A number of unhappy factions had approached him and suggested that he upset the situation, but he had given them no satisfaction. As of today two monks had approached him at Bien Hoa and asked him to go on the public record in behalf of the Buddhists.

c. General Thieu has not informed him as to what his responsibilities will be. Thieu is a good man but he is surrounded by Dai Viet advisors who are giving him bad advice. Dai Viets are not strong because they are divided into three factions.

d. The reports of friction between Thieu and Ky have been encouraged by Thieu's entourage. (In connection with the report of friction between Thieu and Ky, I told him about my experience in Manila and the curiosity of senior Filipinos as to the truth of this report.) Ky is standing by to cooperate fully with Thieu but so far Thieu has made no move. Ky has made it clear to Thieu that he is willing to cooperate with him.

e. The last meeting of the generals resulted in retiring or discharging a number of officers on whom they had evidence of malpractices. Regrettably, Thieu would not agree to the discharge of Quang/2/ which resulted in unhappiness by a number of the generals, particularly Thang. Thang may leave the Army and government service./3/ (I discussed the importance of Thang in revitalizing the territo-rial forces and urged that Ky do all possible to persuade Thang to accept the position that had been planned for him as principal assistant to Vien. Ky agreed that this was important, but he was skeptical that Thang would change his mind.)

/2/Lieutenant General Dang Van Quang, Thieu's military assistant.

/3/According to the record of a meeting between Thang and Komer the same day, Thang contemplated leaving the government because the military was not keen on his assumption of a top position in the JGS, his advocacy of a civilian democracy which had made him become regarded as a "revolutionary," and his belief that the new regime only wanted to place him in a "figurehead role" without any real power. Thang doubted that the government would seriously address the issues of corruption and inefficiency. (Center for Military History, DepCORDS/MACV Files, RD Liaison: 1967)

f. Ky had noted some discouragement among the generals since their last meeting because Thieu gave the impression that he would not provide the leadership required for a dynamic national program. Lam was singled out as an officer who was normally optimistic but who expressed to Ky discouragement.

g. Ky asked me if I still thought Chinh/4/ should be relieved from the 25th Division and I stated emphatically that I did. This brought about the discussion of the importance of leadership and Ky fully agreed with me that all the Vietnamese soldiers needed was good leaders for they were excellent soldiers. He will do all possible to put the strongest leaders in key positions.

/4/Brigadier General Pham Truong Chinh.

3. Ky let his hair down and related in some detail Thieu's reticence to deal with him and take him into his confidence. He mentioned Thieu's action to withdraw him from the TV Face the Nation program and expressed an appreciation of the importance of an appearance of unity for the benefit of U.S. and world opinion. Also he mentioned the long distance call received from New Mexico where an intoxicated American urged that he initiate a coup to which he replied that the days of coups in Vietnam were long past.

4. As we concluded our visit, I emphasized that he and Thieu complemented each other very well and it was important that they work as a team. Ky again repeated that he was eager but the initiative had to be Thieu's. I told Ky confidentially that I had seen Thieu on Wednesday/5/ and had made such a suggestion. Matters could slip from their grasp after they had accomplished so much during the last two years working as a team. Such a development would be a national tragedy./6/

/5/September 13. No other record of this meeting has been found.

/6/During his meeting with Cao Van Vien on September 16, Westmoreland reported that he "had found no evidence of antagonism" between Thieu and Ky. He also stressed to Vien the importance for the top Generals to remove themselves from politics. Vien agreed, adding that "the military would not dictate to Thieu or Ky or get involved in political matters." (Memorandum for the Record, September 16; U.S. Army Military History Institute, Papers of William C. Westmoreland, History File 22, Sept 10-30, 1967)

W. C. Westmoreland
General, United States Army
Commanding

 

 

329. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State/1/

Paris, September 16, 1967, 1605Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Flash; Nodis/Pennsylvania. Received at 3:27 p.m.

3501. From Kissinger. I lunched with A and M within minutes of their interview with Bo which lasted for over an hour. The following report is their account based on extensive notes taken by A. I read my own notes back to them to check their accuracy. A did most of the talking at lunch and also at the interview with Bo. Quotations reflect the best recollection of A and M based on notes made during the interview.

Bo greeted A and M very affably and offered them whiskey. A, who is suffering from a sciatic condition which delayed his arrival from Rome, declined on doctor's orders. Bo said that he did not like whiskey but, looking at M, that whiskey did help to reduce anxieties. He then offered tea and pastry. He said that he had been especially charged by President Ho to inquire into the health of A's family, especially his daughter.

A then handed him the U.S. message in a sealed envelope. Bo asked whether he knew its content. A replied that all he knew was that I had described it as "conciliatory." (He used the English word and Bo made him write it down.) Bo did not open the envelope in A & M's presence.

A next showed Bo the stories in Le Monde of yesterday and of Le Figaro this morning and inquired about their significance. Bo, who had obviously been expecting the question replied that the three to four week interval between the end of bombing and the beginning of negotiations was an invention of journalists. Pham Van Dong's statement had given no ground for the time period mentioned in the newspapers./2/

/2/These reports quoted North Vietnamese sources who stated that talks would begin within 4 weeks after the cessation of bombing by the United States. These sources also interpreted Dong's statement of August 30, in which the Premier called for a halt as a prerequisite for negotiations, not as imposing conditions for a cease-fire. See The New York Times, September 15.

A then turned the conversation to the continued validity of the A-M channel. He said he did not mind acting as a mailman but there was no sense in continuing if it led nowhere or embarrassed either party. "We are, in my judgment, at the end of our tether (au bout de notre rouleau). We have established contact and we should withdraw." Bo replied: "My dear friends, you are not in my judgment at the end of your tether. You have been received as friends. We trust you and you trust Kissinger. What you have been doing is useful. If we think what you are doing is not useful, we shall tell you. When you asked for a visa concurrent with the bombardment of Hanoi, we refused. To let you come would have discredited us and ultimately you. But you see you have produced results. There was a message to us from the United States Government which we accepted. We replied, to be sure, negatively. This week we have had two brief communications and today a formal message. So you are being useful."

M then said that he thought the time had come for Bo to see me. Bo asked many questions about my plans for next week. (Note: For Washington's information, I have cancelled my visit to Bonn but am committed to a speech in Hanover on Saturday./3/ I shall stay here until about noon Sept 22.) M said that one way of arranging a meeting would be to have coffee together in somebody's house. Bo replied: "Let me think about how best to arrange a meeting and I will let you know. I will call you as I called you last week."

/3/September 23.

M then returned to his theme of reporting to the Elysée if the present effort failed but offering to check with Bo first. Turning to A Bo said: "Our friend M is very impatient. First he wanted to report to Pugwash, now to the Elysée. I can tell you now that I shall never tell you not to report to the Elysée but also I shall never tell you to report there. Your channel is not at the end of its usefulness. I see no need to bring anyone else in. Complicated matters take some time to mature and become more complicated if too many people intervene." (Note: A commented that Hanoi and Washington obviously saw procedural matters in the same light.)

M returned to the interview of A and M with Pham Van Dong. He asked whether Dzu (the runner-up in the Presidential campaign in SVN) would be acceptable to the NLF in the more broadly based government Pham Van Dong had mentioned in July. Bo said that he had gone to university in Paris with Dzu and knew him. Dzu was a heel (salaud), who all his life had been involved in currency manipulations. He could not be counted on. There were, however, many reasonable people in the South, including high-ranking military officers. When A asked about Thieu Bo replied: "I do not understand a man who gets himself elected on the basis of inviting foreigners to bomb his compatriots." A was struck by the relative mildness of his comment.

In conclusion Bo asked A and M whether I had said anything about the political situation in the U.S. Because of Paris 3341/4/ I had thought that this issue might come up. Following my recommendations, A and M said that the main lines of American foreign policy would not change no matter who won in 1968--unless it was Reagan/5/ in which case there would be a greater possibility of escalation than of peace overtures.

/4/Dated September 14. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA)

/5/Governor Ronald Reagan was a leading figure in the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

Bo seemed surprised at this news.

A did not raise the nuance he mentioned about the text of Hanoi message of Sept 11 (see Paris 3492)/6/ because he was afraid it might involve an implication that the Vietnamese lacked adequate French.

/6/For the message of September 11 from Bo, see footnote 2, Document 315. In telegram 3492 from Paris, September 16, Kissinger noted that Aubrac believed an ambiguity existed in the message's use of the French phrase translated into English as "cannot impose conditions." Aubrac suggested that "Hanoi may wish to leave room for certain conditions." Kissinger concurred in Aubrac's desire to explore the meaning of the phrase with Bo. Kissinger also reported that he met with Aubrac and Marcovich the morning of September 16. He advised them not to tie the continuation of the channel to Kissinger's presence in Paris and to maintain the fullest secrecy. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA)

At the end of the meeting Bo returned M's handwritten notes of Thursday (see Paris 3383)./7/ M apologized for the inadequate French and poor handwriting. Bo said that the notes had been very useful. M offered to type them up. Bo, following the rules of the "game" said that this was not necessary. He had studied them sufficiently.

/7/See footnote 2, Document 326.

Conclusions: (1) A who on the way from the airport had been very pessimistic about the continued usefulness of the A-M channel has changed his view. Where this morning he thought that the basic problem was that Hanoi either could not or would not talk he now believes that it is tortuously groping its way to a dialogue with the U.S.

(2) A believes that Bo already has authority to see me but wants to wait until closer to my departure. He wants, in A's judgment, to avoid an impression of overeagerness. He did not once mention the need of referring the request to Hanoi.

(3) A & M consider it significant that the bombing of Hanoi or Haiphong was not mentioned by Bo (except peripherally to explain the refusal of a visa) even though the last U.S. communication referred to them (see Paris 3383 & 3415)./8/

/8/Telegram 3415 from Paris, September 15, transmitted the French text of Bo's message of September 14 to the Department. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA)

(4) A was eager to return to Rome. I asked him to stay over the week end. However, he plans to leave Monday morning/9/ and return Wednesday.

/9/September 18.

(5) My recommendation is that we sit tight. If we have not heard from Bo by Wednesday afternoon, A can call and request an appointment for himself and M for Thursday. This meeting could discuss how to use the A-M channel after I leave Paris. I would be grateful for guidance on this point as on any additional points to discuss with Bo if the meeting takes place.

Bohlen

 

330. Memorandum of Conversation Between the Ambassador at Large (Harriman) and Secretary of Defense McNamara/1/

Washington, September 19, 1967.

/1/Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Special Files, Public Service, Subject Files, McNamara, Robert S. Top Secret; Nodis; For Personal Files Only.

In accordance with the understanding I had with Bob McNamara in July that we should compare notes on the possibility of encouraging the Saigon Government to get in touch with the NLF after the election, I called on him today.

He agreed that we must do everything possible to get negotiations going before our election in 68. He said that Vietnam would "tear the country apart" in the election campaign. He spoke of his being picketed when he made his speech in San Francisco and the manner in which he avoided them by having a dummy car with police in the front, whereas he ducked out the back door. Finding that they had been duped, the pickets threw bottles and rocks at the car and the police.

He strongly supports carrying through on the Kissinger-A,M lead. He said he thought Kissinger had handled it superbly. He confirmed that he would oppose any bombing in the environs of Hanoi as long as these discussions were going on with Bo. He commented that this was the first time that we had gotten a real reply. I mentioned the possibility of the Norwegian Ambassador's visit./2/ His only comment was that it would be difficult to have two leads going at the same time. Believing we could cross that bridge if we had to, I simply said that I thought the Norwegian could be properly briefed as he was an experienced diplomat.

/2/Algard had not yet responded to Loan's August 19 invitation to visit Hanoi as an intermediary. According to telegram 36328 to Oslo, September 13, the Department withheld instructions to the Norwegians while the Pennsylvania contact continued in order to avoid "duplication of channels." The North Vietnamese also delayed the resumption of this channel presumably for the same reason by not issuing a travel permit to Algard. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/OHIO)

He agreed that we should talk again after the new Saigon Government was organized with the new Prime Minister and the other civilian Ministers.

We agreed that Bunker should be urged to encourage any possible contacts between the new government and individual NLF members or the group as a whole. When I said that the Saigon Government should also be encouraged to give consideration to a possible settlement which they themselves could work out, he replied, "There is only one answer: representatives of the VC must be admitted to the coalition government and the VC recognized as a legitimate party." He agreed when I said they must abandon all terrorism, and he added, "Perhaps under a new name."

He said that he knew Dean Rusk expected a VC surrender but thought that was impossible. I told him that I agreed that Rusk was unrealistic and would have to be persuaded.

For my part, I felt we should try to do somewhat better than the acceptance of the VC as a political party because of the danger of its terrorist activity and its ruthless organization. I showed him the news report from Moscow quoting Brezhnev as supporting "the struggle for building up an independent, democratic, peaceful and neutral South Vietnam." I also pointed out that the Hanoi Ambassador in Peking had told the Norwegian Ambassador that South Vietnam could have a non-communist government./3/ This sort of thing led me to hope that if negotiations really started between the Saigon Government and the NLF, a better deal could be worked out than the one he suggested. But I firmly believed that the Secretary was 100% wrong in thinking the NLF would surrender if the North Vietnamese quit.

/3/According to telegram 972 from Oslo, August 21, Loan made this remark at the August 19 meeting. (Ibid.)

I asked him about the mood of the President. He said he wasn't quite sure. He was surrounded by Rostow, Clark Clifford and others who seemed to think that victory was around the corner, to which he did not agree. He thought perhaps the President wanted to give the hawks, such as Senators Russell and Dirksen, as much of what they were asking as he could, and then he would be in a better position to follow a peace course if it hadn't worked.

I said I thought we ought to aim for the Tet period, concentrating all of our actions to achieve the commencement of negotiations. When I said that the bombing must be in tune, he interrupted by saying, "Our record is appalling." I commented that I did not believe any fruitful negotiations could have been started before now, but I agreed that every time we had started negotiations the bombing interrupted them, and we never knew where they would have led. In any event, our bombing had given the other side an excuse for dropping out.

In reply to my question, he said he was firmly opposed to mining the Haiphong harbor, and that was why he had made his statement so firm. He felt all hands agreed to that at the present time. I told him that I had not involved myself in the bombing policy and was holding my powder dry unless that subject came up, in which case I would have to oppose strongly. He said, "That is my position."

We agreed that the Soviet Union would have to play an important role in any settlement, and the Soviet Union would have to underwrite economic reconstruction of North Vietnam. Without this, Hanoi could never act, as China would probably continue to oppose. He suggested that we might propose to the Russians that we pay a share. I told him that I understood Dean Rusk was going to raise the subject of Vietnam with Gromyko to see whether we could make any progress towards getting the Soviets to take more vigorous action. He agreed when I said that I thought we ought to show the Soviets our recent A & M proposal./4/

/4/Harriman made this recommendation in a memorandum sent to Rusk the next day. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Special Files, Public Service, Subject Files, Vietnam, General, July-December 1967)

We agreed to have another talk after the government was formed and review the situation in the light of developments.

W. Averell Harriman/5/

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

 

331. Notes of Meeting/1/

Washington, September 19, 1967, 5:55-6:35 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson's Note of Meetings. Top Secret. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room.

NOTES OF THE MEETING OF THE PRESIDENT
WITH
SECRETARY McNAMARA
UNDER SECRETARY KATZENBACH
WALT ROSTOW
GEORGE CHRISTIAN

[Here follows discussion of matters unrelated to Vietnam.]

The proposed U.N. speech by Ambassador Goldberg was discussed./2/ The President said he hoped that the Ambassador would stick with what already has been said and Ho's position as expressed in his released letter./3/ The President said nothing good could come from a U.N. speech at this time.

/2/Goldberg's speech, delivered before the UN General Assembly on September 21, opened discussion on Vietnam. Goldberg stated the various ways through which peace could arise and listed the terms of what the United States considered an "honorable settlement." For text of the speech, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 992-995.

/3/See Document 82.

The President read a tally sheet on votes in committee compiled by Senator Manfield related to the Asian Development Bank. Senator Mansfield said Senator Fulbright has asked the Department of State to handle the bill. The President said Eugene Black should talk with Senator Fulbright about his handling the legislation.

Secretary Katzenbach raised the question of a delegation to the South Vietnamese inauguration. The President asked the date. Secretary Katzenbach said it was in late October. The President said we had plenty of time to consider the delegation. Secretary Katzenbach suggested that the Vice President head the delegation.

Bombing policy was discussed. Secretary McNamara said there was no need for new targets to be approved this week since the JCS has 49 targets already authorized but not struck.

The Secretary said improved jamming techniques have prevented loss of any aircraft using the new Air Force devices.

The Secretary said it may be necessary to begin escorting reconnaissance aircraft since one was shot down by enemy jets this week. They previously had been flying without escort.

[Here follows discussion of matters unrelated to Vietnam.]

The President reiterated that he wanted an urgent priority given to talking with Senators and Congressmen on the Asian Development Bank message.

Secretary McNamara said it will be 3-6 months before we get the barrier working along the DMZ. He said he would like to have it operational by November./4/

/4/In a September 20 memorandum to McNamara, Warnke noted Westmoreland's decision (which had Sharp's concurrence) to postpone construction of the barrier until the rainy season ended in early 1968 due to concern over estimated casualties that would occur. Since Warnke could forsee high casualties occurring even if there was a postponement until after the monsoons, he suggested the initiation of a study to determine whether the barrier could be built 10-15 kilometers south of where it was currently planned, a move that would both limit casualties and give U.S. forces "maneuver room." (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 72 A 2467, VIET BARRIER 385 (Aug-Sep) 1967) A notation on the memorandum by McNamara dated September 22 reads: "Paul, as we discussed this morning, I am disinclined to start such a study now."

 

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

Saigon, September 20, 1967, 1220Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Received at 10:46 a.m. and passed to the White House. Rostow forwarded the telegram to the President on September 20. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 8 B (1) 6/67-11/67, Bunker's Weekly Report to President) A notation on the covering note indicates that the President saw the telegram. The telegram is printed in full in Pike, The Bunker Papers, pp. 168-175.

6460. For the President from Bunker.

A. General.

1. The past week has been characterized by gradual relaxation of some of the post election tensions. The Central Election Council has been receiving the official tabulation of the voters for the Senate slates and examining complaints of irregularities in the recent elections. Little has been heard from the protesting Presidential candidates. Truong Dinh Dzu, the runner up, seems to have subsided, at least temporarily, achieving prominence chiefly through his sentencing to six months imprisonment and a substantial fine on two bad check charges and holding an unauthorized bank account (in the Bank of America in San Francisco)./2/ He has a month in which to appeal and he has, of course, denied the charges, but there are fairly substantial rumors that the government has considerable evidence of further irregular dealings on his part. When I talked to Thieu last Friday/3/ afternoon, he had been unaware of Dzu's sentencing by the court Friday morning, and I cautioned him against the possibility of making Dzu appear a martyr at the present time before the Assembly had acted on validation of the election returns. Several reputable Saigon lawyers to whom we have spoken feel that substantial evidence exists that Dzu is guilty as charged, and one of them feels Dzu could have escaped with a fine had he appeared in court. While we had originally anticipated that there might be some outcry charging government "persecution" of Dzu, this has not happened. Dzu does not enjoy a very high personal reputation, and Phan Khac Suu, for example, told an Embassy officer September 18 that he considered Dzu guilty as charged.

/2/On September 15 the Saigon Criminal Court convicted Dzu for issuing a bad check and an illegal funds transfer, previous offenses that had been held in abeyance. See The New York Times, September 16, 1967.

/3/September 13.

2. The relationship between Thieu and Ky seems to have been improved during the past week. A meeting of Thieu and Ky with the inner circle of Generals, including the four corps commanders, General Vien, Chief of the JGS, General Tri, Minister of Information, and General Thang took place on Monday, the 11th, and was devoted principally to a discussion of the formation of the new government and to possible assignments of Cabinet posts. No decisions were taken at this meeting. It was agreed that members would give further thought to the problem and meet again on Saturday, the 16th.

3. We have had reports from four of the Generals who were present at the meeting on Saturday and these are in general agreement as to what transpired. All of them expressed satisfaction with the results of the discussions which had taken place. General Lam, I Corps Commander, and General Minh, IV Corps Commander, expressed themselves as being happy about the meeting and said that Thieu and Ky had been brought back closely together again, recognized the importance of their unity, and agreed to work as a team. General Khang, the III Corps Commander, expressed the view that while there is some understandable friction between the two, it has been exaggerated by their entourages while maneuvering for position. Although the main purpose of the meeting was to reach decisions on appointments for Prime Minister and Cabinet posts, it was agreed not to decide on the appointments of Prime Minister and the civilian Cabinet posts until after October 2, by which time the Assembly should have authenticated the election.

4. Thieu outlined his views of the future government which he said he expects to be inaugurated on November 1. He proposed that Cabinet Ministers be appointed on the basis of honesty and ability rather than for political or religious affiliations. He believes that if Cabinet posts were to be divided among the Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, Dai Viets, Buddhists, and Catholics it would not only create disorder but would prove to be unworkable. This is in line with the view which Ky had earlier expressed to me, i.e., that individuals appointed to Cabinet posts on the basis of such affiliations would end up working for the interests of their own organizations rather than the country as a whole. Ambassador Bui Diem expressed a somewhat similar view to me in a conversation we had last Monday. He felt that because of the limited availability of men of outstanding ability and competence the first consideration in Cabinet appointments should be given to these qualities rather than to broadening the base of the government. I expressed the view to him, as I had already done to Thieu and Ky, that these were not necessarily exclusive considerations, and I felt that weight should be given to both in order to enlist the broadest possible support of the people.

5. Thieu apparently did mention at the meeting the name of Truong Thai Ton, now a special assistant to Ky (with rank of Secretary of State) and formerly Minister of Economy and Finance, as a possibility for the post of Prime Minister. Ky apparently still leans toward Nguyen Van Loc. I believe that while neither would be ideal Ton would not be a considerably better appointment than Loc. It was pretty well agreed that since under the Constitution General Cao Van Vien cannot fill concurrently the posts of Minister of Defense and Chief of the JGS, he will continue as Chief of the Joint Staff. General Nguyen Van Vy will be appointed Minister of Defense and General Tri, presently Minister of Information, is slated to succeed General Vy as Chief of Staff of the JGS. I think General Vy will make an excellent Defense Minister, and General Tri will be in a more appropriate and congenial post than that of Minister of Information where he has not been a success. It was further agreed that only the Ministries of Defense, RD, and Security would be held by military appointees and that the other posts would go to civilians. Thieu and Ky agreed to prepare a list of joint recommendations for Cabinet Ministers by October 2.

6. As evidence of a constructive attitude on the part of the military toward the new government is the fact that Gen Cao Van Vien, Chief of the JGS, is having copies of the Constitution printed together with explanatory notes for distribution to all of the armed forces so that there will be a widespread understanding of the Constitution and the obligations of citizens, including the military, toward it.

[Here follows discussion of Senatorial and House elections, pacification, economic matters, Chieu Hoi, and casualties.]

Bunker

 

333. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France/1/

Washington, September 20, 1967, 1327Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis/Pennsylvania. Drafted by Read, cleared by Walt Rostow and Read, and approved by Katzenbach.

40412. For Kissinger. Ref: Paris 3626, 3627, 3536./2/

/2/In telegram 3626 from Paris, September 19, Bohlen recommended against sending a U.S. Government representative to Paris since "keeping him waiting for a reply might give Hanoi the impression that we are excessively anxious" and could jeopardize the channel's secrecy. Telegram 3627 from Paris, September 19, reported that Marcovich's brother was mentioning publicly that negotiations were going on in Paris involving "an American." In telegram 3536 from Paris, September 19, Kissinger noted that Marcovich had drafted a report detailing his involvement for the French Foreign Ministry in the event that the channel collapsed or ended in failure. At Kissinger's suggestion, Marcovich promised to delete U.S. Government messages to Hanoi. (All ibid.)

1. You (and Bo) have already cautioned M against reporting to the Elysée, and it continues to be our view that this is highly inadvisable under present circumstances. We agree to your strong objection to M's inclusion of the text of any US message in any such report.

2. In view of Paris 3627, M clearly needs to be cautioned about the necessity to take greater care to preserve the security of the channel.

3. While we agree fully with cautions contained in your 3626 about not appearing "excessively anxious" and the importance of keeping contacts after your departure secret, there are certain risks of exposure if M and A are seen in direct contact with the Ambassador or DCM. We suggest that if you see Bo, you discuss with him directly, or otherwise ask M and A to do so, the procedure Bo would prefer to utilize for communicating with us after your departure. If you agree it should be suggested to Bo that if he prefers you will continue to be available in Cambridge to receive and pass on messages as in past. Bo should also be informed that if he prefers or if the importance of any particular message warrants, we are prepared to send Chester Cooper or other appropriate official to Paris for the purpose of communicating through him.

4. In case Ashmore/Baggs stories of their contacts with Hanoi should arise in coming conversation you should familiarize yourself with Department's September 18 statement carried in wireless file to all diplomatic posts./3/

/3/Ashmore publicized the story of his involvement in the administration's secret peace contacts on September 18. In a telephone conversation that day, Rusk told Bundy that "this had some bearing on how we handle Kissinger." Rusk added that "one of the problems about dealing with these people who are so far over on that side is they might have entrée in Hanoi and could cut our throats." (Notes of Telephone Conversations, September 18, 4:07 p.m. and 4:18 p.m.; ibid., Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telcons, 1961-1969 & Presidential) J.R. Wiggins, a reporter for the Washington Post, had called Rusk at 3:55 p.m. on the same day and inquired about the release of the story. (Notes of Telephone Conversation, September 18, 3:55 p.m.; ibid.) In a telephone conversation 15 minutes earlier, Katzenbach told Rusk that Baggs had labeled as "disgraceful" Ashmore's action. (Notes of Telephone Conversation, September 18, 3:40 p.m.; ibid.) The Department of State issued a public statement about the contacts on September 18; see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 990-992.

5. For Ambassador and DCM from Acting Secretary: The Secretary and I are most grateful to you for facilitating K's handling of the Pennsylvania channel to date. Thanks to you the communications have gone smoothly and effectively.

Katzenbach

 

334. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State/1/

Paris, September 21, 1967, 1740Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Flash; Nodis/Pennsylvania. Received at 2:53 p.m. In the covering note transmitting the telegram to the President, September 21, Rostow noted: "Here is the latest from Paris. No movement, but the line is still open." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, PENNSYLVANIA) A notation on the covering memorandum indicates that the President saw the telegram.

3803. From Kissinger. A & M saw Bo for one and a half hours at noon today. After a few minutes of personal conversation, M read to Bo the text of my message reported in Paris 3765./2/ Bo asked for M's notes and M handed them to him. Bo promised to return them tomorrow. Bo then asked whether the words were mine or M's interpretation of my remarks. M replied that they had been agreed with me. Bo then replied (the notes were A's): "This channel is very convenient for us. If I have a reply before Saturday/3/ evening, I shall call you (M). I shall also be in touch with you afterwards as soon as I hear something. But you should be aware of the mood Hanoi as expressed in our Foreign Ministry statement of September 19."/4/ Bo then mentioned bombardment of Haiphong and Vinh but without real conviction and only very briefly.

/2/In this message of September 20, Kissinger informed Bo that he would be returning to the United States on September 24; if Bo received word of a reply to the U.S. Government's September 13 message, he could inform Kissinger by then or reach him at Harvard directly or through the two French contacts. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA)

/3/September 23.

/4/Most likely a reference to a Pham Van Dong's statement that talks would rapidly follow a bombing cessation as both sides "knew how to meet each other."

M then urged Bo to see me or at least to send back a "mild" reply. A & M could vouch for me. To Americans personal contact was important. Those interested in peace on the American side must be given some sign of a reciprocal attitude from Hanoi. Bo replied that he could see private Americans at his discretion. For example he had received David Schoenbrun and was pleased to hear from him that the North Vietnamese Catholics were entirely reconciled with the Government of the DRV. But he could not see any American who spoke for the United States Government or reported directly to them without authorization and he had not yet received it. (Note: For whatever it is worth, A has the impression that Bo requested this authorization.) M on his own initiative asked whether Bo would find it easier to speak to someone like Doty (from the U.S. Pugwash Group) who could then report to me or to Washington. Bo replied that this would not cure the basic difficulty that Hanoi is reluctant to talk under duress with any officially connected American. "The Americans are playing a double game. On the one hand they are offering us peace; on the other they increase their bombing." At the same time he repeated his desire to keep the channel open. "I will accept a communication at any time. I will be in touch as soon as I have something to say."

M asked whether the channel was still useful. Bo replied: "Do not worry (ne vous en faites pas). If we come to the conclusion that we do not wish to communicate via Kissinger we shall tell you. (Si jamais nous pensons que nous ne voulons pas communiquer par Kissinger nous vous le dirons.) If we ever think that you should no longer continue, we shall tell you without hesitation. (Si jamias nous pensons que vous memes ne devez pas continuer, nous vous dirons sans hesiter.) But we want you and Kissinger to continue."

M next raised the issue of reporting to the Elysée. He showed Bo his draft report (sent by septel)/5/ and invited comments. He told him of my desire to delete the text of the messages. Bo agreed. Bo's only suggestion was to give the titles of the participants at the June 16-18 Pugwash meeting where the idea of the Hanoi trip originated. He said that if the report is given to the Elysée, it should be made clear that it was not his instigation or request.

/5/See footnote 2, Document 333.

Conclusions: (1) Hanoi has had our original proposal for at least twenty five days and message of September 13 for six days. It seems to me that the next move is clearly up to them. If the channel is important to them, it is up to them to put something into it. I therefore recommend that I tell M when I next see him at 14:30 tomorrow that he should tell Bo that we are still waiting for an answer from Hanoi. Until it comes we have nothing further to say./6/

/6/Reported in telegram 3908 from Paris, September 22. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA)

(2) A believes that for Hanoi the decision to initiate negotiations marks a point of no return and that they may not be free to do as they wish. Even if this correct, my instinct would be that these are difficulties for Hanoi to overcome.

(3) With respect to existing restraints, I would recommend maintaining them for some time longer to give Hanoi a chance to reply or at least to prevent them from blaming their refusal on U.S. escalation.

Bohlen

 


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