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Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Volume V, Vietnam 1967
Released by the Office of the Historian
Documents 290-305

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

Paris, August 19, 1967, 1023Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Flash; Nodis. Received at 6:49 a.m. Kissinger met with his contacts once in the morning and once in the evening on August 19.

2089. Pennsylvania from Kissinger. Literally eyes only Secretary McNamara. Have told friends that effective August 24 there will be noticeable change in bombing pattern around Hanoi without giving geographic extent. Have avoided precision about time limit referring only to complex considerations to avoid impression of ultimatum. If mission succeeds, time limit is academic. If mission fails, resumption can be blamed on Hanoi's intransigence./2/

/2/On August 19 air strikes within a 10 nautical mile zone around Hanoi were suspended for the period August 24-September 4. The suspension was extended indefinitely on September 1.

Am delaying my departure till Sunday/3/ noon so that I can be specific about time limit should you desire. Duty officer Embassy will know where reach me. Friends now planning to leave August 24.

/3/August 27.

I will arrive in Boston 15:35 Sunday on AF 019 and try call you at office or home.

Wallner

 

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

Saigon, August 21, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President, Vol. II, 8/3-27/67. Confidential; Exdis. The telegram was retyped for the President; in an August 21 covering memorandum transmitting the retyped copy to the President, McPherson wrote: "It is a long but rather eloquent explanation of Vietnamese politics and of the Prime Minister's attitude. It is a plea for understanding and tolerance. And it notes that the Vietnamese do not need 'any lesson in honesty and patriotism from any quarter.' It is clearly designed to meet Congressional criticisms. I thought you would like to read it. I assume the Senate and House will give it appropriate exposure." The notation "L" on the covering memorandum indicates that the President saw the telegram. In his 17th weekly report to the President, Bunker noted that peace had become the major issue in the South Vietnamese Presidential campaign. (Telegram 3824 from Saigon, August 23; Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 8B(1) [A] Bunker's Weekly Report to the President; printed in full in Pike, The Bunker Papers, pp. 128-137)

Text of Cable From Saigon (3644)

Following is the text of identical letters (except for the difference in titles) dated August 21 from Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky to Vice President Humphrey (as President of the Senate) and Speaker McCormack, which were sent to Ambassador Bunker on August 21 by the Prime Minister with the request that they be forwarded to the addressees. The Prime Minister states in his letter to the Ambassador that he has "deemed it proper to reaffirm to the American Congress the principles which inspire the conduct of national affairs by my Government as Vietnam is on the eve of acceding to democracy." No mention is made of publication plans. Signed originals follow by pouch.

Begin text:

Dear Mr. President,

I take the liberty to write to you at a time when the events in my country occasion passionate debates in the Congress of the United States. Since the American and Vietnamese nations are together defending freedom, and are consenting to tremendous sacrifices, I deem it my duty to affirm again the principles which command the conduct of national affairs by my Government.

The defense of freedom in Vietnam requires more than our joint efforts at war, it involves first and foremost our mutual commitment to the achievement of democracy and social justice. Should we stray from that basic commitment, or should you misconstrue our purposes, our alliance would indeed be in jeopardy.

As my Government is nearing the completion of its term of duty, I sincerely feel that we have dispatched our task with honesty and effectiveness under most difficult circumstances. I take special pride in the fact that we have successfully started the course toward democracy and equality for a society which was imprisoned within the deep walls of feudalism, corruption and intolerable social discrepancies. In spite of war, subversion and several grave crises, my Government has undertaken to organize five nationwide elections of vital importance within about a year's time: elections for the Constituent Assembly in September 1966, elections for hamlet and village administration in April-May 1967, Presidential and Senatorial elections next September, and elections for the Lower House next October. I do not know of any better way to warrant our determination to stay the course toward democracy. For it would be proper for all concerned to acknowledge the painful dilemma of our nation, torn between the dream to attain the integrity of democratic life and the necessity to fight for survival. We have lost many of our people, our soldiers, our cadremen in the past elections, and undoubtedly we shall lose many more in the coming weeks; we must devote a great deal of resources to the exercise of democracy which are badly needed on the battlefield; we run the risk of subversion and division at a time when the nation must unite in the face of the enemy. Yet we have all accepted the challenge without a shadow of reluctance.

It seems a cruel irony that some of our friends chose this very moment to voice doubt of our sincerity.

Perhaps the fact that my Government includes officers of the Armed Forces leads to misgivings, for I know of the inherent distrust toward military government in the advanced societies. But in our pres-ent historical context, the Vietnamese Armed Forces are of a very particular nature: 700,000 of our young men are under arms in a nation of 15 million people. Our Armed Forces are not composed of militarists or people inclined to the use of force or violence, but of all the generations of Vietnamese within the age of offering the fullest measure of service to their imperiled fatherland. They are the present and the future of our nation.

Furthermore, my Government did not seize power; it was a civilian government which, unable to resolve instability and division, passed on to the Armed Forces the burden of preserving the nation from collapsing. We then formed a mixed team of civilian and military leaders, decided that our term of duty was to be a transitional one, and set out to establish the very rapid time table for the advent of representative government. We are now reaching the final stage of that time table.

Of course, two years are a very short period of time. We are convinced that we have engaged our country on the right path, but we are also aware that the tasks which we have begun, such as rural development, reorganization of the administration and of the Army, reinforcement of the national economy . . . need to be continued. That is why, in good conscience, we deem it our duty to run for offices in due democratic process. We hope that the people of Vietnam will entrust us with further responsibilities on the basis of our past performances. But should the people decide otherwise, we shall readily accept their verdict.

I am particularly sad to hear accusations that the Vietnamese Armed Forces will resort to coups in the event the election returns should be unfavorable to us. We have devoted the finest hours of the past two years to bringing about the first democratic institutions in our country, we shall not be the ones to destroy them. I have repeatedly warned our soldiers, our civil servants, our cadremen against rigging the elections in any manner, for I think that dishonest elections would deprive our country of democracy for a long period of time. In 1963, the people and the Army overthrew a dictatorial government which was issued from dishonest elections.

That a few press correspondents should misquote my word of caution against unfair elections and make it sound like a threat of coup was, after all understandable. But for a moment, I felt very discouraged to see some of the best friends of my country give credence to those inaccurate reports. Time and again, I have proved that I am capable of placing the interest of our nation above all possible personal ambition: the decision I made on the 30th of June to withdraw from the Presidential race and to seek the Vice Presidency instead, was another instance of my sincerity.

I see therefore no reason for attributing to ill faith on the part of my Government the difficulties that the candidates may encounter in their campaigning. My country is short on physical facilities, several of our airfields are still unsafe, and the wind blows where it may . . . in my opinion, a dignified attitude for those among us whose ambition to be public servants by popular choice should be to endure those misfortunes and persevere in seeking the support of the electorate, and not to display resentment against the adverse conditions which prevail for our entire people. In the meanwhile, I am satisfied that our Government has done its very best to give all candidates a fair share of the means for campaigning. The same amount of money is allotted to all tickets. The Government television and radio allow equal time to all candidates in direct broadcast, and anybody in Vietnam can testify that those means are used at their fullest capacity by our opponents, the Vietnamese press is free, and, in part, quite virulently anti-Governmental; on the other hand the foreign press is at full liberty to cover the campaign and the forthcoming elections.

If by the standards of a country with a long experience in the exercise of democracy, and free from the predicaments of war and underdevelopment, our elections still present serious shortcomings, I am the first Vietnamese to deplore that situation. But I can say without any doubt in my conscience that my Government does not deserve any lesson in honesty and patriotism from any quarter.

I am afraid that persistent criticism without substantiated evidence on the part of some prominent American figures may, in the long run, impair the harmony of our joint efforts. The Vietnamese are a proud people, they will accept any amount of tribulations and suffering, but their dead count as much as the dead from all the friendly lands, and they will admit no discrimination in all the men's supreme tribute to freedom and human dignity.

I see an urgent need, Mr. President, for all of us to keep an appropriate perspective in the partnership between nations, large and small, which are in pursuit of a common ideal; for intemperate reliance upon the physical scale of strength would be the negation of that very ideal.

Mr. President, may I ask you to convey my letter to all the distinguished members of the Senate of the United States.

I stand in profound respect for the great traditions of democracy and justice embodied in your institutions. I greatly value the support of the Congress of the United States for the cause of Vietnam, and I am always ready to discuss in total candor with the distinguished Senators who wish to further examine the developments concerning the common endeavor of our two nations.

Sincerely yours,

(signed) Air Vice Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky

End Text./2/

/2/Humphrey's reply, transmitted in telegram 15089 to Saigon, August 31, reads: "I thank you for your letter of August 21, which I have conveyed to the members of the United States Senate as you requested. We share the view that our joint efforts require a mutual commitment to the achievement of democracy and social justice. The elections for the Constituent Assembly and village and hamlet councils over the last year, and the forthcoming Presidential and National Assembly elections this fall are impressive evidence of the desire of the people of Viet-Nam to achieve representative self-government. The desire of the Vietnamese people to build democratic self-government while at the same time having to fight so bitterly to defend it inspires the admiration of people in many parts of the world. Please accept, Mr. Prime Minister, on behalf of the Senate my gratitude for the consideration you have shown the members in writing to them." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 15-1 VIET S) A reply by McCormack, transmitted in telegram 29077 to Saigon, August 29, assured the Prime Minister that the House "concern" was only that the "impressive pace of evolutionary political development" established by Ky and others "shall be sustained." (Ibid.)

 

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

Washington, August 22, 1967.

/1/Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Special Files, Public Service, Chronological Files, August 1967 General. Personal and Top Secret; For Personal Files Only.

Bob McNamara stopped by in order to give me Jackie's letter to Sihanouk with the request that it get to him and that we get an answer as soon as possible./2/

/2/Reference is to correspondence between Sihanouk and the widow of former President John F. Kennedy relating to a visit to Cambodia which she eventually made during November.

On Vietnam, he agreed on two subjects:

1. After elections, we must tie our bombing and other military policy to the objective of negotiations. He minimized the importance of these recent targets, when I complained that hitting Hanoi just at this time with the Kissinger business going on could be misinterpreted and that if we really wanted to negotiate we would have to adjust our bombing program accordingly. He fully agreed and said these targets were of no real value. He told me that he personally had dictated the message that K brought to A and M./3/

/3/Reference is to Aubrac and Marcovich; see Document 293.

2. I said if we are to take up the question of negotiations seriously, we must decide on what our objective is. We could not get an unconditional surrender. He agreed, and said the proposal that came to the Norwegian Ambassador to Peking sounded good./4/ I said, "You mean the proposal for a coalition government, including the VC, which would be non-communist and neutral?" He said, "Yes. We must make up our minds that the only way to settle this is by having a coalition government. We cannot avoid that." I said I agreed that some compromise was necessary, but that was not the view of Dean Rusk, and after the elections this issue must be brought to a head. I told him that if he made the issue, I would support him. He said, "Well, let's talk about it right after the election."

/4/See footnote 5, Document 287.

W. Averell Harriman/5/

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

 

293. Memorandum for the Record/1/

Washington, August 22, 1967.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S-AH Files: Lot 71 D 461, Kissinger Project. Secret; Nodis. Prepared by Chester Cooper.

The Secretary gave me the following instructions with respect to handling the special message for Hanoi. These instructions emerged from the luncheon at the White House:/2/

/2/The President's weekly luncheon with his principal foreign policy advisers was held on August 22 from 1:20 to 3:10 p.m. Attending the meeting were the President, Rusk, McNamara, Wheeler, Helms, Walt Rostow, and George Christian. (Johnson Library, President's Daily Diary) No record of the meeting has been found.

1. If A & M get their visas they should go according to plan./3/

/3/On August 18 Aubrac and Marcovich (A and M) sent a message to Hanoi requesting travel visas. Their initial application was refused on August 21; the same day they again submitted an urgent request for a visa. This appeal was turned down on August 31. On August 25 they asked Mai Van Bo to send the message that they carried, along with the information that the bombing would be restricted for 10 days, directly to Bo's superiors in Hanoi. See Herring, The Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War, pp. 730-733.

2. If they are refused their visas they should deliver their message to the North Vietnamese representative in Paris./4/

/4/Kissinger had added a verbal message that he had the French intermediaries transmit, which included the following stipulations: "1. The United States is interested in the declarations of the chiefs of the government of Hanoi as transmitted by Kissinger. 2. Washington is handling this problem confidentially and requests that Hanoi do so likewise. 3. Washington is particularly interested in the possibility that Hanoi envisages direct, secret discussions. 4. [Recent] attacks on the dikes were accidental. 5. Washington has prepared the [message putting forth the formulation for the halt] and requests that M and A transmit it in person to Pham Van Dong as soon as possible. 6. If Hanoi desires additional commentary on the message, Washington is ready to send a special representative to supplement the information directly and secretly. Suggest, for example, Vientiane, or Moscow, or Paris. 7. It is acceptable to Washington if Hanoi wishes to utilize the Kissinger-Aubrac/Marcovich channel or wishes to send another message." (Memorandum prepared by Kissinger, no date, as transmitted to Rostow, September 5; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA)

3. Algard should go to Hanoi as soon as convenient./5/

/5/See footnote 5, Document 287.

4. We will brief Algard in Olso before he leaves.

5. Algard will be given the same message as A & M regardless of whether A & M deliver their message in Hanoi or in Paris.

[Note: One question of timing remains: presumably we would want to avoid having both A & M and Algard in Hanoi at the same time. But we can deal with this when we hear more from A & M re their visas.]/6/

/6/Brackets in the source text.

CLC

 

294. Notes of Meeting/1/

Washington, August 24, 1967, 5:33-6:25 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson's Notes of Meetings. Top Secret; Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the White House.

NOTES OF THE PRESIDENT'S MEETING
WITH
SECRETARY RUSK
SECRETARY McNAMARA
GENERAL HAROLD JOHNSON
GENERAL JOHN P. McCONNELL
UNDER SECRETARY PAUL NITZE

The issue was whether or not to authorize air strikes of the Phuc Yen Air Field./2/

/2/The Phuc Yen airfield was the major staging area for MiG attacks on U.S. planes.

General Johnson: Admiral Sharp has strongly recommended again an air strike of Phuc Yen. He still recommends Gia Lam. General Wheeler has recommended Phuc Yen and hitting Gia Lam after warning. General McConnell and I recommend the strike.

President: How many aircraft are there?

General Johnson: At one point there were 25-27. Many have gone back into China.

General McConnell: There are approximately 11 there now, latest intelligence and photos show.

President: Why is it so important to get 11 airplanes?

General McConnell: There are three types of defensive problems we encounter: 1. MIGs 2. Antiaircraft guns 3. SAMs. Pilots concerned with all three. Pilots have to watch for all three. If we can eliminate one (MIGs) we can perform more effectively. The pilots will have a better chance to survive.

Pilots have a strong frustration against our not knocking this MIG base out. If we could, it would permit us to focus on the other defensive systems. It hurts to see those planes on the runways and not be able to strike them, yet they appear shortly afterwards firing at our planes.

President: Can you knock out more on the ground than you lose by going in after them.

McConnell: We estimate three to five losses.

President: What about restrikes?

McConnell: We may have to.

McNamara: We have 85-23 ratio of enemy loss to friendly loss in air. We have a better ratio in air on kills than we would have on this one.

President: Bob, are you for this.

McNamara: No, Mr. President, I am not. It will cost more pilots than it will save. It puts more pressure on the Chinese and the Soviets to react. Even assuming that MIGs affect the missions, their effects are small. They will move their planes to Gia Lam, and we won't have accomplished anything.

General McConnell: It will make the problem a lot simpler (if we attack Phuc Yen). It will give the men more confidence. All the senior military people recommend it unanimously.

McNamara: That is true, the senior military people do recommend it without exception. The pilots have been exposed for two years. For them, it is SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) to attack the bases from which the planes originate. The pilots feel strongly on the issue too. I feel they are wrong. There are very significant risks associated with it.

President: Paul (Nitze), how do you feel?

Nitze: Same as Secretary McNamara, except for different reasons. On purely military basis, we won't get many planes on the ground. They will go to another base, or operate out of China. Although it may improve morale, when you add up all the factors it is not worth it. But I am not sure that it would affect the Soviet risk of intervention.

McNamara: But it is added pressure. We do not know where the breaking point is. If we accomplish our objective with this base, we will pay a price. The Soviets would have lost some of their MIG defense they are supplying. They would rebuild, and add more support. This also applies to China.

General McConnell: This base contains maintenance facilities, control installations, and good POL facilities.

President: I'm inclined to hit it. How do you feel Dean (Rusk)?

Secretary Rusk: I have some problems with this. Why can't a cap handle it?

General McConnell: It would take more aircraft. We would have to have a larger cap.

Secretary Rusk: On Phuc Yen, there is a thin margin. It would be a serious problem if the planes had to operate out of China. In the minds of many people, this would be Chinese intervention. It also would be a question of how you deal with those MIGs coming in from China.

It would have to be a campaign against the base, including several attacks to take it out effectively. It would be costly. If you gentlemen (the generals) will excuse my putting back on my uniform for a minute, it is my opinion that the military advantages do not outweigh the political disadvantages.

General McConnell: I'd rather face them from China. They would have only one half the time over target because of fuel.

Secretary Rusk: This would be considered Chinese intervention. We have braced ourselves for a major reaction from the Soviets and the Chinese. We've got to brace ourselves on this one. This doesn't mean that we should cut and run. But we should know what the margins are. The losses would not be made up with what we gain.

In my opinion, we can control this two ways: First, with caps; Second, with air-to-air combat.

For these reasons, Mr. President, I recommend against it.

The President: Well, that's two for and two against. As I see it, by some estimates, we could lose 11 planes for the 11 planes we knock out. We could have many civilian casualties because of the location (This was pointed out by showing the President a map of the area before the actual meeting started). We may have to hit it every three days or so to effectively knock it out. There are possible problems with China and Russia. It could be handled by other means.

For those reasons, I am not going to authorize it today. Personally, I am inclined to hit it. I know that it is a constant danger and a constant threat. I think we have to get in now and knock out everything we can get. We have got to prevent our being hobbled out there. We also have problems here at home. It is better to hit these targets now than wait. So much of the people believe this pure propaganda which is coming out about the war.

We can't take it much longer. It really becomes a question of whether you hit Phuc Yen or pull out. We have anticipated this condition, Bob, for many months.

My instinct is to take it out. You know that I have great confidence in each of you. But you divide, 2-2, and throw it in my lap.

Secretary McNamara, you go back with General Johnson and General McConnell and notify the field commanders that this MIG base is under "serious consideration." But tell the men that it may honestly cause us serious political problems. Tell them you believe you can get the same results with less costs by using the caps. Point out the Rusk arguments about this. Then, let me know what their reaction is.

It was agreed this was the best course of action.

The President asked about putting former Ambassador Lodge in charge of the election observer team going to Vietnam. All agreed he was an excellent choice.

The President asked General Johnson to provide a more up-to-date explanation of why the two U.S. jets went over the Chinese border.

 

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

Saigon, August 26, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President, Vol. II, 8/3-27/67. Secret; Exdis. No transmittal time is indicated. Repeated to CINCPAC. The text printed here was retyped for the President; in a covering note transmitting it to the President, August 26, Jorden wrote: "The attached cable from Ambassador Bunker reporting on his latest talk with Prime Minister Ky is of interest. The Prime Minister's estimate of the Thieu-Ky vote is going down, but he is still confident of winning."

4139. 1. I saw Prime Minister Ky morning Aug 26 shortly before his full-dress press conference at which apparently the cabinet was going to be present. He said the other generals were in field uniform, Ky with his customary pink scarf.

2. I asked Ky how the electoral campaign was going and what he thought the prospects for their ticket were. Ky said it was going well and that he had also had a very good day yesterday in Long Xuyen Province. Ky claimed he had been urging Thieu to go on joint appearances with the civilian candidates and was sorry that Thieu had not gone to Rach Gia but he had cancelled out at the last minute on ground he was not feeling well. He said he would have gone in his place if he had known in time. Ky added that he would probably accompany the other candidates to Da Nang and Hue, in fact fly them up there in his DC-6, as he had threatened some days ago to do.

3. I asked Ky about the recent charges by Ha Thuc Ky that members of Dai Viet Party were being arrested and harassed in Hue. Ky said there was a continuing problem there, and the Revolutionary Dai Viets, the VNQDD and the extremist Buddhists were carrying on a constant factional struggle among themselves. He said this particular struggle was not necessarily related to the elections and he thought the Buddhists were trying to stir up the pot in whatever way they could. He went on to say that there had apparently been a meeting here of the An Quang Buddhists who had tried to get the civilian candidates to agree on a single competing ticket against Thieu and Ky, but they had not succeeded. Ky doubted very much that the civilian candidates would get together in this way.

4. With respect to the various charges against the government, Ky said there had been no substantiation of them as yet and the general election campaign committee had not received any formal complaints. He characterized Dzu's charges against the government as "wild" and then described the background to his comment to the press that he would build him a cage.

5. In terms of the election outcome, Ky said he thought their ticket would get about 40-45 percent of the vote and he considered this about right, since a higher percentage might be misinterpreted. He also said that the Vietnamese people were very independent in their voting choice and it was difficult to predict the outcome with any accuracy. He added that support for the civilian candidates were coming up and he did not think they would withdraw from the race. Ky said that in his recent trip to the Delta he found that many of the people there did not even know the candidates by name, adding that he was only known to them as "Mr. Moustache".

6. I asked Ky about the reports that dismissals of ARVN officers for corruption or inefficiency would take place in the immediate future. Ky said this action would not be started before the elections, but thereafter. He said they had evidence of corruption on some 20 to 30 general officers. General Cao Van Vien would point out to the individual officers that the government and the Armed Forces Inspectorate have evidence on hand regarding such corruption and would then permit them to resign rather than be formally charged. Ky added that when it was merely a question of inefficiency, the GVN would try to help out the officers in finding new civilian jobs. Some 6 or 7 generals have already been retired and are drawing pay, but since they are blocking promotion for more promising officers they would be asked to resign as well. Ky said that all of this had been discussed and a final decision taken at a meeting of the top generals two days ago.

7. Comment: Ky's estimate of the probable percentage that he and Thieu will get indicates that he has lowered his sights from the 50-60 percent that he projected a week or so ago. His comments and general attitude belie the many rumors around town that he would sabotage their ticket or throw his weight to a civilian ticket such as Suu-Dan. Ky was in good form and cheerful spirits and apparently eager to take on the press in full array after our talk.

Bunker

 

296. Editorial Note

On August 26, 1967, the Embassy in Saigon completed a study entitled "Blueprint for Vietnam." It was an extensive analysis that contained a comprehensive statement of policy and recommendations for success in Vietnam. Deputy Ambassador Locke initiated and directed it; Ambassador Bunker and the Mission Council approved the idea. Although copies went to S/S and EA, the report was sent exclusively to President Johnson, Secretary of State Rusk, and Secretary of Defense McNamara.

The "Blueprint" set forth a list of policies for the Embassy in Saigon to follow in order to encourage progress in the newly-elected Vietnamese Government after the September 3 elections. The authors' general assessment, comprising the first chapter, reads:

"Progress in the war has been steady on all fronts. We can defeat the enemy by patient, continued, and concerted effort. The way to do this is for the GVN and its allies (a) to reinforce and accelerate the progress already made; (b) to markedly improve the interdiction of infiltration of North Vietnamese troops and supplies; (c) to upgrade, accelerate, and coordinate the pacification program in the countryside; and (d) to maintain political and economic stability and support the development of the constitutional process.

"There is no magic way to insure quick victory short of an unacceptable degree of risk of war with Communist China or the Soviet Union. One cannot predict when the increased pressure and the increased cost to North Viet-Nam will result in either the quiet withdrawal of their military forces from the South or their decision to enter into negotiations. However, one can say that the greater the pressure and cost to the enemy, the more likely and the sooner will one of these events transpire.

"The military, pacification, political and economic programs are interrelated. The greater the progress in pacification the less will be the popular support for the VC/NVA, the less their prospects for a combined military-political victory, and therefore the less their capacity to justify their actions in their own Marxist terms. The greater the military progress, the more rapid and successful will be the progress in pacification. As the main force war progresses and additional territory and people are returned to GVN control, both military/paramilitary forces and civilian representatives of the governmental agencies must move into the newly pacified regions to insure their integration into the national community and to prevent a return of Viet Cong control through the infrastructure remnants or application of force by Viet Cong guerrillas. Revival of the economy will make the people in the countryside, as well as in the cities, less responsive to the VC.

"We still have a long way to go. Much of the country is still in VC hands, the enemy can still shell our bases and commit acts of terrorism in the securest areas, VC units can still mount large scale attacks, most of the populace has not actively committed itself to the Government, and the VC infrastructure still exists throughout the country. Nevertheless, the situation has steadily improved since the spring of 1965. The following favorable circumstances may create a climate where increased pressure could cause the enemy to reassess his position:

"1) South Viet-Nam now has a constitution, freely elected village and hamlet officials, and the beginnings of local self government. It is on the threshold of having an elected President, Vice President, Senate and Assembly. If these elections are free and fair, and result in a combined military-civilian government, including broad elements of the national, social and political structure, they should (a) increase political stability; (b) facilitate adoption of a program of modernization and reform of the GVN and the armed forces, aimed at greatest efficiency and social justice; and (c) bring into office a government which has a more widely accepted mandate and is thus in a stronger position in any negotiations with Hanoi and the NLFVC. On the negative side, the existence of a strong Assembly may make it more difficult to get U.S. policy suggestions accepted and implemented promptly, particularly where legislation is required.

"2) This is becoming more and more a North Vietnamese war. Recruiting by the VC in the South is increasingly difficult and has fallen off by about half. Our military operations have made activities of VC main force and local force units, guerrillas, and the civilian infrastructure more difficult, and in many areas have resulted in scarcity of supplies and lowering of VC morale. Population movement to more secure GVN areas is further reducing VC logistical support. Higher VC taxes, conscription by the VC, and indiscriminate acts of terror have eroded their popular appeal. Although the VC still have a strong infrastructure, built up over the years, it has been seriously weakened in important areas and its support is increasingly based on fear and personal advantage and less on idealism and popular support. Thus, the climate for pacification is better than in the past.

"3) Infiltration by sea has been slowed to a trickle. Infiltration through the DMZ should be hampered by the strong point obstacle system now under construction. Interdiction both in Laos and in North Viet-Nam and our entire bombing program in North Viet-Nam are becoming increasingly effective although substantial infiltration is continuing.

"4) Although basic economic problems remain unsolved, and basic reforms in taxation, banking, and the economic structure are essential, the economy in South Viet-Nam is moving forward. The real income of the laboring classes in the city has increased and that of the farmer is now beginning to increase; inflation--while still present--is not the threat of a year ago; the Port of Saigon is operating well; other ports have been developed and road and waterway security has been improved, resulting in a significant increase in traffic.

"Now that the initiative is ours and the enemy is beginning to hurt, maximum pressure must be maintained on him by (a) intensifying military activity in the South; (b) developing new methods of interdicting infiltration; (c) bombing all targets in the North connected with the enemy's war effort that do not result in unacceptable risk of uncontrolled escalation; (d) accelerating the program of pacification (including better security, more effective attacks on the infrastructure, stepped up National Reconciliation and Chieu Hoi programs, a greater involvement of the people in solving their own problems at the village and hamlet level); (e) encouraging reforms in the government structure and continued improvement in the armed forces; (f) attacking the problem of corruption; (g) using influence to effect a strong, freely elected government with political stability; and (h) taking actions necessary to the continued growth and stability of the economy.

"Our detailed recommendations will be given with respect to each subject in the following chapters."

The recommendations of the "Blueprint" basically amounted to a continuance of existing civil, political, and military programs designed to achieve victory over the Viet Cong insurgency in South Vietnam. In specific terms, the "Blueprint" endorsed the troop augmentation requested by General Westmoreland, the reduction of restrictions on the bombing campaign against North Vietnam, the possible but necessary extension of the war into Laos and Cambodia, and using U.S. influence to reform and reinvigorate the new Vietnamese Government into prosecuting the war more effectively and broadening its political base. Copies of the "Blueprint" are in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 8B(1) 6/67-11/67, Bunker's Weekly Report to the President; National Archives Records Administration, RG 59, S/S-S Files: Lot 70 D 48, Misc. VN Rpts. & Briefing Books, Blueprint for Vietnam; and ibid., Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S.

In telegram 31484 to Saigon, September 2, the Department requested that Locke return from Vietnam for a week-long "review" of the "Blueprint." (Ibid., POL 15 VIET S) During his visit to Washington, Locke briefed the President, Rusk, McNamara, and Walt Rostow on the "Blueprint" during a meeting on September 6 from 10:15 to 11:02 a.m. at the White House. (Johnson Library, President's Daily Diary) No record of the meeting has been found. According to a September 5 memorandum to the President, Rostow advised Johnson to inform Locke that any decision relating to the recommendations of the "Blueprint" would come after review of the document by Rusk and McNamara. (Ibid., National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President, Vol. 4) In a memorandum submitted to Rostow on September 11, Locke described the "Blueprint" as "not a strategy statement or an action plan" but an outline of the means for advancing toward American goals in Vietnam which required "priorities," "time-phasing," and "costing." (Ibid., Vol. 3A, Misc. Memos) Locke discussed the report in depth with the President during a late dinner on September 11. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary) Although no record of the meeting has been found, presumably Locke sought approval for the contemplated programs at that time.

In a memorandum to McNamara on September 12, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Paul Warnke advised against endorsement of the report, given its omission of any discussion of the serious weaknesses that plagued the South Vietnamese Government. In any case, Locke needed "only to obtain general approval for the Mission to undertake the courses of action outlined in the report." (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 71 A 4546, Country Files, Vietnam 1967, 320.4-333) In a memorandum to Rostow, September 12, William J. Jorden of the National Security Council Staff also voiced some concern over Presidential endorsement, noting that "a good deal more work needs to be done on this before the President is asked to sign off. " (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. 4, Misc. Memos) Like Jorden, Robert N. Ginsburgh of the NSC Staff, in a memorandum of September 7, also noted staffing and priority problems with the paper, but argued that it would be "most useful" for demonstrating U.S. plans and policy in Vietnam and for its overall guidance for the Embassy in Saigon. (Ibid.)

The "Blueprint" was also one of the topics for discussion at the regular Tuesday Luncheon meeting on September 12. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary) No record of this meeting nor any record of formal Presidential approval of the "Blueprint" has been found.

 

297. Telegram From the Ambassador to Vietnam (Bunker) to the President's Special Assistant (Rostow)/1/

Saigon, August 29, 1967, 0710Z.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, White House Cables-Back Channels-Incoming, Outgoing. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Sent via CAS channels.

CAS 273. To the White House, eyes only Walt Rostow.

1. Bob Komer and I wish bring to your attention potentially serious problem created by new NIE now on verge of completion./2/

/2/See Document 397. At this time, SNIE 14-3-67, an estimate of enemy strength, was scheduled for release on September 1.

2. Despite thorough re-analysis by now massive MACV intelligence machine which has brought MACV position much closer to that of CIA, the latter's experts appear insistent on bringing out an estimate which will make enemy strength 430-490,000 instead of the range centering on 298,000 developed by MACV.

3. CIA does this chiefly by adding to strength figures some 120,000 so-called self-defense and secret self-defense forces, which are not organized military units at all but rather a shadowy, mostly unarmed part-time hamlet defense element of women, children, and old men on which we have very little evidence and which is so inconsequential and rarely encountered by us as not to warrant inclusion in enemy strength. In last analysis only armed men plus structure controlling and supporting them should validly be included.

4. I need hardly mention the devastating impact if it should leak out (as these things so often do) that despite all our success in grinding down VC/NVA here, CIA figures are used to show that they are really much stronger than ever. Despite all caveats, this is inevitable conclusion which most of press would reach.

5. Westy has gone back hard at Buss Wheeler on this and I intend to mention it to the President in my coming weekly. The credibility gap created would be enormous, and is quite inconsistent with all the hard evidence we have about growing enemy losses, declining VC recruiting and the like.

 

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

Washington, August 29, 1967.

/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (Helms) Files, Job 80-B01285A, DCI (Helms) Chrono., Aug.-Dec. 1967, 01 Aug-31 Dec 1967. Secret; No Foreign Dissem. Drafted by P. Walsh with the concurrence of R.J. Smith, Deputy Director for Intelligence. Helms sent the paper to Rostow on August 30 with a covering note that reads: "This is the additional paper you requested last evening. Since it was entirely your initiative, I leave entirely to you whether or not you pass this on to the President."

SUBJECT
Effects of the Intensified Air War Against North Vietnam

Summary

The intensified air war against North Vietnam has shown increased effectiveness in several ways: (1) the cost of bomb damage in the past four months almost equals the total damage inflicted in 1966; (2) most of modern industry is now at a standstill, thus neutralizing a decade of economic growth; (3) the rail transport system is now coping with its most serious disruption to date; (4) the port of Haiphong is confronted with a growing resupply burden; and (5) the regime has been forced to adopt a more rigid evacuation program, now involving essential as well as non-essential activities and personnel. At the same time, however, Hanoi continues to meet the needs of the Communists in South Vietnam and essential military and economic traffic continues to move.

1. Since March 1967 over 10,000 attack sorties per month have been flown against targets in North Vietnam, compared to 6,500 per month during the same period in 1966. An increased hammering is being given to the more lucrative targets in the north. During January-March 1967, less than 10 percent of all attack sorties were flown in Route Package VI; in July the share had increased to 33 percent. Since March, 78 important targets have been struck for the first time, including 25 SAM sites and 29 targets within 10-mile radii of Hanoi and Haiphong.

2. The intensified air war has increased North Vietnam's economic losses and compounded management and logistical problems. The direct cost of damage to economic and military targets during March-July 1967--about $110 million--was almost equal to the total damage inflicted in 1966.

3. Damage to electric power generating facilities has been particularly severe and brought much of the country's modern industry

to a standstill. All of the central generating plants in the main Hanoi-Haiphong network, with the exception of the Hanoi plant itself, have been out of service since early June.

4. The country's only cement plant and its only metallurgical plant have ceased production because of bomb damage and the loss of electric power supply. One of the two major textile plants has been heavily damaged; production in the small fertilizer and chemical industry has been curtailed and paper production has been reduced by 80 percent. Thus, many achievements of a decade of industrial growth have been neutralized and, in some cases, lost.

5. During recent weeks the main thrust of the air attack has been against key bridges and LOC's in the Hanoi area. The vital rail lines to China and Haiphong were particularly hard hit. Attacks on the Doumer Bridge and the rail bypass over the Canal des Rapides have effectively limited through rail traffic from China to a rail ferry bypass around the Doumer Bridge. This bypass has been seeded with magnetic influence bombs. The combination of these measures has resulted in the most serious disruption to the rail system since the start of the bombing. Although essential military and economic traffic continues to move, this effort is taxing the system heavily and is done with far more difficulty and cost than previously.

6. Much of the resupply burden is being handled at the port of Haiphong where port congestion has increased significantly. The time required to unload ships has doubled in the past few months. These delays result from the sharp increase in imports since March, reflecting in large part the material requirements imposed by the air attack and the use of the Haiphong sanctuary area for mass storage of supplies.

7. Reports from Hanoi indicate that the evacuation program is now being enforced more rigidly. A recent order reportedly now in effect repeats earlier directives calling for the removal of children and non-essential personnel as well as the personnel of all small industries and handicraft cooperatives, merchants, and their families. More significantly, the new order also calls for some large state enterprises and ministries to begin evacuation. Thus, there is now a much greater emphasis on evacuation of essential as well as non-essential activities from the Hanoi area, with all its attendant negative effects on productivity and public morale.

8. Despite the increasing hardships, economic losses and mounting problems in management and logistics caused by the air war, Hanoi continues to meet its own needs and to support its aggression in South Vietnam. Essential military and economic traffic continues to move.

Richard Helms/2/

/2/Printed from a copy that indicates Helms signed the original.

 

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

Saigon, August 30, 1967, 1147Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Received at 11:58 a.m. and passed to the White House. In a covering note to the copy of the telegram sent to the President, August 31, Rostow wrote: "Herewith Ambassador Bunker looks backward and forward at the Vietnamese political process as we come down to the wire on the election." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 8B(1) [A], Bunker's Weekly Report to the President) This telegram is printed in full in Pike, The Bunker Papers, pp. 138-146.

4452. For the President from Bunker. Herewith my eighteenth weekly telegram:

A. General.

1. The campaign got up a full head of steam (or hot air) this past week.

[Here follows discussion of campaign atmospherics.]

B. Political.

19. In April of 1966 the military reluctantly agreed to hold elections for a Constituent Assembly. Acting under what appeared to be the imminent threat of a massive Buddhist upheaval, they thus set in motion a long chain of political events which comes to a new climax four days from now. It has been an instructive experience for all concerned, as well as a most hopeful beginning for a new political era in this country, and I think the record is worth scanning as we near election eve.

20. In April of 1966 the Vietnamese Government was an almost pure military junta with very little civilian participation or support. It was vulnerable to Communist charges of being illegal and not representative of the Vietnamese people. It was intolerant of dissent.

21. The decision to hold elections for a Constituent Assembly was in large measure forced on the military junta. Nevertheless I think that the military leadership must be credited with seeing, after the fact at least, the great value of that step. The immediate result was to deprive the Buddhist extremists of a meaningful political issue. In the long run, however, that decision turned out to be the start of an increasingly effective political offensive against the Communists. It is a truism that military means alone cannot win this war. The move toward democratic institutions has proved to be an effective political complement to our military offensive, and I think the military leaders have grasped that fact.

22. One reason for the effectiveness of the political offensive is that it has tended to change the nature of the political opposition. In the past about the only means for changing the government, or even effectively influencing its policies, were essentially violent. Demonstrations and coups were the natural thoughts of most "out" politicians. Those who became desperate turned to the Viet Cong, the ultimate source of violence in this country.

23. With the move toward constitutional government, it became possible to express opposition in non-violent ways. Political opposition was channeled into legal and constructive efforts: first, to win election to the Constituent Assembly, then to influence the writing of the Constitution and the electoral laws, now to compete in the current national elections./2/

/2/As reported in INR Intelligence Note 720, September 6, on September 1 the NLF announced a pledge to hold free elections and create a democratically-oriented Constitution as a means of establishing a "national union democratic government." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S)

24. While it must be admitted that political stability here is by no means achieved and the past months have been a perilous journey, I believe that channeling the political opposition into legal and non-violent avenues has contributed heavily to the degree of stability which has existed. It has also begun a move toward more real and permanent political stability. This move now has some momentum behind it, and we have the hope that it will continue to gain momentum.

25. Another reason for the effectiveness of the political offensive against the Viet Cong is the educational effect it has on all Vietnamese, civilian as well as military. The hammering out of the Constitution was accompanied by many clashes of opinion and interest. At several points it seemed that the work of the Assembly might never be completed. Even after the Constitution was finished, the military leadership appeared to be so opposed to some features of the document that we feared they might radically amend it or even reject it out of hand. Good sense and political compromises prevailed, however. In the process, the military learned that they could, indeed must, work with the civilians. The civilian politicians, for their part, had a lesson in dealing with the military that will stand them in good stead in the future. I think that both military and civilian leaders now realize that it is possible to work together toward shared objectives while still disagreeing about many other things.

26. There were hazards, grave hazards, passed by the past year. One of these was the threat to military unity which the very process of democratization itself seemed to inspire. The merger of the Thieu-Ky Presidential slates has not entirely removed that threat, but it did demonstrate that the Vietnamese military are fully aware of the danger and will act to avoid it.

27. Another threat was the deliberate effort to exploit regional differences in last fall's Cabinet crisis. I think it a sign of increased political maturity that regionalism has been muted and denied in the election campaign. All of the candidates are bidding for all the electorate, and none of them has made an effort to exploit purely regional prejudice.

28. The campaign itself has been perhaps the single greatest experience for the Vietnamese politicians and their people. An unprecedented freedom of expression, including a completely uncensored press, has shown all Vietnamese that even here and under wartime conditions it is possible to tolerate a great measure of dissent, a fact which has not in the past been much appreciated by Vietnamese leaders.

29. I have the impression that the campaign has also tended to instill a new respect for the limits of responsible criticism, indeed perhaps even a new respect for fact. In a society which has long been known for its addiction to wild rumors and extreme suspicion, this is important for future stability.

30. All of this is progress, but we are by no means home. If, as seems most likely, Thieu-Ky win the election, there is a possibility that certain of the defeated candidates may band together in an effort to invalidate or at least discredit the election. I am not persuaded that the civilian politicians--to say nothing of the military--yet have a full understanding of the role of a loyal opposition. Both the Viet Cong and the extremist Buddhists will be doing all they can to encourage the defeated candidates to adopt measures and postures which will make it hard for the elected leaders to form a broadly based government and an effective military-civilian partnership.

31. There is also the continuing problem of the relationship between Thieu and Ky. I think this is by no means fully sorted out, and we may be in for some difficult moments while they establish their future roles. I am essentially optimistic, however, that they have both realized the necessity to work together, no matter how painful it may be.

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

Bunker

 

300. Memorandum From William J. Jorden of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) and the White House Press Spokesman (Christian)/1/

Washington, August 31, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Misc. Memos, Vol. 3B. Confidential.

SUBJECT
Information Teams on Viet-Nam

This memo summarizes our discussion of yesterday./2/

/2/Rostow also reported on the results of the meeting in a separate memorandum to the President, September 2. (Ibid., Vol. 3A)

PARTICIPANTS
George Christian
Walt Rostow
General Taylor
William Jorden
Harold Kaplan
Robert Miller
Tom Johnson (for part of discussion)

The meeting was based on General Taylor's memo of August 25 to the President./3/

/3/In his August 25 memorandum to the President, General Taylor cited the need to defend more resolutely the administration's policy in Vietnam. As a result of his recent trip to Asia, Taylor found that while allied leaders believed in the need to support South Vietnam, they faulted the administration for "failing to get the message across" in terms of world public opinion. Taylor proposed the establishment of a comprehensive information campaign. (Ibid., Taylor Report of Overseas Operations and Misc. Memos)

Point 1 of the memo--better coordination among allied nations of information policy--is being handled. A 7-nation group has been formed and is now meeting regularly.

Main focus of the meeting was on Point 2 of the Taylor memo--organizing a team or teams to travel around the country to explain the Viet-Nam situation and our policy there.

There was general agreement that one or more civilian/military teams should be organized immediately. They would hold off-the-record meetings with newspaper editorial boards, key editors, TV and radio executives concerned with news and editorials. The team(s) could also be used for briefing influential individuals--governors, Congressmen, presidential candidates, etc.

There was discussion of forming three teams--each one to cover one part of the country, Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast.

Care should be taken to mesh this activity with other similar efforts--e.g. Secretary Rusk's meeting with the Editorial Board of the Baltimore Sun.

It was agreed that the new Kaplan shop operating under Rostow and Jorden would be responsible for supplying the teams with the necessary facts and up-to-date material.

General Taylor stressed the importance of having the teams:

(1) go out as Presidential representatives, with at least one team member being a well-known figure;

(2) making sure that the teams are supplied with cogent answers to all the questions being widely asked by the American people.

Names mentioned as possible members of the team(s) were:

Ambassador Lodge, Clark Clifford, General Taylor, Phil Habib, Generals DePuy, Walt, Krulak, and Kinnard; also, Roy Wehrle on the economic side.

Mr. Rostow suggested the following main themes:

(1) the war is being won; no "stalemate;"

(2) the war can only be lost in the U.S; Hanoi cannot win in the field; it counts only on the prospect of weakening and withdrawal by the U.S;

(3) the meaning of Viet-Nam to Asia; economic developments in countries on the rim of China; development of regional cooperation; progress based on confidence in the U.S. commitment to Southeast Asia;

(4) the consequences--to Asia and the world--of an American pull-out or retreat to "enclaves;"

(5) the relationship between Viet-Nam and the turmoil inside China.

Added to the above were:

(1) The reasons we are in Viet-Nam.

(2) Bombing--reasons for and results from.

(3) The status of ARVN--how good are the Vietnamese troops, progress in the past year.

There was discussion whether as part of their job--or as "cover"--the panels should undertake public appearances, especially on TV, as part of their field activities. The consensus was in favor of keeping to off-the-record sessions.

Mr. Christian said his office could prepare schedules and write letters asking that meetings be arranged with editors, and others.

There was a brief discussion of trying to get a TV network interested in a regular (biweekly or monthly) TV show that would be a report from the Government on Viet-Nam. High level officials would present material and answer questions on matters then attracting interest among the general public or press.

Bill

 

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

Washington, August 31, 1967, 0159Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 15 VIET S. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Miller; cleared by Leonhart, Habib, Bundy, and representatives of USIA, AID, and DOD; and approved by Katzenbach. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.

30023. For Ambassador Bunker from the Under Secretary. Subject: Use of US Leverage in Viet-Nam After Elections.

1. We have been giving thought on high-level, inter-agency basis to ways we might more effectively exercise leverage on newly elected GVN to maximize latter's performance in post-election period. Following discussion contains our thoughts for application by the Mission under your direction and as you see fit. Since exercise of leverage is a most complex and delicate matter, its application is of course left to your discretion. We would welcome your comments on the paper.

2. We are sending by separate message a draft working paper suggesting a priority program for the new GVN, including specific suggestions for impact measures to be accomplished within three months./2/ Subject to your comments, our thoughts on leverage are of course closely related to our thinking regarding a priority program.

/2/This paper, entitled "Post-Election Priorities in Viet-Nam" and sent to Bunker in telegram 30020 to Saigon, August 31, set up priorities for newly-elected Vietnamese leaders. In addition, an "Impact Program" of immediate measures was devised. The initial priority was to broaden the GVN by incorporating civilians into the government and establishing a relationship with the political parties extant in South Vietnam. "Impact" measures would include diverse appointments to the new government and a new political party law. The next priority was improvement of the ARVN, with "impact" reforms including merit promotion and the formation of an inspectorate. The third priority, corruption in the government, was to be reduced by a new government agency created to root out officials engaged in corrupt practices. A fourth priority was to revitalize national reconciliation and Chieu Hoi programs by extending political participation and civil rights. Renewed peace initiatives comprised the fifth priority. The sixth priority was implementation of economic stabilization measures, the immediate measure being the selection by the new President of an economic development commission. The last priority was to devise an efficient means to mobilize manpower resources. (Ibid.)

3. In anticipating the US/GVN relationship in the post-election period, it is generally agreed that the US should find ways to exercise leverage with the Vietnamese Government which are more commensurate in degree with the importance of the US effort to South Viet-Nam's survival and which reflect the climate of growing restiveness in the US regarding our commitment in Viet-Nam. One of the chief reasons why US leverage has been applied ineffectively in the past is that, in its impatience to get results and make progress, the US has increasingly resorted to unilateral programs and actions with inadequate consultation with the Vietnamese. On the other hand, the indiscriminate and careless exercise of US leverage could undermine the self-respect of the Vietnamese Government in its own eyes and in the eyes of the South Vietnamese people.

4. To be effective, US leverage must be exercised in the context of a relationship of mutual respect and confidence, and in ways commensurate with the objective sought. It must also be backed by credible sanctions.

5. The various tools of leverage available to us are described below. It is not proposed that all of these tools be used at any given time or that some of them be used at all. However, they represent a selection of arrows that might be placed in the US Mission quiver for use as the Mission Council deems appropriate. It will be particularly important to construct a credible and effective system of US leverage for use as necessary and appropriate in connection with the list of priority program objectives which we shall be seeking to achieve with the newly elected government in the immediate post-election period.

Tools of Leverage

6. A wide range of possible techniques and forms of influence is available at each level of the American presence in Viet-Nam. A few of these leverage devices are now in use, mostly at the initiative of individual Americans on the spot, but not as part of an organized framework of influence. Other devices have been instituted in the past, only to be subsequently abandoned because of fear of their misuse, actual misuse, or inadequate understanding of their value.

7. In the following list we array a range of possible instruments of influence that the US might employ, with some indication of their applicability:

a. Rapport: influence based on personal relationships. Given Vietnamese stress on personal relationships in official life, this can be an invaluable helpmate to the exercise of influence. It is also, however, the least reliable and least transferable form of influence.

b. Joint Planning and Evaluation: establishing a formal, close staff working relationship between US and GVN plans and evaluation elements. Their task is to agree on joint program goals and benchmarks, with provisions for periodic progress evaluation. An example of this relationship was provided by MACV's RD Support Directorate, a group of US live-in advisors operating within the GVN Ministry of Revolutionary Development during its formative period.

c. Joint Inspection and Audit: creating joint US/GVN inspection teams to conduct on-site examination of program progress and resource utilization. This approach has been employed in inspecting the effectiveness of ARVN battalions committed to RD and in obtaining quarterly reports on execution of the RD program.

d. Joint Secretariats: composed of US and GVN specialists, to assist the latter in policy development on issues of mutual interest. Such an arrangement is in fact under consideration by the Joint Mission/GVN Economic Committee, a high-level policy group that meets periodically to discuss key economic issues of concern to both sides, and that appoints sub-committees to cope with specific problems. A joint secretariat would formalize this arrangement on a continuing basis, with second-level Mission and GVN officials furnishing combined staffs to examine policy alternatives, resolve differences, make disagreements explicit, and, where possible, submit agreed-upon recommendations to their principals.

e. The JCRR Approach: establishing a joint, autonomous, dually-staffed, foundation-like organization headed by a board of commissioners appointed by the two heads of state, to administer all forms of nonmilitary aid. The model for this is the highly successful Sino-American Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction set up in Taiwan in 1949. As an independently financed institution, it is removed from the direct pressures of domestic politics, can mobilize the energies of the private sector, and respond quickly to articulated needs.

f. Contingency Funds and Special Resources: to be placed at the disposal of US advisors to enable local officials to exploit critical local opportunities when GVN machinery is unable to respond promptly. This device affords flexibility in program execution by providing prompt reward for productive effort and resources for error-correction. More important, it provides the advisor with powerful leverage in his relation with his counterpart.

g. Control Over Expenditure of Counterpart Piasters: to gain influence over RD program execution. Inherent in the existence of counterpart funds is the right of joint US/GVN agreement on their disposition. Present practice is to yield up counterpart at the GVN national budget level with no further US control over appropriation or expenditure of these funds, other than that provided by joint US/GVN project agreements. To reintroduce an element of US control over expenditure of these funds would require reinstituting a joint sign-off procedure at province level, needing the signatures of both US province senior advisor and GVN province chief to authorize any piaster expenditure or commodity release.

h. Retention of Resources in US Channels: so that disbursement to the GVN can be made at the point of utilization. The extreme form of this would involve distribution within Viet-Nam of all US material support, both military equipment and civilian commodities, through a US-managed logistical system. Such a system would be relatively easy to institute in the RD program and has already been partially applied to MAP. However, channelling all assistance through a US logistical system would severely burden that system, would make it geographically more inflexible, and would perpetuate Vietnamese dependence upon it, rather than creating self-supporting capabilities of their own. A more feasible approach would be to retain only part, e.g., the RD resources, in U.S. channels.

i. Joint Personnel Management: to institute career incentive, selection, and removal policies. U.S. influence over sensitive GVN personnel policy could be exerted in several modest ways, such as monitoring the operation of the Vietnamese system through a parallel U.S. staff, or maintaining a separate U.S. or joint efficiency-reporting system (keeping track of promising Vietnamese for specific leadership roles and identifying incompetent Vietnamese for selection-out). Some of this is done now but the system affords no way of affecting GVN decisions. To accomplish the latter would require more formal joint arrangements such as a joint board to review recommendations for personnel actions--an arrangement that would also provide a forum for airing honest disagreements. The system could be made more palatable by requiring reciprocal rating by Vietnamese and Americans. Alternatively or in addition, the U.S. might follow the practice of submitting to the GVN periodic assignment and removal recommendations relying on other parts of the over-all influence system for leverage to gain acceptance. Another possibility would be the establishment of a Civil Service Commission with a U.S. advisory staff to work closely with it.

j. Joint Command: to achieve greater integration of GVN, US, and possibly other Free World decision elements, civil and/or military. For a variety of political reasons, integration at the higher levels has been rejected by the Vietnamese and judged undesirable by the U.S. Command. At lower levels, such as field force and division, there is considerable reluctance to integrate command, because of the recognition of VC intelligence penetration of RVNAF. At battalion level, unit association (the "buddy system") is being attempted in lieu of joint command. At company level, the introduction of an American command element into Vietnamese units, as pioneered by the Marine Combined Action Platoons, is now being expanded to RF/PF companies. Under the conditions of Viet-Nam, joint command at higher levels does not appear to be a promising leverage technique. At lower levels, reinforcing the advisor's hand may be more effective than placing him in command of a Vietnamese unit.

k. Policy-Level Monitoring System: to monitor the exercise of authority of key officials of the GVN. This would be an arrangement whereby each member of the Mission Council and other senior Mission officers as appropriate would be designated by the Ambassador to monitor the actions of specific key GVN officials.

l. Withholding U.S. Support: At levels below Saigon, the authority of U.S. senior advisors to cut off or withdraw U.S. civil and military support from Vietnamese activities or operations within their area of responsibility would constitute powerful leverage. To achieve a posture of graduated response, the advisor could have available to him such varied instruments as the right to grant or withhold access to air transportation for the province chief, U.S. firepower, mobility, and medical evacuation for particular RVNAF units, and over-all military and civil support for an entire province or program, including withdrawal of an entire U.S. advisory team.

At the Saigon level, a range of extremely tough options is available, encompassing selective withdrawal of U.S. support for Viet-Nam. Persuading the GVN that these are in fact available, requires the will to use them and the political ability to follow through if our hand is called. Options would include halting further troop deployments, standing down U.S. unit operations, suspending CIP and MAP assistance, and so forth.

Rusk

 

302. Memorandum From the Ambassador's Special Assistant (Lansdale) to the Ambassador to Vietnam (Bunker)/1/

Saigon, September 2, 1967.

/1/Source: Center for Military History, DepCORDS/MACV Files, Lansdale (1967-1968). Secret. Copies were sent to Locke, Westmoreland, Komer, Calhoun, Hart, and Jacobson.

SUBJECT
Talk with Thieu, September 2

As you know, Chief of State Nguyen van Thieu asked me to "come right over" to Independence Palace, the morning of September 2. I did so and had an hour-long talk with him privately. He had no urgent problems to discuss. I had the feeling that he was looking for a little reassurance, on the eve of the election. We talked mostly about the future of Viet Nam.

I did, however, alert him to the dangers of mishandling the detention of Colonel Pham van Lieu, with so huge a contingent of journalists in town seeking a news story, and suggested that Lieu be detained personally by someone such as General Vien or General Vy rather than at MSS headquarters, where journalists could speculate that he was being mistreated. Thieu said he knew very little about the case, other than charges that Lieu had been handing out leaflets supporting Presidential candidate Phan khac Suu at the NCO Academy in Nha Trang, which Lieu commands; the thought was to hold Lieu for five days in Saigon, away from his command, until the elections are over, as a "military disciplinary measure." I commented that it could become a sensational incident and urged Thieu to act. He then spoke to his staff, presumably about the handling of Lieu.

Also, Thieu said that his brother Kieu had talked to him about candidates issuing a joint statement to the people on Election Eve. Thieu felt that such evidence of patriotic unity would be a good thing, but that the other candidates would suspect that Thieu had some trick up his sleeve and would refuse to sign it. Thus, Thieu was issuing his own statement today (presumably by radio) which would stress the need for honesty in the election, and would urge people to vote. I said that it would be wise in this statement to request specifically those in positions of power--Corps Commanders and Province and District Chiefs--to do their best to insure free and fair elections. Thieu nodded seemingly in agreement.

Here are highlights of other matters discussed:

--The militant Buddhists of the An Quang Pagoda seemed to Thieu to be the major source of dissension in the immediate post-election period. I suggested that Thieu might use his brother Kieu and others to turn the energies and scheming wits of the An Quang leaders into more constructive channels, such as into social welfare projects; the GVN could help, as feasible; the An Quang leaders would be attracted by this as a means of building up their organization, and it would be wise for the GVN to introduce some more moderate elements into such an enterprise, influencing while cooperating. Thieu said that this was worth considering further, because the only moves he had thought of so far were to either jail them or let them become an open opposition.

--Thieu described his concept of pacification, frankly admitting that he was thinking of how Ngo dinh Nhu had run it under President Diem. Thieu felt that it should be his own priority business, if he is elected President, with a Deputy to run the nuts-and-bolts daily business, probably as Vice Prime Minister. He sketched out a "chain of command" from the President directly to Province Chiefs, but with Corps Commanders holding regional responsibility. I commented that this seemed to be a fuzzy "chain of command" and that I had grave doubts about the ability of Corps Commanders to understand the role of the people in "people's warfare," which is a fundamental need in pacification. I pointed out that Nhu had become lost in theories, by not being in touch with the people--and the tragedy of this held a lesson for Thieu that was worth heeding. Thieu agreed that it was easy to be fooled by Province Chiefs, since some are not only able administrators but able liars as well. Thieu then said that he was thinking of having an Operations Room in the Palace. We talked about maps, types of data, communications, the Malayan Red Book experience, and similar details for a time.

--Thieu said that he wanted General Nguyen duc Thang to take over responsibility for RF and PF forces, as one of the major elements in pacification. We discussed Thang at some length. I stressed how a President and Commander-in-Chief could best deal with a strong leader such as Thang, for the good of the country. I described how support would have to be given and mutual respect and trust earned. I gave him my personal evaluation of Thang as a developing leader who could make a Thieu Administration succeed in this decisive moment of Viet Nam's history, if Thieu acted with the wise leadership he himself would be in position to exert.

--This led into a discussion of his relations with Nguyen cao Ky. I commented that Thieu should be ready to discover that he himself had suddenly become a different man on the morning of September 4, if elected President. In the past, he had been too reserved, awaiting the moves of others. In the future, Thieu would have to take the first step towards working closely with others, such as Ky; if not, he would find himself increasingly surrounded by sycophantic "yes men" and schemers. We then talked for a time about how Thieu could develop better personal relations with Ky and others, to gain real teamwork in the future. I also suggested some ways he could become closer to the people, when he travelled in the countryside.

--We then talked about the evolution of political parties, including the part played in this process by both the Senate and the Lower House. I stressed the attitude the new President would have to take, to encourage the emergence into public life of the present clandestine concept of political organizations in Viet Nam, and the growth of various groups into more unified national parties that had structures in villages and precincts.

--I asked about the composition of his Administration, if he becomes President. Thieu laughed and said, "go ahead and give me a lecture about a 'broadly based Government'." He explained that "this is what Americans talk to me about." I commented that they probably were thinking about some of the hard bumps and crises ahead. Thieu replied that he was thinking of them also. Then, Thieu's aide came in and reminded Thieu that he was running far behind schedule. Thieu asked to be excused, shook hands with me rather emotionally (taking my hand in both of his tightly), and thanked me for the talk. I left, noting that there were people awaiting him in the anteroom and in the corridor.

 

303. Editorial Note

In general elections held on September 3, 1967, the South Vietnamese people elected Nguyen Van Thieu as President and Nguyen Cao Ky as Vice President. The vote for the Thieu-Ky ticket was 1,638,902, or 34.8 percent of the total cast. Opposition tickets headed by Truong Dinh Dzu, Phan Khac Suu, and Tran Van Huong received, respectively, 17.2 percent, 10.8 percent, and 10 percent of the total vote cast. An analysis contained in Ambassador Bunker's weekly telegram to President Johnson noted that a large portion of the vote for the Thieu-Ky ticket came from areas outside the large urban centers, while the other candidates led in the major cities, as evidenced by the fact that Suu received the most votes in cities such as Hue and Danang and Huong received more votes than Thieu in Saigon. The members of the Senate were chosen at this time, while elections for the House of Representatives were to be held on October 22. "The Presidential election results speak for themselves and will go far to answer the earlier charges that the government was guilty of improper activities during the campaign and would manipulate the results," Bunker suggested. Bunker's full analysis of the election is in his 19th weekly report to the President, telegram 5060 from Saigon, September 6. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S; printed in full in Pike, The Bunker Papers, pages 147-159)

The President had sent a mission to Vietnam to observe the elections first-hand. The observer group numbered two dozen individuals, including Governors, Senators, labor and business leaders, and journalists. A full list of the group's members is in telegram 26112 to Saigon, August 24. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 14 VIET S) According to Johnson's Daily Diary, he met with the election observers on September 6 from 11:06 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. (Johnson Library) Jim Jones' notes of this meeting are ibid., Meeting Notes File, Sept. 6, '67-Mtg. With VN Election Observers. No other record has been found. Walt Rostow cabled the group's positive assessment to Bunker in telegram CAP 67759, September 7. (Ibid., National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, White House Cables-Back Channels-Incoming, Outgoing)

On September 8 the President wrote to Thieu:

"I extend my warm regards to you and to Prime Minister Ky on your victory in the election of a President and Vice President. I have just received a detailed and most moving account of your election from the distinguished Americans whom you invited to Viet-Nam as observers. They returned believing in the fairness of the procedures and observed the intense interest of the Vietnamese people in this major step toward creating your own popularly chosen and constitutionally based government. Their individual reports were a testimonial to the courage and determination of the Vietnamese people to remain free and to create their own political institutions in their own way. The election was a milestone along the path toward the goal you have set for yourselves--a free, secure and peaceful Viet-Nam. But it is not the end of the journey. Many hard tasks remain. Not the least of these now is the creation of a strong, effective and broadly based government that will help you and your country achieve the objectives you set forth in your campaign. The American government and I, personally, look forward to continued close cooperation with you and your colleagues in the days and months ahead. I am confident that our efforts--joined with those of our allies--will be crowned with success and that under your leadership, a peaceful, democratic, strong and prosperous Viet-Nam will emerge."

This letter was sent to Saigon in telegram 34017, September 8. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 15-1 VIET S) Thieu, who received the letter on September 9 from Bunker, acknowledged the President's communication in his own letter of thanks dated September 26 but received from the Vietnamese Embassy by the Department of State on October 10 and then forwarded to the White House. (Ibid.)

 

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

Washington, September 5, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Misc. Memos, Vol. 3B. Secret.

SUBJECT
Priorities in Viet-Nam Under a New Government

Thieu and Ky are in. What should they now do? What should we push?

The first order of business should be formation of a new government.

It should be broadly based. Strenuous efforts should be made to pull in some leading candidates or those close to them. Huong should be pressed. Also Dr. Dan (Suu's VP candidate). Also Dr. Vien, present Deputy PM and close to Huong./2/

/2/Tran Van Huong, Phan Quang Dan, and Nguyen Luu Vien.

Second priority--establishing close and good relations with the new Assembly. In the long run, this can only be done if the Government begins organizing a political party and enlisting significant legislators.

Third--a matter of internal importance and significant impact here and abroad--an approach to the VC and the Front: Lay down your arms and stop the killing; join the nation; personal and political rights will be assured. A national reconciliation commission should be set up.

Fourth--an approach to Hanoi. This will have to follow up on Thieu's campaign promise. But it should be--or appear to be--more than a propaganda gimmick. They should be urged not to rush in without planning. My preference would be for a quiet diplomatic approach. Emphasis should be on talk "among us Vietnamese." An open offer of a one-week pause would be rejected out of hand by Hanoi. This is no time to play games. If Hanoi is willing to talk with the GVN, a bombing pause could enter into the talks. If it breaks this way (talks in Paris, Phnom Penh, or wherever), we should go to the Russians and urge them to put up or shut up, get Hanoi to consider a real response; we would agree to halt bombing first if Hanoi's need is for face-saving. The gut question: are they in a mood to cut down their involvement in the South?

There are distinct advantages in letting the new GVN take the lead in moving down a diplomatic track. And my judgment is that they are now in a mood as never before.

We should, meantime, be going forward with our own efforts--of which I judge the Oslo channel is the most promising.

The worst approach right now:

Go to the GVN with a huge shopping list of things to do, programs to push. This has been the pattern over the years; it doesn't work.

Let's hit them with a few high priority items first. We should also sort out new things they can do (appeal to the Front; approach to Hanoi; political party organization) and the old things we want to see move ahead (improvement of ARVN, anti-corruption campaign, RD, land reform, etc.).

On the approach to Hanoi, it may be that Thieu will feel obliged to do it soon and to do it publicly.

If so, we should urge him to wait long enough for some preplanning and preparations. Before any statement by Saigon, we should have a chance to hit U Thant, the Russians, the Indians, Poles, Indonesians, etc. We should tell them that a serious gesture is coming up; it will involve a halt in bombing; now is the time for Hanoi to respond--with deeds as well as words.

Again, the message should be: put up or shut up.

Bill

 

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

Washington, September 5, 1967, 1:05-2:40 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, Meeting Notes File, Folder #4, 1/67-11/67. No classification marking. The notation "L" on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.

SUBJECT
Weekly meeting with Secretaries Rusk and McNamara, Walt Rostow, George Christian, Dick Helms and General Harold K. Johnson

The meeting opened with the discussion of the Vietnam elections observers. The President asked if Lodge could be contacted to see if he could stay an extra day or two to talk to the news media for backgrounders. He also hoped Senator Hickenlooper could talk to CBS. The President commented that he would be meeting with Labor leaders next week.

Rusk said he had talked to Tom Wicker concerning the factual errors in this morning's article in the New York Times on the Vietnam elections. Rusk said Wicker failed to recognize that about half the Vietnam population is under voting age. Rusk told Wicker there is no bar to voting as long as they were registered. It was agreed that Bill Bundy would write a corrective letter promptly to the New York Times.

McNamara pointed out that fourteen targets have been authorized but have been delayed because of bad weather. Also four are inside the 10 mile circle and are being held. These total 18. Of the 51 remaining, 9 have been removed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff after careful examination. Some of them have been removed because they have not been repaired such as bridges, etc., and others which were authorized or linked to targets which have been authorized.

McNamara and Rusk agreed that of the 42 remaining, they are ready to recommend 10. Of these, two are being held out for further technical examination. One requires further photography and the other requires fresh intelligence./2/

/2/In a telephone call to Rostow on August 31, the President said: "Whatever real bombing we are going to do will be done between now and September 11. Get Dean Rusk to look over those 49 left and give me order in which they should be hit. Then we will go back and re-hit those bridges, power plant, etc." (Note on telephone call from the President, August 31; ibid., National Security File, Files of Walt Rostow, Bombing)

General Johnson said the weather will be bad for the next few days because of high winds and tropical storms, etc.

McNamara pointed out these 8-10 targets which have been authorized would be an adequate bank for the week.

McNamara said that of the 32 remaining, 3 were ports, 4 were air fields.

The President interrupted to ask if Gia Lam was one of them. McNamara responded that Gia Lam was a commercial air field and was not one of the 4 air fields he referred to. He added that there are 5 or 6 small petroleum storage sites in Hanoi. That these were small ones of 430 metric tons out of 72,000.

Rusk asked on something like that (the small storage sites which are insignificant) whether we should ask a man to get killed. McNamara replied "that's why I don't recommend it."

General Johnson said he did not agree. "Men dying is a relative thing. The effect of the air campaign is a cumulative one and no one can predict which blow will be the crucial blow to them (North Vietnamese)."

The President interjected "if we're not damaging targets why . . ."

General Johnson replied that this was all relative. "Every blow makes him stretch his resources and at some point his resources will not be able to be stretched anymore."

Rusk changed the subject briefly to ask if we are really having our air power saturate every enemy position, especially fortified positions, with napalm before the Marines go in. He asked if we are giving the men in the South all the air power that they can absorb.

General Johnson said he could not answer that categorically. CINCPAC informed him that the men got all the air cover they could use.

Rusk replied, "CINCPAC has a different war than Westmoreland's."

McNamara said there is enough air power to call in on a particular case. He said only 25% of the air strikes in South Vietnam support the ground troops.

Rusk commented he was just worried about the battalion commander going against a fortified position without air power softening up the enemy.

The President asked McNamara to look into this and get an answer and do all that is necessary to minimize fortified ground positions against the U.S. ground forces.

McNamara returned to the remaining targets saying there were four air fields, three ports and five or six POL sites, and 19 others which include seven small targets such as small battery plants, concrete plants, and tire factories. There are three or four important bridges and railroad yards in Haiphong and Hanoi, and five or six small depot areas.

The President asked if these bridges are important.

McNamara said the bridges are important but they are "smack in the middle of Haiphong and Hanoi, and the railroad yards are too." McNamara said at some point we may have to work on them. This will be based on their defenses not being as heavy or the civilian casualties not being heavy if those targets were hit.

McNamara pointed out that of the three ports he mentioned, Cam Pha today has no foreign vessels in it. But a foreign vessel could go in there any time. The second port, Hong Gai, has a Russian ship in it today, but it is expected to leave tomorrow.

The President asked why we could not give a conditional order that as long as there are no ships left in either of those two harbors--they could get hit.

McNamara said he did not know if this was feasible.

The President said to put our best man in there to see if there are any ships, and if not, hit the ports.

General Johnson said "Theater commanders would welcome this kind of latitude."

The President said we could hit these ports if there were no ships in them.

Rusk interjected that the order should read "no ships." The order should not be conditioned upon whether they are "Russian ships" or on the registry of the ships.

McNamara told General Johnson to issue the orders and make it crystal clear "if there are no ships in the port then they can be hit" and leave it to the commander to figure out how to be certain that there are no ships.

General Johnson said he would draw up this order.

The President asked how many were in that category--two or three.

McNamara said two. The other port, Haiphong, always has Russian ships in there.

The President said we should get a speech worked up for Thieu and let him make it as quickly as possible. The President also asked for a report on his desk today about what was said as far as negotiations are concerned.

Rusk said he thought Thieu made the peace negotiations conditional on reciprocity.

Walt Rostow said he is assembling the information on what was said on negotiations and will have that for the President today.

The President said Thieu should be grabbing the headlines from Dzu by proposing several programs./3/

/3/In a September 3 memorandum to the President, Bromley Smith wrote: "The most striking development in the election trends so far has been the unexpectedly strong showing of Truong Dinh Dzu, who had been predicted to outpoll the minor civilian candidates but to trail Thieu, Huong, Suu and Ha Thuc Ky. As the campaign progressed there were indications of strong public interest in Dzu's effective platform manner at joint rallies and his hard-hitting attacks on the government. Dzu proved a popular campaigner. The need for peace was a major theme of his campaign and he went farther than any other candidate in advocating early negotiations with the Communists. There are grounds for his questioning the sources of his campaign's material support and backing. The possibility of some Viet Cong or even French financial support is not excluded, although evidence is lacking." (Ibid., Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President, Vol. 3)

Helms interrupted to say the 100-Day program "is set to go and could be implemented immediately."

Walt Rostow said he received a cable today with Bunker's recommendation of the main items that they will press on the government of Vietnam. Walt Rostow asked to discuss one important issue at this meeting, which is "shall the government of Vietnam make an offer to the Viet Cong that if the Viet Cong accept the constitution then they can join political life in South Vietnam as a political party." Rostow pointed out that the constitution forbids the advocacy of communism. However if Thieu could make a statement that so long as the Communists do not try to force an overthrow of the constitution, then they could come in to political life as a political party--this would be a helpful statement.

The President said he wants to give a generous interpretation of this and be as liberal as possible.

[Here follows discussion unrelated to Vietnam.]

Rusk interjected that we should be very liberal in what we agreed to, so long as Vietnam is ready to buy this. However, Rusk emphasized that he was reluctant to impose this on the Vietnamese if they didn't buy it.

The President said to tell Bunker that we favor a liberal interpretation if he can get them (the government of Vietnam) to go along.

Rusk said a variation is to declare a complete cease fire and amnesty in the IV Corps area.

The President said he hopes they (Thieu and Ky) show action even though all the election returns are not in yet and even though they have not been inaugurated. The President said "instead of Dzu taking the headlines, Thieu and Ky should fill the news with 'Operation Takeoff'." "One day they should give out a statement on proposed land reforms, another to reform the army, another on anti-corruption" the President said.

Rusk and McNamara agreed to this.

McNamara advised that acceptance of the NLF is fundamental to any settlement and also fundamental to turning off Dzu.

Rostow added that by allowing the Communists to come in as a political party--this would do more to encourage the non-Communist factions to unite against the Communist party.

The President said to get a cable out to Bunker along these lines. "Get out the programs they can try to get proposed. Have Westmoreland talk to them about reforming the Army. Have them (Thieu and Ky) give backgrounders. First tell them how to broaden the government and make it as much civilian as possible. Clean up the government. Give out their programs on reconciliation in the Chieu Hoi program; land reform; peace initiatives. I'd have the New York Times believe that they will get what they want from this government," the President said.

The President said to let Ky talk about the things he wants done, especially those things that would appeal to the opposition in the U.S. He pointed out that we've got to minimize our opposition. The major threat we have is from the doves.

Rusk said Time-Life is having a debate on editorial policy on Vietnam and he plans to meet with them shortly.

[Here follows discussion unrelated to Vietnam.]

General Johnson reported that he had lunch with General Wheeler yesterday. Wheeler's doctors want to keep him in the hospital two weeks from the time he entered it and another two weeks for convalescing. Johnson confirmed that Wheeler did have a coronary attack and there was some damage to Wheeler's heart but all the tests indicate he is strong now.

After Helms and General Johnson left, George Christian asked if there weren't some of these 51 targets which have been hit.

McNamara replied yes.

[Here follows discussion of defense and security matters unrelated to Vietnam.]

McNamara said at some point it would be well if the President could sit down for two hours of a relaxed conversation especially concerning the bombing program over the next year and year and a half.

It was decided to add Ambassador Eugene Locke to the schedule Wednesday, and George Christian asked if Locke could meet the press afterwards on a background basis.

The President again asked if Ambassador Lodge can stay around two or three days. The President also asked Rostow to talk to each 22 Vietnam Election Observers and to congratulate them on a good trip and a good job and to ask each of them to give their impressions to the news media.

Rostow asked if the President approved his idea to have Lodge form teams to go into various regions of the country.

The President said "I'm for it, but State Department or Defense should execute it."

Rusk recommended that the President tell the publishers (with whom he is having lunch Wednesday)/4/ that State and Defense will furnish the top military and political men from the departments to brief their editorial boards.

/4/September 6.

The meeting adjourned with the President asking Defense Department policies for sending Marines back to Vietnam for a second tour. McNamara replied that this was rarely done and McNamara personally goes over each second term enlistment in Vietnam.

The President asked if there would be any reason why he should not be away for the weekend perhaps Thursday through Sunday in Texas.

McNamara and Rusk said definitely no reason why he should not.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated domestic matters.]

 


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