174. Memorandum for the Record of a Meeting of the Executive Committee1

The purpose of the meeting was to examine a second effort on the part of the drafting group to cover the economic and political actions recommended in the McNamara-Taylor trip report;2 specifically, to add detailed requirements which should be communicated to Diem and which, if fulfilled, would provide the basis for resumption of full support by the U.S. Government.

The attached paper3 was submitted by the drafters. There were no major criticisms. Those voiced were:

The supporting analysts,4 which appeared in the preceding paper, was desirable and should be integrated into the current draft.
It should be made clear that the instructions involved had their origin with the President.
The theme should be molded into the paper that the dialogue between the Ambassador and President Diem is designed to achieve three things—an increase in the military effort, a reduction in the strains on U.S./GVN confidence, and increase of popular Vietnamese support for winning the war.

Based on the foregoing, minor editorial changes were suggested.

The principal discussion centered around how the Ambassador was to convey to Diem the U.S. purposes, how the matter was to be explained to the U.S. public and what effect the suspension of aid would actually have.
It was the Attorney General’s view that we are so deeply committed to the support of the effort in Vietnam that Diem will not be greatly influenced by the steps contemplated in this program. He was likewise concerned with the proposed technique of making the aid suspension known to Diem by indirection, rather than by direct confrontation. He also raised the question of the logic of making known the plan to withdraw U.S. soldiers. Mr. McNamara rationalized this course of action to him in terms of there being no wisdom in leaving our forces in Vietnam, when their presence is no longer required, either by virtue of the Vietnamese having been trained to assume the function, or the function having been fulfilled.
Mr. Bell was against use of the word “suspend” in discussion of aid and preferred to use the term “held up” to indicate that it might be resumed. He also proposed, in the anticipation that the President would have to make some form of public statement, that it should be pivoted upon the theme that the programs which are held up are being reviewed to insure that they are consistent with the President’s previously announced policy regarding assistance for Vietnam.
There was discussion of the desirability of increasing VOA broadcasts, particularly with respect to the emphasis on democracy, freedom and enlightened processes. It was Mr. McNamara’s view that we should be wary of this action because it might inspire Diem to eject the USIS, which would be disastrous.

Mr. McNamara recommended that at tomorrow’s White House meeting the Conclusions and Recommendations in the McNamara-Taylor report be reviewed in the presence of the President, along with the analysis of alternative policies (Section IX). At that meeting, also, there will be a further redraft of the paper on economics and politics, embodying the minor changes suggested today.

V.H. Krulak
Major General, USMC
  1. Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-233-69. Top Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Krulak who did not provide a list of participants. The meeting was held at the White House. A record of the discussion by Bromley Smith lists the following participants: “Secretary McNamara, Secretary Dillon, Attorney General, Under Secretary Harriman, Deputy Secretary Gilpatric (later), Administrator Bell, Director McCone, Acting Director Wilson, General Krulak, Assistant Secretary Hilsman, Deputy Assistant Secretary William Bundy, Mr. Janow (AID), Mr. Koren (Hilsman’s office), Mr. McGeorge Bundy, Mr. Forrestal, Mr. Bromley Smith.” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda, Meetings on Vietnam)
  2. Document 167.
  3. Reference is to an October 4 draft of a Report for the Executive Committee of the NSC. There is no drafting information on it, but Krulak implies that it was a group effort. The October 4 draft was revised as Krulak describes above and then discussed at a meeting with the President on October 5; see Document 179. The paper was then sent as a cable to Saigon; see Document 181.

    The October 4 draft is in the Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Countries Series, Vietnam, and the revised October 5 draft is ibid., National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda, Meetings on Vietnam.

  4. Document 175.