195. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

576. Eyes only for Ambassador Lodge. Ambassador Lodge from the President. The course of action set out in Deptel 5342 obviously requires closest coordination between you and Washington. The gradually increasing effects of suspension of CIP mean that we should be assessing the situation constantly in order to be ready for adjustments in either direction in the light of GVN reactions. But it takes time to work out each new position here, and accordingly it is important to me to have a constant sense of your own evaluation of the situation. I should be glad to have such an evaluation now, in the light of the considerable interval that has passed since McNamara returned with an up-to-date account of your views, and I think it would be helpful if thereafter you could send personal reports at least weekly for my attention. It seems to me that the central issues remain what they have been throughout: [Page 397]

Are we gaining or losing on balance and day by day in the contest with the Viet Cong?
Is the government responding at any point to our threefold need for improvement in (a) campaign against VC, (b) internal political developments, and (c) actions affecting relations with American people and Government?
What does the evidence suggest on the strengthening or weakening of effectiveness of GVN in relation to its own people?
And more specifically, what effect are we getting from our own actions under Deptel 534 and what modifications in either direction do you think advisable?

These questions are not intended to be exhaustive, but only to assist in your reports and recommendations by indicating the shape of the problem as seen from here.

McGeorge Bundy has mentioned his brief message from you and while he has no plans currently to leave country, I would be glad to make him available for wholly unofficial and informal visit in near future if you think it important.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 S VIET. Top Secret; Priority. The text of this message was sent from Bundy at the White House to the Department of State.
  2. Document 181.
  3. Lodge’s suggestion that Bundy come to Vietnam has not been found. In telegram 706 from Saigon, October 15, Lodge thanked the President for his willingness to send Bundy to Vietnam. He continued:

    “Would not have brought this up if I did not have a proposal which I think contains new ideas and which might just change the situation here for the better. It cannot be properly handled by telegram or letter and requires a chance for me to have a dialogue with Rusk and/or Harriman and/or Bundy.” Lodge then offered to come to Washington for a day. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET)

    Telegram 583 to Saigon, October 18, replied to Lodge’s proposal as follows:

    “The President and Secretary concur that a brief visit by you to Washington at end of October would be helpful. This seems to us better than additional visible missions to you. Suggest two or three days may be better than one because do not wish to give impression of hasty in-and-out call. Normal consultation of Ambassador with major responsibilities seems preferable position.” (Ibid.)