379. Message From President Johnson to the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge)1

I have just approved for dispatch to you via State Dept. channels the public letter to General Minh, and the additional confidential instructions for your use in talking to him.2 I also want to send to you personally my best wishes and warm encouragement for the New Year.

When you agreed to go to Saigon you took on a hard and demanding assignment in the best tradition of patriotic readiness to serve, and now after four months, the government has been replaced; and a number of Americans have been replaced in accordance with your recommendations. These changes have removed obstacles to victory—but they have not assured it. The picture reported to me by McNamara, just before Christmas, makes it plain that there is a great deal yet to be done.

In the U.S. effort on the spot, by the very nature of things, you must be the man in charge. Your energy and leadership, your active supervision, your insistence on coordinated teamwork in all agencies-these are indispensable to an effective performance by our government in Saigon. And at the same time you yourself are bound to be the symbol and the instrument of American support and American counsel to the Minh government.

Some have suggested that there may be some political tension between us because you and I are of different parties. This of course is nonsense. If we can have victory in Viet-Nam there will be praise enough for all of us. So I rely on you to do all in your power to achieve it, and to be alert and demanding in telling all of us in Washington how and what more we can do to help.

With my warmest personal regards.

Lyndon B. Johnson3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Heads of State Correspondence, General Minh Corres. Secret; Eyes Only. Transmitted to Saigon eyes only for Ambassador Lodge in telegram CAP 63663, which is the source text. The telegram was sent to the LBJ Ranch on December 30 for approval. (Draft telegram from Bundy to the President; ibid.)
  2. Document 380.
  3. Telegram CAP 63663 bears this typed signature.