77. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to the Chairman of the Policy Planning Council and Counselor of the Department of State (Rostow)0

I have been unconscionably slow in responding to your great draft of BNSP.1 Even now I am still pulling together my detailed thoughts, but I want to send you a few comments in connection with the preparation of the agenda for Tuesday.2

I myself question whether, when we come to action, we shall want to approve as national policy a document anything like as long or as fully argued as this one. I doubt very much if we can achieve consensus or clear Presidential approval on anything as comprehensive as this, and I also think that, to secure effective attention to the things we really do care about, we need to put them more sharply and briefly. This pudding has most of the plums, but I think they should be pulled out and made more feasible.

I have a grave reservation about the notions implied by the words “doctrine” and “strategy” in connection with basic policy. They imply that our attitudes are “doctrinaire” and our activities all bound by some single “strategic” concept. I think neither proposition is correct, and I much prefer the simple and traditional word “policy.” I do not think this is just a terminological difference.

The paper seems to me to imply a kind of equal and adequate effort everywhere, and I think both abroad and at home we have to have a clear sense of limits, and of priorities.

Having said all this, I regard the paper as much the most important forward move that has taken place in the area of framing basic policy positions since we came in, and for its military passages alone it seems to me to justify its existence.

These are brief and sweeping comments, and I will try to be ready to justify them specifically on Tuesday.

McG. B.
  1. Source: Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 69 D 121, BNSP Draft 3/26/62. No classification marking.
  2. Reference is to the March 26 draft; see Document 70.
  3. April 17. Apparent reference to a meeting of the Planning Group, no record of which has been found. In a 10-page memorandum to Rostow dated April 23, Bundy reiterated the points he made in this memorandum and then made a detailed critique of the paper. At many points he objected to terms such as “national strategy,” “hard core,” and “ideology.” He called for separation of Parts Three and Four from the draft paper and a drastic reduction in the number of planning tasks. (Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 69 D 121, BNSP Draft 3/26/62)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.