247. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Harriman)0

Before Walt Rostow left the White House, he had started one or two inquiries in town about ways and means of strengthening a Souvanna government, when we finally get one. It appeared from preliminary soundings that there might be considerable differences of view between the State Department on the one side and Defense [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] on the other. We did not press the matter sharply in November because of the indefiniteness of the problem, and now that you are on the job I would much rather put it in your hands directly and entirely. But I know that the President has been much interested in the ways and means of keeping a Souvanna regime from going down the slippery slope, and accordingly we would like to give you any help we can in making sure that we are ready to move on all appropriate fronts as soon as it becomes possible. It may be quite important to get it [Page 545] across to [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Defense, and AID that we will be meaning business in developing a strong line of policy for this next phase in Laos1.

  1. Source: Department of State, FE/SEA (Laos) Files: Lot 65 D 169, Souvanna Phouma paper, Oct. 61. Secret. Sent through Battle.
  2. On December 21, Robert Johnson sent Bundy a memorandum concerning a talk with Cross, the drafter of the initial version of a paper on strengthening the Souvanna Phouma government; see footnote 2, Document 208. Cross had legitimate problems, according to Johnson, with pushing the idea at this time: creating a political organization to support Souvanna should wait until the coalition was formed; there were strong inter-agency differences on the whole concept; and the issue was one that could be better resolved by the President when he assessed the coalition and the Geneva settlement. Johnson suggested Bundy ask Harriman for a substantive progress report coordinated with other agencies and policy recommendation when the coalition was formed and the Geneva conference reached an agreement. (Department of State, FE/SEA (Laos) Files: Lot 65 D 169, Souvanna Phouma paper, Oct. 61)