1. Message From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge) to the President2

Ref CAP 63663.3 Many thanks for your public letter to General Minh which I presented personally this morning at an appointment which I have reported to the State Department.4

Thank you too for your best wishes and warm encouragement to me personally for the new year, which I heartily reciprocate. I also particularly appreciate your kind words about my agreeing to serve in Saigon.

I agree that there is much to be done here. It is true that a trend has been arrested which, had it continued a few months longer would have led inevitably to disaster. We are also now just beginning to see the full extent of the dry rot and lassitude in the Government of Viet-Nam and the extent to which we were given inaccurate information. It is also true that praise is due to President Kennedy for his decision to make changes in U.S. policy and personnel without which the trend of last summer and autumn would have rocketed on to certain catastrophe. I am free to say this because, although I agreed with them, I did not make the policies; I carried them out.

All of this merely underscores the fact that we have a difficult job ahead. But I do not think that we are being unduly optimistic when I say that we are getting on to the right track.

[Page 2]

Let me assure you that I shall spare no effort to provide the kind of leadership which you describe. I also believe that I am in a good position to support and advise the Minh government.

I am happy to read your dismissal of the suggestions that because we belong to different parties, there may be some political tension between us. To me, knowing you, your intelligence, and your broad patriotic outlook so well, and also knowing myself, such a suggestion is fantastic. You are everlastingly right that we are involved in this problem together and I am glad to see it that way.

You can indeed rely on me: to leave no stone unturned; always to keep you thoroughly informed; to make all recommendations to you which I think will lead to victory; and to carry out all your instructions with complete energy and loyalty.

With my warmest and very respectful regards,

Faithfully yours,

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Heads of State Correspondence, General Minh Corres. Secret; Eyes Only. Sent over CIA channels from Saigon. The source text bears neither a telegram number nor time of transmission. Relayed to the President at his ranch in Texas on receipt at the White House. McGeorge Bundy sent copies to Rusk and McNamara.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. IV, p. 744.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. IV, pp. 745–747.
  4. The telegram bears this typed signature.