204. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to the President1


  • Possible Successor to Lodge

Partly because I think you ought to have a person right from the center of the present management, and partly because these are the people I know, my own nominations for Lodge’s successor are the following. I do not put these men in any particular order because they are good at different things.

Sargent Shriver—I think this is more important than poverty, and the right man harder to find. Shriver has energy, skill, a peaceful imagination and determination. He would have great standing in Vietnam [Page 473] and his reputation here is excellent. I do not think he speaks French and he has less experience in international politics and military matters than my other nominees. Nevertheless, I recommend him strongly.
Ros Gilpatric—I think Gilpatric has standing, style and judgment. I doubt just a little whether he has the energy and the political insight to take the call to the provinces and the case to the people. It would be hard to pry him loose from the Kravath firm, but I think he would come at your call.
Bob McNamara—You know everything I can tell you about him. My one reservation is that he has been trying to think of ways of dealing with this problem for so long that he has gone a little stale. Also, in a curious way, he has rather mechanized the problem so that he misses some of its real political flavor.
Robert F. Kennedy—I come back to this suggestion, although I know you have thought it wild in the past, for two reasons: the first is that the Attorney General has tremendous appeal to younger people and to non-Americans all around the world. He would give a picture of idealism and peace-seeking which our case will badly need, especially if we have to move to stronger measures. I have heard it said that he would take this challenge with some relish, but I have never talked to him about it myself.
William Gaud—Among the people at the next level down in the Administration, he has the right combination of qualities to a greater degree than anyone else I know: Energy, loyalty, skill, understanding of different kinds of action, and the trust of all services. He looks disarmingly young, but in fact he is a man of 56 with wide and deep experience in Southeast Asia, in the war, in the Pentagon, and in the jungle of New York law, and in AID.
Myself—I am no judge of my own skills, and it is certainly true that I have never run an embassy or a war. On the other hand, I think I do understand the issues. I know I care about them. I speak French and I have a heavy dose of the ways of thinking of all branches of the U.S. team in South Vietnam.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. 5. No classification marking. A note on the source text indicates Bundy dictated, but did not read, this memorandum.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.