Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964–1968, Volume I, Vietnam, 1964
214. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)1
There will be a meeting in the conference room of the Secretary of State at 6:00 p.m. today2 to consider the attached papers.
The principal question for discussion will be to assess the desirability of recommending to the President that a Congressional resolution on Southeast Asia should be sought promptly.
A second question is what the optimum recommendation for action should be if in fact a Congressional resolution is not recommended. A short supplementary paper on this point will be available later in the day.3
[Here follows an index of attached papers.]
Draft Memorandum by the Secretary of State’s Special Assistant for Vietnam (Sullivan)4
MEMORANDUM ON SITUATION IN SOUTH VIET NAM
I. United States Programs for South Viet Nam:
As of last March we recommended a series of actions to be taken which would give the Vietnamese more ability to carry out General Khanh’s Pacification Program. The main thrust of these recommendations [Page 501] was to increase and improve the organization of para-military forces, which would be better paid, better equipped, and better trained than in the past. These forces, recruited locally and inspired with the purpose of protecting their own families, would be a key element in the “holding” phase of the pacification “clear and hold” programs.
At the same time, we recommended that the Vietnamese Air Force be re-equipped. T–28’s and B–26’s were to be phased out by A–1H’s and A–1E’s. The size of the air force was to be expanded and the number of pilots capable of flying the new aircraft were to be expanded in order to provide a better pilot to plane ratio. This program is well advanced; new aircraft are arriving in Viet Nam; pilots are being upgraded; and the training program is moving ahead.
After the Honolulu meeting,5 we recommended sharpening the focus of this effort by the selection of eight critical provinces in the vicinity of Saigon where there would be a greater infusion of American personnel and the execution of “clear and hold” pacification programs. Americans would be introduced as advisors to the para-military forces, and together with Vietnamese counterparts as a joint team, would go into these provinces actually to perform some of the executive and administrative functions necessary to the execution of the “clear and hold” programs. Similarly, in Saigon, a joint US Vietnamese group would be established to supervise this effort.
In the economic and social fields, we have expanded the American effort significantly. Because the increase in pay, allowances and dependents benefits for the military forces have strained the Vietnamese budget, we have increased our own financial contributions both in terms of direct grants and in terms of expanded imports. Against this increase we have negotiated with the Vietnamese for more flexible budgetary and financial systems within their own government structure. We have authorized the addition of nearly 200 American civilians to the AID Mission. We are doubling the number of AID provincial representatives throughout the country, expanding the administrative training program, and have hired a new highly qualified team to direct the rural affairs program.
We have doubled the amount of fertilizer being provided the Vietnamese farmers and hope that the subsequent increase in rice production will result in expanded Vietnamese rice exports and consequent foreign exchange earnings. This year’s crop has been better than earlier predictions suggested and it now appears that as much as 150,000 tons of rice may be exported. We have encouraged land reform and General Khanh has taken several measures which should [Page 502] have an attraction to the Vietnamese farmers. We are continuing to press for better marketing arrangements. better agricultural methods. and more attention to rural needs.
We have pressed friendly countries to show their solidarity with South Viet Nam by making tangible contributions to the Vietnamese Government. We have had favorable responses from Australia, New Zealand, China, the Philippines, and Korea. We expect actions by Germany, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom and Thailand. The Vietnamese Government and our own mission in Saigon have established a coordinated mechanism to solicit and accept these contributions.
We have persuaded the American medical profession to take more interest in the medical needs of Viet Nam. A team of American physicians, under the sponsorship of MEDICO and CARE, are now in Saigon working out a program for the introduction of American volunteer physicians on a rotating basis in Viet Nam. This is a technique which MEDICO has used successfully in Algeria and which we believe can be applied in Viet Nam. It will require a recruiting campaign during the summer months here in the US.
The Vietnamese information effort, both internally and throughout the world has been far from satisfactory. We have quadrupled our own U.S. advisory staff in the field of psychological operations and are attempting to improve the quality of Vietnamese propaganda directed toward the population of South Viet Nam. We have constructed new radio stations; we are providing 100,000 radio sets; we are asking the Japanese to provide an additional 100,000 and we are working directly with the Vietnamese Information Service in programming the content of their broadcasts and their written propaganda. We have established an American press officer with General Khanh to act as his personal press advisor. We have pressed the Vietnamese to increase their embassy establishments abroad and particularly to augment their information staffs. We have encouraged them here in their plan to contract with an American public relations firm.
II. Additional Measures Being Contemplated:
We have examined for some time the question of how we can make the US effort more directly effective in Viet Nam. Most U.S. officials who have served there firmly believe that there is needed a closer integration of US personnel within the Vietnamese structure. This concept, however, raises a number of problems, especially problems of national sensitivity. We have under review proposals which would address this idea in various forms. Among them are the “encadrement” of US personnel into the provincial administrative structure and into the pare-military forces; the establishment of a “catalyst team” of specially chosen individuals who would operate as shadow [Page 503] advisors to key personnel in the Vietnamese government; the collocation of US and Vietnamese military headquarters so that US and Vietnamese officials are working in and out of the same building; the establishment of “joint operations centers” in which there would be binational participation in the direction of various programs.
Another possibility which we are exploring is the reestablishment of direct US participation in the Montagnard guerrilla operations. These Montagnard forces were originally trained and assisted by US personnel but have subsequently been turned over to Vietnamese special forces control. Because of ancient antipathy between the Montagnards and the ethnic Vietnamese, there are indications that this program has faltered. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] DOD are examining the possibility of reconstituting the program with more direct American participation.
We have reviewed several times the question of removing US dependents from Viet Nam. Ambassador Lodge, at the Honolulu meeting, recommended against such action unless we were willing to accompany it by a fairly dramatic operational commitment against North Viet Nam. An alternative proposal which has recently been raised is the construction of a US housing compound, on the outskirts of Saigon, where American families could live in a more secure but isolated area and where they would be less exposed to the possibility of Viet Cong terror tactics.
We are continuing to study the possibility of introducing a US naval presence more or less permanently based out of Viet Nam. A CINCPAC team is inspecting Cam Ranh Bay as a possible location for such a naval station, and as an area where the US fleet plus Marine forces could conduct amphibious training operations. We have similarly located B–57 aircraft in the Philippines which could be introduced into Viet Nam if we wish to increase the capability of jet bomber potential from South Viet Nam. We are examining the requirements for a US air defense contribution to protect South Vietnamese cities in the event there is a more direct air threat from the North.
III. Problem Areas:
In attempting to accomplish many of these programs, we have encountered resistance both from the Vietnamese and from our own US Mission. Ambassador Lodge has been most reluctant to increase a civilian staff, especially in the rural areas. He fears that this will augment American casualties and undermine American support for the effort in Viet Nam. He also fears that the increased introduction of Americans would give a colonial coloration to our presence there and would cause the Vietnamese to depend more and more on our execution of their programs. The Vietnamese have resisted for a number of reasons. They, too, worry about American civilians in the provinces [Page 504] whom they are unable to protect. They have some fear of appearing to be American puppets by excessive American presence in civilian ministries. Finally, there is some indication that they are reluctant to associate themselves too closely with the Americans there until they feel more confident of ultimate American intentions.
At the current moment, there is great doubt and confusion in Viet Nam about US determination. The daily speeches of Senator Morse, the columns of Walter Lippmann, the New York Times editorials, the AFP distortions of George Ball’s meetings with General De Gaulle, the diplomatic negotiations with respect to Laos, and the absence of any clear signal concerning US intentions in Southeast Asia have worried the Vietnamese. As a leading Saigon newspaper said on June 12: “We must be vigilant and we must be ready to meet any eventuality so as to avoid the possible shameful sacrifice and dishonor to our country as in the past.”
Given this sort of atmosphere in South Viet Nam, it is very difficult to persuade the Vietnamese to commit themselves to sharp military confrontations with the communists if they suspect that something in the way of a negotiated deal is being concocted behind their backs. Consequently, many of the actions which we are pressing on the South Vietnamese are flagging because of this uncertainty. Recruitment for the army and the pare-military forces, expansion of the civil service, and a willingness to accept more Americans in the administrative measures are all affected by this attitude.
Both Ambassador Lodge and General Westmoreland, at the Honolulu Conference, expressed the opinion that the situation in South Viet Nam would “jog along” at the current stalemated pace unless some dramatic “victory” could be introduced to put new steel and confidence into Vietnamese leadership. General Westmoreland defined “victory” as a determination to take some new vigorous military commitment, such as air strikes against Viet Cong installations in the Laos corridor. Ambassador Lodge defined “victory” as a willingness to make punitive air strikes against North Viet Nam. The significant fact about both the Ambassador’s and the General’s suggestions was that they looked toward some American decision to undertake a commitment which the Vietnamese would interpret as a willingness to raise the military ante and eschew negotiations begun from a position of weakness.
While it is almost impossible to establish measurements of Vietnamese morale, we are able to say that there is not at the current moment a single galvanized national purpose, expressed in the government leadership and energizing all elements of the country with a simple sense of confidence. The internal divisions of South Viet Nam are historical and, under the stress of years of war, have persisted rather than disappeared. General Khanh inherited an internal political [Page 505] and religious situation which was badly divided and he contributed to further division by his action against the four generals who had run the November coup. He has moved with some success over the last few months to paper over these various divisions and has achieved a measure of external unity.
However, he has still not been able to crystalize a spirit of leadership or to develop a leadership team in South Viet Nam. Leadership and control of their own destinies is something which has been alien to the Vietnamese for so long that it becomes difficult for many in the country to view their status in anything other than in a client relationship to the great powers. There is a general impression, to some degree enhanced by their heavy dependence upon the US, that South Viet Nam’s role in working out its own destiny is essentially passive, and not the primary determinant.
IV. Vietnamese Capabilities:
If we assume that the first step that has to be taken is the inspiration of confidence and a spirit of leadership, we still have to examine whether such an inspired leadership would find capable resources to command. In general, our assessment on this point remains affirmative. The Vietnamese army is well trained and well equipped. The Vietnamese soldier, when properly led, has proved himself in battle time and again. The resistance and tenacity of the peasant in the face of constant harassment over twenty years is nothing short of remarkable. The native intelligence and industriousness of the Vietnamese people are extremely high.
There are, however, some major shortcomings. The highly sophisticated nature of the Viet Cong guerrilla warfare requires a sophisticated response. General Khanh has developed a pacification plan which, to all observers, is essentially sound. This plan requires extensive, articulated actions on a military, political, and economic scale. The Vietnamese government doesn’t possess the executive and administrative apparatus to put this plan effectively into action. This is partly because the French left them with only a shadow of administrative apparatus, partly because the Viet Cong have deliberately assassinated government officials, and partly because of the absence of clear direction and leadership from Saigon.
The military situation in South Viet Nam is far from perilous. While the Viet Cong retain an effective capacity for continuous harassment on a nation-wide scale, they are not yet militarily capable of winning a stand-up, open battle with government forces. Consequently, they cannot militarily seize and hold any significant areas in South Viet Nam. Government forces, which can be mustered in superior [Page 506] numbers and fire power against any Viet Cong concentration, can move into and clear any position which the Viet Cong attempt to establish.
On the other hand, by their system of harassment, terror, and secret cellular organizations, the Viet Cong deny security to major elements of the Vietnamese population. Their constant effort is to extend this sense of insecurity further and further into those territories where Vietnamese Government control exists. The sort of pacification campaign which is required of the government to reverse this effort and to extend the areas of security guaranteed to the South Vietnamese population is extremely complex. The task of organizing the extensive executive machinery necessary to accomplish victory is an enterprise in which there must be a direct and continuing US involvement.
If we can obtain a breakthrough in the mutual commitment of the US and Viet Nam to a confident sense of victory, we believe that we can introduce this sort of executive involvement into the Vietnamese structure. Moreover, we believe that the Vietnamese structure itself, in such an event, would be more effective and more responsive to such involvement. There is no one who can define with precision just how that breakthrough can be established. It could come from the external actions of the US, internal leadership in Viet Nam, or from an act of irreversible commitment by the US.
The general conclusion from this analysis is that we can anticipate no sharp upturns in the Vietnamese willingness or ability to press for the extermination of the insurgency if the current situation continues. Indeed, if they continue to worry about American will and determination, we could expect further political fragmentation and increasing disabilities. On the other hand, we cannot guarantee that a dramatic “victory” or active commitment by the US would produce the sharp infusion of spirit which both the Ambassador and General Westmoreland predict.
It is clear, however, that unless some improvement in spirit and leadership can be introduced, we will have great difficulty in introducing more effective American assistance or in obtaining more effective Vietnamese utilization of that assistance. There is no immediate sharp crisis in South Viet Nam at the current moment. However, there are the rumbling undertones of crises which, as they emerge, will more likely appear in the form of a crisis of confidence rather than a military debacle. Communist propaganda and communist tactics over the last few months have accentuated the campaign against the will and determination [Page 507] of the Vietnamese as well as the will and determination of the Americans. This is currently the most critical factor to which we now have to address ourselves.
Draft Memorandum Prepared by the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Bundy)6
MEMORANDUM ON THE SOUTHEAST ASIA SITUATION
Probable Devalopments and the Case for a Congressional Resolution
Now that we have worked through the immediate problem of the shooting down of our aircraft over Laos and have Souvanna Phouma’s clear understanding that reconnaissance flights may continue over the Plaine des Jarres and “South Laos” and with escort as necessary, we should now draw back and examine the total picture as it may develop in the next three to four months and what our central plan should be.
- We do not expect at the present time to move in the near
future to military action against North Viet-Nam. At the same
time, a significant change in the local situation, largely
beyond our control, might compel us to reconsider this position.
Such a significant change might come in the form of:
- A re-estimate of the South Viet-Nam situation more gloomy than the one that was reached at Honolulu and indicating that we cannot expect some signs of improvement over the summer and may indeed be facing significant and visible deterioration.
- Major continued Communist attacks in Laos, threatening the extinction of Kong Le’s forces, Luang Prabang, or the areas along the Mekong (including Saravane and Atopeu).
- Creation of a separate Communist government in Laos and a de facto partition of the country. This might be less compelling toward wide action against the north, but such action would certainly have to be weighed.
- The principal present elements in the situation are that:
- We have entered a negotiating track on Laos that we hope will lead to the convening of the Polish consultations in the next 3–4 weeks and their continuation over a period of time with Souvanna, the British and the Canadians at least holding firm that Communist withdrawal remains a precondition of any 14-nation “Geneva Conference.” At this moment. the Soviets and British have not yet agreed on [Page 508] the form of invitation to the Polish consultations, and it is still possible that the whole project will hit a serious snag before it can even be convened. However, we must assume that it will in fact get under way; if it does not, we then would have an immediate sharp acceleration of the whole problem.
- By our public statements and the crisis atmosphere of the last two weeks, including the Honolulu conference, we have created an impression in the area that we are very firm indeed but have also left the area and the US public in some uncertainty as to just what firmness in fact means.
- By the shooting incidents in connection with our reconnaissance operations in Laos, as well as the continuing T–28 operations, we have set up a fairly good picture of military firmness in the area, and specifically in Laos, and we can maintain this to some degree by continuing escorted reconnaissance operations on precise plans to be worked out.
- Through our speeches and our military actions we have
undoubtedly gotten some kind of signal through to Hanoi,
and this will be reinforced by the message being
conveyed by the Canadian ICC representative to Hanoi on June 15.
Hanoi has been conspicuously silent about our air
activities over Laos, and there is recent Hanoi
broadcasting indicating that alert measures have been
intensified. Nonetheless, we are faced with two grave
problems in keeping our signal clear to Hanoi:
- Hanoi tends to believe that our stronger gestures come in fits and starts and that by toning down its own actions for a time it can lull us (for example, the President’s speech7 and the speculations of early March, plus our initiation of extensive reconnaissance at that time over North Viet-Nam, undoubtedly gave them pause for a short time, but by early May this signal seemed quite clearly to have worn off).
- The Communist stereotype generally is that we simply do not move hard in an election year, and some of our European friends constantly lend support to this thesis. A related point is that Hanoi has throughout used salami tactics, seeking to avoid any single action strong enough to cause us to react hard and fast.
- Our ideal objectives in relation to Laos are:
- To use the Vietnamese consultations to compile strong evidence of the Communist military aggressions of May.
- To use the Polish consultations to build up a clear picture that the Communists have been far more in the wrong in the political sphere and that Souvanna’s position must now be strengthened and [Page 509] affirmed, to get the ICC functioning more clearly, and to put maximum pressure on the Communist side to withdraw substantially from the areas occupied in May.
If we get a Communist withdrawal, to use the Geneva Conference to place maximum pressure on the Communist side on the basic violations that have been in existence right along—the presence of North Vietnamese forces in Laos and the use of the Laos corridor by the North Vietnamese to support the war in South Viet-Nam.
In short, our ideal objective in Laos remains a full and effective implementation of the 1962 Geneva Accords. We do not seek a unified non-Communist Laos because this is simply not capable of achievement without a complete war on the ground. But on the contrary we do strongly prefer a Geneva Accords to a de facto partition that would remove third-country interest in the Laos situation and tend to ratify the Communist position in the corridor areas—which sooner or later must be dealt with if we are to obtain security in Viet-Nam.
In practice, we doubt very much if we can fully accomplish these objectives through any combination of negotiating and military firmness that we can devise. For the Communists to give up their gains of May and to accept fully Souvanna’s political position would be for them to accept a very major breakdown. The Soviets and Poles may well go with us on a great deal of tidying up of the internal political situation, on which they appear to be supporting Souvanna’s position. Moreover, the Polish consultations could well produce major improvement in the performance of the ICC. These two points in themselves would be significant gains and well worth the Polish consultations in themselves.
However, the Soviets and Poles, and Indians too, probably cannot be expected to go along at all on any agreed demand that the Communists withdraw militarily. It is just possible that the Communist side might permit some reestablishment of the neutralists in the Plaine des Jarres, but it seems considerably more likely that the parallelogram of forces would produce a Soviet-Polish-Indian position that would drop or drastically weaken the withdrawal point and demand an early 14nation conference. The British and Canadians would be hard to hold in line at this point, and Souvanna himself would be under considerable diplomatic pressure to go along, although on the other hand he would be under great right-wing pressure within Laos not to do so.
The net of this is that we would face a serious dilemma at the time that the Polish consultations approached an impasse on the withdrawal issue. Thus, in the absence of any of the developments named in paragraph 1 above, we would like to see the Polish consultations continue over a considerable period, at least into September, and hopefully even beyond.[Page 510]
We must recognize, however, that stringing out the Polish consultations to these lengths will not be easy, nor can we guarantee to achieve this. Pressures to slide off toward Geneva may build up well before this time, and our resistance to these would then confront us with a situation of considerably heightened tensions that could in itself change our timetable. But in any event-however long the Polish negotiations can be strung out-we have the problem of continuing to demonstrate firmness.
This practical chain of events raises serious problems about our additional courses of action. If we weaken on our ideal objectives, we would clearly go far to demoralize Khanh and the politically sensitive people in South Viet-Nam, and even the continuation of negotiations would tend over time to cause growing concern that we are moving toward negotiated solutions for both Laos and South Viet-Nam. Whatever success we may achieve in the Polish consultations also depends on a steady strong signal that we are willing to use force if necessary.
The central problem then is what we can do in addition to maintain and demonstrate our firmness to Souvanna and to people in Laos and South Viet-Nam and, above all, to Hanoi. The range of possible actions includes the following:
Additional military action in the area. We had been thinking last week that the desired added element of firmness could be obtained by starting reconnaissance over North Viet-Nam and escorting it if necessary. However, we would not now think of conducting such missions unescorted, and the use of escort missions, as the Laos experience has now shown, would almost certainly get us into a degree of shooting in North Viet-Nam that would in itself sharply raise the tension level and tend to force our hand.
Another military action we should consider would be to conduct not only continued reconnaissance operations over Laos, but a carefully calculated series of “reconnaissance” strike operations such as that of June 9. The Communist side has clearly found it difficult to respond to these or to make heavy propaganda play of them, partly because it is unwilling to let the ICC inspect any Communist areas. On the other hand, these attacks do tend to worry and weaken the Indians and to some extent the British, and it does not appear easy to find such clearly isolated targets, without civilian damage, as was selected on June 9. If we started to hit Lao civilians, even in the vicinity of military installations, Souvanna might throw another fit. We also have the problem of further US aircraft losses if we do this; even though the US public has not reacted drastically to the losses of last weekend, a repetition of these could well create serious problems, particularly if the Communists in Laos lie low on the ground. This course of action seems at first glance the most promising we might follow, but it does need further study.[Page 511]
One further military action could be taken, namely permitting the Vietnamese Air Force to attack targets in the corridor area of Laos. This would have a very helpful tonic effect on Vietnamese morale and would perhaps somewhat cut down Communist capacity to use the corridor. It would convey a modest signal to Hanoi, but not as much of a one as an action conducted by the US.
- We have a wide range of possible troop deployments to the Western Pacific and perhaps to Thailand. Some of these, such as additional carriers to the area, probably do have a useful signaling value. Others, such as the move of additional ground and air units, may have some short-term value, but they have the weaknesses that this signal tends to peter out, that these are moves we would prefer to make in the context of an even stronger over-all policy, and that they may create uncertainty and doubt in the US as to just where we are headed. As to deployments to Thailand, it is doubtful that the Thai will accept these in the absence of some change in the situation on the ground, and this move particularly—having been taken once before—conveys a very limited and indeed a somewhat defensive signal.
- To hold the political situation within Laos and to strengthen Souvanna, there are a number of actions we can and should take in any event—to route our assistance directly through Souvanna rather than through the Right Wing, etc. However, these measures will not have any wider signal value to the north.
In sum, there are military moves that we can take that would contribute to a continuing impression of firmness as we try to keep the Laos negotiations moving and to preserve our options concerning Viet-Nam. But it is at least doubtful that any combination of the moves listed above would in fact do the trick. Moreover, it must be emphasized that the Polish consultations may well not play out to the extent we desire, and that the moment we face pressures to slide off to Geneva and resist these, we might have to consider still further military measures or at least be able to make a convincing threat of such measures.
Finally, we must never lose sight of the fact that the situation in South Viet-Nam—without necessarily any dramatic event—could deteriorate to the point where we had to consider at least beginning stronger actions to the north in order to put greater pressure on Hanoi and lift morale in South Viet-Nam.
- For all of these reasons there is a very strong argument for a
continuing demonstration of US firmness and for complete
flexibility in the hands of the Executive in the coming
political months. The action that most commends itself for this
purpose is an immediate Congressional Resolution, subject to the
following conditions: [Page 512]
- A formula must be devised, in consultation with the Congressional leadership, that would ensure rapid passage without extended and divisive debate. The draft resolution must support any action required but must at the same time place maximum stress on our peaceful objectives and our willingness to accept eventual negotiated solutions, so that we might hope to have the full support of the school of thought headed by Senator Mansfield and Senator Aiken and leave ourselves with die-hard opposition only from Senator Morse and his very few cohorts.
Timing must be considered. Because of proximity on either side to the Republican convention, July appears very difficult. Early August is likewise difficult because the Congress will probably be rushing to complete other measures and adjourn before the Democratic convention. We thus conclude that the only feasible time for presentation would be shortly following the conclusion of the Civil Rights debate, i.e., during the week of June 22. In addition to being virtually inevitable from a political standpoint, this timing does fit very well with the probable date of the convening of the Polish consultations and with the time when our existing and planned signals to Hanoi may begin to taper off.
It may be argued that a Congressional Resolution under present circumstances faces the serious difficulty that there is no drastic change in the situation to point to. The opposing argument is that we might well not have such a drastic change even later in the summer and yet conclude—either because of the Polish consultations or because of the South Viet-Nam situation—that we had to act.
- The line of argument to be followed in presenting the resolution requires careful thought. A separate memorandum deals with the suggested theme of presentation and with basic questions that would be raised and the line of answer that would be followed.8 From this theme, and these questions and answers, appropriate Presidential messages, testimony by Secretaries Rusk and McNamara, special presentations to the Congress (e.g., of the evidence concerning North Vietnamese involvement), and other necessary elements would be drawn.
It is recommended that the President urgently review with the Congressional leadership a resolution along the lines covered in the accompanying folder.
Draft Congressional Resolution9
The aim of the United States in Southeast Asia is to achieve and preserve peace and security in the area;
The United States has no territorial, military or political ambitions in Southeast Asia, but desires only that the peoples of Southeast Asia should be left in peace by their neighbors to work out their own destinies in their own way;
The peace and security of Southeast Asia are seriously threatened by a systematic and deliberate campaign of Communist aggression and subversion against the nations and peoples of that area;
In particular the Communist regime in North Viet-Nam, with the aid and support of the Communist regime in China, has flouted its obligations under the Geneva Accords of 1954 and has engaged in aggression against the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Viet-Nam by carrying out a systematic plan for the subversion of the Government of the Republic of Viet-Nam, by furnishing direction, training, personnel and arms for the conduct of guerrilla warfare within the Republic of Viet-Nam and by the ruthless use of terror against the peaceful population of that country;
In violation of its undertakings in the Geneva Agreements of 1962 the Communist regime in North Viet-Nam, with the aid and support of the Communist regime in China, has engaged in aggression against the independence and territorial integrity of Laos by maintaining forces on Laotian territory, by the use of that territory for the infiltration of arms and equipment into the Republic of Viet-Nam, and by providing direction, men and equipment for persistent armed attacks against the Government of National Union of the Kingdom of Laos;
The United States is a party to the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty for the preservation of peace and security in Southeast Asia and for collective defense against Communist aggression and subversion and by a Protocol to that Treaty the nations of Laos and the Republic of Viet-Nam are unanimously designated as within the protective scope of the Treaty;10
The loss of any of the free nations of Southeast Asia to Communism would upset the world balance of power and pose a direct threat to the security of the United States;[Page 514]
The United States stands prepared to seek through the United Nations or otherwise a peaceful settlement in Southeast Asia which would effectively ensure that the peoples and nations of that area would live in freedom and independence;
It is essential that the world fully understand that the American people are united in their determination to take all steps that may be necessary to assist the nations of Southeast Asia to maintain their independence and political integrity;
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled:
Sec. 1. That the maintenance of international peace and security in Southeast Asia and the preservation of the political independence and territorial integrity of the non-Communist nations of the area, including the Republic of Viet-Nam and Laos, is required by the national interest of the United States:
Alternative Drafts of Section 2
Alternative Based on the Middle East Resolution of 1955 :
Sec. 2. To this end, if the President determines the necessity thereof, the United States is prepared, upon request from any nation in Southeast Asia, to take, consistent with the Charter of the United Nations, all measures including the use of armed forces to assist that nation in the defense of its political independence and territorial integrity against aggression or subversion supported, controlled or directed from any Communist country. Any such measures shall be reported to the Security Council of the United Nations.
Alternative Based on the Cuba Resolution of 1962:
Sec. 2. That the United States is determined to prevent by whatever means may be necessary, including the use of arms, the Communist regime in North Viet-Nam, with the aid and support of the Communist regime in China, from extending, by force or threat of force, its aggressive or subversive activities against any non-Communist nation in Southeast Asia.
Alternative Drafts of Section 3
Sec. 3. This Resolution shall expire when the President shall determine that the peace and security of Southeast Asia is reasonably assured by international conditions created by action of the United Nations or otherwise, and shall so report to the Congress.[Page 515]
Sec. 3. This Resolution shall expire on January 8 (7), 1965 [date of convening of the next Congress].11
Paper Prepared by the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Bundy)12
BASIC THEMES IN PRESENTING THE RESOLUTION
We confront a serious and continuing crisis in Southeast Asia in which our objective is to preserve and restore the peace through getting North Vietnam and Communist China to let their neighbors alone. We have no wider objective.
The basic decision that the Congress is asked to support is that the US should employ all necessary measures to prevent the spread of Communist influence in Southeast Asia.
In the coming months, we shall be seeking to achieve our ends by a combination of assistance to the Government of South Vietnam and negotiation in respect to Laos. At any time, developments in either South Vietnam or Laos may force us to consider limited forms of military action so as to make progress in South Vietnam and to keep Laos negotiations moving forward.
The situation is unlike any past crisis in which the Congress has enacted similar Congressional Resolutions. It is more serious and imminent than the situation that accompanied the Middle East Resolution of 1955 , but at the same time less immediately critical than the Cuba situation at the time of the Congressional Resolution of October 1962. But the essential basis of seeking Congressional support in the form of a Resolution is the same-that there is a continuing crisis and that the hand of the Executive must be strengthened and given all flexibility by an emphatic statement of Congressional support.
The fact that this is an election year makes such an affirmation of extra importance. Over the next six months, we shall be engaged in continuing political debate and in certain fixed political events, notably the Conventions, that will affect the availability of the Congress. [Page 516] Moreover, the crisis is of such a nature that a need for action may well arise without the type of dramatic event that would inevitably call for convening the Congress.
In this situation, the Communist side must be convinced that America means business. We believe that our actions to date have had considerable impact in this direction. But in the absence of a Congressional declaration of support there is a serious danger that the Communist side would assume that the US is unlikely to act firmly during election year. Any real or assumed irresolution on the part of the United States may well encourage further aggressive acts or refusal to accept reasonable negotiating proposals, and thus make necessary more serious US military measures.
We must also give the nations of the area clear evidence of our determination. A Congressional Resolution should raise their morale and make less likely any deterioration of their internal situations that would make US military action more necessary or drastic than otherwise.
The nation’s vital interest in Asia will not be enhanced by speculation on possible actions in Southeast Asia. Successful action in the area demands a flexible and carefully controlled strategy.
Even during the election period, the President will consult regularly with Congressional leadership. He has no desire for a blank check, but neither does he wish to ignore the realities ahead during an election period.
- Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 68 A 4023, 092 Vietnam. Unclassified with Secret and Top Secret Attachments. Attachment 5, a “Question Index” of 14 questions about a possible Congressional resolution, is not printed. The questions as well as draft answers are published in Declassified Documents, 1979, 90B. The answers were not part of the original attachment.↩
- The meeting took place in the Department of State and lasted from 6 p.m. to approximately 7:20 p.m. Rusk, Ball, Sullivan, Rostow, Cleveland, and Manning attended for the Department of State. McNamara, Vance, McNaughton, Taylor, and Goodpaster represented the Department of Defense and JCS. Bell and Gaud attended for AID, McCone and Colby for CIA, Wilson for USIA, and McGeorge Bundy and Cater represented the White House. (Johnson Library, Rusk Appointment Book) No record of this meeting has been found.↩
- Document 215.↩
- Secret. The source text indicates erroneously that this paper was drafted on July 13; it should have been June 13.↩
- June 1–2; see Documents 188 and 189 ↩
- Secret. The source text indicates this is a “second draft.”↩
- Apparent reference to the White House statement on Vietnam, March 17: for text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1964, pp. 962–963.↩
- Attachment 4 below.↩
- Secret. Also published in Declassified Documents, 1979 89D.↩
- For text of the treaty and protocol, September 8, 1954, see 6 UST 81.↩
- Brackets in the source text.↩