307. Memorandum for the Record of a Meeting, Cabinet Room, White House1


  • The President, Secretaries Rusk, McNamara, Ball, Vance, Messrs. McCone, Wheeler, Reedy, McG. Bundy
  • For second item: William Bundy, John McNaughton

[Here follows item 1, “Cyprus.”]

[Page 663]

2. Southeast Asia

Mr. McCone began with a brief report on the intelligence situation. He mentioned the report of a U–2 pilot over North Vietnam to the effect that missile bursts had been sighted and indicated his own inclination to discount the pilot’s report. He reported existing intelligence on air and ground movements and mentioned the possibility that we might now face increased Communist air activity over Laos or intensified infiltration.

It was also reported that there might be a meeting of the three Laotian factions in Paris in August.

The Secretary of State 1ndicated his own view that we should hold up on such actions as 34–A, DeSoto patrol, or any other additions to our current course at least until we see what the other side does. He emphasized, as he has repeatedly before and since, the importance from his point of view of keeping the responsibility for escalation on the other side.

The Secretary of Defense indicated that our side was well prepared for a response to any likely form of escalation.

The President expressed his basic satisfaction with what had been accomplished in the last week. He said the reaction from Congress was good, and also from the people, judging by the polls. He said this response was quite a tribute to the Secretaries of State and Defense. He warned, however, that if we should fail in the second challenge, or if we should do nothing further, we could find ourselves even worse off than before this last set of events. The President did not wish to escalate just because the public liked what happened last week. We would have to pick our own ground; nonetheless, instead of letting the other side have the ball, we should be prepared to take it. He asked for prompt study and recommendations as to ways this might be done with maximum results and minimum danger. He did not believe that the existing situation would last very long.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Aides Files, McGeorge Bundy, Meetings on Southeast Asia, Vol. 1. Top Secret. Drafted by McGeorge Bundy.