71. Summary Record of the 523d Meeting of the National Security Council, White House,1

1. Secretary McNamara’s Trip to South Vietnam

Secretary McNamara gave an oral summary of what he intends to accomplish by visiting South Vietnam. In a report which he will make upon his return, he will comment on the current strength of the Khanh government, the outlook for the future, and on alternative courses of action which might be taken to improve the situation in Vietnam. He said he would be prepared to make both an oral and a written report.

Mr. Bundy commented that the President was not being asked to make decisions prior to the return of Secretary McNamara.

Secretary Rusk said he was taking a sober view, even a pessimistic view of developments in South Vietnam. Listing the points of weakness in the situation in Vietnam was a way for us to concentrate on courses of action to overcome these weaknesses. Our attention should be concentrated on what we can do to improve the course we are now on.

The President asked whether it was true that all recommendations made by Ambassador Lodge had been dealt with without exception—promptly and generally favorably. Secretary McNamara replied affirmatively, as did Director Bell and Director McCone. Secretary Rusk said the only exception was the proposal which Ambassador Lodge had made with respect to how to handle De Gaulle’s support of the neutralization of Vietnam.

[Page 131]

[Here follows item 2 which was unrelated to Vietnam.]

Bromley Smith 2
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings, Vol. 1, Tab 4. Secret. Drafted by Bromley Smith. An attached attendance list indicates that 23 persons attended the Vietnam portion of the meeting.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.