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

You may or may not want these for night reading, but you should have them available:

  • At Tab A is McNamara’s full draft report2 of which you got a brief this morning.3
  • At Tab B is his draft White House statement4 which both Dean Rusk and I think needs a lot of revision.
  • At Tab C is a fascinating document prepared for possible publication in Foreign Affairs by Ambassador Lodge.5

[Page 146]

For the TV show on Vietnam,6 I myself would quietly but firmly spell out the following themes:

Neutralization of the whole area has been repeatedly denounced by the Communists and is therefore not practicable now.
The right of people to choose their own course is exactly what we are supporting, and if foreign interference and subversion should end, the need for our help will end.
While the danger of the threat continues, American support will be firm and strong.
Secretary McNamara and a first-rate team have made a most careful study which has led to constructive suggestions that are now being reviewed within the Government.
We are strong, calm and determined, in a situation which has danger but also hope.
The Ambassador is our top man in the field, and you are proud of the U.S. unity which has been developed both here and in Vietnam in the first hundred days.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, McGeorge Bundy, Memos to the President, Vol. 11. No classification marking.
  2. Not attached, but see Document 84.
  3. The President met briefly and individually with McNamara and then McGeorge Bundy between 8:50 and 10 a.m. on March 13. Later in the day from 12:15 to 1:23 p.m., he met with McNamara, Rusk, Taylor, McCone, and McGeorge Bundy as a group. Apparently the President was briefed on the draft McNamara report on one, some, or all of these occasions. Johnson Library, President’s Daily Diary)
  4. Not attached. Reference is to a draft version of a White House statement of March 17, printed in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963–64, vol. 1, pp. 387–388. An undated text of the proposed White House statement and a copy with handwritten revisions by McGeorge Bundy are in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. V.
  5. Not attached, but a draft of the article is attached to a letter from Lodge to Harriman March 3; ibid.
  6. For the transcript of the President’s television and radio interview conducted by representatives of the major broadcast services, March 15, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963–64, Book I, pp. 361–375.