93. Message From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge) to the President1
Saigon, March 23, 1964—1 p.m.
- I will of course be glad to comment on whatever you send me regarding pressure on the North.
- I continue to agree that overt U.S. action should be withheld until after Viet-Nam and U.S. covert steps have been tried-and tried as part of an essentially diplomatic pressure move. I do not think that such a move, including the Viet-Nam and U.S. covert activities involved, is premature. If such an effort could be successfully carried out, it would obviously greatly discourage the VC and help General Khanh strengthen his southern base. In fact it might very much hasten the end of the war here. I have noted with interest your expectation of a showdown between the Chinese and Soviet Communist Parties and agree that this is a major element to be considered in any such diplomatic effort.
- U.S. Mission (Country Team) will hear a report, pursuant to instruction in your 1454,3 paragraph 4, subparagraph 4 on “tit for tat” methods at the regular meeting this week.4
- As regards De Gaulle, I will of course be glad to carry out your instructions to the best of my ability, should you decide you want me to go. I am commenting on proposed instruction to Ambassador Bohlen in separate telegram.5 I like your reasoning regarding knocking down the idea of neutralism and will discuss with General Khanh.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET–S. Top Secret; Exdis. Transmitted as telegram 1803 from Saigon, which is the source text. Passed to the White House on receipt in the Department of State.↩
- Document 92.↩
- Document 85.↩
- According to telegram 1828 from Saigon, from Lodge to the President, March 25, a committee of CIA and military representatives from the Embassy reached the preliminary conclusion that for a program of “tit-for-tat” overt military actions against North Vietnam, aerial bombardment and aerial mine-laying were the preferred methods of counteraction. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S)↩
- Document 94.↩
- Telegram 1803 bears this typed signature.↩