126. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Green) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Bundy)1

Having read the welter of telegrams that is the price of one day’s absence in Washington, I feel that one point needs stressing:

The DRV is not likely to “cave” out of fear of further US/SVN bombing of North Viet-Nam. Tough old characters like Ho Chi Minh have great capacity to take punishment. In this connection I stick to the conclusions we on the Red Team reached during the Sigma exercises.2

What is most likely to cause Hanoi to falter would be mounting evidence that Peiping will not provide Hanoi with the degree of specific support and assurances Hanoi will require if it is to undergo the agony of our bombardment. There is already evidence that Peiping is stepping back from giving the assurances of support that Hanoi seeks. Hanoi is unquestionably troubled over this; and, although Hanoi will not thereby throw in the sponge, Hanoi will obviously be rendered more willing to look for some compromise that would be more acceptable from our viewpoint.

Meanwhile, Phase II operations will intensify international (and even US) pressures for negotiations. As you often say, the trick is to keep these pressures under control. Hence, I conclude:

Phase II operations must not be too intense or frequent; else negotiating pressures become unmanageable and we find ourselves negotiating before Hanoi has fully sensed the implications of its “lonely” position, that is, before Hanoi becomes fully aware of Peiping’s unwillingness to make the total commitment of support that Hanoi seeks.
Also, if we step up the attacks too far, we are more likely to drive North Viet-Nam into widespread attacks against South Viet-Nam either with organized PAVN forces or, as is more likely, by massive infiltration to the south.
We should not relieve the ChiComs of any fear they might already have that we will go after their air bases, etc., in the event that their air force attacked ours or that they would have any privileged sanctuary position in the event they became too involved in the Vietnamese fighting. This would have to be done quietly. Public declarations on the subject are out.

  1. Source: Department of State, Bundy Files: Lot 85 D 240, WPB Chron, February 1965. Secret. Drafted by Green.
  2. Apparently a reference to the simulated Vietnam war game, Sigma II-64, organized by the JCS Joint War Games Agency in September 1964. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, JCS, War Games, Vol. 2)