130. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson1


  • Telegram to Ambassador Taylor
The attached draft2 is based on your comments at our 1:30 meeting.3 It would be desirable to get it out to Taylor tonight,4 and also get the same thing out to Bruce for his discussions with Wilson.5 As you will remember, you promised Wilson a memo on our exact position, and Wilson has been after Bruce to find out in more detail just what our thinking is. This telegram does not tell when the next military action would be, and I believe it is quite safe to let Bruce have it.
I call your attention to the alternative language in brackets at the bottom of page 2. You said “prompt and adequate and measured.” I believe that for a policy of continuing action the words “adequate and measured and fitting” are better. “Fitting” is the word we used at the time of Tonkin Gulf, and if we are going to continue actions in a situation in which there is no spectacular outrage like Pleiku, I think “fitting” is a better word than “prompt.” It may sound like mere semantics, but I think it is quite near the center of the problem of stating your desires precisely. Will you strike out whichever adjective you do not want?6

OK for Taylor as revised7

OK for Bruce as revised

Speak to me

McG. B.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. VIII. Top Secret.
  2. Attached, but not printed.
  3. Apparently a reference to the President’s meeting on February 16 from 1:50 to 3:30 p.m.; see Document 129.
  4. No telegram to Taylor on this subject has been found.
  5. See Document 131.
  6. The President struck out “prompt” and left in “fitting.”
  7. The President checked all three items.