245. Editorial Note

On April 7 President Johnson delivered an address at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in which, referring to the 17-nation appeal on Vietnam, he set forth U.S. policy regarding the Vietnam conflict. The United States would do “everything necessary” to ensure the independence of South Vietnam, the President stated, while remaining ready “for unconditional discussions.” Johnson also announced that he would ask Congress to join in a billion-dollar U.S. investment program for economic development in Southeast Asia. For text of the speech, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, Book I, pages 394–399.

U Thant’s reaction to the speech was transmitted in an April 8 letter to the President. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. IX) General reaction abroad was described in Acting U.S. Information Agency Director Donald Wilson’s April 12 memorandum to Rusk. (Department of State, S/S Files: Lot 70 D 217, USIA 1965) U.S. Congressional reaction was summarized in [Page 544]McGeorge Bundy’s April 10 memorandum to the President. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Johns Hopkins Speech Reaction) A summary of foreign government reaction was included in an undated memorandum prepared in the Department of State and sent to McGeorge Bundy under cover of a brief memorandum of April 12 from Benjamin Read. (Ibid.) In a memorandum for the record dated April 13, Chester L. Cooper analyzed recent White House mail regarding Vietnam and reported that the Johns Hopkins speech had caused a sharp reversal in the flow of critical mail and telegrams. The volume had changed from 5 to 1 against U.S. policy to 4 to 1 in favor. (Ibid., Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. IX)

On April 8 in a meeting with the Ambassadors of Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Yugoslavia and the Chargé d’Affaires of Ghana, Acting Secretary of State Ball delivered the U.S. Government’s reply to the 17-nation appeal on Vietnam. The reply noted, among other things, that the moment North Vietnam ceased its aggression against the South, “American supporting military action will also come to an end.” Later in the day the reply was released to the public. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, April 26, 1965, pages 610–611. Telegrams 2181 and 2182 to Saigon, April 3, and telegrams 3215, 3218, and 3221, April 4, among others, dealt with the wording of the reply and clearing it with the South Vietnamese Government. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S) A revised draft of the reply was sent by McGeorge Bundy to President Johnson at Camp David under cover of a message of April 4. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Draft Appeal on Vietnam) Ambassador Taylor accepted a last-minute change in the wording in a telephone conversation on April 8 with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Unger, a memorandum of which is in National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-272–69.

On April 8 North Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Dong, in an address before the United National Assembly in Hanoi, set forth his government’s policy in the following four points:

  • “1. Recognition of the basic national rights of the Vietnamese people: peace, independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity. According to the Geneva Agreements, the U.S. Government must withdraw from South Vietnam all U.S. troops, military personnel and weapons of all kinds, dismantle all U.S. military bases there, cancel its ‘military alliance’ with South Vietnam. It must end its policy of intervention and aggression in South Vietnam. According to the Geneva Agreements, the U.S. Government must stop its acts of war against North Vietnam, completely cease all encroachments on the territory and sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
  • “2. Pending the peaceful reunification of Vietnam, while Vietnam is still temporarily divided into two zones the military provisions of the [Page 545]1954 Geneva Agreements on Vietnam must be strictly respected; the two zones must refrain from joining any military alliance with foreign countries, there must be no foreign military bases, troops and military personnel in their respective territory.
  • “3. The internal affairs of South Vietnam must be settled by the South Vietnamese people themselves, in accordance with the programme of the South Vietnam National Front for Liberation, without any foreign interference.
  • “4. The peaceful reunification of Vietnam is to be settled by the Vietnamese people in both zones, without any foreign interference.” (American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1965, page 852) For an analysis of this statement, see Document 255.