307. Letter From Clark M. Clifford to President Johnson1
Dear Mr. President:
I am returning herewith the letter of the Director of Central Intelligence, dated May 8, 1965,2 together with enclosures.
I which to make one major point.
I believe our ground forces in South Vietnam should be kept to a minimum, consistent with the protection of our installations and property in that country. My concern is that a substantial buildup of U.S. ground troops would be construed by the Communists, and by the world, as a determination on our part to win the war on the ground.
This could be a quagmire. It could turn into an open end commitment on our part that would take more and more ground troops, without a realistic hope of ultimate victory.
I do not think the situation is comparable to Korea. The political posture of the parties involved, and the physical conditions, including terrain, are entirely different.
I continue to believe that the constant probing of every avenue leading to a possible settlement will ultimately be fruitful. It won’t be what we want, but we can learn to live with it.