43. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

1548. Embtel 2322.2 Your evaluation of situation most helpful.

Meeting highest levels today concurred we should proceed immediately with evacuation on best possible basis. Such action would definitely be envisaged as clearing decks for further decisions.

We see two major problems on which we need your recommendations. One is timing and pace. Aim should be fastest possible schedule while avoiding appearance precipitate retreat in fear of anti-American demonstrations or actions by SVN population generally. We here inclined suggest commencement within next ten days and completion in about week or ten days thereafter.

As to rationale, believe this could now be linked to acceptance new regime only if Khanh and others make convincing statements determination continue forcefully with whole effort. Press here already starting play Khanh-Buddhist link and possible trend toward negotiation. We would need most forceful possible statements from Khanh and new PM offset this in any degree. Other elements previously stated rationale still appear valid but we would need maximum possible backgrounding against interpretation evacuation due to anti-American demonstrations.

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Believe actions being covered septels3 will contribute to general impression forceful action and should be used to maximum with Khanh and Vien in that sense. Now seems to us crucial you discuss problem frankly with Khanh as real power source. Whether or not you can do that at once, please give us your thoughts and recommendations on points above soonest.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Immediate; Nodis; LOR. Drafted by William Bundy, cleared by McGeorge Bundy and McNamara, and approved by Rusk.
  2. Document 41.
  3. JCS telegram 004213, January 27, authorized the use of U.S. jet aircraft in a strike role in South Vietnam in emergency situations. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. XXVI) JCS telegram 004244, January 28, authorized preparation for a DeSoto patrol on or about February 3. (Ibid., DeSoto Patrol, 1965) In telegram 1566 to Saigon, January 29, the Department of State informed Taylor that these two JCS telegrams covered actions that would contribute to the general impression of forceful action. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S)