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

1549. For Ambassador from President.

Thank you for your very prompt and clearheaded account2 of the events of the last 24 hours. We are inclined to share your judgment of the immediate meaning of these events, and I have complete confidence in your judgment on the spot as you deal with this new situation.
I am delighted to know that the mission is now unanimous in favor of the evacuation of dependents, and by separate messages3 we are asking for your fastest recommendations on the ways and means of putting this decision into effect with minimum damage to morale, and a maximum signal of our own continuing determination. In this connection I want you to know that once we get the dependents out of there, I am determined to make it clear to all the world that the U.S. will spare no effort and no sacrifice in doing its full part to turn back the Communists in Vietnam.
As we look beyond the removal of dependents to specific courses of action in the coming months, I am most eager to have the closest possible sense of your own thinking and of the situation on the spot. For this purpose I am inclined now to take you up on your earlier suggestion that McGeorge Bundy come to Saigon, and if you concur, he would plan to leave on Sunday, arriving Tuesday morning, February 2. He would plan to stay for three days, mainly for conversations with you and your colleagues, but also for the purpose of conveying personal word of my own determination and of my own thinking to Vietnamese leaders of your selection.
It appears from your reports that, for better or worse, we may be increasingly dependent upon unreliable and unpredictable Buddhist leaders. It occurs to me that there is one man who has some unexpended personal capital with the Buddhists, and that man is Cabot Lodge. Unless you would find it objectionable, I am thinking of asking him to come in Bundy’s plane for a visit which might later be extended to other points like Hong Kong and Manila. I would think it desirable for him to talk frankly and at length with Buddhist leaders as well as others with whom he has personal connections, always under your direction.
My own preference would be for a visit from you to Washington, but I feel that such a trip at this time would lead to further troublesome speculation and would also involve your absence during an important period of readjustment.
I count on you to give me your completely candid comments on this message. I know the subtle but important differences that do exist between the U.S. and Vietnamese views of things.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis; LOR. The text was drafted in the White House and approved by McGeorge Bundy.
  2. Apparently a reference to Document 41.
  3. See Document 43. This was apparently the only other instruction sent to Taylor at this time through Department of State channels.