19. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson1
I have talked with my brother Bill and with Dean Rusk2 and at their suggestion, also with George Ball. The Secretary is the least negative and Bill the most so.
The basic arguments against going to the Security Council now are three:
- that it would be unsettling in Saigon. This can be controlled, but not prevented.
- that it would require Moscow to take a harsh public line against us at a time when we still have some hope to engage them more usefully in negotiation.
- there is a danger that Hanoi would read this appeal as weakness.
Given these difficulties, I am inclined now to back away from this one. I think it would be wiser to take the position that if there should ever [Page 46]be a prospect of effective action in the UN, we would be the first to work for it. Language which might do that sort of thing follows and could be fitted in to the present draft quite easily, I believe.3
If at any time there is a prospect of effective action for peace in Vietnam, through any of the agencies of the United Nations, the United States will be the first to work for UN action.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. XI. No classification marking.↩
- See footnote 3, Document 18.↩
- In his address to the 20th anniversary commemorative session of the United Nations in San Francisco on June 25, President Johnson reviewed the Vietnam problem, noted that resort to the Security Council had been rejected by North Vietnam, and stated that the United States would support any effective action by the United Nations to promote a negotiated settlement of the conflict. (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, Book II, pp. 703-706) While in San Francisco, Johnson met on June 25 with U Thant and discussed Vietnam. No record of that conversation has been found except for U Thant’s memoirs, View From the UN, pp. 67-69.↩