21. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) and the Under Secretary of State (Ball)1

Bundy said President agrees with Maxwell Taylor.2 Ball said this was a dreadful decision. Bundy said it was not actually a decision—the President wants to hear the arguments. Ball said we have to recognize the fact that there will be incidents and we are either in a war or we are not—we should work out rational course of action to meet accidental or incidental events. Ball said we have not been prepared to make a decision to drop bombs on Hanoi-Haiphong up to now and he does not know why we make this decision on this basis. Bundy said he had said all of this and that he would like to have a meeting at 4:30.3 Bundy said he has called Secretary but has not reached him yet because he is enroute from the office to his home. Bundy said meeting could be held at State Department and they could then give President their recommendations and choice. Bundy said he had to tell Ball, however, that the President feels strongly about this. Bundy said he thinks what is on the President's mind is that we did react after Pleiku and here is something bigger. President thinks country will feel strongly about this. Bundy asked Ball if he had seen AP 93, which is direct threat to Taylor and South Vietnamese leaders—they will be marked for death. Bundy said his personal judgment runs with Ball's.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Papers of George Ball, Vietnam I. No classification marking.
  2. See Document 20.
  3. See Document 22.