24. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson1
Washington, June 27, 1965.
- George Ball's paper on US Commitments Regarding the Defense of South Vietnam
- The attached paper from George Ball was prepared for your use last Wednesday,2 but we did not get it to you before your departure Thursday. George asked me to say that he himself does not think the legal arguments about support for Vietnam are decisive. The commitment is primarily political and any decision to enlarge or reduce it will be political.
- My own further view is that if and when we wish to shift our course and cut our losses in Vietnam we should do so because of a finding that the Vietnamese themselves are not meeting their obligations to themselves or to us. This is the course we started on with Diem, and if we got a wholly ineffective or anti-American government we could do the same thing again. With a “neutralist” government it would be quite possible to move in this direction.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. XI. Secret.↩
- June 23.↩
- The determination that North Viet-Nam was committing “aggression by armed attack” was explicitly stated in the so-called “White Paper” entitled “Aggression from the North” issued by the Department of State in February 1965. [Footnote in the source text; see vol. II, Document 171.]↩
- See ibid., 1952-1954, vol. XIII, Part 2, p. 2167.↩