240. Memorandum From the Ambassador at Large (Harriman) to President Johnson1

On the plane back to Washington from the Ranch on Friday afternoon, December 10, I discussed with Bob McNamara the potential for new flags and additional military contributions to Viet-Nam. I also reviewed the problem with Dean Rusk on my return. It was agreed that both Secretaries would discuss the possibility of a Greek and Turkish military contribution at the NATO Meeting in Paris,2 and that other NATO countries would be encouraged to increase their material assistance. As you know, Dean made a vigorous speech at NATO, urging that NATO Members make a greater effort in support of South Vietnam. Dean’s initiative will be followed up with each country, as you did with Erhard.3

As to the Far East, Hubert Humphrey will take up the question of a Philippine military contribution with the new Philippine President, and will discuss getting a second division from Korea when he visits Seoul.4 These Korean negotiations are already under way.

I talked with the Australian Ambassador here last week and our Embassy in Canberra has been in touch with the Australian Government. Bob Menzies plans to undertake to increase the Australian military contribution but he believes that any action should be an Australian self-starter rather than under pressure from the U.S. I told the Ambassador of your personal interest and he agreed to pass the message on to Menzies.

The manner in which Thailand can be most helpful is being reviewed. As you know, the Thais are giving us the fullest possible cooperation in the use of their facilities.

In Latin America, Brazil is the first case. Ambassador Gordon explained to President Castelo Branco that while the program loan decision was not contingent on a Brazilian military contribution in Viet-Nam, it was expected that Castelo Branco would make every effort to help in Vietnam. In a long and serious conversation with Castelo on December 15th he explained our position in great detail. Castelo has promised to [Page 687]give the matter his prayerful consideration. He pointed out that under the Brazilian Constitution Congressional approval is required before troops can be sent abroad and the Brazilian Congress does not reconvene until March. Gordon and our military attache, General Walters, will follow this up closely and, although keenly aware of the political problems Castelo faces, they are hopeful that a Brazilian contribution in some form can be worked out.

We will take up with each of the other Latin American countries on a case by case basis the kind of contribution each might be induced to make.

As far as Africa is concerned, all hands agree that there is no possibility of a contribution from any African country particularly at this time with the preoccupation over Southern Rhodesia.

On Iran, Dean feels that a military contribution might stir up the Russians and that it would be better to let sleeping dogs lie. We are, however, going after Iran for a military-medical team on a large enough scale to take care of one Province. The senior USOM Public Health officer in Saigon, General Humphreys, will go to Iran to work out the details.

I will continue to keep in close touch with the Regional Bureaus to see that the maximum effort is made to get more flags and more assistance, military or material, as well as to try to get more publicity on what is being done.

Dean thinks that it might be useful for me to make a trip in January to certain European countries, possibly including Yugoslavia. Based on my talks with Tito last summer, there is a possibility that he might be induced to exert his influence on Moscow to persuade the Soviets to take greater initiative with Hanoi to come to the negotiating table. It might also be useful to stop off in the North African countries and Iran.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. XLIII, Memos (B). Secret. This memorandum was sent to the President who saw it on December 31. (Memorandum from Bundy to Johnson, December 31; ibid.) Harriman sent a copy of this memorandum to Rusk. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Johnson, President, ’65)
  2. The Ministerial Session of the North Atlantic Council met in Paris December 14-16.
  3. During the visit of Chancellor Erhard to Washington December 20-21.
  4. The Vice President visited Manila, Tokyo, Taipei, and Seoul December 28, 1965-January 3, 1966.