8. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson1

SUBJECT

  • Pros and Cons of a June Pause

The Case for Such a Move

1.
It will dramatize the good faith of our quest for a peaceful solution.
2.
It will further shift the onus for continued hostilities to Hanoi and Peking, if they fail to respond with action.
3.
It may allow the USSR increased leverage in pressing Hanoi towards negotiations, if any such inclination exists within the Soviet leadership. (Very doubtful, on the evidence of May.)
4.
It will permit a more careful testing of Hanoi's interest in negotiations, if any such inclination exists.
5.
It will meet one persistent demand of our domestic critics and waverers.
6.
It will ease the mounting domestic pressures on our allies (primarily the British and the Japanese, but also the Australians and Canadians) to stop their support of our Vietnam policy.
7.
It will meet some persistent objections of unaligned nations and leaders (primarily the Indians and U Thant).
8.
It will somewhat de-fuse the Algerian meeting by strengthening our supporters and putting the heat on our adversaries.

The Case Against Such a Move

1.
It may cause deep apprehension of US determination in the already weakened Saigon Government.
2.
It may allow Hanoi to catch its breath, repair damaged communications, and increase its assistance to the Viet Cong.
3.
It may appear to the Communist side to be an admission of the ineffectiveness of the bombings and an indication of US desperation for “negotiations now.”
4.
It will arouse strong criticism among domestic hardliners—particularly among Republicans who are looking for a way to make capital out of any signs of our softness in Vietnam.
5.
It might make a return to air-strikes difficult in the context of inevitable international pressure to make the suspension permanent.

If US forces were to get hurt during a pause, we would be giving a dangerous opening for Mel Laird;2 people just wouldn't understand it.

McG. B.3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. XI. No classification marking. A handwritten notation on the source text indicates that the President saw the memorandum.
  2. Melvin R. Laird, Republican Representative from Wisconsin.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.