8. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson1
Washington, June 19, 1965.
- Pros and Cons of a June Pause
The Case for Such a Move
- It will dramatize the good faith of our quest for a peaceful solution.
- It will further shift the onus for continued hostilities to Hanoi and Peking, if they fail to respond with action.
- 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.)
- It will permit a more careful testing of Hanoi's interest in negotiations, if any such inclination exists.
- It will meet one persistent demand of our domestic critics and waverers.
- 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.
- It will meet some persistent objections of unaligned nations and leaders (primarily the Indians and U Thant).
- 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
- It may cause deep apprehension of US determination in the already weakened Saigon Government.
- It may allow Hanoi to catch its breath, repair damaged communications, and increase its assistance to the Viet Cong.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.↩
- Melvin R. Laird, Republican Representative from Wisconsin.↩
- Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.↩