242. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1
Here is Bill Bundyʼs proposed scenario.
I would only add this: October will be a month of prayer among Catholics for peace in Viet Nam. That fact will be politically important in the U.S. and throughout the world.
Therefore, if we go forward with this meeting, we ought to give a lot of thought to making the most of a common plea for peace at the meeting and give maximum emphasis to the civilian aspects of Vietnamese development:
- —An appeal to the VC and an amnesty offer;
- —The surfacing of work on a Vietnamese long-term development program;
- —Forward movement on the Honolulu program; etc.
As for Billʼs raising the question of the political impact of the conference—at home and abroad—I have these observations: the domestic effect is a matter on which only you can render a judgment; the impact abroad will depend, in the end, on whether the conference produced serious results and an authentic sense of forward movement. In turn, that will depend on having the conference as well prepared as we can by a small first-class, imaginative group.
If we go ahead, I would suggest that we put Bill Moyers, Bill Jorden, Bob Komer, Bill Leonhart, and Len Unger to work virtually full time from the moment you make a positive decision.
I just talked to George Ball to ascertain what Sec. Ruskʼs view was of the enterprise. He is reported as “very enthusiastic.”
Bill Jorden and I think Ky should initiate the meeting—the others should respond. Itʼs their war.
P.S. Now a wild idea. Send a message, in greatest secrecy, to Ho Chi Minh that you want to talk to him personally in, say, Rangoon. You win if he refuses or if he accepts.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, International Meetings and Travel File, POTUS Trip, vol. 1. Secret. The source text is marked with an indication that the President saw the memorandum.↩
- In a telephone conversation at 12:40 p.m. on September 22, Ball told Rusk that the President wanted to move very fast on the Manila trip and was thinking in terms of October 18, adding that “this may be a little soon but this would be a way of heading off Ky.” (Telcon; Johnson Library, Ball Papers, Vietnam II)↩