244. Editorial Note

On September 22, 1966, at the opening meeting of the 21st U.N. General Assembly, U.S. Representative Arthur Goldberg made a major speech on the Vietnam war in which he stated that the United States was “prepared to order a cessation of all bombing of North Viet-Nam the moment we are assured, privately or otherwise, that this step will be answered promptly by a corresponding and appropriate de-escalation on the other side.” For text of the speech, see Department of State Bulletin, October 10, 1966, pages 518–525.

In forwarding a draft of Goldbergʼs speech to the President on September 21 for his clearance, Rostow noted in his covering memorandum that the key passages on Vietnam did “not go beyond existing policy.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President—Walt W. Rostow, vol. 13) William Bundy told Canadian Ambassador A. Edgar Ritchie that Goldbergʼs speech contained “nothing of substance” that “had not already been said privately,” but “as codified it represented a new formulation in certain respects. Moreover, the speech took more explicitly into account the need for realistic phasing in any supervised mutual de-escalation.” (Memorandum of conversation, September 29; Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S)

Thomas L. Hughes, Director of Intelligence and Research, summarized the reaction of Hanoi, Peking, and the NLF to Goldbergʼs speech in an intelligence note to Secretary Rusk, September 28. Peking and the Viet Cong were “predictably negative,” observed Hughes, while Hanoi avoided direct rejection of Goldbergʼs proposals but insisted that he had offered nothing new. (Ibid., EA/ACA-Vietnam Negotiations: Lot 69 D 277, National Liberation Front)