332. Telegram From the Embassy in Poland to the Department of State1

1394. Reference: Warsaw 1376.2

FonMin Rapacki called me to his office at 1800 hours Dec. 7. As in previous two meetings with Rapacki, DirGen FonMin Michalowski took notes and chief North American Sec FonMin Janczewski acted as interpretor.
Rapacki opened oral presentation by saying that misgivings, warnings of which he had informed us, are materializing. He stated that the “interpretation clause” conveyed by Lodge coincided with intensified bombing of NVN, in particular in the vicinity of Hanoi, and have been understood accordingly. He said this has led to impression that this new stage of bombing is either the work of those who are trying to complicate and undermine the peace effort or constitutes an effort to bring pressure on North Vietnam. He added that “in these circumstances I wouldnʼt see a possibility of fulfilling by Poland of its role in a fruitful way.”3
Rapacki then said that Poland could not continue in its role unless it is convinced that we have or will put an end to this intensified bombing. He added that if Poland has been satisfied on this score, and if it so happens that contact in Warsaw between the USG and NVN Govt. will occur, then “I avail myself of this opportunity to state” that it is necessary for the USG to recapitulate to the NVN representative its whole position as described by Lodge with a degree of clarity so that the other side could no longer fear that the USG position as formulated might subsequently be changed through recourse to Lodgeʼs “important differences of interpretation” clause. Rapacki concluded by saying that “it is necessary to gain clarity on these two points fairly early.”
I asked Rapacki if it had occurred to him that there might be a third reason for what appeared to him to be an intensification of bombing. I said that if I recall correctly, there was a lull in bombing flights in late October and early November simply because of bad weather conditions, and what appears to him to be an intensification of bombing may simply be a resumption of bombing to its normal level.
Rapacki responded that “policy is more important than weather.” He added that what Poles are trying to do is create the proper conditions for peace negotiations, and if we donʼt want NVN to think we are attempting to exert pressure “one avoids everything which creates that impression” even if the other side is not entirely justified in harboring that impression. (He quickly added that in this case there is justification.)
Rapacki went on to say that at the very time when Lewandowski stated to Lodge that it was advisable for USG to restate its position to NVN in Warsaw, bombing against the whole of NVN was intensified and also was more directed to Hanoi. This, he added, clearly appears to be provoking.
I asked Rapacki if he were expressing to me the reaction of the NVN Govt. He replied, emphatically, that he was expressing the Polish position, and only that of the Poles. He added that nothing he said came from or was inspired by the NVN Govt. or anyone else. (Comment: Despite this statement to the contrary, Rapackiʼs calling me in at an unusually late hour today to express a much tougher position than he did yesterday could very well reflect Hanoiʼs response to the message transmitted by Rapacki to Hanoi yesterday afternoon.)
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–14 VIET/MARIGOLD. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis; Marigold. The source text does not indicate the time of transmission; the telegram was received at 4:31 p.m. Printed in part in Herring, Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War, pp. 281–282.
  2. In telegram 1376 from Warsaw, December 7, Gronouski reported on a discussion the previous evening with Michalowski, during which Michalowski indicated that Rapacki had conveyed the U.S. position to Hanoi earlier that day. Michalowski also stated that the Poles had been “in frequent contact with Hanoi,” and that the “NVN Govt. and even some in Polish Govt. are suspicious that recently stepped up bombing outside Hanoi is the work of some elements in the USG who are trying to undercut Presidentʼs peace move.” (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–14 VIET/MARIGOLD; printed in part in Herring, Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War, pp. 280–281)
  3. In telegram 12953 from Saigon, December 9, Lodge and Rusk reported that DʼOrlandi had just informed them of a conversation on December 8 with Lewandowski during which Lewandowski expressed “grave concern” over the bombing. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–14 VIET/MARIGOLD)