9. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam 1

1907. For Ambassador from Secretary.

We have all read and carefully noted your 23992 concerning the current position and Vietnamese reaction to it. Also your comments on the Presidentʼs letter to Menzies.
As the Menzies letter indicates, we have reaped very considerable dividends from this whole effort in terms of both present and future support. At the same time, the intense activity already evident in the Communist bloc, and particularly Shelepinʼs visit to Hanoi,3 have convinced us that suspension must continue for the present, partly on the slight chance that Hanoi may respond, and also to maintain and solidify domestic and international support. In reaching this decision, we have of course weighed the serious arguments contained in your 2399, but believe that the wider factors must be over-riding for the time being including strongly affirmative response from 40 or 50 nations and widely encountered pleas that we give adequate time for response from Hanoi.
Accordingly, we believe you yourself should now see Ky to get his understanding and concurrence in continuation, and that message should also reach Thieu, Do, and others, as you think best, so that possibilities of misunderstanding are minimized. Following are points you may draw on in your presentation.
You may draw fully on account of diplomatic activity in Menzies letter. You may explain that this activity has in itself greatly strengthened worldwide support and understanding for GVN/US position and has created situation in which, if Hanoi fails to respond and we resume, we will do so with very wide and strong worldwide and domestic support. In short, we are clearing the decks for whatever action may be necessary, and GVN should have no doubt that we will in fact do whatever is necessary as we have done in the past.
We need the additional time period to drive this point home, particularly in light of Shelepin visit.
You should frankly explain, to extent you may not already have done so, that one major purpose of our effort is to exploit differences of view within Communist bloc. While we have no concrete reason to expect that Sovs will in any way be helpful, this suspension may well have sharpened divisions between Sovs and their friends, on one hand, and Chicoms, with favorable implications for the future of a free South Viet-Nam.
As stated in Menzies letter, there has been no change in Hanoi position and we have no intention of being taken in by mere gestures. Our military action in the South and our reinforcements have continued and will continue. We believe Hanoi is under no delusion that our action has reflected any change whatever in our determination to see this thing through.
Next week President will submit supplemental appropriation for all aspects of effort in Viet-Nam at level presently estimated to be $13 billion. This sum for over-runs in Fiscal 1966 will bring home to Congress and country full magnitude of stakes in Viet-Nam and Congress needs full demonstration that every possible opening for peace is being explored.
We of course recognize that suspension of bombing gives other side some temporary military advantages. At same time, Ky well knows that we have continued heavy attacks on infiltration routes in Laos. He should also be aware that resumed bombing can deal fairly quickly with any repairs Hanoi has been able to make in communications routes and other military targets that we would expect to attack promptly upon resumption.
There may well be some sort of climax during Shelepin visit. If there should be any sign of a substantive change in Hanoiʼs position, or on other hand if Hanoiʼs lack of response becomes clear, we will be in [Page 26] urgent consultation with GVN. They can count absolutely on our maintaining fundamental positions stated in 14 points (which you should give them).
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Immediate; Literally Eyes Only; Nodis. Drafted by William Bundy, cleared by McGeorge Bundy and in substance by U. Alexis Johnson, and approved by Rusk. Repeated to the White House.
  2. Document 6.
  3. Indian Prime Minister Shastri reported to President Johnson in a January 6 letter that Kosygin had told him that Shelepinʼs visit was “intended to help the cause of peace.” (Telegram 1218 to New Delhi, January 7; Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S)