146. Telegram From Bromley Smith of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1

CAP 67332. Subject: Lodge’s farewell call on Ky. Saigon 23825.2

I paid my farewell call on Ky, telling him how much it had meant to me to work with him during the past period of almost two years. I congratulated him on his capacity to grow and to learn new [Page 343] subjects; on his courage to do the things that needed to be done; and, above all, on his capacity to control himself so as not to get impatient, not to be impulsive, and not to be revengeful. I had observed during my life so many brilliant men who had nonetheless destroyed their careers by impatience, impulsiveness, and revengefulness. I said that I expected to be in Washington in the future and hoped that he would call on me if I could be of any use and, of course, that Bui Diem could always get in touch with me quickly.
He thanked me and said he thought “his most important role in the future was to build unity and stability.” The Viet Cong, he said, “worry about Vietnamese progress in politics.” He intends to place “maximum emphasis” on this problem which has such vital importance to Vietnam’s place on the “international scene.”
He said he had noted that the Vietnamese dislike a man who is holding office, but that a man who is out of office and acting unselfishly for the good of the country without possibility of self-seeking is popular. He saw a role for himself above the battle.
We discussed the forthcoming election and he agreed that if the Constitution was carried out, and if all the leading Vietnamese supported the new President, Senate, and Assembly, that the Vietnamese position in international affairs would be totally different. Hanoi would inescapably realize—whether they admitted it or not—that talk of a so-called coalition government was no longer in the cards.
If, he said, Hanoi were then to ask for neutrality, that would be no problem because a state of affairs in which Vietnam was neutral in fact as well as in name would be satisfactory.
He said he had had a telephone call from Bui Diem reflecting a conversation with the highest sources in Washington, and he had told Bui Diem not to worry. Lodge.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. LX–IV, Cables. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to Rusk who, along with Rostow, accompanied the President on his visit to Germany April 23–26. (Ibid, President’s Daily Diary)
  2. Dated April 24. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 15–1 VIET S) The text of telegram 23825 is repeated in this telegram.