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

14979. Literally eyes only for the Ambassador from the Secretary. This is a highly personal message from me to you on the eve of the opening of the electoral campaign period in Viet Nam. Its purpose is to substitute for a stream of subsequent messages about clean elections which might otherwise flow out of Washington because of much nervousness here and the great sensitivity of this point. I will do my best to keep everyone from trying to show Ellsworth Bunker how to suck eggs. I just want you to know that I have complete confidence in your determination to do everything possible to ensure fair and clean elections and will not be heckling you on a day-to-day basis.

What may be helpful to you will be a special and frequent press roundup from here on this subject so that you will know reactions here and will in the process have some arguments in hand which you can use when needed with the South Vietnamese. I will arrange for Bundy to provide you such a series.

It was not surprising to me but very heartwarming to hear from McNamara, Katzenbach and others how quickly you have gotten on top of things and what general admiration and respect your American colleagues and the South Vietnamese have for the job you are doing.

Personal regards to you and Carol.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President, 8/3–27/67, Vol. II. Secret; Nodis; No Distribution Outside Department. Drafted and approved by Rusk and cleared by Read. On a covering note, Rostow wrote to the President: “This highly private message from Sec. Rusk to Amb. Bunker will interest you.” A notation on the covering note indicates that the President saw the telegram.