269. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Habib) to Secretary of State Rusk1

SUBJECT

  • Report to the President by the Clifford/Taylor Mission

The highlights of the report that Mr. Clifford and General Taylor will make to the President today are as follows:

1.
They will review the type of presentation that they made to the heads of government in each country.
2.
They will note the following responses of the governments they visited concerning the conduct of the war:
a.
All the nations endorse the essentiality of the bombing program in North Viet-Nam with the Asians urging a considerable step-up including bombing of the dikes, and the Commonwealth countries favoring the present bombing program.
b.
All countries generally opposed any additional bombing pauses on the grounds that they were pointless and Hanoi had many means of getting a message to us.
c.
All countries also saw great military value in closing Haiphong Harbor, by mining if necessary, but the Asians were less inclined than the ANZACs to worry about possible consequences with the Soviets and Chinese.
d.
With regard to extension of the war to other territory the Thai favored action against Sihanouk and the Koreans expressed the hope that China would enter the war, which they believed would result in the elimination of communism in China. Almost all the countries favored the use of troops to cut the infiltration from Laos. Some, particularly the Koreans, favored an Inchon-type landing behind the DMZ. [Page 669]However, when the need for additional ground forces for such activity was pointed out, their ardor for them waned rapidly.
e.
All countries believed that we were losing the propaganda war and should put much more emphasis on stating our case to the world.
f.
All countries favored a summit conference with the timing and site not settled, but most likely to take place in November or December.
3.

With regard to additional troops for Viet-Nam the Mission is cautiously optimistic:

a.
Viet-Nam has announced an increase of 65,000 men, reduction of the draft to 18, and extension of lengths of service.
b.
Thailand. An additional 10,000 men, which we will have to equip, arm, train and replace.
c.
Australia. The Mission asked for two battalion combat teams and believes Australia will send at least one.
d.
New Zealand. The Mission asked Ambassador Henning to hold out for one battalion combat team and at least double the present 381 men.
e.
Korea. President Park’s political problems preclude any combat troops in the near future. However, the Koreans agreed to consider sending support troops and civilian manpower.

Questions of timing in all these cases will require resolution.

4.
The Mission will make the following recommendations to the President:
a.
A vigorous follow-up by our Ambassadors and care in Washington not to cause difficulties with these countries over seemingly unimportant issues, specifically the JCS guidelines on US facilitative support to the Thai internal security efforts, an issue in which Secretary McNamara has been personally involved.
b.
Follow-up letters from the President to each chief of government perhaps including President Marcos.
c.
Hold off for the time being on any decision about a summit.
d.
The US should prepare a vigorous plan for getting our cause on Viet-Nam across to world opinion. This subject should be on the agenda for a summit, but we should in any case move ahead now.

Attached to the covering letter summarized above are individual reports on each country visited.

After the above presentation, Mr. Clifford and General Taylor will give the President privately a memorandum embodying their recommendations on the bombing of North Viet-Nam. They will present their view that the bombing must be stepped up considerably to bring as much pressure as possible against Hanoi and as the least dangerous and expensive means to shorten the war. They will recommend the bombing of all major targets presently not approved short of strictly civilian targets. They will recommend reductions in the size of the prohibited circles around Hanoi and Haiphong and will propose exceptions for specific targets within the 30 and 25 mile buffer zones along the Chinese border. They will also recommend careful re-examination [Page 670]of the closing of Haiphong Harbor, citing the military need to do so to cut off the influx of supplies. They have already asked CINCPAC to study carefully the possibility of blocking the Harbor by means other than mines, such as perhaps sinking a ship in the narrow channel. Both Mr. Clifford and General Taylor, but especially the former, believe that additional means must be found to bring pressure against Hanoi to keep the war from dragging on with continuing high casualties.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. Drafted by H. Freeman Matthews of the Vietnam Working Group. An attached covering note from Read to Rusk, July 5, reads: “Free Matthews accompanied Clifford & Taylor, and he has prepared the attached summary of the Mission’s views at my request. A copy of the Mission report for you will be at the WH lunch, but there will probably not be a copy of their private views on the bombing program (see p. 3 of the attachment). Matthews requests that Clifford & Taylor not be advised that he has given you a summary of the Mission’s recommendations.” In the “Clifford-Taylor Report to the President,” dated August 5, both men presented the points listed in Habib’s memorandum and recommended that the groundwork of their mission to Asia “must be exploited” expeditiously in order to ensure that the proposed troop contributions from the Allied nations were forthcoming. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 5D(1), Allies: Troop Commitments; ibid., Gen. Taylor (1 of 2); and ibid., Manila 4 Nations Conference/Clifford-Taylor Trip, Aug. 1967) According to an attached covering note, Rostow gave the President a copy of the report to examine 2 hours before the luncheon. A notation indicates that other copies were sent “eyes only/no distribution” to Rusk, Katzenbach, McNamara, and Smith.