316. Editorial Note

On September 12, 1967, Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms submitted to President Johnson a report entitled “Implications of an Unfavorable Outcome in Vietnam.” Written by intelligence analysts in the Office of National Estimates, the report dealt with the impact of the failure to sustain the non-Communist state in South Vietnam. This failure would not come as a result of a complete military and political collapse of the U.S. effort in Vietnam, but would evolve from the likely compromise solution that would result from a peace settlement negotiated within a relatively brief period of time and to the advantage of the Vietnamese Communists. The risks of an unfavorable outcome in Vietnam were considerable. The authors of the report described the permanent damage that would result to the United States in the international arena, the internal dissension that would follow, and the destabilization that would arise in other areas of Southeast Asia. They mitigated their conclusions, however, by suggesting that “such risks are probably more limited and controllable than most previous argument has indicated.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Outcome CIA Study)