340. Editorial Note

On September 29, 1967, President Lyndon Johnson spoke before the National Legislative Conference in San Antonio, Texas. His speech represented a major policy statement on Vietnam. In particular, the President put forth a new offer to the North Vietnamese, one that was based upon prior discussions conducted through North Vietnamese representative in Paris Mai Van Bo and unofficial U.S. envoy Henry Kissinger. What became known as the “San Antonio Formula” was Johnson’s attempt to extend an olive branch to Hanoi: “The United States is willing to stop all aerial and naval bombardment of North Vietnam when this will lead promptly to productive discussions. We, of course, assume that while discussions proceed, North Vietnam would not take advantage of the bombing cessation or limitation.” For full text of the speech, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1967, Book II, pages 876–881.

Despite a simultaneous U.S. rescinding of the authorization to bomb Phuc Yen airfield and a scaling back of the overall level of bombing, the North Vietnamese eschewed the opportunity to enter into negotiations. In Paris the next day, Bo announced that his government had refused him permission to enter into direct exchanges with Kissinger in light of the increased bombing since July. (Telephone conversation between Kissinger and Read, September 30, 9 a.m.; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA) An October 3 article in the North Vietnamese official newspaper Nhan Dan, reporting on the Politburo’s rejection of Johnson’s formula for peace, asserted that the U.S. President had no right to insist on North Vietnamese military de-escalation while the United States escalated the bombing over Vietnam. See The New York Times, October 4, 1967.