344. Editorial Note

On October 4, 1967, President Johnson and Senator Everett Dirksen had a 6-minute telephone conversation which began at 5:33 p.m. The principal topic of conversation was Vietnam. Included were the following comments by Johnson:

President: What happens—I’ll give you an illustration. Fulbright talks to Lucet, the French Ambassador—and we read a lot of this stuff that goes out—and he says that the reactionaries, and that’s you and the Reagans and the Generals, have taken me over, and I’m a captive, and Eisenhower even warned against these complexes taking over a President, but that I am a warmonger and I’m really trying to get China destroyed and that the French ought to use any influence they can on me, that the country is kind of irresponsibly led and that the Fascists are taking over. Kind of the pitch that they made even [in 1964] against Goldwater.

Now, they come along then with Case, who is a brilliant, young, liberal moderate, and he says that you cannot have any confidence in leadership. That’s the Communist line; that’s what they put out in North Vietnam every day. They told the Canadians, who were there last week, that you got a program made in the USA and you cannot [Page 854]have any confidence in the USA. That’s what the Communists always say to destroy the leadership.

Then they come along then with Morton and they have him say about the same thing, a little different approach, that the President’s been brainwashed by—he doesn’t say reactionaries, he says Generals and industrial complexes and so forth—and that we ought to stop the bombing. Now, they are being used, all these men are, and it’s hurting our country and it’s hurting it very, very bad. If we’re going to ask these 500,000 men to stay out there, we can’t have every Senator being a General and every Senator being a Secretary of State. We either got to support them and back them up and try to carry out our program, which is not a violent one, it’s not a program of retreat and it’s not a program of conquest, it is a program to deter aggression which we’re doing very well.

But Westmoreland came in last night to me. He’s very distressed. We’ve got a three-page, legal size, single-line, single-spaced teletype from him and he says that he has concentrated more firepower in bombing in the last week on the DMZ and they’ve concentrated more on us than has ever been concentrated in any equivalent period in the history of warfare, much more than was ever poured on Berlin or Tokyo, and that his only defense of the DMZ to stop this aggression up there with the North Vietnamese trying to come in is bombing their gun positions in the DMZ. And it would just be suicide if we stopped the bombing as these idiots are talking about. When you say “Stop the bombing” you say “Kill more American Marines.” That’s all it means. So he is asking us to give him more bombers and to give him more to try to knock this group out that’s wanted for 2 years to have a big invasion of the DMZ and he has been able to deter them and they haven’t had a military victory and they’re not going to get one, except they’re winning one here. (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Dirksen, October 4, 1967, 5:33 p.m., Tape 67.14, Side A, PNO 3, and Side B, PNO 1)