373. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

62070. For Ambassador.

You have doubtless noted fact that Senator Mansfield has introduced a resolution in the Senate, with 54 additional Senators as co-sponsors, that would express the sense of the Senate that the United Nations should be asked to act on the Viet-Nam question. Resolution does not specify exact type of action, but refers to resolutions along the lines of that we put forward in February of 1966.2
Bui Diem called on Bundy today to ask Administration position on this resolution. He replied frankly along following lines:
With 55 sponsors already in hand, it seemed virtually certain that resolution of this type would pass. Thus it would be very difficult for Administration to take negative view in any event.
While final decision at Presidential level had not been taken, it was possible that Ambassador Goldberg would appear before Senate Foreign Relations Committee before the end of this week and take position along following lines:
Start by giving history of past attempts to obtain useful and even-handed action by UNSC.
Indicate that Administration was prepared to continue these efforts and therefore had no problem with resolution supporting such continuation.3
Bundy then noted that practical problem of any further action in UN had not yet been worked out and would require careful consideration—even as to further private consultation—of such factors as a hostile Security Council Chairman in the month of November, the difficulty of obtaining nine votes for an even-handed resolution, and similar elements. Bundy clearly said that any follow-up action would be taken only after these factors had been weighed and after we had had normal consultation with GVN. Thus, all that was involved this week was the possible taking of a forthcoming Administration position on the Senate resolution.
We regretted that Senate action at this moment might force us to take position that could appear to GVN and South Vietnamese as in some sense an independent US peace action at this particular moment, when both of us had hoped focus could be on GVN inauguration. Moreover, we were conscious of sentiment in SVN that US might appear to be acting unilaterally. One possible remedy might be appropriate GVN statement at some time that it had always welcomed even-handed UN action, in contrast with DRV rejection of UN competence.
FYI: Exact Administration position will be further worked out in the next day or two, and we may then be able to give you more precise instructions. However, Bui Diem report may well lead to further inquiries, to which you should respond along lines above. We leave to your discretion whether matter should be raised affirmatively with Thieu in any fashion. You should of course inform Vice President.4 End FYI.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S/UN. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted and approved by Bundy and cleared by Rostow.
  2. Mansfield signaled his intent to submit such a resolution in an October 9 letter to the President, to which he attached a copy of a letter he sent to members of the Senate requesting their support for the measure. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Walt Rostow, Mansfield, Senator Mike) Introduced as Senate Resolution 180 by Mansfield on October 25, the legislation as written stated the Senate’s desire for the President to “consider taking the appropriate initiative through his representative at the United Nations to assure that the United States resolution of 31 January 1966 or any other resolution of equivalent purpose be brought before the Security Council for consideration.” For text, see Congressional Record, Vol. 113, p. 30024. The 1966 draft resolution called for an immediate discussion of the Vietnam question accompanied by a cessation of hostilities. For texts of Ambassador Goldberg’s January 31, 1966, transmittal letter to the President of the Security Council and the draft resolution, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1966, pp. 760–762. Senator Wayne Morse (D–OR) introduced another resolution, Senate Concurrent Resolution 144, on September 11, which was considered at the same time but passed over. The resolution advised the administration to seek a binding consideration of the war in the Security Council, and if that failed, in the General Assembly.
  3. In telegram 1789 from USUN, October 27, Goldberg advised Rusk that the administration should “embrace Mansfield res and react positively to it.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET) In telegram 61575 to the President in Texas, October 29, Rusk agreed that the administration had to support the resolution. “My own judgment is that it is tactically far better for us to take the view that the Senate resolution crawls upon your coattails rather than that you are being pressed by the Senate to do something which you are reluctant to do.” (Ibid.) Related documentation is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XXXIII. On November 30 the Senate unanimously adopted the resolution. For text, see Congressional Record, Vol. 113, pp. 34348–34364. Goldberg testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on November 2; his strong support for the resolution was reflected in his testimony: “It is my considered view as the U.S. Representative to the United Nations that the adoption of Senator Mansfield’s resolution at this time will support the efforts I have been making at the United Nations at the direction of the President to enlist the Security Council in the search for peace in Vietnam.” For text of Goldberg’s remarks, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 1015–1021.
  4. Humphrey was on a visit to Vietnam and other nations at the time.