382. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1

Mr. President:

I did not take full notes in yesterday’s advisory meeting;2 but I did try to list suggestions for action.

Here is my list.

Dean Acheson:

  • —organize citizen’s committees in all cities over 100,000;
  • —get fresh faces to defend our Viet Nam policy.

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McGeorge Bundy:

  • —cool attention to bombing: make it routine;
  • —reward in White House ceremonies those who have done great work in the provinces, military and civilians;
  • —assure that military men on advisory duty in pacification are promoted on same basis as those in combat;
  • —develop publicity that Vietnamese are doing more, and make sure they do;
  • —shift our stance on negotiations to one of not expecting negotiations until after November 1968;
  • —dramatize that we have already won a great strategic victory in Asia: lift people’s eyes from Viet Nam to the whole scene;
  • —brief the key editors and communicators just as the group was briefed (Dick Helms has no objection to using Carver when it’s off-the-record and no public attribution);
  • —let good news speak for itself: don’t strain publicly to convince people progress is being made.

Douglas Dillon:

  • —spend time not on how we got into Viet Nam, but on position we’re in and real choices we face;
  • —clarify what we are doing on the ground and in bombing;
  • —develop a sense of progress: sense of stalemate is what invites extreme doves and hawks; let events speak for themselves, but there are ways of getting good news out;
  • —have Bunker—a fresh and trusted voice—report to the nation;
  • —the President should brief top college presidents and deans as Advisory Group was briefed.

Arthur Dean:

  • —clarify our “get out of Viet Nam” position: if we’re really going to get out, why spend all this blood and treasure?
  • —explain critical importance of Viet Nam to our Asia and Pacific positions: people don’t understand implications for U.S. national interest of loss of Viet Nam;
  • —avoid another Panmunjom.

Cabot Lodge:

  • —an independent audit of the pace and success of the revamping and reorientation of the ARVN;
  • —limit U.S. casualties by diminishing “search and destroy” operations, substituting a doctrine of “split up and keep off balance”;
  • —encourage a “true resolution” in South Viet Nam by throwing our weight behind private cooperative institutions such as farmers’ [Page 982] unions, marketing organizations, which would stimulate, agitate, and engage the people themselves and begin to push the French and Chinese middlemen to the wall. (WWR comment: the French and Chinese businessmen ought to be moving into light industry at this stage of Vietnamese development.)
  • —agreed with Acheson on a no-bombing versus DMZ deal;
  • —urged that Bunker and his views be given maximum exposure.

Robert Murphy:

  • —sharpen focus and action against small group of Hanoi villains: we have no target for hate in this, as opposed to other wars.

General Omar Bradley:

  • —talk less about negotiations: Hanoi takes it as a sign of weakness;
  • —use “Patience” as a slogan.

General Maxwell Taylor:

  • —questions close-in defense of DMZ;
  • —decide what we are prepared to offer the VC; that is a major gap in our policy and ought to be filled;
  • —bombing should not be traded against DMZ pressure but against level of VC incidents in the South; bombing is our equivalent of guerrilla warfare;
  • —organize nationwide, continuous campaign of speeches in support of policy;
  • —organize an hour TV program regularly: government replies to its citizens on Viet Nam, answering questions.

George Ball:

  • —stop bombing, except across the DMZ, to create climate for negotiation.

Abe Fortas:

  • —get George Carver to briefing on television. (Dean Acheson, Dick Helms, and others objected to using Carver in public.)

Clark Clifford:

  • —bring Thieu to the United States (Nick Katzenbach implied we should make sure his political base in Saigon would be safe during such a tour).

W.W.R. 3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Walt Rostow, Vol. 51 (2 of 2). Secret.
  2. See Document 377.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.