382. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1
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.
- —organize citizen’s committees in all cities over 100,000;
- —get fresh faces to defend our Viet Nam policy.
- —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.
- —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.
- —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.
- —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.
- —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.
- —stop bombing, except across the DMZ, to create climate for negotiation.
- —get George Carver to briefing on television. (Dean Acheson, Dick Helms, and others objected to using Carver in public.)
- —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).