385. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1

Mr. President:

Here are the McNamara and Mac Bundy positions you asked me to compare.

[Page 987]
McNamara Mac Bundy
An announced new policy of stabilization. No major change in public posture established in San Antonio speech.
Unilateral stand-down to await Hanoi reaction. Against:
—any unconditional pause;
—any extended pause for sake of appearances;
—any major headline-making intensification of the bombing.
U.S. Troops:
No increase beyond current approved level. No large-scale reinforcements beyond totals already agreed.

Mac Bundy did not address himself explicitly to the following list of points made by Secretary McNamara. Presumably he would agree with the following list, within the general framework of existing policy rather than a new announced policy of “stabilization.”

  • —There will be no call up of reserves.
  • —No expansion of ground action will be undertaken in North Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia.
  • —No attempt will be made to deny sea imports into North Vietnam.
  • —No effort will be made to break the will of the North by an air campaign on the dikes, locks or populated targets—efforts will be made to hold down civilian casualties in the North.
  • —We will engage in continued efforts to restrict the war.
  • —We will endeavor to maintain our current rates of progress but with lesser US casualties and lesser destruction in South Vietnam.
  • —We will be willing to accept slow but steady progress for whatever period is required to move the North Vietnamese to abandon their attempt to gain political control in South Vietnam by military means.
  • —In light of the political progress of the GVN, we will gradually transfer the major burden of the fighting to the South Vietnamese forces.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Walt Rostow, McNamara, Robert S.-Southeast Asia. Top Secret; Sensitive; Literally Eyes Only for the President.