41. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1
We have a problem: real but soluble.
The British took our proposal of last night and put it into A–B form; that is:
- —first bombing halt;
- —then simultaneous stopping of infiltration and troop movements.
That is not how we stated it last night; or to Hanoi today.2
The reason: we gave Wilson and Brown the A–B formula and told them to peddle it in Moscow and, again, on this occasion.
I talked with Sec. Rusk and he is confident that if they, in fact, buy the A–B formula we can work it out to protect our interests.
I believe it can be done if we’re short on the time-gap between A and B and mighty hard on verification.
If they buy anything, which I doubt, they’ll buy the A–B formula rather than the tougher formula to Hanoi—where at lunch we virtually reversed the A and B. But that’s a good initial bargaining position to be in—if bargaining it gets to be.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Sunflower & Sunflower Plus. Top Secret; Nodis; SUNFLOWER.↩
- The Johnson administration preferred that Wilson place a strong emphasis upon mutual de-escalation in his talks with Kosygin. However, a private assurance from Kosygin that Moscow would “urge course of mutual de-escalation on Hanoi” would be acceptable. Of utmost importance was for Wilson “not to sign on to anything which calls for unilateral action by U.S.” (Telegram 132521 to London, February 7; ibid.)↩
- The text is a copy retyped by the White House. The original of the telegram is in National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/SUNFLOWER.↩
- In telegram 6329 from London, February 7, Cooper described his review with Wilson of the brief the Prime Minister would use in the afternoon session. In paragraph 5, Cooper reported that Wilson would inform Kosygin that the U.S. Government would not only halt the bombing as a first step but would also stop the further build-up of its forces in South Vietnam if it could get like assurances from the DRV. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Sunflower Plus)↩
- February 9.↩