421. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson1

SUBJECT

  • Security Council Initiative on Vietnam

The Mansfield Resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that we should proceed with a renewed Vietnam initiative in the Security Council was adopted today, 82–0.2 Both Ambassador Goldberg and I recommend that a move next week is preferable to one after January 1, at which time a new Council is constituted with a less favorable membership.

Ambassador Goldberg has developed a brief resolution, with some slight modifications of our own, (copy attached),3 based on a personal suggestion made to him by Paul Martin. The resolution calls for discussions within the Geneva Conference machinery. This draft has the merit of being brief, non-prejudicial, and is no different substantively from the resolution we submitted to the Security Council in 1966. This formulation, with its stress on the Geneva framework, should make the expected opposition of the Soviets and the French more embarrassing to them.

Ambassador Goldberg would like to begin discussions promptly with the members of the Security Council, including the Soviets, and we would also concert closely in New York and in Saigon with the South Vietnamese. Ambassador Bunker has already had a preliminary discussion with Thieu regarding the UN approach, and we do not anticipate any major difficulties with him.

We will not request the Secretary Council to inscribe a new item. Rather, we will seek a renewal of discussion based on the item submitted to the Council and inscribed in 1966. Nevertheless, nine votes [Page 1086]are required for “adoption of the agenda” and for a substantive discussion to take place. Ambassador Goldberg estimates, and we concur, that the nine necessary votes will probably be there. There are two principal reasons: some members who hold serious reservations about involving the Security Council may be equally concerned not to embarrass the United States; moreover, we expect the reasonableness of the resolution may influence some doubters to support discussion (adoption of the agenda). Special efforts may be necessary with Ethiopia to provide the ninth vote.

There could be a resolution or an amendment submitted calling for unilateral U. S. cessation of the bombing without reciprocity from the other side. We have some very confidential information that the Indians are thinking along these lines, and we will wish to make it abundantly clear to Prime Minister Gandhi at the appropriate time that we would consider such a move inimical to our interests. We believe this could be countered effectively by a proposal based on the formulation you used in your San Antonio statement. Under such circumstances, a bald appeal for a bombing cessation probably would not pass. The likely vote is: Yes (7)—France, India, Mali, Ethiopia, Nigeria, USSR, Bulgaria; No or Abstention (8)—Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, U.S., U.K., Denmark. By an appeal from you to the Emperor, Ethiopia might be persuaded to abstain. Finally, even though we do not expect it will be necessary, there is always the veto.

We have also weighed whether the attached resolution should be sponsored by the United States, by Canada, or by some others. Our judgment is that U. S. sponsorship of the resolution is desirable both domestically and internationally and assures greater control over the results.

Ambassador Goldberg concurs.

Dean Rusk4
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/UN. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Sisco and cleared by Bundy and Katzenbach. The date is handwritten on the memorandum.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 373. The Mansfield Resolution was reported to the Senate by the Foreign Relations Committee on November 21 and adopted by the Senate as Resolution 180. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 1038–1039.
  3. Not printed; it reads: “The Security Council, Deeply concerned about the situation in Vietnam: 1. Expresses the view that the principles on which hostilities were brought to an end by the Geneva Accords should provide a basis for the restoration of peace; 2. Urges that appropriate steps be taken to reactivate the Geneva Conference machinery as the international context in which it appears that fruitful discussions looking to a settlement are most likely to take place.”
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.