426. Paper Prepared by the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Bundy)1
Washington, December 5, 1967.
ANALYSIS OF WESTMORELAND PROPOSALS2
Basic Policy Questions
- The proposals would be a complete departure from our present policy of “self-defense” in a continuing action. The concept of “hot pursuit” is itself a misnomer and has no standing in international law—whereas “self-defense” does. Any concept of hot pursuit by “fire” has no standing of any sort under any name.
- Action in accordance with the proposals would be seen everywhere as a deliberate attack into Cambodia. Whatever the justification in our minds, we would incur a serious net minus.
- Such action would be seen as “escalation” and would be taken to confirm that President Eisenhower was in some sense speaking for this Administration.3 It would thus redouble speculation that we have in mind invasion of North Viet-Nam and some major drastic further action in Laos.
- Since the initiative would appear to lie to a major degree with us, the action would undercut our position that we seek no wider war.
- Even in military terms, the advantages of such action must be weighed against the military reactions of Sihanouk and of the VC/NVA. Sihanouk might well switch to stronger and even overt assistance, and the VC/NVA have the easy option of simply putting their rest areas a little further away.
- The time urgency of this action, even in its own terms, is not clear.
- With our note and evidence just delivered to Sihanouk yesterday,4 he would undoubtedly make our action public and depict it as a cynical prelude to larger action. He would be believed.
- The idea of B–52 strikes is particularly objectionable.
- By an exchange of messages, we may be able to work out some form of authority that will substantially assist Westmoreland to meet his problem with a minimum of drawbacks. For example, patrols on the South Vietnamese side could be intensified, with artillery ready to fire if these patrols ran into action. If there is an accompanying action and contact, artillery could be used to at least limited ranges into the areas Westmoreland wants to hit. While this could hardly be more than harassing, it should have much of the effect Westmoreland wants to achieve. It would do so without destroying our basic rationale. But we should be clear just what we are doing and try to reaffirm certain basic guidelines to Westmoreland at the same time.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Bundy Files: Lot 85 D 240, Top Secret WPB Chron., Nov.–Dec. 1967. Top Secret.↩
- Reference is to the proposed courses of action Westmoreland made to the JCS, which the Chiefs addressed in JCSM-663–67, Document 418. In a November 30 memorandum to Rusk, Bundy assessed these proposals and appended a spreadsheet analysis of them. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Bundy Files: Lot 85 D 240, Top Secret WPB Chron., Nov.–Dec. 1967)↩
- In a televised interview of November 28, Eisenhower advocated a limited invasion of North Vietnam to destroy artillery positions near the DMZ and pursuit of enemy forces retreating into Cambodia and Laos. See The New York Times, November 29, 1967.↩
- The text of the U.S. note transmitted by Australia is printed in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XXVII, Document 212.↩