433. Memorandum for Personal File1

Governor Harriman’s call on Mr. Dean Acheson at his home, 2805 P St., N.W.

I stopped in to see Dean Acheson late Tuesday, the twelfth, for about an hour’s talk. I found that he was not as rigid as I had supposed from his broadcast (attached).2 I emphasized the difference between the present-day Vietnam situation and that of Korea: (a) monolithic Communist bloc split, with deep antagonism between Moscow and Peking and my belief—confirmed by Tito—that Moscow desires to end the war and objective, similar to ours, to achieve a nonaligned Southeast Asia policy; (b) guerrillas had taken hold in South Vietnam—not true in Korea—and they would be impossible to stamp out completely by military means (I referred to revival of Huks in the Philippines).

On policy, I underlined two things that concerned me: (a) the President’s alleged fear that his difficulty came from hawks (Dean said that that was not true. That his danger came from the other side); and, (b) the constant pressure of the military to expand the war with the support of certain individuals outside the Administration, such as Clark Clifford [Page 1106]and Abe Fortas. He indicated complete contempt for the judgment of both. He is opposed to expansion into Cambodia and feels the military should be held in check as Truman did.

He said his own relations with the President were not as they used to be because he had a row about a year ago about NATO, the details of which I didn’t quite gather. The President evidently criticized his and Jack McCloy’s position, which Acheson resented and the President exploded. I suggested he forget the incident and go back to his old relationship as the President needed his advice to offset bad advice he got from others. We agreed to compare notes again before long.

I am attaching to this memorandum Acheson’s TV discussion with certain college students.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Special Files, Public Service, Subject File, Acheson, Dean. Confidential; Personal.
  2. Not printed; it is a transcript of Acheson’s televised interview with college students, broadcast on December 3 over public television, in which Acheson insisted that no possibility existed for the United States to negotiate its way out of Vietnam.