74. Telegram From President Johnson to Prime Minister Wilson1

CAP 67046. Monday, February 13, 1967.

From the President to the Prime Minister

We have considered the case for further delay to receive a message from Hanoi beyond 10:00 A.M. British time, which you suggested.

I have gone into this with my senior advisers and, after carefully considering your suggestion, the problems you presented, and the problems here—including the morale of our uniformed men—we are extending the time by 6 hours. This is as long as we believe is advisable.

I am sure you would want to know that our Joint Chiefs, CINCPAC, and General Westmoreland have unanimously opposed the Tet and other truces and extensions thereto—not only on the grounds of [Page 161]troop morale but because of the cost in human lives.2 We will wait, then, for information that may be forthcoming until 11:00 A.M. Washington time—4:00 P.M. your time. Military operations against the North will be permitted to resume between 11:00 A.M. and noon our time.

In making this decision I bore in mind Moscow’s and Hanoi’s problems of transmittal two ways. But I also was conscious of the fact that they have had the possibility of responding to essentially this message for the 3 months since we gave it to the Poles and you gave it to the Russians; and the 5 days since it was transmitted direct to Hanoi and also given by you to Kosygin.

If there is any interest in some such A–B proposition, there has been—and still is—ample time for them either to agree or to come back with a counter-proposal.

Your gallant last minute effort—which I consented to—is one on which they must move. On receiving it they must be either ready to make a response or not. A few hours either way cannot be significant. Bear in mind that the offer for a reciprocal de-escalation has not been withdrawn. It can be accepted any moment they may desire to do so, even though operations are in effect. They could be suspended momentarily. The channels for discussions on these or other lines will remain open.

Right now supplies and weapons are moving down from the North at a high rate. While bearing in mind the safety of more than a half million of our men, I feel I should, nevertheless, go as far as possible to meet your suggestion and, therefore, am stretching the beginning of military operations by another 6 hours.

Considering all the time and conversation that has gone on before, this allows added time for talk if they are really serious.

I hope you have a good chance to catch up on sleep after this arduous and interesting week which, I am inclined to believe, will prove in the end to have been most constructive.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Sunflower & Sunflower Plus. Top Secret. The Department sent a copy to the Embassy in London in telegram 135758, February 13. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/SUNFLOWER)
  2. For the views of Sharp and Westmoreland, see footnote 9, Document 30. For those of the JCS, see Document 90.