141. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Bundy) to Secretary of State Rusk 1


  • Checklist for Any Major Announcement—Luncheon Topic

As we consider a major announcement of forthcoming actions, I submit the following checklist:


How and when do we inform Saigon and our allies?

I believe this should be done at least a day or two in advance in Saigon, and at least a day in advance for the Manila allies. A related question is whether we make any determined effort to get additional contributions. We probably can get a Korean light division under negotiations already under way, and the Australians might go up just a little. However, I see no other prospects, and would strongly recommend against any publicized push.


How do we depict the situation, both in Viet-Nam and in relation to our world-wide need for an adequate strategic reserve?

On Viet-Nam alone, we need a careful and considered statement of the enemy’s strategy and new capabilities, on which to base the fundamental argument that we are acting to meet what they have done. On the world picture, there are delicate problems in whether we point to any specific threat area as justification for bringing our strategic reserve up to an adequate level.


Do we announce flatly an increase in our force ceiling in Viet-Nam, together with the timing of deployments?

On the one hand, to give a flat deployment schedule plays into Hanoi’s hands. On the other hand, Congress and the country may require a firm new “ceiling” to avoid the implication that we are committing ourselves to the full extent of the total force increase. This is a dilemma in which the answer will require careful review of such a possible position as stating that we now believe X thousand additional forces, over and above the 525,000, will be required and are earmarking in that sense but without giving the dates.


What do we say about any revision of strategy?

We could use some such formula as that Westmoreland is being instructed to give primary emphasis to the protection of populated [Page 411] areas, but this raises the question of whether we mean to abandon Khe Sanh and the highlands. On the other hand, if we have no language suggesting any change of emphasis, we will be accused of simply going on with more of the same. The underlying fact, as we believe the DOD studies will show, is that any change can only take place over a period of time.


Do we mention bombing policy in the announcement? If not, what are we going to say about this to the key committees, with a high likelihood that it will leak?

It still seems to me that we require a broad decision in principle by the President between a seasonal step-up within current limitations, and serious consideration of the JCS expanded proposals, including the mining of Haiphong. Surely we cannot avoid this issue in the Armed Services Committees, and whatever we say will come out.


What is our posture toward negotiations?

All of us have felt that we should not modify the San Antonio formula or take any dramatic new initiative. It may be that the Papal proposal would be helpful outside the limits of any announcement.2 However, we face a broad question of how the announcement refers to our view toward possibilities of peace in the coming months.


What does the announcement say about tax proposals and budget cuts?

Whatever is being worked out with Congressional leaders may well have to be specified in the announcement to avoid damaging psychological effects on the dollar. If domestic cuts are involved, these will need to be presented and sustained.

How fully do we argue the whole case for continuing in Viet-Nam?

It seems to many of us that the situation calls for an unusually sober and full statement of the reasons why we are going on. A simple reiteration of the past rationale will not do. It would be my own feeling that we should lay stress not merely on our commitments but on the continued importance of our stand in Viet-Nam for confidence in Southeast Asia—with full treatment of the current threats there and also a good deal more than the President has ever said about the favorable trends in Southeast Asia that our stand to date has made possible.

In short, the announcement may well need to be a very major state paper almost on the scale of a state of the union message. If we fail to spell out real answers to these questions, we will leave the field wide open and have to tidy up in any event during the hearings or through further public statements.

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In the circumstances, I strongly urge that a task force be designated to work on the whole of this statement under conditions of utmost secrecy, and that no timing for the announcement be set until we have reached virtually final agreement on the terms of the announcement.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Nodis. A copy was sent to Katzenbach.
  2. See Document 139.