248. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Bundy) to Secretary of State Rusk1
- Possible Changes in our Bombing Pattern
Paris 14694,2 just received, seems to me to make excellent sense. It suggests we initiate selected bombing between the 19th and 20th about next Wednesday,3 to give a chance for us to convey a general warning message before then. I would add that I think we would make considerable gains in Saigon if we authorized Bunker to consult with Thieu before we actually took the step. Thieu would certainly agree, and this could be a safety valve on his general concerns.
On the question of resuming bombing north of the 20th, at any point, we have under way the project described in Tab A attached, and will have submissions Monday—on which we will try to base a decent summary analysis. In essence, it seems to all of us at this moment that resumption north of the 20th is not now an imminent issue. The difficult contingency would be a major attack in the Highlands and particularly a major attack on Da Nang or Hue. We should be getting our thoughts in order against these contingencies, and particularly looking at the one-shot option.[Page 714]
For your background, you might be interested in reading Tab B—an Agency draft evaluation of the whole situation—and Tab C, which is my own assessment of where we stand and my suggestion of how we might play the next 3–4 weeks in Paris.4 The latter was pouched to Habib last night, and seems to be pretty generally agreed at staff levels here.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET. Top Secret; Nodis; Harvan; Limdis. Rusk’s initials appear on the first page. A copy was sent to Katzenbach.↩
- In telegram 14694 from Paris, May 25, Harriman and Vance noted: “We believe we should not renew bombing north of 20 degrees but suggest for your consideration desirability of attacking a few carefully selected targets between 19 and 20 degrees. We believe we should make clear to DRV through third party here that their failure to show restraint in response to our limiting of bombing cannot be maintained indefinitely, and that not only have they shown no restraint, but in fact have been escalating through increased infiltration and attacks against allied military forces and cities. It is possible that this course of action might move DRV from their present position, although it is unlikely. As long as we stay south of 20 degrees and hit a few selected targets, however, we believe we should be able to handle the press and world opinion.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File Vietnam, Harvan Misc. & Memos, Vol. II) In a May 25 note transmitting a copy of this telegram to the President, Rostow wrote: “Herewith Harriman and Vance evaluate Hanoi’s intentions. Suggest ‘few carefully selected targets between 19th and 20th … not before Wednesday’” (Ibid.) An evaluation of alternatives to full bombing resumption is in CIA intelligence memorandum SC 07073/68, May 22. (Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry Subject Files, Job 80–R01284R, Rolling Thunder Program)↩
- May 29.↩
- Tabs B and C are attached but not printed. Tab B is a May 24 draft of Document 263. Tab C is a draft joint State-Defense-CIA assessment, written by Bundy on May 23, which described the current strategy as “effective” and made recommendations for the near term.↩
- A memorandum from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense to Clifford, May 28, noted: “The CIA favors maintenance of the current situation (Option A).” (Johnson Library, Clark Clifford Papers, Southeast Asia: [Material on Bombing, May 1968]) The CIA’s commentary on the options was attached to this memorandum and is summarized in footnote 3, Document 255.↩