63. Editorial Note

In a speech in Indiana on October 12, 1968, the President’s former Presidential Special Assistant McGeorge Bundy proposed an unconditional halt to the bombing and withdrawal beginning in 1969 of substantial numbers of U.S. forces. For an extract of his remarks, see The New York Times, October 13, 1968. In a memorandum to Clifford and Nitze, November 8, Under Secretary of the Air Force Townsend Hoopes commented: “The principal conclusions that brought Bundy to this formulation can only be guessed at; the answer may lie in any one of several possibilities: (A) His proposals are a sugar-coated, half-veiled prescription for slow but inevitable defeat, and he understands this. (B) Having been an architect of escalation, he still believes we have a vital interest at stake in Vietnam and thus require, if not victory, then at least clear-cut ‘prevention of defeat.’ (C) He is fundamentally a ‘process man’ who, aware of the unforeseeable ways in which events not yet born will impinge upon any later pre-selected courses of action, believes that what is important is to get started in the desired direction and then play it by ear. Someone else can mop up the consequences if the scheme goes awry. I would guess that all of these considerations were present in his mind.” (Washington National Records Center, Department of Defense, OSD Files: FRC 330 73 A 1250, VIET 092.2 (November) 1968) In telegram 254930 to Saigon, October 14, Assistant Secretary of State William Bundy wrote: “I called Bui Diem this morning to tell him in light-hearted key that my brother’s remarks reflected no prior discussion with me whatever, had not been known to me in any way before delivery, and did not reflect in any way the point of view of the Administration, or for what it might be worth my own personal point of view.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 VIET S)