78. Summary Notes of the 586th Meeting of the National Security Council1


The President: Before discussing current problems with West Germany, Under Secretary Katzenbach will comment on the current crisis in France.2

Under Secretary Katzenbach: DeGaulle can probably defeat a vote of censure in the French Assembly. His TV speech on Friday was tough, but it did offer a compromise to his opponents. He may well emerge as the leader who overcame current disturbances. If he has to use force to end disorder, he will encounter very serious problems. It is in our interest to have the situation in France calm down.

[Here follow 3 pages of discussion on the Paris peace talks, German affairs, and the situation in Vietnam.]

Bromley Smith
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings, Vol. 5. Secret; Sensitive; For the President Only.
  2. On May 2 French authorities closed the University of Paris complex at Nanterres, a Paris suburb, setting off a growing wave of student demonstrations that erupted into violence on May 6. The clashes between police and students continued until May 13 when French workers staged a massive general strike in support of the students. On May 14 the students occupied the Sorbonne. Other faculty occupations followed. By May 17 workers in many parts of France were occupying factories as part of a protest against government economic policies. By May 21 when the French National Assembly began debates on the uprising, an estimated 8 million workers were striking, paralyzing industry and transportation.