235. Memorandum From the President’s Special Consultant (Bundy) to President Johnson1


  • The 6:30 Meeting

The main business at the Special Committee meeting tonight will be the tough immediate tactical question of arms and economic shipments to crisis areas. There is a clear division of opinion on the strategy—most of the professionals in the government would keep existing commitments (except arms) to Arab countries that have not broken relations. Clark Clifford takes a harder view. David Ginsburg, somewhat to my surprise, thinks there is merit in distinguishing between the good and bad Arabs. The detailed facts and figures are quite complex and you may wish to stay out of the meeting and let us give you a clear-cut paper for consideration tonight. Alternatively, you may want to come in between quarter of 7 and 7 and let me summarize the situation after we have had a whack at it. I have asked Francis Bator to come because he has such a good quick grasp of economic facts, and the Secretary of State is bringing his usual group, which is a bit too big for comfort but [Page 396] apparently necessary while we are trying to sort out relations with that bureaucracy.

The other items which are up for discussion are listed in the attached agenda2 and I think that they can all be handled without your help unless you choose to come.

My conversations with the Secretary make me doubtful that his back grounder3 will meet the need you feel before the weekend. But I am more and more persuaded that the only real answer will be a serious public statement.4 But I think we can and should wait until the actual situation is somewhat clearer. I also think we need time to prepare such a statement. If I had to guess, I think it ought to be from your own mouth and that it should be a calm historic review with basic guidelines and not specific commitments toward the future, and I would hope you might consider doing it about Wednesday of next week unless the situation changes.

The materials that various subcommittees are gathering can be drawn on for your speech on fairly short notice when you are ready. In essence what it would do is define and describe exactly what we have done since the middle of May—a most creditable record.
Report our own view of what has in fact happened and pin a rose or two on Nasser as a liar and others who have slandered the U.S.
Make clear that we have now seen a historical event which necessarily changes the landscape.
Project a positive picture of our hope for a strong and secure Israel in a prosperous and stable Middle East.
Emphasize that this task is in the first instance a task for the nations in the area. This is good LBJ doctrine and good Israeli doctrine, and therefore a good doctrine to get out in public.
Warn of the dangers of a new arms race and express our readiness to join with all in arrangements which will avoid the terrible waste of the arms race of the last ten years. (We are assembling detailed facts and figures on all the Soviets have wasted and all that these races have cost all concerned.) This comment should not be surfaced now but [Page 397] should come after we have begun diplomatic efforts—perhaps tomorrow—with the Soviet Union directly.
Make clear the U.S. view that this time there must be a peace and not simply a set of fragmentary armistice agreements.
Put us on record in favor of a real attack on the refugee problem—again by the parties concerned.
The general effect of such a speech in my judgment should be to show mastery of the factual situation, clarity in the purpose of the U.S. sympathy for the legitimate goals of Israel in a radically new situation, discriminating sympathy for good Arabs as against bad Arabs, and a clear sense of what the role of the U.S. is and is not in this area.
McG. B5
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, Special Committee Meetings. No classification marking.
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. The text of a background press briefing given by Rusk at 5:05 p.m. is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Appointment File, June 1967 Middle East Crisis.
  4. That morning Bundy sent the President a page of possible background comments with a note saying they were “some first thoughts on the way we should react now to all the noises about who did and who did not help Israel.” (Note from Bundy to the President, June 9, 10:30 a.m.; ibid., NSC Special Committee Files, U.S. Position—Discussion)
  5. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.