26. Letter From President Johnson to Prime Minister Holt1

Dear Harold:

I appreciate very much receiving your letter of July 32 with the kind expression from you and Zara regarding our recent visits together. It was a great lift to my spirits to see you again.

Lady Bird was terribly disappointed not to be with us at Camp David, but I am sure you understood that Luci needed her. All went well and I have now seen the young man, who looks like a strapping character. Many thanks for your kind words.

I also have your July 5 letter to me on the British defense position.3 I have weighed in again with Harold Wilson, and Dean Rusk did so in more detail with George Brown. By the time you receive this letter, we may know what the effect has been of our concerted effort. I believe that we have presented our case as forcefully and logically as possible, and I trust it will have a real effect on the thinking of the British Cabinet.

Turning to the economic issues raised in your letter of July 3, I share your disappointment that despite the strenuous efforts of the officials of both our governments no agreement could be reached on the problems of wool and tobacco. I do understand, however, the political pressures from your tobacco farmers, which made it impossible for your officials to offer more extensive concessions on tobacco. At the same time I hope you can appreciate why it was impossible for us to cut the duty on wool without significant concessions to counter the economic problems and political pressures we face with our wool growers.

On the dairy products, I believe the action I took was the only realistic course open to me, against the background of the very strong feelings of our dairy farmers and the real threat of even more restrictive legislation. Nevertheless, within the over-all level of our dairy imports, we are making allocations which will assure Australia at least its historic share of the trade.

On the matter of the interest equalization tax, I understand that our Treasury people have been in direct contact with yours in the past days. I [Page 65] believe there is now an understanding of the range of possibilities available to you in the plan outlined in Secretary Fowlerʼs letter to Mr. McMahon of June 24. I hope this plan will lead to a satisfactory arrangement for solving the question of your borrowing here.

Thank you especially for your thoughtful views on Viet-Nam. I agree with your feelings on the timing of another “Manila-type” conference, and we should continue to keep in touch on this. As to force requirements, Secretary McNamara is, as you know, on the ground now assessing General Westmorelandʼs recommendations in the light of the over-all situation. I appreciate the factors you mention, and of course we shall be reaching no decisions until we have assessed McNamaraʼs conclusions from the trip with great care. But we may well have to do significantly more, simply to meet the military necessities of what the other side is doing, and I want to say frankly that if the need for additional forces becomes clear, we shall need to talk fairly urgently with you and the other troop-contributing nations on whether a substantial part of the need can be met by others. Even since our meetings, it is plain that key members of our Congress feel very strongly about this, and I am sure you would agree that additional burdens should be shared as equitably as possible. I will keep you posted on our thinking as it develops.

Lady Bird joins me in sending our fondest regards to all of you, and in hoping that we soon again will be together.4


Lyndon B. Johnson
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 AUSTL. No classification marking appears on the source text, which was the signed copy of this letter, but when it was sent as a telegram to Canberra it was classified Secret. (Ibid., POL AUSTL–US) This letter was drafted by William M. Shumate of AID and cleared by Bundy, Barnett, and in draft with John C. Coleman, Director of the Office of International Monetary Affairs, and Julius L. Katz, Director of the Office of International Commodities, both of the Bureau of Economic Affairs, Department of State. It was sent to Rostow by Read under cover of a July 10 memorandum.
  2. Attached, but not printed.
  3. Not found.
  4. Johnson added the following handwritten postscript: “Today [July 10] I received your friends Ronald MacDonald and Graham Perkin of the Melbourne Age and had a good conversation.” MacDonald was Managing Director and Perkin was Editor of the paper.