27. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1


  • Letter from Prime Minister Holt2

Bob Furlonger, the Australian Charge, just delivered the attached letter to you from Prime Minister Harold Holt.

He expresses warm appreciation for the Clifford-Taylor visit.3 He promises to review Australiaʼs position on more troops in light of our problems and our special close relationship.

The main purpose of the letter is to set forth the limitations within which he and his colleagues must operate. These include:

  • —rising defense costs;
  • —requirements for internal development;
  • —high foreign aid outlays;
  • —Britainʼs planned withdrawal from Malaysia and Singapore.

The key sentence in the letter is: “As I assured your emissaries, I do not mention these things to argue there is nothing more we can do.”

I think a reply would be helpful, one that underlines our own problems here at home and stresses the special Australian role as our “major non-Asian partner.” You will want to hear the report from Clark and Max first. But I believe a personal message from you reinforcing the arguments made by Clifford/Taylor will nudge the Prime Minister in the right direction.

W.W. Rostow 4
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Australia, Vol. III, Memos, 8/67–1/69. Secret.
  2. Dated August 3. (Department of State, Central Files, POL AUSTL–US)
  3. Presidential advisers Clark Clifford and Maxwell Taylor made a 2-week trip to East Asia and the Pacific, in late July and early August, to consult with government leaders in those nations assisting South Vietnam with military forces.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.