98. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson 1

RE

  • Determination to grant military aid to Burma

This bulky file involves allowing the use of just over $1.2 million to military assistance to Burma under conditions which require a determination signed by you.2 I have reviewed the whole file, and while the case is not open and shut, I believe the recommendation is right. While in [Page 236]formal terms the Burmese have not done what is normally required, they would certainly interpret a failure to go forward on our part as a breach of faith, and the costs to us in Southeast Asian political terms would be substantially more than $1 million worth of military equipment. Moreover, while Burmese neutrality under Ne Win leaves a great deal to be desired, it is angelic when compared to some other people we have to put up with.

If you approve, all that is needed is your signature on the paper under the tab.3

McG. B.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. I, 5/1–27/64. No classification marking.
  2. Attached, but not printed.
  3. Bundy and the President discussed this memorandum on the telephone. Bundy told Johnson that the Burma determination was “the only one that has any political hazard in it.” He noted that, “Ne Win has not been very helpful, but I donʼt think you want to pick a row with one more neutral who is being reasonably quiet this month, if we can avoid it.” Bundy suggested that there would be trouble with Sihanouk and Sukarno, and “thatʼs enough on our plate right now.” Bundy stated that “we do get effective connection to the Burmese military and the Burmese have been damn good about preventing any serious communist infiltration, but they are not cooperative in other ways.” The President responded: “Okay, much obliged.” (Memorandum of a telephone conversation, May 13, 5:35 p.m.; ibid., Transcripts of Telephone Conversation, Alpha Series, McGeorge Bundy) The recording of the conversation is ibid., Recordings of Telephone Conversations.