30. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson1


  • Pros and Cons of Keeping Bill Bundy in SE Asia2


Because of his rank and his Washington standing, he is a symbol of our concern in Laos and provides that much reinforcement to Ambassador Unger.
If he comes back promptly and then things come apart, it may look as if he had failed to make an adequate effort.
If he should stay two or three days and the coalition is put together again, it would be a real plus for a Presidential emissary, and would give some advantage to us on that score.


As a practical matter, both Bill Bundy and everyone else agree that Unger is first class and can be counted on to play every card with skill and energy in Vientiane. Indeed the whole Laotian country team has performed outstandingly in this crisis.
The high probability is that negotiations for a reconstituted government with or without Souvanna will go on for many days, no matter what pressures we bring. The clocks in Laos run on their own time.
There are very important operational responsibilities here which have been waiting Bill’s return, and we lose effectiveness on some issues in Vietnam and elsewhere as long as he is away.
If the current negotiations should break down and we should need to move in a new direction in Laos, we could always get Bill Bundy back out there in 24 hours, and if he came fresh from up-to-date deliberations in Washington he would be in a stronger position to act for us in such a crisis.

On balance, my own judgment is that we should bring Bill back, and I believe this is also the view of Secretary Rusk.

McG. B 3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security Files, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. III, 4/1–30/64. No classification marking. A note on the source text indicates that the President read it on April 21.
  2. William Bundy was sent to Vientiane at President Johnson’s instruction; see footnote 4, Document 24.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.