16. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Johnson 1

Here is a proposed telegraphic reply to Chiang Kai-shek’s letter of 1 February (Tab B).2 He also sent an informal message via Ray Cline (Tab C).3 The Gimo is of course very worried by what he sees as the eroding of the GRC’s position because of French recognition of Peiping and our troubles in Vietnam.

The Gimo seizes the occasion to urge some of his favorite ideas, such as a new GRC-ROK-South Vietnam security pact, stepped up GRC action against the mainland, and perhaps sending GRC troops to help out in Vietnam. Chiang also feels strongly that serious US setbacks in the Far East would bring a military coup on Taiwan within two years.

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US reactions to Chiang’s fears vary widely. Cline takes them quite seriously. On the other hand, a senior State official who visited Taiwan about the same time reports that GRC officials below the very top level are quite pleased with their undoubted success in making a going concern of Taiwan.4 We doubt in any case that a GRC-SVN alliance or an overt GRC troop commitment would help enough to counteract the real risk of justifying Chicom counteraction.

So the best bet seems to be a friendly response showing Chiang that we take his concerns seriously and are studying them, but not committing us in any way as yet. Such a message is at Tab A.5 Rusk, Harriman, and Cline concur, and I’ve edited it for suitable warmth.6

R.W. Komer
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence File, China, Vol. I. Secret.
  2. Attached but not printed; the letter was transmitted in telegram 700 from Taipei, February 2. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 16 CHICOM)
  3. Not attached, but see footnote 2, Document 15.
  4. A memorandum entitled “Recent Observations in Taipei,” with name and date removed, was sent from Harriman to Michael V. Forrestal of the NSC Staff on March 4 and from Forrestal to Bundy on March 5. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, China, Vol. I) A copy of the memorandum from Deputy Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Economic Affairs Robert W. Barnett to Harriman, March 3, is in Department of State, FE/EA Files: Lot 66 D 225, R.C. 1964, POL 2. Barnett visited Taiwan February 5–8. The Embassy’s report on his visit was transmitted with airgram A–738, March 6. (Ibid., Central Files, ORG 7 FE)
  5. Not attached to the source text, but see Document 17.
  6. A notation on the source text in Komer’s handwriting states, “Approved by Pres 6 Mar. in my presence. RWK.”