2. Editorial Note

In a telephone conversation between President Johnson and Senator Richard Russell at 4:30 p.m. on January 15, 1964, Johnson told Russell that “De Gaulle’s going to recognize Communist China" and that the question was whether he should send a personal message to De Gaulle with a strong protest or send a lower-level protest for the record. His inclination was to do the latter. Russell told the President he “wouldn’t go too strong on it" because De Gaulle would not pay much attention. Russell added, “The time’s going to come when we might well—can’t talk about it now—the time’s going to come when we’re going to have to recognize them.” Johnson replied, “Yeah, I think so—don’t think there’s any question about it.”Russell went on, “I ain’t too sure but what we’d have been better off if we’d recognized them three-four years ago.” Johnson replied, “I think so. It’s the only thing Bill Douglas [Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas] said—“Russell broke in, “Politically, right now it’s poison, of course.” The conversation then turned to other subjects. At the end of the conversation, Johnson returned to the subject of how to respond to the French action: “About this De Gaulle thing, you just think we ought to play it as low key and just make a little protest for the record.”Russell agreed. (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of a Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Russell, January 15, 1964, 4:30 p.m., Tape F64.06, PNO 1)

In a conversation between the President and his Special Assistant for National Security Affairs McGeorge Bundy later that day, Bundy told the President, “The one chance that we can frustrate De Gaulle is to get Chiang to stand still for a week or so. If he would not break his relations with the French, which is what he’s always done when people recognize Peking before, this would put the monkey right back on Peking’s back, because they have maintained a position that they can’t recognize anybody who also recognizes Formosa. What the French hope is that Chiang will break relations right away, and that is probably what he’ll do. We [Page 4]want to advise him to stand still for a week. Is that all right with you?" Johnson agreed. (Ibid., Recording of a Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Bundy, January 15, 1964, 6:30 p.m., Tape F64.06, PNO 2)