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


  • Staff Assistance in Latin America

Walter Jenkins has told me of your quite proper concern over the Sunday Star story about Bob Sayre joining my staff.2 The story, which must have come from some State Department gossip, is a damaging distortion of a move which was made to deal with a real problem. That problem is that Ralph Dungan and Tom Mann really have not communicated easily together, so that Latin American business has kept coming through my desk.3 I was either doing things myself or playing liaison officer between the two of them. This I just did not have time enough to do without help, so about six weeks ago I told Ralph that I thought we ought to add to the NSC staff a relatively junior officer (like Dave Klein for European affairs) who would be available to us here, and who would be acceptable to Tom Mann, too. I should add in candor that both Ralph and I knew that this arrangement would in fact reduce his direct involvement in Latin American affairs, although I told him that I for one would be glad to have him continue to keep a hand in when he felt like it.

Sayre was recommended by Crockett4 and Mann for this job, and while I was wary at first, I found him very good in our interview, and I found that Ralph had a very high opinion of him. He has been over [Page 52] here for several weeks now, and he has already proved his value in a number of ways. The most conspicuous example is Tom Mann’s speech on our recognition policy.5 Because of his friendly relations with Mann and his own sensitive eye for the politics of the matter, Sayre was able to get amendments made which made that speech entirely safe at home and successful in Latin America.

I have spoken to Ralph about this unsatisfactory story, and neither he nor I think it is something we should make an issue over, since it was way on the inside of a Sunday paper. Of course, Tom Mann himself is a Special Assistant to the President, but de facto he is now working with our staff in the same way that other Assistant Secretaries do.

Unfortunately, there does exist a real—but manageable—problem of Ralph’s own state of mind. I have told Walter Jenkins that in my own judgment the best thing we can do for Ralph is to make it clear to him that he will be in line for one of the jobs he wants after the election, if all goes well. The two things which he has in mind are the Ambassadorship to Chile and a relatively senior U.S. appointment at the World Bank.6 He is highly qualified for either one, in my judgment. Meanwhile, I am doing all that I can to keep in good harness with him, given the difficult fact that as long as Tom Mann is No. 1 on Latin America, it simply will not be practicable for Ralph to play the role there which he had in the last administration.

McG. B.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. V. No classification marking.
  2. The article reported that Sayre had assumed responsibility for Latin American affairs at the NSC and suggested that he would be “much more closely oriented to the State Department view of events” than Dungan and Richard M. Goodwin had been under President Kennedy. (Washington Star, June 14, 1964)
  3. Bundy also raised the communication problem with the President on April 14, citing criticism that would result if Dungan left, i.e. “another good White House man goes west.” Johnson replied that his standing in the public opinion polls was such that “Ralph’s leaving me wouldn’t hurt me really politically.” (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of telephone conversation between President Johnson and McGeorge Bundy, April 14, 1964, 12:50 p.m., Tape F64.23, Side B, PNO 1) In an April 28 memorandum to Bundy, Chase warned of a possible consequence if Dungan departed: “I, for one, do not favor Tom Mann’s implied proposal that White House/State contact take place solely or substantially through his office (it probably bothers Tom somewhat that he does not now control everything that ARA says to the White House).” (Ibid., National Security File, Country File, Latin America, Vol. I, 11/63–6/64)
  4. William J. Crockett, Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration.
  5. Mann delivered the speech, “The Democratic Ideal in Our Policy Toward Latin America,” on June 7 at the University of Notre Dame. (Department of State Bulletin, June 29, 1964, pp. 995–1000)
  6. Dungan was eventually appointed Ambassador to Chile; see Document 271.