429. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson 1

RE

Panama

Hill for the Panama proposals that you approved in principle, subject to such consultation. Yesterday he gave us a report which is generally encouraging. A detailed write-up is being prepared and should be available to you before Monday.2 In essence, Anderson reports understanding and support from about 9/10ths of the 36 Senators and Representatives he saw, running the spectrum from Mansfield to Mendel Rivers. The only negative notes of significance were struck by Hickenlooper, Russell and Mrs. Sullivan.

Hickenlooper said that while he would have done it differently, he would not actively oppose your judgment. Russell said he was against the proposals and would vote against them, and would make a brief statement for history against them, but he knew that if you were for them, they would carry, and he wanted you to know specifically that he was not going to make a general fight against you on this issue. He disagreed, and he wanted history to know of his disagreement, but that was all.

Mrs. Sullivan was the one person who gave indications that she might wish to make a fight on the issue. She couched her argument in terms of the failure of American policy to meet the needs of the simple people of Panama. She claimed that we were merely giving further aid and comfort to the “oligarchy.” Henry Wilson and others who know her think this is merely a screen for her real concern, which is with the Americans in the Zone and the powers of her committee. Tom Mann and Henry Wilson are going to try to find ways of talking further with her.

Bob Anderson presented his report with his usual modest precision, but those who heard him were enormously impressed by the job he has done. He himself is wholly confident that there is now solid basis for a firm approach to the Panamanians, and precise language is [Page 916]being drafted for his use in this approach next week. If all goes well, there should be enough of an understanding with the Panamanians for an important joint statement by the two Governments safely ahead of the October 1 meeting of the Legislature in Panama. Our assumption is that this statement should be made by the two Presidents together, and the papers are being prepared with this object.3

I have the impression that Bob Anderson has been determined to show that anything Goldberg can do, he can do better.

McG. B.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Panama, Inter-Oceanic/Panama Canal Negotiations. No classification marking. A note on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. September 13. The “write-up” has not been found.
  3. On September 24 President Johnson read an approved joint statement on areas of agreement on a potential treaty that was simulataneously released in Panama by President Robles. The statement and Johnson’s prefatory remarks are printed in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, Book II, pp. 1020–1021.