173. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1

Mr. President:

I take two weeks leave starting tomorrow. I do so with some trepidation, although:

  • —leave is necessary for year-round efficiency;
  • —It is always good for a bureaucrat to be reminded that the U.S. Government can operate very well without him;
  • —I am confident that your National Security Staff is geared to serve you for this time without me.

Brom Smith will be the central point of communication, as well as for intelligence, AEC, military and related matters. He will also fill in on Latin America for that part of the two weeks when Bill Bowdler will be away, and coordinate with Bob Kintner on speech raw materials our staff will be generating.

On other substantive matters, you have a sturdy senior team:

  • Francis Bator, of course, on Europe and foreign economic policy;
  • —William Jorden, Viet Nam and the Far East;
  • —Howard Wriggins, India-Pakistan and the Middle East;
  • —Bill Bowdler, Latin America;
  • Ed Hamilton, Africa.

As you know, I run the staff without a single deputy; but they all know their business now; work well together; and are looking forward to serving you in any way you may direct. We’ve gone over together carefully how they will operate without me.

I’ve also spoken to Bill Moyers, who is ready to lend a hand if needed.

I figure I’m a pretty poor administrator if I can’t organize the shop to operate in my absence.

On the other hand, I would be greatly distressed if you didn’t feel wholly free to telephone me or whistle me back. (Everyone has my Martha’s Vineyard telephone number.) This is a pretty lively time in foreign affairs; and, to my great pleasure, right now I’m your boy.

I shall complete my three drafting assignments for Bob Kintner before the day is out.

[Page 393]

Looking ahead, we have three major foreign policy issues for which we should prepare our minds:

  • —the German-UK-US offsets-troop issue on which Francis filed a good memorandum last night;
  • —the arms limitation-spare parts problem with India and Pakistan;
  • —a review at one time of all the various possible arms control measures, including where we go with non-proliferation.

On all I advise against haste. The staff work on the third needs most attention; but I’ve left instructions to get this in shape in my absence.

W.W. Rostow 2
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President-Walt W. Rostow, Vol. 11. No classification marking.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.