349. Memorandum From Gordon Chase of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1

SUBJECT

  • My Day at USUN

On Wednesday,2 I went up to New York to meet and talk to some of our UN players. Among others, I talked to Stevenson, Plimpton, Yost, and Dick Pederson. Here are a few items of possible interest.

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1.

Disarmament Commission—In the morning I dropped in on a Stevenson/Foster meeting being held to prepare for the opening session of the UNDC, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. A good deal of attention was devoted to discussing (a) the tactics of handling a possible Albanian initiative on Nationalist Chinese exclusion from and Communist Chinese admission to the disarmament arena and (b) the tactics of handling Russian attacks on the U.S. about Vietnam. There was also some discussion on an Irish nonproliferation resolution3 which Foster thought was too weak. Foster mentioned that the Principals would be meeting soon to discuss the substance of the U.S. position.

In fact, the opening session of the UNDC turned up no surprises by the Albanians or anyone else. The only business was the election of a chairman from the U.A.R.; the chairman is tolerable and we couldn’t stop it anyway. Pederson felt that the chances are good that the Chinese participation issue and Vietnam will come up next week.

With regard to the Monday session, the Russians are expected to lead off, with us second. If the Russians bring up Vietnam, Stevenson’s follow-up will probably be in two parts—a Vietnam rebuttal and then a talk about disarmament. If the Albanians bring up Chirep, we will probably be able to fend it off.

2.

Article 19—The Committee of 33 will hold its second meeting on Thursday afternoon. The Russians insisted that it be held and that it be public. Plimpton feels that it probably will be used to sound off again on Vietnam. In this regard, it should be noted that the Russians talked about gas4 at the first meeting of the Committee of 33.

From Stevenson on down, there is pretty general agreement that we are probably not going to resolve the Article 19 question, by September 1, in a manner satisfactory to a hard U.S. position. Pulling the various views together, a rough consensus scenario seems to be as follows: First, the present consultations on future peacekeeping will poop along for a couple more months until it is obvious that nothing regarding the future will get settled by the fall (U.S.S.R. and France insist we talk about the future before we talk about past). Second, renewed pressure will build up again this summer to resolve the arrearages problem through voluntary contributions. Third, at the last minute, the Russians will probably contribute $10 to $15 million which will not be enough to settle Article 19 but which will be enough to ensure that the Afro/Asians won’t be too mad at the Russians. The chances of a [Page 756]Russian cave-in are not good. In this regard, Stevenson feels that Vietnam and the deepening cold war make a cave-in even less likely.

On the matter of what we should do, USUN and IO seem to be unanimous in the view that we should not go to the mat with the Russians on arrearages—we would probably not be able to win; the issue isn’t all that big; the American people are not demanding a confrontation “over a measly $20 million”; and, in fact, some Americans might like the flexibility a more voluntary system would give the U.S. Yost thought that we might have a chance of getting $30 million from the Russians (enough to avoid Article 19 for a couple years), if the pitch is made purely on a financial solvency basis, if we make a big contribution ourselves, and if we stay away from constant reiteration about Article 19.

Note: I have been holding off on a memo to the President until I could see a little more clearly the direction we are heading in. I think I shall do the memo after we get the results of today’s meeting of the Committee of 33.

3.
VietnamStevenson mused unhappily about Vietnam and made such points as the following in a very low key (I put them down a bit reluctantly because he speaks very softly and I had a hell of a time hearing him). First, it might not be such a bad idea for U Thant to call for a cease-fire. We could stop bombing for a few days. If the Communists don’t obey, we can resume bombings and, to boot, be in a much better position before the world. Second, we should have started the talks about peace at the time we started the bombing—not weeks later. Third, we should talk more peace and bomb “more in sorrow than anger.” Also, we should not beat our chest publicly that we are “stepping up” our effort; in this regard, McNamara’s recent statements do not seem wise. Fourth, the real issue in the world is the cold war—the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Vietnam is driving the U.S.S.R. and China together and the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. apart. The deepening cold war is disturbing. Fifth, it is disturbing that the Japanese and Indians, the people who flank China, are getting more and more unsympathetic with our policy. Sixth, it might be conceivable to negotiate with the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese jointly. We should look into this possibility.
4.

Mekong—I attended a meeting with Tex Goldschmidt 5 and the AID people at the UN. For some reason, Tex’s participation was supposed to be held closely.

The purpose of Tex’s visit was to make a plea on behalf of a Mekong tributary project in Laos. Tex said that the IBRD does not want [Page 757]to finance the project because it is in an unstable area. He added that the project itself seems worthwhile. First, it might help stabilize the area. Second, all of the factions in Laos agree that it should be done. Third, it will provide electricity to Vientiane and other places (including parts of Thailand). It will also provide irrigation to substantial areas. Fourth, all the surveys have been done and the project is all ready to go. Fifth, if we get involved, we would show the doubters that we are ready to put our money where our mouth is.

The project will probably cost about $35 million. As Tex sees it, the U.S. could provide about $18 to $20 million and get countries like Japan, Canada, the U.K., and West Germany to provide the rest. Some grant money would probably be best. However, if this is not possible, very low-interest-rate money would also probably do the trick. The project could be done under a UN umbrella.

Note: I will pass on this item to Francis Bator.

GC
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, United Nations, Vol. 1. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. April 21.
  3. Information on the drafts submitted is in Report of Conference of Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament, UN doc. A/5986 (DC/227).
  4. Reference is to charges of U.S. use of gas warfare in Vietnam. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. II, footnote 2, Document 210, and Document 216.
  5. Arthur “Tex” Goldschmidt, Director of Technical Assistance, UN Special Fund Operations.