380. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1
Washington, April 23, 1966, 5:30 p.m.
Secretary Rusk informed me as follows on the U Thant matter.
- He shares your view of U Thant.
- He has personally boxed the compass in recent weeks looking for an alternative in ways that would avoid a leak.
- The central problem is the Soviet veto. This eliminates: a Western European; a Latin American; or an Asian ally.
- An African was conceivable; but the Secretary is convinced a good African would not be acceptable to Moscow; for example, Robert Gardner, able head of the Economic Commission for Africa.
- The Secretary and Arthur Goldberg reluctantly concluded that U Thant was better than a weak African acceptable to Moscow.
- As for a Presidential letter, the Secretary was initially skeptical.
He felt a verbal message of U.S. support would suffice. Goldberg argued strongly that a letter
- —earn us a little future credit with U Thant;
- —convince U Thant he was in and would not have to accept any conditions from the British and French on his trip to Europe beginning Monday.
- Secretary Rusk would be pleased to discuss this further, if you desire. I’m, of course, at your disposal.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, United Nations, Vol. 3. Confidential.↩