44. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson 1
- Your Meeting at the State Department at 1:00, Thursday, August 19
You know better than anyone else what you want to say, but the following checklist may be useful:
The importance of unity in what we do.
You expect frank, private advice and counsel before decisions are made and full and unified support after they are made. This point is fundamental, because the best policy in the world cannot be put into effect if the people who carry it out are not for it all the way. Once you have made up your mind, you expect the entire Government to pull in the same direction.
Examples: Panama 1964, Ayub and Shastri 1965, and the Dominican Republic.
The importance of unity in what we say.
The press are continually trying to divide the Government against itself and we simply must not play their game. Any officer who is in doubt of any policy ought to keep his mouth absolutely shut. These men are the ones who have the responsibility not only for their subordinates, but for themselves. The higher the rank, the more damaging the leak. The Department of State—except for Secretary Rusk himself—simply does not have the kind of discipline in dealing with the press that a President must expect. (Incidentally, President Kennedy used to feel at least as strongly as you do on this point.)
The importance of respect for the United States.
We are not trying to throw our weight around, but we do not expect other people to take us and our help for granted.
Examples: Panama 1964, Pakistan and India 1965, Harold Wilson and Lester Pearson.
The importance of dealing fairly with those who deal fairly with us.
Examples: Panama 1965, Australia, Erhard of Germany, and, for that matter, the Soviet Union itself.
The importance of peace.
- —Secretary Rusk’s job in Vietnam.
- —Ambassador Goldberg’s job in New York.
- —Everybody’s job on disarmament.
My final thought is simply that no briefing paper is worth much for this meeting. The essence of it is that these people should feel at first hand the quality of their President and the flavor of what his State Department should be like.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President-McGeorge Bundy, Vol. 10. No classification marking. From 1:40 to 4:05 p.m. on August 19, the President met for lunch in the Madison Room at the Department of State with Rusk, Ball, Mann, Harriman, Goldberg, seven Assistant Secretaries of State, Chief of Protocol Lloyd Hand, and Valenti. (Ibid., Daily Diary) The Daily Diary indicates that Valenti kept notes of the meeting, which were turned over to Dorothy Territo of the White House staff, but the notes have not been found. Four months earlier, in a memorandum to the President of April 21, Valenti had proposed that the President go the Department of State to talk with “the assistant secretaries, their deputies, regional and area chiefs and some desk officers,” in order “to counter-attack the swiftly-building myth that the President is bored with foreign affairs and doesn’t enjoy foreign visitors.” Valenti continued, “Let us show, visibly, the President’s interest in the ideas, imagination and energy of State-as well as his support for State employees.” The President, however, responded by checking “No” at the bottom of the memorandum. (Ibid., White House Central Files, Subject Files, EX FG 105)↩
- Printed from a copy that indicates Bundy signed the original.↩