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

Mr. President:

You asked for my views on State Department personnel. They are as follows:

The Rusk-McNamara combination is in many ways exceedingly attractive. Moreover, both men are of such character that it could be done. You may wish to explore it further. On the whole, however, I recommend against:
  • —We need Bob McNamara in Defense until we are over the hump in Viet Nam;
  • —It would be exceedingly difficult for Secretary Rusk to appear other than a lame duck, despite BOB’s best efforts.
Assuming the Rusk-McNamara arrangement is set aside, our task is to build a 7th floor team which has two characteristics:
  • —It is comfortable for Secretary Rusk. This we owe him, given the burdens borne by the Secretary of State.
  • —It commands enough energy and cohesion to assure that the State Department is strongly led from the 7th floor even though the Secretary of State must be heavily engaged on the Hill, overseas, and over here in the White House.
I propose, therefore, that the Under Secretary be either David Bruce or Clark Clifford. On the whole, I lean to David Bruce if he would take the job, because he would not raise the problem of the succession to Secretary Rusk. However, given Bruce’s age, I propose that the new Counselor, Robert Bowie, be made to work in tandem with Bruce, with special responsibility for managing the Senior Interdepartmental Group. This committee of Under Secretaries is not going badly; but it could be made a much more powerful instrument of initiation, coordination, and program budgeting in the government. Bowie could also take responsibility for overseeing the Interdepartmental Regional Groups, chaired by the Assistant Secretaries; he could be assigned to oversee new initiatives; for example, in East-West bridge building, Alliance for Progress, Africa, Asian regionalism, arms control, etc. His task here would not be to substitute for those bearing the operational responsibility in these fields; but to make sure that the hard-pressed bureaus really looked for and staffed out new ideas, whether they were generated in the Policy Planning Council, the White House, or outside the government. As I know from my own experience, the men on the 7th floor are generally so taken up by crises and operational duties that they must struggle for time to examine and stimulate new initiatives. There ought to be a man paid to do this. Bowie could also be liaison with us for NSC meetings. I propose, then, a Bruce-Bowie team to do the Under Secretary’s job.
For the Alex Johnson slot, the best single man would be Foy Kohler. As you pointed out, this raises the question of who could succeed him in Moscow. I may be wrong, but I have tentatively concluded there is no Foreign Service officer in the Soviet field sufficiently mature now to take that post. I recommend, therefore, that if we wish to bring Foy Kohler home to take Alex Johnson’s post, we go outside the government. My number one candidate would be Professor Philip E. Mosely of Columbia, who, aside from his scholarly stature, has had important practical experience during and after the Second World War in Soviet affairs. He is up to date, through his research and government advisory contacts. Moreover, he is extremely well balanced and level-headed about the Soviet Union. A second possible outside choice would be Professor Marshall Shulman of Harvard. I would rate Bill Bundy as second to Foy Kohler in this post.
In the other Under Secretary slot, I would take Luke Battle, if that is the choice of Secretary Rusk. I would keep Tony Solomon as the economic Assistant Secretary and not put an economic Under Secretary over him.

In general, I should point out that in Kohler and Bowie you would have two strong-minded men; but they would, I believe, work well with each other and the Rusk-Bruce team. Similarly, I think Luke Battle would work with them efficiently. There would be a problem, however, [Page 180] in sorting out their respective roles on the 7th floor. Here their common respect for David Bruce, as well as Secretary Rusk, should give you a fairly harmonious operation.

If you wanted Bob Komer in Bill Bundy’s job, we could make Bill Ambassador to London or substitute Foy Kohler for Luke Battle in the old Tom Mann slot, putting Bill in Alex Johnson’s.

As for NEA, here are three candidates in order of preference:

  • —Win Brown, able, well-balanced Ambassador in Korea.
  • —Joe Johnson, President of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
  • —Tom Hughes.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Rostow Files, Personnel, April 1, 1966–. No classification marking. The memorandum indicates the President saw it.