335. Memorandum From Richard Kennedy of the Planning Group of the National Security Council to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Combined VSSG Meeting on Ceasefire Proposals and Senior Review Group Meeting on Diplomatic Initiatives (NSSM 94)
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You called this joint meeting in order to consider possible cease-fire proposals in conjuction with diplomatic initiatives leading to a conference on Vietnam and Indo-China. Our objective should be to be sure that the conclusions of the VSSG study are reflected in the consideration of proposals for diplomatic initiatives.

Specific objectives for your discussion of the VSSG paper2 are contained in Larry Lynn’s memo to you.3

As to the Diplomatic Initiatives paper (NSSM 94)4 you will want to get agreement to a restructuring of the paper to (a) eliminate options which are non-starters (b) package the various proposals in a more meaningful way which would be the basis for a full scenario approach.

  • —The paper is not now constructed in a way which would give the President alternative courses of action—it is in the nature of a laundry list from which one could select specific actions. No attempt has been made to put the actions together in the context of a complete course of action.
  • —Ambassador Sullivan prepared a slimmed-down version of the paper at your request.5 It does get out most of the unrealistic options but still misses the mark. It has not been distributed (at Sullivan’s request) and cannot be raised at this meeting. It could be a springboard for a quick rewrite.

You also will want to have reflected in the NSSM 94 paper the conclusions on ceasefire which will be drawn out of the discussion of the VSSG paper. Some of the proposed initiatives leading to a conference in the NSSM 94 paper include as an ingredient a ceasefire proposal. In any event if a conference were to be convened, the ceasefire question would arise soon. Thus the implications of a ceasefire are an essential consideration in the review of the diplomatic initiatives proposals.

Relationship Between the VSSG Paper and NSSM 94

At present, there is not very much relation at all between the two papers.

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  • The VSSG paper outlines three packages for analysis. Those are:
    Ceasefire in place;
    Ceasefire with regroupment;
    Ceasefire with withdrawal.
  • —The VSSG paper concludes that the only one of the three which would be to our advantage in absolute terms is package 3, ceasefire with withdrawal. The others would cause us to lose at least some and perhaps considerable control over the countryside over the next year, although the exact amount of the loss is under dispute and is probably impossible to determine in advance.
  • —The VSSG paper also concludes that Hanoi will probably not accept any ceasefire proposal right now, and is not likely to make one of its own. It particularly concludes that Hanoi would not accept package 3 without favorable political conditions.
  • NSSM 94, on the other hand, proposes three ceasefires which are essentially standstill ceasefires:
  • —an agreed unconditional ceasefire (which the VSSG says would work to our disadvantage on the ground and Hanoi would not accept anyway);
  • —an agreed local ceasefire (which the VSSG does not address, but would probably consider disadvantageous);
  • —a unilateral US/GVN limited ceasefire (which the VSSG does not address at all).

In order to take care of this problem, the drafters of NSSM 94 should be asked to frame their proposals in the same terms in which the VSSG has framed them, or the VSSG should be asked to evaluate the results of the proposals listed in NSSM 94.

We recommend that you take up the VSSG paper first and then proceed to consider the Diplomatic Initiatives Paper (NSSM 94).

Your book6 contains:

  • —Talking Points for the VSSG ceasefire paper (with Larry Lynn’s memo to you);
  • —Talking Points for the Diplomatic Initiatives Paper (NSSM 94);
  • VSSG–Ceasefire Paper;
  • NSSM 94 Paper (with John Holdridge’s summary and Winston Lord’s analysis papers);
  • —Revised NSSM 94 Paper prepared by Ambassador Sullivan (with a brief analytical summary);
  • NSSM 94.

The book was prepared with the assistance of Larry Lynn, John Holdridge and Dick Smyser.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–046, SRG Meetings, Indochina, 6/27/70. Top Secret; Sensitive. At the top of the page Kissinger wrote: “Why p. 15 withdrawal within one year? What if this is not part of the package—Pres has never focussed on it.”
  2. For an analysis and the summary conclusions of the VSSG paper on a cease-fire, see Document 330 and the attachment thereto.
  3. Lynn’s undated memorandum to Kissinger reviewed issues for which the VSSG paper did not provide back up details or explicit agency views. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–046, SRG Meetings, Indochina, 6/27/70)
  4. The draft response to NSSM 94, June 9; for a summary, see Document 324.
  5. Attached to a June 23 memorandum from Sullivan to Kissinger. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–046, SRG Meetings, Indochina, 6/27/70)
  6. Attached but not printed.