11. Backchannel Message From the Ambassador to Vietnam (Bunker) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

186. Ref: WHS 2216.2

Thank you for your message which will be helpful in my meeting with Thieu. This had been set for today, but Nha telephoned early this morning to say that Thieu was in bed with stomach upset (it later turned out he had taken an overdose of laxative). Incidentally, Thieu told Nha he was surprised to find the Embassy working on Friday, October 13, but I informed Nha that we had cleared problem with our astrologer. Meeting is now set for tomorrow morning.
I think your assessment in the last paragraph of your message is close to the mark. I have been refreshing my memory by reading over some of the memoranda covering the period November/December 1968 and have been fearful that we may be heading into a similar situation; what we see now has a somewhat ominous tone of history repeating itself. I have been trying to get the message across to Thieu that this is no longer acceptable and I think he probably accepts this fact intellectually, but not emotionally; that he thinks that a reversion to low level warfare (Bob Thompson’s low cost, long haul theory) will put him in position to make a better settlement a year or two years from now. I shall continue to make the point to him expressed in your final paragraph.
Warm regards.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 857, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Sensitive Camp David, Vol. XX [2 of 2]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
  2. Document 8.