145. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ambassador Graham Martin, Ambassador to Republic of Vietnam
  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

President: We had a good meeting yesterday.2 We sold that group, but it’s hard to say how the numbers will come out.

Martin: The propaganda campaign is a real problem.

President: I agree.

Martin: The bureaucracy has the feeling we shouldn’t dirty our hands in Vietnam. I have tried to take it on. I met with the Post editorial board. I discussed the issues, not the distortions—how we came out in Vietnam.

Kissinger: It is inconceivable we can spend $1 billion in Israel and not the same in Vietnam where so many Americans have died.

Martin: It is remarkable what has happened in the last year, in the degree of acceptance of President Thieu. If we can get all $700 million without any administrative restrictions, we can hold through the winter. We will need at least $300 million before the end of the year.

[Page 565]

Kissinger: The President made that point and Stennis seemed to support it.

President: Yes, he asked for a sort of interdepartmental group to manage the MAP. We sort of have an obligation to do it.

Martin: I have a suggestion—what about General Adderholt?

Kissinger: Stennis had in mind a Presidential emissary to go out and inspect.

President: Yes, if we send someone we will get Stennis behind us.

Martin: There is no way we can lose Vietnam except throw it away here.

Kissinger: Tell the President about the accounting system.

Martin: They have taken the “sense” of the Congress as in the new bill. If the Pentagon could be instructed to charge only what is legally required, we would be much better off.

Kissinger: I agree with Graham. Vietnam is enormously important in the international perception of the United States.

Martin: If I thought it was hopeless, I would tell you. We can make it. But if North Vietnam sees the loosening of support it will change their perceptions. There will be no peace for a long time, but someday they can accommodate to each other.

President: The trouble is that your story doesn’t get broad enough exposure, and the opposition is at it every day.

Martin: Doug Pike has done a study on the “anatomy of deception.” You should use him. We aren’t giving our friends ammunition to defend against Abzug and the others.

President: Please tell President Thieu of my admiration.

Martin: Can I tell Thieu you will fight for what is needed?

President: You surely can. That was my pitch yesterday and I was amazed at the reaction.

Martin: The Goldwater vote was instructive. The Senate did recognize an obligation.

President: The change in the Post’s policy shows what can be done. [See Post editorial attached].3

Martin: The Globe and Post Dispatch are moving.

I need $1 billion and $600 million. Then we can get more out of the Japanese and the international financial institutions. They are on the verge of a take-off.

[Page 566]

On the Continuing Resolution of last year, we would be at $435 million. In the House it can be done with a closed rule.

President: That would be hard now. We should consult with Mahon to get the right kind of long range. . . . And a new Continuing Resolution. The leadership was talking about continuing it to February 15 or November 30. I would rather have February.

Martin: We need to get above last year’s levels.

President: If we could get them at least to the $450 million level.

Kissinger: If we could get it at that without the quarterly restrictions.

Martin: Hays said he would help.

President: He can’t control Rosenthal and Gross.

It would help if you talked to Mahon and McClellan.

[The conversation ended]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 5, 9/13/1974. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office. Brackets are in the original. According to the President’s Daily Diary, the meeting ended at 12:11 p.m. (Ibid., Staff Secretary’s Office File)
  2. See Document 144.
  3. Washington Post editorial not attached. On September 9, the newspaper printed an editorial that called for Congress “to accept the costs and uncertainties of a further commitment, even while trying to minimize them, and provide aid in a way calculated to serve the American interest in a stable and interdependent world.” (Washington Post, September 9, 1974)