159. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Gerald R. 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

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Vietnam.]

President: One quick thing on Vietnam.

Kissinger: We had a WSAG.2 Here is the situation. The cuts last year put them on static defense. You know that the GVN needs mobility and firepower to survive. If we don’t get a supplemental, the WSAG think it will unravel.

President: Let’s ask for one.

[Page 599]

Kissinger: And I would mention in the State of the Union that here is a people who agreed to peace on the assumption of our support.3

The only thing North Vietnam knows is massive brutality. There are signals we can give, but all it would cause is a little hell here. B–52’s to Guam or Thailand. The problem in Thailand is elections—I don’t agree. We could put a carrier into the Tonkin.

The Pentagon should stop signalling carrier moves. We could move F–4’s to Clark.

Another problem is that South Vietnam doesn’t have mines. They could mine if things get out of control. But the DOD lawyers oppose it on the basis of Article 7 of the Paris Agreement. That is insane. North Vietnam hasn’t obeyed Article 7 at all. My people want to be able to claim we have obeyed Article 7.

President: I think we should do it.

Kissinger: One other thing. State wants a contingency paper in case we don’t get the Supplemental, and we will face negotiations. But negotiations are useful only if there is a real military stalemate. [He described the “Ducky” example.]4 They are the toughest in the world to deal with.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 8, 1/8/1975. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office. All brackets, except those describing omitted material, are in the original.
  2. See Document 156.
  3. The President delivered his State of the Union address to Congress on January 15. He did not specifically mention Vietnam or Indochina. See Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Gerald R. Ford, 1975, Book I, pp. 36–46.
  4. Not further identified. The reference is to Le Duc Tho.