This week's primary document assignment contains 15 documents from the Foreign Relations of the United States series, the confidential memoranda of high foreign policy officials. The topic: US policy toward Vietnam in the winter of 1964.

The dramatis personae:

Lyndon Johnson: President.
Robert McNamara: Secretary of Defense
Dean Rusk: Secretary of State
Henry Cabot Lodge, II: US ambassador to Vietnam; also running for Republican presidential nomination
David Nes: Lodge's deputy
Maxwell Taylor: chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Walt Rostow: director, State Department Policy Planning Staff
McGeorge Bundy: national security advisor

For the FRUS documents, please read documents 36, 41, 43, 49-57, 67, 68, 70, 71, 73. And ask yourself the following questions:

What role did US diplomats (State Department) play?
How did international factors--whether in Europe or SE Asia--affect Vietnam policy?
What role did Congress or other domestic political forces (like Lodge's presidential bid) play?
How--if at all--did perspective on Vietnam differ between the national security bureaucracy (CIA, DOD) and other agencies?
What was LBJ's role in this decisionmaking process?
And, how does the documentary record of administration policy contrast with that evidenced in these transcripts of presidential phone calls relating to Vietnam?

A few of these questions are posted on caucus.