|Welcome! The documents below are from the Foreign Relations of the United Series, which contains the confidential upper-level diplomatic correspondence of the US government and are usually published around 30 years after the event. When reading them, ask yourself what the author of each document is hoping to accomplish, what their central ideological biases were, and to what degree the office or position they held influenced the policy stance they took.|
RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES
1964-1968, Volume I
Department of State
II. U.S. Assessment of the Khanh Government, February 1 - March 4
31. Editorial Note
At a press conference on February 1, 1964, beginning at 3 p.m., President Johnson read to the news correspondents the text of his message to General Khanh expressing satisfaction on their agreement for the need to increase military activity against the Viet Cong (see footnote 2, Document 25). President Johnson then answered questions, two of which were related to Vietnam. Asked if he ruled out the possibility of neutralization of Vietnam as President de Gaulle had suggested (see Document 27), Johnson replied:
"If we could have neutralization of both North Viet-Nam and South Viet-Nam, I am sure that would be considered sympathetically. But I see no indication of that at the moment. I think that if we could expect the Viet Cong to let their neighbors live in peace, we could take a much different attitude. But as long as these raids are continuing and people are attempting to envelop South Viet-Nam, I think that the present course we are conducting is the only answer to that course, and I think that the operations should be stepped up there. I see no sentiment favoring neutralization of South Viet-Nam alone, and I think the course that we are following is the most advisable one for freedom at this point."
Asked later if President de Gaulle's proposal for neutralizing Southeast Asia interfered with or made U.S. efforts in Vietnam more difficult, Johnson replied affirmatively, and continued:
"We think the course of action that we are following in Southeast Asia is the only course for us to follow, and the most advisable at this time. We plan to pursue it diligently and, we hope, successfully on a stepped-up basis."
Toward the end of the press conference, President Johnson was asked to elaborate on his statement that he would sympathize with neutralization of both North and South Vietnam and how this idea differed from President de Gaulle's plan for neutralization of Indochina. Johnson responded:
"You will have to ask General de Gaulle about the details of his proposal. But as I understand it, the neutralization talk has applied only to South Viet-Nam and not to the whole of that area of the world. I think that the only thing we need to do to have complete peace in that area of the world now is to stop the invasion of South Viet-Nam by some of its neighbors and supporters." (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-64, Book I, pages 257-260)
33. Memorandum From Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)/1/
Washington, February 4, 1964.
/1/ Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. 11, Memos and Misc. Secret and Personal. Published in part in Declassified Documents, 1975, 175B.
Herewith my overnight thoughts for your lunch today:/2/
/2/ Reference is to a luncheon meeting at the White House at 1:04 p.m. among the President, Secretaries Rusk and McNamara, and McGeorge Bundy. The meeting ended at 2:45 p.m. Johnson Library, President's Daily Diary) No record of the meeting has been found, but see Document 34 and Document 35.
1. If Lodge must remain, the military commander must be changed. The President might publicly load Lodge with full responsibility for the whole U.S. effort in South Vietnam, giving him as deputy the ablest, most modern-minded 3-star general we can find. General Westmoreland might fill the bill. He doesn't have to have an extra star, if he is acting as Lodge's deputy.
2. Here in Washington we should get a Manager for South Vietnam. He should be in the Department of Defense at a level which would permit him to deal with the Under Secretaries and the Assistant Secretaries of State and the Aid Agency Administrator. He should be McNamara's man. He should concern himself with operations in South Vietnam and on policy matters he should report to McNamara, Rusk and Harriman. I have in mind someone like Vance, your brother Bill, or possibly Solbert.
3. We should set up immediately a group of about 10 people who would meet together for approximately two weeks, completely free from all other responsibilities, preferably not in Washington but possibly in Honolulu or some reasonably secluded place, to think of specific things which we should do to improve our effort inside South Vietnam. Since we really do not have all of the best people for this job in Washington, we should draw from the following sources: one or two of the best people from MACV; one or two from USOM in Saigon; one or two from the Embassy in Saigon and/or State; one from the CIA; one each from Krulak's shop and ISA; and possibly one from the academic world like Fishel or Lucian Pye./3/ Solbert could be the Chairman of such a group; and we should be ruthless in providing him the time and resources of the best people, regardless of their duties or rank.
/3/ Wesley R. Fishel, Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University, and Lucian W. Pye, Professor of Political Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
4. There should be another group assembled entirely from Washington which should be working at the same time on diplomatic and military plans for U.S. initiatives in the SEA area as a whole, principally outside South Vietnam. Believe it or not, I would not be averse to having Walt Rostow handling this one, provided he had tough representation from all the schools of thought.
Michael V. Forrestal/4/
/4/ Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
34. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to the President/1/
Washington, February 4, 1964.
/1/ Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Aides Files, McGeorge Bundy, Luncheons with the President, Vol. 1 [Part 2]. Secret. Bundy wrote the following note on the source text: "P[resident] used all this in lunch with results not yet clear. McGB"
Your luncheon with Secretaries Rusk and McNamara
You said yesterday that you wanted to talk about South Vietnam and about Africa at this lunch.
1. On South Vietnam
There are two kinds of questions here:
a. What stronger courses of action can we take?
The gut question here is whether and how we can bring pressure on North Vietnam. The working levels of the government are now inclined to argue that we can, but we do not yet have a plan.
Such a plan would need a closely interlocked military and diplomatic program so as to lay the widest possible basis of support for an action which will make almost all our allies nervous except perhaps Nationalist China, the Philippines, South Vietnam, and Thailand.
b. To get any plan and to give it a better chance of success we need improvement in our organization here and in the field.
In the field
If Lodge must stay then the transfer from Harkins to Westmoreland should be speeded up, and we need to have an intense back-and-forth communication from Washington to Lodge himself.
We must end the deep-seated lack of confidence which exists between senior people at Defense and the Hilsman office.
My own judgment is that government needs a senior officer, accepted as first-rate by all concerned, who will make South Vietnam and related problems his only business. My nominee would be Mike Forrestal, but I would be glad to have him wear a Defense hat or State hat if that would help. I emphasize the role of Defense because that is where the resources are, and McNamara is the man with the heaviest personal commitment.
[Here follow recommendations on item 2, Africa.]
/2/ Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.
36. Letter From the Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)/1/
Washington, February 5, 1964.
/1/ Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 69 A 926, 092 Vietnam. Top Secret; Exdis. According to the Department of State copy of this letter, Mendenhall was the drafter. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S)
Dear Bob: I have read with a great deal of interest the Joint Chiefs of Staff Memorandum of January 22, 1964, on Viet-Nam and Southeast Asia, which you forwarded with your letter of January 28, 1964./2/
/2/ See Document 17.
I share the view of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that in Viet-Nam we must demonstrate to both the Communist and the non-Communist worlds that the "wars of national liberation" formula now being pushed so actively by the Communists will not succeed. The Joint Chiefs have, in my view, correctly remarked that the focus of the counterinsurgency battle lies in South Viet-Nam itself, and the war must be fought and won primarily in the minds of the Vietnamese people. This means that this war, like other guerrilla wars, is essentially political--an important fact to bear in mind in determining command and control arrangements in Viet-Nam.
I also agree with the Joint Chiefs that we must follow an integrated U. S. approach in Southeast Asia to achieve our policy objectives. We must determine what the effects will be on the other countries in the area of any major action we take in or with respect to a given country. We must also determine with respect to any proposed action what we can realistically expect to achieve with that action, and balance that against the political and military risks attendant upon that action before reaching a decision.
I have noted the list of possible actions which the Joint Chiefs may wish to consider recommending from a military standpoint as the situation develops. The Department of State will, of course, always be prepared to consider promptly, in the light of the factors mentioned above, any courses of action which the Joint Chiefs and the Department of Defense propose.
With warm regards,
51. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)/1/
Washington, February 18, 1964.
/1/ Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 69 A 926, 092 Vietnam. Top Secret; Sensitive.
Vietnam and Southeast Asia
1. Reference is made to the memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dated 22 January 1964,/2/ subject as above, which expressed the view that a loss of South Vietnam to the communists would presage a loss of the remainder of the United States position in Southeast Asia. It sets forth a number of actions which the United States should be prepared to take in order to ensure victory. Since submission of that memorandum, mindful of the need to revitalize the counterinsurgency campaign in South Vietnam, which has been interrupted and slowed by the confusion resulting from recent changes in government, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have reviewed the situation in South Vietnam with the view of determining additional actions which can be recommended for implementation immediately.
/2/ See Document 17.
2. The Government of Vietnam has developed, with the close collaboration of the US Military Assistance Command, a new National Pacification Plan/3/ which provides for the orderly pacification of the insurgency in accordance with a realistic phasing schedule. From a military planning viewpoint, this program should correct many of the past deficiencies of the effort, and it provides for consolidation of secure areas and expansion of them (the "spreading oil drop"). US military assets in Vietnam will fully support this plan. What is now required is implementation of additional actions which will insure an integrated political, socio-economic, and psychological offensive to support more fully the military effort. Accordingly, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that the Country Team be directed to implement the following actions at the earliest practicable time:
/3/On February 18, the Khanh government approved the National Pacification Plan which set forth a combined military, political, and economic offensive against the Viet Cong in two stages. Phase I envisioned a coordinated military and civilian effort to clear territory of the Viet Cong, moving successively from secure and highly populated areas into insecure and less densely populated ones. The concept became known as "spreading the oil drop." In Phase II, Vietnamese military forces would destroy the Viet Cong in their secret military bases and end the insurgency. The first priority of Phase I was the provinces surrounding Saigon and extending south into the Delta with an estimated completion date of July 1, 1965. The next priority was the remainder of the Delta and certain critical provinces north of Saigon, with a completion date of January 1, 1966. All of Corps I and II, with the exception of VC strongholds reserved for Phase II, were to be pacified by January 1, 1965. JCS Historical Division, The History of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The War in Vietnam. 1960-1968, Part 1, chapter 8, pp. 23-24)
a. Induce the GVN (General Khanh) military to accept US advisors at all levels considered necessary by COMUSMACV. (This is particularly applicable in the critical provinces where the advisory effort should be expanded and should reach down to the subsector level.)
b. Intensify the use of herbicides for crop destruction against identified Viet Cong areas as recommended by the GVN.
c. Improve border control measures:
(1) Direct border surveillance elements to establish intelligence nets without regard to the existing geographic borders.
(2) Exploit smugglers and the Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, and other border minority groups.
(3) Establish denied areas where a "shoot on sight" policy will be followed.
d. Direct the US civilian agencies involved in Vietnam to assist the GVN in producing a civilian counterpart package plan to the GVN National Pacification Plan. (Any area in Vietnam can be temporarily cleared of Viet Cong, but it is the GVN civil administration which must win the people and stabilize the area in concert with the military. This plan should support and revitalize the Vietnamese "New Life Hamlet Program.")
e. Provide US civilian advisors to all necessary echelons and GVN agencies to provide civil administration "know-how" until a GVN corps of administrators can be trained.
f. Encourage early and effective action to implement a realistic land reform program.
g. Support the GVN in a policy of tax forgiveness for low income population in areas where the GVN determines that a critical state of insurgency exists. (In some areas the Viet Cong and GVN both levy taxes on the peasant population. Relief of the GVN tax would provide a small monetary relief but, more important, would have psychological value.)
h. Assist the GVN in developing a National Psychological Operations Plan and conducting psychological operations to insure an intensive nationwide coordinated propaganda campaign to establish the GVN and Khanh's "images," create a "cause" which can serve as a rallying point for the youth/students of Vietnam, and develop the long term national objectives of a free Vietnam.
i. Intensify efforts to gain the support of US news media representatives in Vietnam by exploring with them measures that can be taken to improve this situation.
j. Arrange US sponsored trips to Vietnam by groups of prominent journalists and editors.
k. Inform all GVN military and civilian officials through various means, to include their US advisors and counterparts, that the United States (a) considers it imperative that the present government be stabilized, (b) would oppose another coup, and (c) that the United States is prepared to offer all possible assistance in forming a stable government which will eliminate the necessity for another coup. In this instance, all US intelligence agencies and advisors must be alert to and report cases of dissension and plotting in order to prevent such actions.
3. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recognize that the implementation of the foregoing measures will not be sufficient to exercise a decisive effect on the campaign against the Viet Cong. They are continuing study of the actions suggested in the memorandum of 22 January 1964, as well as other proposals which require further study, and will recommend to you progressively the execution of such actions considered militarily required. Among the subjects to be studied as a matter of urgency are the following:
a. Intensified operations against North Vietnam to include air bombings of selected targets.
b. Removal of restrictions for air and ground cross-border operations.
c. Intelligence and reporting.
d. US organizational changes.
e. Increased US Navy participation in shore and river patrol activities.
f. Introduction of jet aircraft into the Vietnamese Air Force and the US Air Commando unit.
g. DOD-CIA relationship changes.
h. Reduction of test and evaluation activities.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Maxwell D. Taylor/4/
Joint Chiefs of Staff
/4/ Printed from a copy that bears this stamped signature.
54. Memorandum for the Record of a Meeting, White House/1/
Washington, February 20, 1964, 12:17 p.m.
/1/ Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. IV, Memos and Misc. Secret. Drafted by Forrestal. Copies of this memorandum were sent to Rusk, McNamara, Taylor, McCone, Bell, and Sullivan.
Prepared for this meeting, which lasted 1 hour, was an agenda, annotated by McGeorge Bundy, which reads as follows:
"1. Situation Briefing (5 minutes); 2. Intelligence and Reporting, (A) Cooper Activities, (B) French Activities; 3. Operations, (A) Response to Lodge Message, (B) Policy on Dependents [Bundy wrote at this point "P[resident] prefers"], (C) Other Matters; 4. Diplomatic Problems, (A) Cambodia, (B) Laos, (C) Others; 5. North Viet-Nam, (A) Intelligence [Bundy wrote "increase efforts"], (B) Propaganda [Bundy wrote "increase"], (C) Operations; 6. Planning, (A) Johnson Subcommittee [Bundy wrote "Speed up"], (B) Question of Time Phase." (Ibid.)
The President met today with the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Under Secretary Ball, Director McCone, and the members of Mr. William Sullivan's committee on policy and operations in South Vietnam.
After an intelligence briefing on the current situation and a full discussion of the work of the committee, the President directed the following actions:
1. Any requests for assistance or other Washington action from Ambassador Lodge should be given prompt and sympathetic response. Such staff work as may be required to back up such requests in Washington should be given the highest priority, so that decisions can be reached quickly.
2. Contingency planning for pressures against North Vietnam should be speeded up. Particular attention should be given to shaping such pressures so as to produce the maximum credible deterrent effect on Hanoi.
3. For the time being, American dependents in Vietnam should be encouraged to accept voluntary repatriation. Early next month, the Secretary of Defense will consult with Ambassador Lodge on whether dependents should be evacuated and will make appropriate recommendations to the President and the Secretary of State upon his return.
4. The Department of State will explore in a positive manner the possibilities opened up by the recent proposals of Prince Sihanouk for a conference in Phnom Penh on the problem of Cambodian neutrality./2/
/2/ See American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1964, p. 847, footnote 7.
M V Forrestal
56. Message From the President to the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge)/1/
Washington, February 22, 1964--5:28 p.m.
/1/ Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Exdis. Transmitted as telegram 1281 to Saigon, which is the source text. McGeorge Bundy sent a draft of this telegram and the text of Lodge's message, supra, to Palm Springs, California, where the President was vacationing. The text of Bundy's covering cable to the President reads as follows:
"Next two following messages are an incoming from Lodge on enlarging our effort in North Vietnam and a draft response for the President. I send these now because of the President's desire to be very quick and effective in responses to Lodge's messages. The draft answer is being cleared with Rusk and McNamara, and we can get it out as soon as we have the President's own comments."
"The memorandum to Harriman which Lodge refers to [see footnote 3, supra] is sensible but tentative in form, and does not show strong advocacy of anything different from what we have been doing. My own notes on the President's November meeting with Lodge show nothing significant on North Vietnam. We therefore believe that the draft answer is fully responsive, and we assess the incoming message as sincere and reasonable, as far as it goes." (Telegram CAP 64050, February 21; Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. IV)
I appreciated your 1594/2/ which corresponds to much of my own thinking. Secretaries Rusk and McNamara, with my approval have already begun preparing specific plans for pressure against NVN, both in the diplomatic and military fields. Secretary McNamara will be visiting you early in March to review with you that subject and other aspects of the counter-insurgency campaign. Then or very soon thereafter we should make definite decisions.
/2/ Document 55.
I agree that any announcement of the evacuation of dependents must be made in such a way as to show we are getting tougher, not softer, and Bob McNamara will take this up with you also. In the meantime, the policy you have suggested in your paragraph 6 is just what I have already instructed the Departments to implement.
I value these direct exchanges with you on top policy matters. We should keep them up./3/
/3/ Telegram 1281 does not bear President Johnson's signature.
57. Memorandum From the Secretary of Defense (McNamara) to the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor)/1/
Washington, February 21, 1964.
/1/ Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 68 A 4023, Vietnam 092. Top Secret. Attached to the source text was a covering memorandum from William Bundy to McNamara, February 21, which reads as follows:
"The attached memorandum, prepared in response to your request, will obtain JCS views on a number of critical questions affecting our actions in Vietnam. The answers will also be helpful to the work of the Sullivan Committee. We have coordinated this request with the Joint Staff."
As you are aware, one of the alternatives which is now being reviewed with respect to the situation in Vietnam is a carefully planned program designed to exert increasing military pressures upon the government of North Vietnam, with a view to inducing that government to terminate its support and encouragement of the insurrection in South Vietnam and curtail Pathet Lao activities in Laos. The military pressures which might be applied extend from relatively minor covert activities, which you are already examining, to open GVN or U.S. air or sea non-nuclear attacks upon the DRV.
There are a number of military uncertainties which must be resolved, to the extent possible, before political decisions affecting such military actions can be taken. Accordingly, I should like to have your views upon the following matters:
1. The overall capabilities of the DRV and of the Chinese Communists for military action, with specific reference to:
(a) The types and magnitudes of actions which are possible, taking into account current Communist logistic capabilities.
(b) The geographic areas within which such actions might be undertaken.
(c) The time period within which the enemy forces could be brought to bear.
(d) The enemy capability for concurrent reactions, as for example, reactions both in Southeast Asia and in Korea and/or Taiwan off-shore islands.
2. What military actions against North Vietnam, employing air and naval power, but not ground forces beyond the scale of smallscale raids, might be:
(a) undertaken by the GVN and within the plausible range of GVN capabilities
(b) assertedly undertaken by the GVN, even if outside the plausible range of GVN capabilities;
(c) undertaken by the U.S. without public acknowledgment;
(d) undertaken by the U.S. along with, or after, a public declaration by the U.S. of an intent to exert military pressure upon the DRV with a view to forcing a termination of the insurrection in the South?
What targets would be most effective to attack from the standpoint of:
(a) specific effect on DRV capability against Laos, South Vietnam, and Thailand;
(b) interdiction of main communication routes between the DRV and Communist China, plus interdiction of sea communications into North Vietnam;
(c) more generalized target patterns designed to inflict damage on key installation in the DRV but to minimize the effect on the civilian population as a whole?
While the assessment of the impact of possible courses of action on DRV continued support of operations in South Vietnam and Laos is in large part an intelligence question that should be addressed by intelligence authorities as well, I would appreciate the views of the JCS as to the courses of action under one or more of the above headings that would in your judgment be most likely to bring about cessation of DRV support for operations in South Vietnam and Laos and at the same time be least likely to lead to stepped-up conflict and adverse reactions in third countries.
3. Assuming that, in response to the attacks upon the DRV, the DRV and/or the Chicoms undertake large scale troop movements over the border into one or more of:
(a) South Vietnam
(c) Thailand or Burma
(d) South Korea
What U.S. effort, air, sea, and land, would be required to contain such an invasion? If intelligence indicated that such a movement were contemplated by the enemy, what actions against North Vietnam and mainland China would be likely to deter such a response?
In each of these circumstances, or any likely combination of them, to what extent could the U.S. effectively counter such actions through air and naval responses only (without the use of ground forces other than those presently deployed) utilizing each of the following means:
(a) conventional ordnance only:
(b) conventional ordnance plus classified non-nuclear munitions. The degree of increased effectiveness to be expected from the latter should be specified along with the considerations for and against employment.
[Subparagraphs (c) and (d) (5-1/2 lines of source text) not declassified]
4. Assuming that the Chicom reaction included air action from mainland bases (either against SVN or other air bases, or supporting aircraft carriers) to what extent could this air threat be countered by:
(a) actions against enemy aircraft only, without attacks upon mainland bases, or
(b) selective attacks upon the Chinese bases and air defenses utilizing:
(i) Conventional ordnance (plus classified munitions if significantly more effective)
[Subparagraph (ii) (1-1/2 lines of source text) not declassified]
[Subparagraph (c) (2 lines of source text) not declassified]
5. What modifications must be made in existing contingency plans in order to provide for U.S. reactions which would depend primarily upon air activities rather than the intervention of substantial U.S. ground forces?
In view of the broad scope of these questions, I believe that the JCS will wish to create a special planning unit that can devote itself exclusively to these problems on a continuing basis. I appreciate that a detailed response may require a longer time, but believe that we must have your preliminary judgment on these questions for consideration prior to our anticipated departure for South Vietnam about 4 March. Accordingly, I would appreciate it if a preliminary response could be available for discussion with me not later than Monday, March 2. Our review at that time will almost certainly uncover additional questions and refinements that would form the basis for the next phase of the examination.
Robert S. McNamara
67.Memorandum Prepared in the Department of Defense/1/
Washington, March 2, 1964.
/1/ Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. V. No classification marking. In a covering memorandum, McNamara informed the President that this was the 2-page South Vietnam summary which he had requested.
SUMMARY STATEMENT ON SOUTH VIETNAM
1. The Problem
In Southeast Asia today the Free World is facing an attempt by the Communists of North Vietnam to subvert and overthrow the non-Communist government of South Vietnam. North Vietnam has been providing direction, control, and trained cadres for the 25,000 Viet Cong guerrillas and the 60,000 to 80,000 irregulars engaged in harassment, systematic terror, and armed attacks on the people of South Vietnam.
Our purpose in South Vietnam is to help the Vietnamese maintain their independence. We are providing the training and the logistic support which they cannot provide themselves. We will continue to provide that support as long as it is required. As our training missions are completed, certain of our troops can be withdrawn. In December 1000 men came home. This group included, for example, two military police units whose airport guard duty had been taken over by Vietnamese trained for that purpose.
3. The Current Situation
In the past four months, there have been three governments in South Vietnam. Each of them has appointed its own cabinet members, its own provincial governors, and its own senior military leaders. The Viet Cong have taken advantage of the confusion resulting from these changes by raising the level and intensity of their attacks. They have been using larger forces and more powerful weapons.
This increased activity has had a good deal of success. Strategic hamlets formerly under government protection have been lost to the Viet Cong; roads formerly open to free movement have been closed. On the other hand, Viet Cong fatalities have been high. The unfavorable rate of 3 or 4 Viet Cong killed for every Vietnamese has continued. Although 15,000 to 20,000 Viet Cong have been killed during the past 12 months, their strength has remained approximately level through receipt of cadres from North Vietnam and recruits from South Vietnam.
4. Alternative Courses of Action
At least four alternatives are open to us today:
A. We can withdraw from South Vietnam. Without our support the government will be unable to counter the aid from the North for the Viet Cong. Vietnam will collapse, and the ripple effect will be felt throughout Southeast Asia, endangering the independent governments of Thailand and Malaysia, and extending as far as India on the west, Indonesia on the south, and the Philippines on the east.
B. We can seek a formula that will "neutralize" South Vietnam. But any such formula will only lead in the end to the same result as withdrawing support. We all know the communists' attitude that "What's mine is mine and what's yours is negotiable." True neutralization would have to extend to North Vietnam as well, and this possibility has been specifically rejected by the North Vietnamese and Chinese Communist governments.
C. We can send the Marines and other U.S. ground forces against the sources of the aggression. But if we do, our men may well be bogged down in a long war against numerically superior North Vietnamese and ChiCom forces.
D. We can continue our present policy of providing training and logistical support for the South Vietnam forces. This policy has not failed. We propose to continue it.
Secretary McNamara's trip to South Vietnam will provide us with an opportunity to appraise the future prospects for this policy, and the further alternatives that may be available to us.