May 16, 1965, 6:45 p.m.
The President, Rusk, McNamara, Acheson, Ball, Raborn, Valenti
Rusk: In my
talks with Dobrynin and Gromyko, they said the Russians were not
going to trade with or negotiate. We must deal with Hanoi and
Peking. Therefore, there is nothing on Russian side to cause us
to hold off bombing.
should bomb again, then pause, and then bomb again.
I thought we were going to pause only 5 days
To achieve proper objective, we should go 7 days. One advantage
is we will answer Times. (2) They wanted
us to take a week. We can hold until Wednesday.
I would do it Monday. Start again then and that would make the
pause six full days.
We could start again on Tuesday evening our time.
Rusk: We can
start bombing again--then get the Acheson-Ball plan (3)
all worked out. It will be launched by Quat.
the plan is worked out on a local basis--going from military to
is interested in the Cambodian Conference. Sihanouk is pulling
back on his original insistence that Viet Cong be represented
at the conference. French and British have talked to Russians
and urged them to move forward on Cambodian meeting.
I think we
ought to get telegram to Taylor to get his reaction to the Acheson-Ball
plan. It will take at least three weeks to get plan launched.
don't need any decisions--except when we start bombing and what
we say about the resumption.
If there was going to be any interest on part of Hanoi, we ought
to have the reaction by now. You gave them notice on Tuesday.
Monday will be six days. If you want to start the bombing on Tuesday,
We can tell
the Congressional leadership--that we had some adjustments out
there. To me it's a pure question of what happens in this country.
If we hold off this bombing longer, people are going to say "What
in the world is happening." We can inform Mansfield, the
NY Times, but we will never satisfy the Times.
Now, if this
is what you all want, we'll go on Tuesday evening our time, but
I would go Monday.
What do we say to the press?
We don't need to disclose every piece of strategy to the press.
I would say to Mansfield, Kennedy, Fulbright that we notified
the other people--and for six days we have held off bombing. Nothing
happened. We had no illusions that anything would happen. But
we were willing to be surprised.
We are anxious
to pursue every diplomatic adventure to get peace. But we can't
throw our gun away. We have laid off them for six days--meanwhile
we have lost planes at Bien Hoa. No one has even thanked us for
We ought to give this out on background. Mansfield ought to know
Hanoi spit on our face.
I'm afraid if we play along with this group, we will wind up with
no one on our side. We tried out their notion and got no results.
is the public has never wanted us to stop the bombing. We have
stopped in deference to Mansfield and Fulbright, but we don't
want to do it too long else we lose our base of support.
We will go Tuesday to satisfy you here tonight. I'd go Monday
night myself. However, if you have good reasons, we'll go when
We ought to
talk to the leadership and tell them what we did. We can tell
them we used the time for reconnaissance--and in deference to
Buddha's birthday. We gave them all week. We told Dobrynin and
we told Gromyko.
I'd call them
in and tell them we are starting Monday night. And then you'll
be requested to delay again--by the NY Times.
Let's talk to the leaders on Monday and tell them we are starting
again to bomb on Monday night.
Rusk, do you buy that?
Target #29 (4) is military barracks 10 miles
further north than we have ever gone. I urge to leave this target
in. Our own military will say we have gone soft if we take it
out again. Also it can be our message to Hanoi and Peking.
What do you think about the threats from Russia about coming in?
is a flash point in the Hanoi area in how far you can go without
bringing the Russians in. Gromyko said he was going to help North
Viet Nam and help them decisively.
What about the SAM sites? (5) Question is whether
we let the clock tick or whether we take them out now.
We can't go after the SAM sites unless you go after the MIG airfields.
We don't think we are at that point now. Most you would lose would
be 3 or 4 crews. They don't have one SAM operational right now.
We have to
go after MIG airfields first. First.
plaster the airfields at night. There may be civilians involved
since all bombs won't hit target. Then fighter bombers go in.
And then we take out the SAM's
This is a
major operation from the Hanoi point of view.
Fair to say
not more than one SAM site will be operational in 4 weeks. (6)
(At this point
meeting interrupted by call from Bundy)
Now, Rusk will talk to Fulbright and Mansfield--talk about your
visit with Gromyko.
I think you
ought to show the leaders we are open and receptive to ideas--but
nothing happened on this particular idea.
For six days
we didn't touch them and we told them we weren't going to touch
them. And yet Gromyko was tougher than he has been in his talks
with you, Dean.
thing is you haven't bombed in six days and now you are going
to bomb again. This is good thing for people to know.
Rusk: I hope
we can keep the barracks target off the first day's bombing--perhaps
put it on the third or fourth day.
Yes, we will.
Ball is going to say our bombing will be keyed to their aggression.
the plan is a series of pauses--in which we interpret the results
we put into effect a plan to strengthen the Vietnam government.
They announce the plan. We give the other side two weeks to think
it over. For two weeks we will take no offensive action. We defend
ourselves, but no offensive action. Government will send troops
and officials into all provinces. Perhaps nothing will happen
in one province and something will happen in another. But we will
find out the temper of the other side. For if this works, the
rebellion is over. We will have a practical plan to test the response.
We want Taylor's reaction to this--also I think we ought to put
extra money into the USIA. Eisenhower thought we ought to spend
much more than we are (7) --we have to give these
people a will to fight and a will to win.