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The Decision to Escalate, 1964-1965

The Wise Men: McGeorge Bundy and John McCloy with President Lyndon B. Johnson, 09/21/1965, National Archives and Records Administration
Moods: President Lyndon B. Johnson, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, McGeorge Bundy in the Oval Office, 12/08/1964, National Archives and Records Administration

I do not find it easy to send the flower of our youth, our finest young men, into battle. I have spoken to you today of the divisions and the forces and the battalions and the units, but I know them all, every one. I have seen them in a thousand streets, of a hundred towns, in every state in this union—working and laughing and building, and filled with hope and life. I think I know, too, how their mothers weep and how their families sorrow.

Lyndon Baines Johnson, July 28, 1965

The following documents illuminate the American decision to escalate the war in Vietnam. Documents open in anew window; close that window to return to this page.

Document 5. CIA Analysis of Vietnam Escalation - 1963-1965

1964

Document 1. Lyndon Johnson, taped conversations with Richard Russell and McGeorge Bundy, May 27, 1964. Audio Versions of LBJ, Russell and Bundy Conversations

Document 2. Memorandum by George Ball, Undersecretary of State, October 5, 1964

Document 3. Memorandum, "The Choices We Face in Vietnam" by Assistant Secretary of State William P. Bundy, October 19, 1964

1965

January:

Document 4. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (William P. Bundy) to Secretary of State Rusk, Washington, January 6, 1965, the South Vietnamese Situation and Alternatives

Document 6. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State, Saigon, January 6, 1965, 11 a.m.

Document 7. Paper Prepared by Chester L. Cooper of the National Security Council Staff, Washington, January 6, 1965.

Document 8. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State, Saigon, January 26, 1965

Document 9. Memo by Robert McNamara and McGeorge Bundy to President Johnson, "The Fork in the Y," January 27, 1965.

February:

Document 10. Intelligence Memorandum, Washington, February 1, 1965

Document 11. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State, Saigon, February 3, 1965

Document 12. Memorandum for the Record, Eyes Only. Dictated by McCone, Discussion with The President re South Vietnam, Washington, February 3, 1965.

Document 13. Special National Intelligence Estimate, SNIE 53-65, Washington, February 4, 1965, Short-Term Prospects in South Vietnam

Document 14. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (William P. Bundy) to President Johnson, En route from Saigon to Washington, February 7, 1965.

April:

Document 15. Memo of George Ball, Undersecretary of State, to President Johnson, April 21, 1965, response to Hanoi's "Four Points"

May:

Document 16. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union, RE: Bombing Halt, Washington, May 11, 1965

Document 17. Paper Prepared by the Under Secretary of State (George Ball), Washington, May 13, 1965.

Document 18. Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Department of State, Vienna, May 15, 1965.

Document 19. Notes of a Meeting, Washington, May 16, 1965, 6:45 p.m., The President, Rusk, McNamara, Acheson, Ball, Raborn, Valenti

Document 20. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wheeler) to Secretary of Defense McNamara, Washington, May 17, 1965.

Document 21. Letter From Clark M. Clifford to President Johnson, Washington, May 17, 1965.

Document 22a. Paper Prepared by the Ambassador to Vietnam (Taylor) and the Deputy Ambassador to Vietnam (Johnson), Saigon, May 20, 1965. FUNDAMENTAL FACTORS IN A POLITICAL SETTLEMENT IN SOUTH VIETNAM

Document 22b: Paper Prepared by the Ambassador to Vietnam (Taylor) and the Deputy Ambassador to Vietnam (Johnson), Saigon, May 20, 1965. QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS RELATING TO "A PLAN FOR A POLITICAL RESOLUTION IN SOUTH VIET-NAM"

Document 23. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Policy Planning Council (Rostow) to Secretary of State Rusk, Washington, May 20, 1965.

Document 24. Memorandum From Chester L. Cooper of the National Security Council Staff to President Johnson, Washington, May 25, 1965, A Diplomatic-Political Track for Vietnam

June:

Document 25. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam, Washington, June 1, 1965

Document 26. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, June 4, 1965, The President and German Chancellor Erhard

Document 27. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State, Saigon, June 5, 1965, the political-military situation in South Vietnam

Document 28a. Memorandum From Senator Mike Mansfield to President Johnson, Washington, June 5, 1965

Document 28b. Memorandum From Senator Mike Mansfield to President Johnson, Washington, June 9, 1965

Document 29. Telegram from the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State, Saigon, June 6, 1965, Canadian conversations with Hanoi

Document 30. Telegram From the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Westmoreland) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Saigon, June 7, 1965

Document 31. Diary Entry by the Ambassador to Vietnam (Taylor), Washington, June 7-12, 1965

Document 32. Memorandum for the Record, Washington, June 8, 1965, meeting on Vietnam

Document 33. Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, June 10, 1965, US Options and Objectives in Vietnam

Document 34. Letter From Director of Central Intelligence Raborn to President Johnson, Washington, June 12, 1965.

Document 35. Summary Notes of the 552d Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, June 11, 1965

Document 36. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara, Washington, June 11, 1965

Document 37. Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense by McGeorge Bundy, June 30, 1965

Document 38. France in Vietnam, 1954, and the U.S. in Vietnam, 1965 - A Useful Analogy? by McGeorge Bundy, June 30, 1965

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