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Greg Burnham
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The interview took place last night ([Jan.] the 13th). It was archived at this link: Burnham on BOR

It was an interesting and insightful discussion.

One item that I thought might bear some further discussion or clarification is your point about the "three small paragraphs" relating to the issues to have been discussed at the Honolulu conference, particularly those identified as C 1 and C 2 in the State/Defense cable setting forth the proposed agenda for the conference. You said (somewhere around 1:01:50) that it seemed as if the author of the after-action memo had "almost cut and pasted" the verbiage from the cable to the memo.

What you said is actually contained in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Volume IV (or FRUS IV) is a notation about "here follows discussion about" these items, which is indeed quite so. Paraphrasing somewhat, you go on to note that

there is no further discussion! That's how far it went. It just stops there. They didn't keep notes. The State Department didn't write down what was said. ... Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the information is somewhere else and I'm just a lousy researcher [
slapping noise in background
] and I haven't uncovered it yet. I'm not sure. Maybe it's someplace. I've looked where it purportedly is and it's extremely inadequate.

I'm not clear from this whether the information was somewhere else or not. Did they "not keep notes" of the discussion, or does it exist and it's just "extremely inadequate?"

Edited by Duke Lane
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Hi Duke,

When I said that "I've looked where it purportedly is and it is extremely inadequate" -- I am again referring to the FRUS Volume, where it "should" have been memorialized, IMO--but, what is there, is extremely inadequate. I was also throwing in some self denigrating sarcasm.

As for the resemblance between the CABLE and the text from the FRUS, you can research the verbiage yourself, but suffice to say, it is verbatim, in a couple spots.

As for the verbiage itself, note that this is what is said in the CABLE of 13 November:

(2) MILITARY, INCLUDING REPORT ON PROGRESS IN ACCOMPLISHMENT OF TASKS ASSIGNED AS A RESULT OF THE MCNAMARA, TAYLOR MISSION, AND OUTLINING PLANS FOR CONTROL OF INFILTRATION AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE DELTA CAMPAIGN.

And that this is what is said on page 618 of the FRUS:

Item B 2--Prospects and measures proposed by Country Team for improved prosecution of the war under the new government (Military, including a report on progress in accomplishment of tasks assigned as a result of the McNamara-Taylor Mission, and outlining plans for control of infiltration and special requirements for the Delta Campaign)

In the CABLE it says:

D. OUTLINE IN TERMS OF FORCES, TIMING, AND NUMBER INVOLVED, THE PROJECTED PROGRAM FOR REDUCTION OF US MILITARY FORCES BY END OF CY 1965.

And on page 624 of the FRUS, it says:

Here follows discussions of Item C 1, "Revision of Military Comprehensive Plan;" Item C 2, "Status Report of FY 64 MAP;" Item D, "Outline in terms of forces, timing and numbers involved, the projected program for reduction U.S. military forces by end FY 65;" and Item E, "Country Team suggestions for revision of current reports to develop a consolidated country team reporting system."

Also note the ONLY words changed in that sentence is "Calendar" Year 1965 becomes "FISCAL" YEAR 1965, inexplicably.

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When I said that "I've looked where it purportedly is and it is extremely inadequate" -- I am again referring to the FRUS Volume, where it "should" have been memorialized, IMO--but, what is there, is extremely inadequate. I was also throwing in some self denigrating sarcasm.

Indulge me a little preamble:

A researcher friend of mine told me about 20 years ago or so that "the difference between a buff and a researcher is that a buff raises questions and a researcher finds answers." I won't go so far as to say I've learned at his feet, but certainly he gave me good insight into the kinds of criticisms from the "research community" and how best to avoid it. He says "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs," which I've taken to mean "if you state a fact, be prepared to back it up" (or as those who consider me verbose have found, I'm generally not just prepared to, but generally just do it). If you can't state something is a fact and back it up, then it should be qualified as a deduction, an opinion, a consensus, or whatever else it may be if it's not a provable fact.

A minor (some might say extreme) example is when I wrote "The Cowtown Connection" back in '92, when I said that David Atlee Phillips was deceased - fairly common knowledge at the time - I gave a citation to his obituary. Likewise, I felt extremely chagrined and embarrassed when I just plain ol' couldn't remember Paul Groody's name in time for a deadline and I decided that he'd "remain nameless to protect the inane" or some such thing. (Oddly, nobody ever called me on that one!)

My point to this is that, from what little I've gathered, you've got a good reputation as a researcher, and not as a buff. (Buffs often call themselves researchers because they appear frequently on TV and radio (or simply because they're interested in the topic and find things they consider "strange" every so often), so I'm not counting those as "researcher credentials.") So that's why I asked this question.

As for the resemblance between the CABLE and the text from the FRUS, you can research the verbiage yourself, but suffice to say, it is verbatim, in a couple spots.

That's what I expect a researcher to have done for me rather than merely raise a question or state an opinion, and then tell me to go get the answer if I really want to know (and I'm not saying that you're saying that, only that you've given me the words to make this example). The problem with that is that sometimes someone can research the answer and find that it differs with what the first guy (or girl) said. They, naturally, doesn't want to hear about how their unresearched opinion is wrong and continues to state their opinion as fact, and sometimes get their a$$ kicked (so to speak) when the real deal comes out.

(Let me blow my own trumpet and suggest that nobody says that David Atlee Phillips was under arrest in Fort Worth Texas on November 22 1963 "and here's a picture to prove it." Or even say "wow, it's pretty strange that someone who looks just like David Atlee Phillips was under arrest in Fort Worth, what do you make of that!?!" anymore. OTOH, people do still think (however erroneously!) that Richard Carr, Dickie Worrell and Ed Hoffman were actual witnesses that day, so it just goes to show you that not everybody believes hard fact over tantalizing fiction.)

As for the verbiage itself, note that this is what is said in the CABLE of 13 November:

(2) MILITARY, INCLUDING REPORT ON PROGRESS IN ACCOMPLISHMENT OF TASKS ASSIGNED AS A RESULT OF THE MCNAMARA, TAYLOR MISSION, AND OUTLINING PLANS FOR CONTROL OF INFILTRATION AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE DELTA CAMPAIGN.

And that this is what is said on page 618 of the FRUS:

Item B 2--Prospects and measures proposed by Country Team for improved prosecution of the war under the new government (Military, including a report on progress in accomplishment of tasks assigned as a result of the McNamara-Taylor Mission, and outlining plans for control of infiltration and special requirements for the Delta Campaign)

In the CABLE it says:

D. OUTLINE IN TERMS OF FORCES, TIMING, AND NUMBER INVOLVED, THE PROJECTED PROGRAM FOR REDUCTION OF US MILITARY FORCES BY END OF CY 1965.

And on page 624 of the FRUS, it says:

Here follows discussions of Item C 1, "Revision of Military Comprehensive Plan;" Item C 2, "Status Report of FY 64 MAP;" Item D, "Outline in terms of forces, timing and numbers involved, the projected program for reduction U.S. military forces by end FY 65;" and Item E, "Country Team suggestions for revision of current reports to develop a consolidated country team reporting system."

And that brings us to the heart of the matter.

When you look at the McNamara-Taylor report, which is Item #167 in FRUS IV, it appears on page 336 and ends at page 346, a total of 11 pages. This is a 52-page document in its original form. At the top of page 340, it reads:

[Here follows Sections II, "Military Situations and Trends," III, "Economic Situation and Trends," IV, "Political Situation and Trends," and V, "Effect on Political Tension."]

These sections do not appear in the text of FRUS IV, but it clearly doesn't mean that they don't exist, or weren't included in the M-T report, or that this is exactly what was written in the report (I've included that below just for the sake of showing how much was omitted in FRUS).

The notation, in brackets (usually connoting an editorial comment, not a verbatim inclusion), "[Here follows ...]" appears a lot in FRUS, which is an edited compilation of documents, in such contexts as "[Here follows discussion unrelated to Vietnam]" which thinking person realizes doesn't mean that someone put those words in the minutes of a meeting or whatever: "here follows" means that "in this place would be" (whatever) if the editor of FRUS (generally Leslie Belb) had decided to edit it out.

That's how a 52-page document fits on 11 pages.

So when the memorandum of the Honolulu conference (Item #321 starting on page 608) notes on page 624, "[Here follows discussion of Item C 1, "Revision of Military Comprehensive Plan;" Item C 2, "Status Report on FY 64 MAP;" Item D, "Outline in terms of forces, timing and numbers involved, the projected program for reduction U.S. military forces by end FY65;" and Item E, "Country Team suggestions for revision of current reports to develop a consolidated country team reporting system."]," it does not mean that this is all that was said about it, it means that it was edited out.

I'm sure you know that, don't you?

What was it edited out of? According to the first footnoted annotation of this document (bottom of page 608) we're told that the cited document is "RG 334, MAC/V Files: FRC 69 A 702, 204-58 Policy and Precedent Files (1963), [then classified as] Secret," found at the Washington National Records Center, which is now in Suiteland, MD. This document will contain the full text of everything that's in this memorandum, including the stuff that "here follows" on page 624.

But you say (as you did at about 1:03:48 on BOR) that "there was no further discussion! That's as far as it went. It just stops there," that there were (after 1:01:50) "16 pages [in FRUS] on the Honolulu conference, but only three small pagagraphs about what they were supposed to be doing at the conference!" (your emphasis), when that is true only in FRUS, an edited compendium.

Later (1:04:50) you said, "Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the information is somewhere else and I'm just a lousy researcher and I haven't uncovered it yet. I'm not sure, maybe it's someplace," yet you've said here that you've only looked in FRUS IV, which even told you where to look for the original document. The annotation I quoted above also tells you a little further on (still at the bottom of page 324) that "Another copy of this memorandum is ibid., RG 84, Saigon Embassy Files: FRC 67 A 677, 350, Honolulu Conference."

So how is it you "haven't uncovered it yet?" Are you suggesting that your reputation is undeserved?

Here is what "[Here follows ...]" from the McNamara-Taylor report that enabled it, in part, to be condensed in FRUS from its original 52 pages to just 11:

II. MILITARY SITUATION AND TRENDS

A. THE STANDARDS OF MEASURE

The test of the military situation is whether the GVN is succeeding in widening its area of effective control of the population and the countryside. This is difficult to measure, and cannot be stated simply in terms of the number of stragetic hamlets built or the number of roads that can now be travelled without escort. Nor can the overall situation be gauged solely in terms of the extent of GVN offensive action, relative weapon losses and defections, VC strength figures, or other measures of military performance. All of these factors are important and must be taken into account; however, a great deal of judgment is required in their interpretation.

We have looked at these factors carefully, but we have also given great weight to the evidence of the men on the spot-the U.S. military advisors and the USOM field representatives--as to whether government control is in fact extending and becoming more accepted and solid in the various areas. We have been greatly impressed with the variation of the situation from area to area and from province to province; there is a different war in each area and province, and an example can be found somewhere to support any attitude toward the state of the counterinsurgency campaign. Our task has been to observe the situation as broadly as possible to avoid giving exaggerated importance to any single angle of observation.

B. OVERALL PROGRESS

With allowance for all uncertainties, it is our firm conclusion that the GVN military program has made great progress in the last year and a half, and that this progress has continued at a fairly steady rate in the past six months even through the period of greatest political unrest in Saigon. The tactics and techniques employed by the Vietnamese under U.S. monitorship are sound and give promise of ultimate victory.

Specifically, progress is most clear in the northern areas (I and II Corps); especially noteworthy work has been done in key coastal provinces where VC strength once threatened to cut the country in half but has now been substantially reduced. In the central area and the highlands (III Corps), progress has been steady though slower, and the situation remains difficult in the provinces to the west and north of Saigon itself. [Material Missing] Throughout the northern two-thirds of the country the strategic hamlet program has matured effectively and freedom of rural movement has grown steadily.

The Delta remains the toughest area of all, and now requires top priority in both GVN and U.S. efforts. Approximately 40% of the people live there; the area is rich and has traditionally resisted central authority; it is the center of Viet Cong strength-over one-third of the "hard core" are found there; and the maritime nature of the terrain renders it much the most difficult region to pacify.

A first step has just been taken by the move of a third division to the Delta, but further major actions are needed. They include priority decisions by the GVN in the use of its resources, the consolidation rather than further spread of strategic hamlets in many areas, the elimination of many fixed outposts, better

hamlet defenses and more trained hamlet militia. Regular army units should be reserved for use in mobile actions and for clear and hold operations in support of the strategic hamlet program. Though there are unresolved problems in several key provinces close to Saigon, as well as in the southernmost parts where the VC are strongly established, it is clear that the Delta situation has generally improved over the past year, even with the limited resources allocated to it. Despite recent evidences of greater VC effort and better weapons, the Delta campaign can continue to go forward if the essential priority is assigned to Delta requirements.

C. MILITARY INDICATORS

From a more strictly military standpoint, it should be noted that this overall progress is being achieved against a Viet Cong effort that has not yet been seriously reduced in the aggregate, and that is putting up a formidable fight notably in the Delta and key provinces near Saigon. The military indicators are mixed, reflecting greater and more effective GVN effort but also the continued toughness of the fight.

[The following is in table format in the original]

June July August September (estimated) Mo. Ave. Year ago No. of government initiated:

Small operations 851 781 733 906 490

Large operations 125 163 166 141 71

Viet Cong Killed 1896 1918 1685 2034 2000

GVN Killed 413 521 410 525 431

GVN Weapons Lost 590 780 720 802 390

VC Weapons Captured 390 375 430 400 450

Viet Cong Military Defectors 420 310 220 519 90

Viet Cong Initiated Incidents of all Types 1310 1380 1375 1675 1660

Viet Cong Attacks 410 410 385 467 410

Estimated Viet Cong Strength

HardCore 21000 21000 21000 21000 22000

Irregular 85000 82000 76000 70000 98000

Recent days have been characterized by reports of greater Viet Cong activity, countrywide, coupled with evidence of improved weaponry in their hands. Some U.S. advisors, as well as some Vietnamese, view this increased activity as a logical reaction to the steadily growing strategic hamlet program, which they believe is progressively separating the Viet Cong from the rural population and from their sources of food and reinforcements. Others view it as a delayed effort to capitalize upon the political trouble. All agree that it reflects a continuing capability for offensive action.

D. THE STRATEGIC HAMLET PROGRAM

In this generally favorable military picture, two main factors have been the strategic hamlet program and the effectiveness of the U.S. advisory and support effort.

We found unanimous agreement that the strategic hamlet program is sound in concept, and generally effective in execution although it has been overextended in some areas of the Delta. The teamwork of U.S. military men and civilians is generally excellent, and on the GVN side a number of the province chiefs who handled the program poorly in its initial phases have been replaced by men who appear to have a better grasp of the central purpose of the program- to bring people under clear GVN control, in a way that really solidifies their support of their government and opposition to the VC. The economic and civic action element of the program (schools, medicine, fertilizer, etc.) has been carried forward on the U.S. side with considerable effectiveness, but has necessarily lagged behind the physical completion of hamlets and in insecure areas has made little progress. Without this element, coupled with effective hamlet defense measures, what are called "strategic hamlets" may be only nominally under GVN control. We were particularly struck by some evidence that a hamlet's readiness to defend itself often bears a direct relation to whether the Province Chief, with U.S. help, has managed to make a convincing start in civic action.

E. THE U.S. MILITARY ADVISORY AND SUPPORT EFFORT

We may all be proud of the effectiveness of the U.S. military advisory and support effort. With few exceptions, U.S. advisors report excellent relations with their Vietnamese counterparts, whom they characterize as proud and willing soldiers. The stiffening and exemplary effect of U.S. behavior and attitudes has had an impact which is not confined to the war effort, but which extends deeply into the whole Vietnamese way of doing things.

The U.S. advisory effort, however, cannot assure ultimate success. This is a Vietnamese war and the country and the war must, in the end, be run solely by the Vietnamese. It will impair their independence and the development of their initiative if we leave our advisors in place beyond the time they are really needed. In some areas reductions in the U.S. effort and transfer of U.S. responsibilities to the Vietnamese can now be carried out without material impairment of the total war effort. As a start, we believe that a reduction of about 1000 U.S. personnel (for which plans have been in preparation since the spring) can be carried out before the end of 1963. No further reductions should be made until the requirements of the 1964 campaign become firm.

F. CONCLUSION

Acknowledging the progress achieved to date, there still remains the question of when the final military victory can be attained. If, by victory, we mean the reduction of the insurgency to something little more than sporadic banditry in outlying districts, it is the view of the vast majority of military commanders consulted that success may be achieved in the I, II and III Corps area by the end of CY 1964. Victory in the IV Corps will take longer-at least well into 1965. These estimates necessarily assume that the political situation does not significantly impede the effort.

III. ECONOMIC SITUATION AND TRENDS

The current economic situation in South Vietnam is, in the main, satisfactory. The internal price level is reasonably stable. Commercial inventories are high and national bank reserves of foreign exchange stand at approximately $160 million which equals approximately 11 to 12 months. Imports at current rate ($240 million imports less $75 to $80 million exports). The effective rate of exchange of the piastre to the dollar is within the range of reasonable economic value.

Trends are difficult to discuss but the business community was optimistic before the present crises. Rice exports for the current calendar year are projected at approximately $80 million against $8.75 million last year. Total exports are anticipated at $70 million as against $55 million last year. Banking circles point to one bearish factor in the export picture. Rubber, which represents more than half in value of all exports, faces a situation of declining world market prices and some plantations may curtail operations in the next year.

On the domestic side South Vietnam is almost self-sufficient in cotton textiles and is on its way to satisfying its own fertilizer and cement requirements by 1966. At the beginning of the current year banking circles noted a healthy increase in local investments in small enterprises which reflects, in their judgment an increase of confidence in the future that is unusual for recent years. The prospects for next year, under normal circumstances, appear reasonably good. If the Government encourages diversification in agriculture, exports of such products together with the increasing availability of rice should offset the decline in foreign exchange earnings from rubber.

The projected GVN budget for CY 1964 totals P27 billion: tax revenues are estimated at P11 billion, leaving an internal budget deficit of P16 billion. External resources (resulting from U.S. operations but requiring also use of foreign exchange reserves) are estimated to generate an additional P9.5 billion, leaving a P6.5 billion estimated deficit. This deficit might be somewhat reduced by additional tax revenues. To meet the remaining deficit, borrowings from the National Bank would still be required with a resulting increase in the money supply.

The money supply has been increasing rather sharply in the last nine months, although the inflationary effect has been dampened by the recent arrival of large shipments under USOM's commodity import program. This has been accompanied by an increase in import licensing brought about principally by the GVN's adoption at the beginning of this year of an open general licensing system for certain manufactured goods such as trucks, automobiles, fabricated steel and some industrial raw materials. The banks estimate that the open general licensing system will result in a $10 million increase in GVN-financed imports in CY 1963.

In short, while the general economic situation is good, the prospects for holding the line on inflation and the balance of payments do not appear bright for CY 1964 unless the GVN can be persuaded to impose severe restraints.

Effect of the Political Crisis on the Economic Situation

At the present time the current political problems have not had a significant effect on the internal economic situation. French banking sources report a slight increase in the rate of withdrawals from private Vietnamese bank deposits over the last two months; but this increase has only been on the order of 1 to 2 percent.

Commercial inventory stocks seem to be increasing, but this can be explained by the recent increase in arrivals of foreign goods. In any case prices have remained stable with exception of a slight increase in the cost of cement, automobiles and certain industrial equipment.

The value of the piastre has fallen 10% on the Hong Kong market in the last month. Virtually no abnormal flight of capital has yet been observed in banking circles.

The most apparent effect of the crisis of the past several weeks is a slowdown in investment decisions, both in industry and in the limited capital market. Inventors and industrialists are worried about a reduction in U.S aid. They are aware of the suspension in the issuances of procurement authorizations and are therefore concerned about the availability of imported raw materials and spare parts.

Since the Saigon business community has lived through some violent times before this, they have not reacted to events with as much panic as might have been expected. If the U.S. should long suspend import commitments, however, it should be apparent that the private sector of the economy will react in an inflationary manner.

IV. POLITICAL SITUATION AND TRENDS

Although our observations of the political situation were necessarily less extensive than of the military picture, they were ample to confirm that the existing situation is one of high tension. We reviewed the situation carefully with the relevant U.S. officials and were also impressed by frank interviews with GVN officials and with third country representatives.

In essence, discontent with the Diem/Nhu regime, which had been widespread just below the surface during recent years, has now become a seething problem. The Buddhist and student crises have precipitated these discontents and given them specific issues. But the problem goes deeply into the personalities, objectives, and methods of operation of Diem and Nhu over a long period.

The evidence appears overwhelming that Diem and Nhu operate in close collaboration, and that each needs the other. They undoubtedly regard themselves as carrying out a social and political revolution for the good of their country, using all means-including the strategic hamlet program-to build up a secure base of political strength in the rural areas.

At the same time, the positive and educative sides of their actions, aimed primanly at the countryside, but with extensive countrywide educational efforts as well, have been increasingly matched by negative and repressive measures of control against the urban population. The urban elite or "Establishment"--which includes intellectuals, civilian officials at all levels, and a high proportion of military officers--has never been trusted by Diem and Nhu. Always sensitive to signs of opposition--with some justification from events in 1954-55 and the attempted coups of 1960 and 1962--the regime has turned increasingly to police methods, particularly secret arrests, that have almost all the bad effects of outright totalitarianism even though a good deal of freedom to criticize still remains.

Concurrently, the palace has always manipulated and controlled the government structure to ensure its own control. The degree to which centralized control and intervention have been carried, and the often quixotic nature of its use, have had a steadily growing adverse effect on efficiency and morale.

Both of these adverse characteristics of the regime, and the resentment of them, focus more and more on Nhu. Not merely is he the hatchet man, but his statements on "personalism" and his building up with Madame Nhu of a wide personal apparatus have smacked more and more of outright totalitarianism. A further disturbing feature of Nhu is his flirtation with the idea of negotiating with North Vietnam, whether or not he is serious in this at present. This deeply disturbs responsible Vietnamese and, more basically, suggests a possible basic incompatibility with U.S. objectives.

Nhu's role and scope of action have increased, and he may well have the designs imputed to him of succeeding his brother in due course. Diem is still quite a long way from being a figurehead, and his personal prestige in the country has survived remarkably well. But Diem does depend heavily on Nhu, their central ideas are very close if not identical, and it would be remarkable if Diem dropped Nhu from a commanding position.

Until the Buddhist and student crises, it was probably true that the alienation between Diem and the elite was more a matter of basically divergent views of the right social structure and of Diem and Nhu's handling of individuals in the government than it was a matter of reaction to repressions. However, the crises have now brought the repressions so directly into the lives of many of the elite that more orderly methods, which might previously have kept the loyalty of the needed amount of talent, now probably cannot do so without a convincing degree of restoration of personal security. Yet both more orderly methods and a restoration of personal security cut diametrically across the grain of Diem's and especially Nhu's view of what is necessary to maintain their power and move toward their idea of social revolution.

Thus, the discontent of the elite--reflected chiefly in the progressive loss of responsible men--has now reached the point where it is uncertain that Diem can keep or enlist talent to run the war. The loss of such men as Mau and Tuyen, and the deeply disturbed attitude of such a crucial figure as Thuan, are the strongest evidences of the seriousness of the situation.

This is not to discount groups other than the elite. However, the Buddhists and students cannot in themselves either threaten the regime or do more than focus issues--although of course they seriously damage the regime's standing in the U.S. and elsewhere, with uninhibited press reactions that contribute further to the persecution complex that drives Diem and Nhu into repression. The business community in a passive factor only. Urban labor is simply trying to hold its position, being anti-regime but not to the point of being an independent source of trouble. The rural peasantry appear little affected even by the Buddhist issue. If these groups can be kept even in an acquiescent state the war could go forward.

As matters stand, political tension in the urban centers is so high that it could boil over at any time into another cycle of riots, repressions, and resignations. This tension would disappear in a very short time if Nhu were removed. Whether it could be reduced to acceptable proportions by measures short of this is a very doubtful question, but it is clear that such measures would have to include both more moderate control methods and a better government climate particularly for civilian officials.

V. EFFECT OF POLITICAL TENSION

A. ON MILITARY OPERATIONS

So far this has not significantly affected countryside operations in any area. U.S. personnel in the field testified that a few officer or civilian counterparts showed concern over the Buddhist and student issues, but not to the extent, as yet, of materially affecting their doing their jobs. The rural population has been almost untouched. The pace of GVN operations was sharply cut for a short period at the end of August by transfers of units and general uncertainty, but has now largely renewed its previous intensity. The Delta particularly has been so concerned with the war that it has been virtually unaffected.

Basically, the unifying factors embodied in the hatred of the military for Communism remain very sharp. This hatred is real and pervasive. It transcends domestic policies in the minds of most officers.

However, there are disturbing elements that could change this picture greatly unless the political tension can be reduced. Certain high officers have been heavily preoccupied with coup possibilities. Those who have had relatives directly involved in the regime's repressions are deeply disturbed though not necessarily ready to act against Diem.* Resentment of Nhu exists in top military circles and probably to some extent at middle levels. The fact that the great bulk of military officers--and Province Chiefs--come from urban areas (simply because of educational requirements in many cases) clearly does open up the possibility of progressive loss of morale and effectiveness, as well as coup participation, if the regime does not cease its oppressions against Buddhists, students, and real or supposed opposition individuals.

B. ON CIVILIAN OFFICIALS

On the civilian official side, which is also relevant to the war effort, the reaction to the regime's actions has been sharper. The Embassy and USOM report unanimously that their normal counterparts have become afraid of associating too closely with Americans, and that there is a general atmosphere of watch-and-wait, just going through the motions of the job but failing to exert what limited initiative and imagination they had previously been ready to exert in face of the constant and power-directed interventions of Nhu. The decline in the contribution of these officials is less serious than any similar decline among the military and province chiefs, but is nonetheless a potentially significant and growing factor if tension persists because these officials play a substantial role in the strategic hamlet program.

In summary, the political tension has not yet significantly affected progress in the field, nor does it seem likely to have major effects in the near future. Beyond that, however, the prognosis must be considered uncertain if political tension persists or mounts.

Did you read any more of FRUS IV? Did you get to the part (Document 305, dated November 7, a memo from Michael Forrestal to McGeorge Bundy, at FRUS IV page 581) where it's said that "we have added a gloss to the [McNamara-Taylor] formula and implied (in the NSC statement of last month) that we would also withdraw the bulk of our personnel as soon as the South Vietnamese were able to cope for themselves. Secretary McNamara and General Taylor," Forrestal wrote, "estimated that this might occur in 1965."

Gloss. Freaking gloss added by an NSC staffer to the NSAM that he wrote at Bundy's order to "issue an appropriate NSAM" to "have something more official" than the New York Times article of November 3 for government agencies to have as a record!

"Gloss" is how the NSC staffer who issued "an appropriate NSAM" to inform the military of the content of the M-T report (and who signed his name just "Mike" in his memorandum to Bundy) described JFK's "firm," "unambigous" "policy."

"We have added gloss to the formula."

It was editorial bullspit by an assistant to an aide.

EDIT: I don't know what's up with all those lines in the long quote: I couldn't get rid of them, or maybe I'm the only one who sees them.

Edited by Duke Lane
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when you write "Memorandum of the Honolulu COnference' what are you referring to?

I don' t have that particular volume in my personal library.

The memorandum is the same document that Monk's been referring to: Foreign Relations of the United States 1961-1963, Volume IV, Section 4, Document 321, pp608 et seq. It's online at MFF and History-Matters.com, as well in PDF on a State Department site I found somewhere. I think MFF & H-M have PDFs there too. I don't have a hard copy either.

According to the ARRB, they could not find any memorandum for the conference, in the way of minutes.

I think you'd pointed that out in an earlier post, and/or that John Newman hadn't found any notes, or anyone who remembered anyone taking notes. (I don't have his book, btw.)

To be frank, that's not (so far) a great concern for a number of reasons, many of which I think you'll agree with (and not to suggest you think it is a great concern):

First, while "we can't know" that the memorandum reflects the actual events of the conference, apparently nobody who was there says that they're not reflective of the actual events, so if they're undisputed, there's no reason to think that they're not.

Second, even if there were minutes or notes, there's no guarantee that they would be accurate either, nor absent active dispute, any reason to think they'd be inaccurate. For that matter, even if they were accurate, it doesn't mean there wouldn't be a dispute (real or simply provocative).

Third, FBI agents (in particular Hosty, Silbert and O'Neill) have testified that, once they'd reduced their handwritten notes to "writing" (i.e., a typed report), they destroyed them. When I first read this, I checked with some local and federal law enforcement types I know, and they agree that's a common practice even still. If it's good enough for law enforcement purposes (i.e., for production in a court of law), then the practice of doing the same thing for a conference - which may or may not have been as important absent JFK's murder - does not strike me as critical. (Are there notes extant of the SecDef Honolulu conference in July? All of the rest of them? State Dept conferences? I'm asking....)

Fourth, there were apparently quite a few people at the November 20 conference, most of whom probably weren't known personally by most people there. While participants contacted by Newman, et al., didn't remember (40 years later) anyone taking notes, it may have been someone they didn't know, and I'm not certain that anyone out of a large crowd who was taking notes would have stood out: mightn't lots of people have been? Weren't they probably? Would it have been apparent if nobody was taking any notes? (This memo came from CINCPAC Felt: would an "orderly" - an aide, adjutant, secretary, etc. - from his staff recording the proceedings on paper or on tape even been noticed?)

Fifth, from the sound of it, the "conference" was more of a series of presentations than an actual discussion or exchange of ideas. There are a couple of notations about this from both before and after the conference, quoting Forrestal and Bundy's memos.

There are probably a couple others that I was thinking of, but remembering five of them is okay for now. ;)

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That is a very clever (although I'm sure that was not your intent) interpretation of my meaning. However, it is wanting for context. First, like I said, I remain convinced that the information you posted is inadequate to the task of providing any sound rationale for Bundy's having written a reversal of JFK's policy in Vietnam. Second, I don't find the need to defend my credentials as a researcher. Third, suggesting that it is unreasonable for a researcher to ask unanswered questions out loud is a shallow yardstick by which to measure his or her "reputation". Fourth, like I said before, thanks for thinking...

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That is a very clever (although I'm sure that was not your intent) interpretation of my meaning. However, it is wanting for context.

What did I misinterpret? You said that the Honolulu conference ignored its marching orders to discuss the "only" topic that "JFK ordered," when in fact plans for possible withdrawal were only to be included in the agenda (per the CABLE), not discussed exclusively. As proof you point to "only three short paragraphs" in an abbreviated document, but seem to have ignored whatever might be in the original document. based not on the original document's non-existence or unavailability, but on the notion that the full document "'should' have been memorialized, IMO" [sic] in FRUS.

First, like I said, I remain convinced that the information you posted is inadequate to the task of providing any sound rationale for Bundy's having written a reversal of JFK's policy in Vietnam.

The weight of the evidence, including JFK's explanation of the purpose of the Honolulu meeting in his press conference of November 14 - in large part, to determine "what our policy should be" - proves that, whatever his hopes or desires, JFK's actual policy - the words he spoke not written by someone else adding "gloss" to the "formula" - was not "unambiguous" nor final. One cannot "reverse" a policy that is not headed in only one direction.

Second, I don't find the need to defend my credentials as a researcher. Third, suggesting that it is unreasonable for a researcher to ask unanswered questions out loud is a shallow yardstick by which to measure his or her "reputation". Fourth, like I said before, thanks for thinking...

Absolutely; I agree. One may certainly and responsibly ask unanswer questions out loud. What one should not do is to draw conclusions from questions and accuse people of complicity in societal murder, and certainly not without having examined all of the evidence. It's increasingly clear that not only haven't you, but you're not going to on your own, and you seem to want to dismiss if not completely ignore what others point out to you.

It's not "research," it's as you said: asking unanswered questions. Questions only provide answers if you actually look for them.

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