The War in Vietnam: Escalation Phase   

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91 - Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1
February 8th, 1965

Washington, February 8, 1965, 6:26 p.m.

1Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis; LOR. Drafted and cleared by McGeorge Bundy and approved by William Bundy.

1653. For Ambassador Taylor from the President.

1. Mac Bundy has given me a full report of his discussions with you and of the outstanding work which you and all your team are doing.

2. In our discussions in December we agreed upon the importance of undertaking appropriate action against North Vietnam. We then felt it important to establish as strong a government as possible, and you have been doing your level best to that end. It also seemed to me essential to get women and children out of the area, and now we have taken that decision. I am now prepared to go forward with the best government we can get, and accordingly I wish you to know that I have today decided that we will carry out our December plan for continuing action against North Vietnam with modifications up and down in tempo and scale in the light of your recommendations as Bundy reports them, and our own continuing review of the situation.

3. It is most important that this decision not be publicized until we have determined precise opening moves, and until Kosygin is safely out of Hanoi. Moreover, we wish to make our own plans after assessing Soviet reaction to recent events which should be more clear by time Kosygin leaves.

4. Evacuation of dependents should proceed as you determine. I hope you can meet the 7-10 days suggested in your last message.2

2Document 85.

5. I am impressed by argument that the building of a minimum government will benefit by some private assurances from us to the highest levels that we do now intend to take continuing action. Therefore, you are authorized to convey this in general terms to key leaders and political figures as you see fit. At the same time you should say that we want to work with a unified and going government, and that the sooner they can work out such a government, the better we can plan and execute the continuing actions we have in mind.3

3In telegram 2466 from Saigon, February 10, Taylor furnished the President his weekly report on the internal political situation in South Vietnam and the conduct of the war. In responding to the instruction in paragraph 5 of this telegram, Taylor reported that, on February 9, he and U. Alexis Johnson had tried to persuade Vien to accept the prime ministership, which Vien had declined when it was offered to him. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S)

6. This brings my warmest good wishes to you and Mrs. Taylor, and my renewed thanks for all that you are doing for your country.