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Lodge Reports to LBJ on Vietnam

June 29, 1964 - Henry Cabot Lodge completed his service as Ambassador to South Vietnam today. He predicted a difficult but successful fight against Communism in Asia.

Lodge, in a report to President Johnson, said the antiguerrilla war in South Vietnam was now “on the right track.”

He thought it was dangerous even to guess how long the effort would have to continue, and he advised only that “we ought to make up our minds the way the Communists do to stay with it as long as it takes.”

The United States effort in Vietnam is relatively small whereas the stakes “are perfectly enormous whether we lose or whether we win,” Lodge asserted.

He did not agree, he said, that there are only three choices. Getting out of Southeast Asia is “utterly unthinkable,” he said. Triggering off World War III, he said, is “obviously stupendously disastrous.” And he is against simply “going the way we’ve been going.”

But with measures short of war, Lodge contended, there is still much that can be done.

Shutting off Communist supply routes from North Vietnam and Laos would help a great deal, he said, but he refused for security reasons to discuss how this difficult job might be accomplished.

In an “offhand” comment, he said he saw no merit in sending some American combat teams to join Vietnamese units.

Among the things that might be done, he listed the following:

— Establish civil political advisers in the corps areas.

— Step up the status of the paramilitary.

— Increase the amount of night fighting.

— Try to get an increase in the help from other countries.

— Do what we can to get a better price for rice.

— Encourage and stimulate land reform.

On domestic political matters, Lodge emphasized that he favored Governor William Scranton of Pennsylvania for the GOP nomination because he felt the Governor was “prudent and he is not impulsive.”

But he insisted that he could not be drafted for the nomination himself, and he said it was too early to decide whether he would support Senator Barry Goldwater if the Arizonan were nominated.

“To put it bluntly,” he said, “the President of the United States has the decision on the use of the atomic bomb, and it is absolutely vital for both parties to nominate men who are prudent, not impulsive, and can be trusted to cope with a responsibility of that kind.”

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