September 11, 1967. Henry Kissinger receives an official response from Hanoi, through French intermediaries Marcovich and Aubrac. Secretaries Rusk and McNamara immediately start working on a reply.

This memo from Kissinger includes the Hanoi response. It also indicates some interesting uncertainty surrounding the expectation of a reply to the message.

—Memo, from Kissinger, 9/11/67, #74a, “Vietnam, Pennsylvania,” Vietnam Country File, National Security File, Box 140.

September 7, 1967. In a memo to the President, CIA Director Richard Helms provides background information and an update on the continued attempts at peace negotiations with North Vietnam involving Henry Kissinger as an intermediary. 

“Hanoi’s failure to date to respond to the US initiative could well be related to a combination of factors of timing and interpretation, reinforced by its deep-seated distrust of US motives in the area. The tone of the premier’s remarks to the intermediaries in July suggests a greater interest in getting talks started than we have noted in the past. This may represent merely a tactical shift, however, for we see nothing in his private statements or in his recent public pronouncements indicating a significant change in Hanoi’s position. North Vietnamese leaders continue to insist on an unconditional stop to the bombing and a settlement based on their ‘four points.’ They show no sign yet of any readiness to compromise these objectives.”

Read the rest of the memo here. LBJ Library photo # B6275-20a; public domain.

September 7, 1967. In a memo to the President, CIA Director Richard Helms provides background information and an update on the continued attempts at peace negotiations with North Vietnam involving Henry Kissinger as an intermediary.

“Hanoi’s failure to date to respond to the US initiative could well be related to a combination of factors of timing and interpretation, reinforced by its deep-seated distrust of US motives in the area. The tone of the premier’s remarks to the intermediaries in July suggests a greater interest in getting talks started than we have noted in the past. This may represent merely a tactical shift, however, for we see nothing in his private statements or in his recent public pronouncements indicating a significant change in Hanoi’s position. North Vietnamese leaders continue to insist on an unconditional stop to the bombing and a settlement based on their ‘four points.’ They show no sign yet of any readiness to compromise these objectives.”

Read the rest of the memo hereLBJ Library photo # B6275-20a; public domain.

September 3, 1967. Nguyen Van Thieu is elected President of South Vietnam. In an attempt to counteract criticisms that the U.S. government was manipulating the vote, President Johnson sent a mission comprised of Governors, Senators, labor and business leaders, and journalists to South Vietnam to observe the general elections.
Governor Bill Guy of North Dakota reported:

“Too much attention has been placed on the possibility of irregularities, and not enough on the other aspects. These people with great courage came out with a moving and profound example of desire for self determination as much as I have seen anywhere. We visited a precinct at which a bomb went off and killed three and wounded six during the voting. They closed it for 45 minutes and then reopened it for more voting. I was very impressed.”

—Memo, Jim Jones to the President, 9/6/67, #3, “[September 6, 1967 - 11:09 a.m. Meeting with Vietnam Election Observers],” Meeting Notes File, Box 2, LBJ Presidential Library.
More about the elections in the Foreign Relations of the United States Series here. Photo: LBJ with Nguyen Van Thieu in 1966, # A1906-15; public domain.

September 3, 1967. Nguyen Van Thieu is elected President of South Vietnam. In an attempt to counteract criticisms that the U.S. government was manipulating the vote, President Johnson sent a mission comprised of Governors, Senators, labor and business leaders, and journalists to South Vietnam to observe the general elections.

Governor Bill Guy of North Dakota reported:

“Too much attention has been placed on the possibility of irregularities, and not enough on the other aspects. These people with great courage came out with a moving and profound example of desire for self determination as much as I have seen anywhere. We visited a precinct at which a bomb went off and killed three and wounded six during the voting. They closed it for 45 minutes and then reopened it for more voting. I was very impressed.”

—Memo, Jim Jones to the President, 9/6/67, #3, “[September 6, 1967 - 11:09 a.m. Meeting with Vietnam Election Observers],” Meeting Notes File, Box 2, LBJ Presidential Library.

More about the elections in the Foreign Relations of the United States Series here. Photo: LBJ with Nguyen Van Thieu in 1966, # A1906-15; public domain.

August 31, 1967. The Senate Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee issues a summary report on aerial war against North Vietnam.
 In its report, the Subcommittee discusses the limitation of air bombing target lists and the difficulty involved in getting targets approved. The Subcommittee argues that the “air campaign has been crucial and vital in saving many American and allied lives in South Vietnam.” In addition, the summary report also points a division between opinions of civilian authorities and military authorities regarding air bombing.
In its conclusion, the report states, “It is high time, we believe, to allow the military voice to be heard in connection with the tactical details of military operations.”
The document above is an example of a request for approval of Arc Light Strike Targets dated August 13, 1967.
—Congressional Record, Volume 113, part 19, page 25179-25182. Document: Message, Request for target approval, 8/13/67, #64b, “ 3 I Targets, 7/67 - 3/68,” Vietnam Country File, National Security File, Box 84.

August 31, 1967. The Senate Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee issues a summary report on aerial war against North Vietnam.

In its report, the Subcommittee discusses the limitation of air bombing target lists and the difficulty involved in getting targets approved. The Subcommittee argues that the “air campaign has been crucial and vital in saving many American and allied lives in South Vietnam.” In addition, the summary report also points a division between opinions of civilian authorities and military authorities regarding air bombing.

In its conclusion, the report states, “It is high time, we believe, to allow the military voice to be heard in connection with the tactical details of military operations.”

The document above is an example of a request for approval of Arc Light Strike Targets dated August 13, 1967.

—Congressional Record, Volume 113, part 19, page 25179-25182. Document: Message, Request for target approval, 8/13/67, #64b, “ 3 I Targets, 7/67 - 3/68,” Vietnam Country File, National Security File, Box 84.

The United States is willing to stop the aerial and naval bombardment of North Viet-Nam with the understanding that this will lead promptly to productive discussions between representatives of the United States and the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam looking toward a resolution of the issues between them.

Excerpt from a message delivered to North Vietnamese representative in France, Mai Van Bo, through French intermediaries, Marcovich and Aubrac, on 8/25/67. (Summary, Timeline summary of negotiation attempts as presented by Kissinger, 9/8/67, #1a, “Pennsylvania,” Vietnam Country File, NSF, Box 140.)

August 25, 1967. Robert McNamara delivers a statement as part of the Stennis hearings in the Senate Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee. On August 30th, McNamara’s statement is then read into the Congressional Record. 
As part of his statement, McNamara lists the three primary objectives of the bombing in North Vietnam: to reduce the flow and/or increase the cost of infiltration of men and supplies from North to South Vietnam; to raise the morale of the South Vietnamese people, who have been under severe military pressure; and to make clear to the North Vietnamese leadership that the bombings are the result of their continued aggression against the South. 
To those arguing for increased bombing, McNamara states that the limited bombing objectives “…were and are entirely consistent with our limited purposes in Southeast Asia. We are not fighting for territorial conquests or to destroy existing governments. We are fighting there only to assure the people of South Vietnam the freedom to choose their own political and economic institutions.”
—Congressional Record, Volume 113, part 18, page 24533. Photo: LBJ Library, C7636-15A; image is in the public domain.

August 25, 1967. Robert McNamara delivers a statement as part of the Stennis hearings in the Senate Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee. On August 30th, McNamara’s statement is then read into the Congressional Record.

As part of his statement, McNamara lists the three primary objectives of the bombing in North Vietnam: to reduce the flow and/or increase the cost of infiltration of men and supplies from North to South Vietnam; to raise the morale of the South Vietnamese people, who have been under severe military pressure; and to make clear to the North Vietnamese leadership that the bombings are the result of their continued aggression against the South.

To those arguing for increased bombing, McNamara states that the limited bombing objectives “…were and are entirely consistent with our limited purposes in Southeast Asia. We are not fighting for territorial conquests or to destroy existing governments. We are fighting there only to assure the people of South Vietnam the freedom to choose their own political and economic institutions.”

Congressional Record, Volume 113, part 18, page 24533. Photo: LBJ Library, C7636-15A; image is in the public domain.

With twelve days still remaining in presidential and senate campaign, public interest and candidate activity are mounting, and there is every prospect of high voter turnout in an election which we can fairly regard as a good step forward in the development of democratic institutions in South Viet-Nam.

Excerpt from a summary report, dated 8/23/67, of Ambassador Bunker’s observations regarding the upcoming elections in South Vietnam. (Memo, Elections in Viet-Nam, #13a, “Vietnam, Memos to the President, 8/3-27/67,” Vietnam Country File, National Security File, Box 56.)

August 22, 1967. In this memo, Rostow informs the President that Hanoi has rejected visa applications for Marcovich and Aubrac.
—Memo, Rostow to LBJ, 8/22/67, #1a, “Kissinger—Peace Contact,” Files of Walt Rostow, National Security File, Box 9.

August 22, 1967. In this memo, Rostow informs the President that Hanoi has rejected visa applications for Marcovich and Aubrac.

—Memo, Rostow to LBJ, 8/22/67, #1a, “Kissinger—Peace Contact,” Files of Walt Rostow, National Security File, Box 9.

August 18, 1967. Herbert Marcovich and Raymond Aubrac, two Frenchmen, send a request for travel visas to Hanoi. 
In The Vantage Point, President Johnson explains that during the summer a group of scientists and intellectuals had met in Paris and selected Marcovich and Aubrac as two intermediaries who could possibly be successful at negotiating peace between the United States and North Vietnam. 
As a result, the United States attempts to send word through these unofficial channels about an upcoming, temporary bombing halt that they are hoping will result in prompt and productive discussions with the North Vietnamese.
—French flag under the Arc de Triomphe. Photo by r.g-s.

August 18, 1967. Herbert Marcovich and Raymond Aubrac, two Frenchmen, send a request for travel visas to Hanoi.

In The Vantage Point, President Johnson explains that during the summer a group of scientists and intellectuals had met in Paris and selected Marcovich and Aubrac as two intermediaries who could possibly be successful at negotiating peace between the United States and North Vietnam.

As a result, the United States attempts to send word through these unofficial channels about an upcoming, temporary bombing halt that they are hoping will result in prompt and productive discussions with the North Vietnamese.

—French flag under the Arc de Triomphe. Photo by r.g-s.

August 11, 1967. In this memo to the President, Walt Rostow provides a summary result of a recent air strike against North Vietnam.
—Memo, Rostow to LBJ, 8/11/67, #57, “Vietnam, memos to the President, 8/3-27/67,” Vietnam Country File, National Security File, Box 56.

August 11, 1967. In this memo to the President, Walt Rostow provides a summary result of a recent air strike against North Vietnam.

—Memo, Rostow to LBJ, 8/11/67, #57, “Vietnam, memos to the President, 8/3-27/67,” Vietnam Country File, National Security File, Box 56.

August 9, 1967. Senator John Stennis, as head of the Senate Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee, begins hearings regarding the conduct and effectiveness of the bombing campaign over North Vietnam. Unlike Senator Fulbright, Stennis believes that the bombing of North Vietnam has been too limited and needs to be escalated in order to ensure a more decisive victory in the Vietnam War. 
—(left to right) Senator John Stennis, President Johnson, Senator Herman Talmadge. LBJ Library photo A3037-21; image is in the public domain. 

August 9, 1967. Senator John Stennis, as head of the Senate Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee, begins hearings regarding the conduct and effectiveness of the bombing campaign over North Vietnam. Unlike Senator Fulbright, Stennis believes that the bombing of North Vietnam has been too limited and needs to be escalated in order to ensure a more decisive victory in the Vietnam War.

—(left to right) Senator John Stennis, President Johnson, Senator Herman Talmadge. LBJ Library photo A3037-21; image is in the public domain. 

It’s strange. You feel soothed and happy by the companionship of your daughter and your son-in-law, and the fine young people who are their friends and the members of your staff. And the cool, brisk, shiny beauty of the day. But simultaneously, you are way down and grieved, emotionally wearied by the troubles that you must try to solve—the growing virus of the riots, the rising list of Vietnam casualties, criticism from your own friends, or former friends, in Congress—and most of the complaining is coming from the Democrats.

August 13, 1967. Lady Bird Johnson, A White House Diary, New York: Dell Books, 1971, pg 611.

August 4, 1967. Aerial photos are taken showing the results of bombing in North Vietnam, in Operation Rolling Thunder.
Photo, bomb damage assessment, 8/4/67, #31a, “Rolling Thunder BDA’s (II),” Vietnam, Country File, NSF, Box 215, LBJ Presidential Library.

August 4, 1967. Aerial photos are taken showing the results of bombing in North Vietnam, in Operation Rolling Thunder.

Photo, bomb damage assessment, 8/4/67, #31a, “Rolling Thunder BDA’s (II),” Vietnam, Country File, NSF, Box 215, LBJ Presidential Library.

August 1, 1967. Tuesday Luncheon.  President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with advisors, sometimes called “the Wise Men,” regarding Vietnam. Clockwise from left: McGeorge Bundy, Sec. Dean Rusk, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Sec. Paul Nitze, George Christian, Walt Rostow. 
Image #C6151-12, public domain.

August 1, 1967. Tuesday Luncheon.  President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with advisors, sometimes called “the Wise Men,” regarding Vietnam. Clockwise from left: McGeorge Bundy, Sec. Dean Rusk, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Sec. Paul Nitze, George Christian, Walt Rostow. 

Image #C6151-12, public domain.