Well, ah...I, I, I can’t say that I, I did...ah, it was something that
was on my mind, and he and I had many discussions. I, I did, ah, during
that general time frame, and, and later...talked to him about the fact
that...I, I was interested in having only those forces deployed in
Vietnam that we could sustain on an indefinite basis. And I, frankly, I
had some communications with, ah, General Johnson, Chief Staff of the Army, trying to
determine what could be sustained on an indefinite basis...
But, ah...a matter...I don’t want to oversimplify the matter, because
the bombing campaign was a very important item in this regard. Because
the strategy of the Administration was to hurt the enemy until he...ah,
was encouraged to come to the bargaining table...and, ah, the strategy
was to use, ah, all of our bombing and our efforts in the South to try
to convince the leaders in Hanoi
that they could not win, and ah, get them to the bargaining table and
then bargain from a position of strength and come to, ah, some agreement
at the conference table. That was the strategy.
But that meant that we had to...make that strategy credible...by
convincing the enemy by our actions that we had the capability of
hurting them more than we were, and we were prepared to do that, and
that’s what brought about the escalation in the ground forces; and that
is what brought the escalation in the bombing campaign. The bombing
campaign, however, was not affected because it was off and on depending
upon public reactions at home.
And, as you well recall...on the ’66, ’67,
’68 time frame every time a bombing campaign was started
there would be marches on the Pentagon and demonstrations, and the politicians
were inclined to back off. Also, during that time frame, ah, there were
cease-fires called for, ah...Tet. New Year’s, and ah...um, Christmas,
etc., etc., all of which I objected to.
One occasion, ah, President Johnson, ah, went to see the Pope. The Pope made a special request for a cease fire,
which the President honored...and this weakened, ah...ah, this
perception that we were trying to impose on the enemy that, ah, we had
the power to, ah, to hurt him, ah, to hurt him progressively more if he
did not come to his senses and come to the conference table.