President Johnson's conversation with Robert McNamara.
April 30, 1964

Operator: Secretary McNamara on 9-0.

President Johnson: Bob.

Robert McNamara: Yes, Mr. President

LBJ: I hate to bother you but--

RMC: No trouble at all-

LBJ: --tell me, .I saw a little glimmer of hope on Vietnam in some, uh, paper today, where we'd routed some and killed a few and run 'em out or something. Do you have any--are you getting good cables on them at all?

RMC: Well, I read that article, Mr. President, the, the uh-

LBJ: [aside]Give me another one of those.

RMC: The official battle report wasn't as good as the newspaper report, for once. We got a little, we got a break in the press.

LBJ: Has Carl Rowan getting any of his propaganda people out there now?

RMC: Yes, I think so and I'm going to check again before I go the end of the week and uh, tell him that I want to talk to Lodge about that while I am there. I'm just sitting here, as a matter of fact now, writing a cable to Lodge that I'll send Monday; telling him if he agrees, I'd like to stop by on my way home and I will cover that subject with him and be sure before I leave that Rowan's people are actually are on the way.

LBJ: Have we got anybody that's got a military mind that can give us some military plans for winning that war?

RMC: Well, Buzz Wheeler is going out with me.

LBJ: I know but he went out last time and he just came back with, with planes, that's all he had in mind, wasn't it?

RMC: Well we, uh, yes, well he had more than that but he emphasized the planes. And the planes, Max Taylor agrees, are not the answer to the problem. Whether we should have more planes or not is another question, but it's not going to make any difference in the short run, that's certain.

LBJ: Let's get some more of something, my friend, because I'm gonna have a heart attack if you don't get me something. I'm just sitting here every day and uh, this war that I'm winning and I'm not doing much about fightin' it, and uh I'm not doing much about winnin' it, and I just read about it . And uh-- Let's get somebody that wants to do something besides drop a bomb, but that can go in and take in after these damn fellas and run them back where they belong. It looks like-

RMC: Looks like we want to tell Kahn-

[Part of recording erased for national security reasons, by the National Archive]

LBJ: And we need-shoot that guy --we need somebody over there that can give us better plans than we've got, because what we've got is what we've had since '54. We're not getting it done. We're, we're losing, so we need something new. It's uh, if you pitch this ol' southpaw every day and you wind up as the Washington Senators and you lose, well uh we'd better go us get us a new pitcher.

RMC: I know it-

LBJ: Let's find one. And tell those damn old generals over there to find one for ya, or you gonna go out there yourself.--

RMC: Well that's one reason I want to go back, and kick them in the tail a little bit.

[Part of recording erased for national security reasons, by the National Archive]


RMC: ...damn good marine coming along behind this one, and he wasn't ready for it this time. He's a little tiny guy, but he's out in the Pacific at the moment

LBJ: Well, what I want is somebody to lay up some plans to trap these guys and whoop the hell out of 'em. Kill some of 'em. That's what I want to do. If this Army Chief of Staff is not going to do it, let's get somebody else that'll do it.

RMC: I'll try and bring something back that will meet that objective.

LBJ: OK, Bob.

RMC: Thank you.

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