Monday, November 28, 1966
Lyndon Johnson, Dean Rusk
LBJ Ranch

The recording starts after the conversation has already begun.

Dean Rusk--back to Saigon, we think, tonight our time. [Ambassador to South Vietnam Henry] Cabot [Lodge, Jr.] apparently felt that they'd have to meet together in the government there in Saigon and it would not be feasible to try to deal with this while they were out of town. So, I would think that about all we should say today is that the leaders in--of the Saigon government have been visiting different parts of the country over the weekend, that they'll be back within hours and that thi will be taken up by them as soon as they meet again in Saigon.

President Johnson: OK. He ought to get them back, though.

Rusk: [Unclear.]

President Johnson: [Unclear.] He ought to get them back. Maybe we ought to originate it instead of waiting for them to take the initiative. It makes us look mighty bad to just keep on waiting.

Rusk: I think it ought to be pointed out that this was accepted--that a Christmas truce was accepted last year, that there was some dissatisfaction with the way in which the Viet Cong carried it out, but this is a matter in which there were will be a very short, a very quick decision.

President Johnson: Well, what I would try to do is point out to somebody on a backgrounding basis what they did last week.

Rusk: Right.

President Johnson: First, just let that drift in while we're waiting on the other.

Rusk: Right.

President Johnson: So it looks like that's what we're [unclear].

Rusk: All right. Fine. Well, we'll do some backgrounding here.

President Johnson: On this India thing, what I think--I read this [William] Macomber's report and I thought it was pretty good. I liked it. What I want to do, I don't want to be making huge commitments out there anymore, as I said last year. I'm kind of committed not to, unless the Congress looks it and approves it, unless they feel like they want to go along in the tune of several hundred million dollars. I'm not going to rely on [Chester] Bowles and the do-gooders and the welfare folk boys because they're always for everything--Dorothy Jacobsen and Bowles. You could--they'd give away the Capitol if they thought that it would--if somebody asked for it. Now, the Indians, according to my information, we gave them about ten million tons [of food aid] last year [worth] nearly a billion dollars, and we told them that they had to do this with fertilizer and they had to do this in new production methods and they had to concentrate. They've done a good deal of it. At least they produced 11 million tons more than they produced last year. Now, they have it in some of the states now that they could transfer to others, but they won't do it. It's like Texas having a surplus of wheat but won't let Oklahoma and Arkansas have any of it. And I think their position is that there's no use in letting them have it. They need it and while it is more than they've had [in previous years], that if they get it from the United States they don't need to get it from themselves. [Unclear] told, according to the Macomber report, that [it is] important to keep the pipeline going, even if we just had 500,000 tons of it. They, of course, would like to get a hold of several million--

Rusk: Right.

President Johnson: --and certainly two million between now and February. I understand we have a million tons in the pipeline in December that will arrive there in January. That's about what we've been putting in a month. I understand that we've got two or three hundred thousand tons going in in January that'll be there in February. Now, my thought is what we ought to do is just take the [J. William] Fulbright position pretty generally on these things, that we don't want to operate independently and unilaterally on everything. That we're not the only wheat producing nation in the world. France produces a lot of it. Australia produces a lot of it. Canada produces a lot of it. "Now, [Jawaharlal] Nehru, you've got to understand the New York Time[s], Washington Post and their editorials are not going feed anybody. We've had an election in this country, and we've had--we had it even last year the President said he's going to get the Congress to go along. It's going to be a problem for us, but you've got to get up there at the United Nations, UNES--or--"what's that organization?

Rusk: UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization].

Presidential Johnson: UCE . . .

Rusk: Oh, OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development].

President Johnson: "OECD. And you've got to get these folks." Well, Canada's always comes back. They're always frozen over. That's the first thing they say. They're frozen. Well just say, "OK, if they'll give you two million tons, why, we'll advance that much until theirs comes in if they're frozen over." That's the excuse they always use. And Australia is sold out to China always and we're just sitting there with the cup in our hands and we give more each year. Each year increases for the last several years. Now, we're just going to stop that because we're short as hell, and they're asking us for $2 billion more to replenish what we gave away last year.

Rusk: Right.

President Johnson: And we can't replenish it. I'm not going to ask [for] it in my budget. I just can't give it that way. So, I think [Arthur] Goldberg ought to be put to busy. He needs something, anyway. I keep seeing everyday in Drew Pearson['s columns] where he's playing a good soldier and he's taking it but he's telling the State Department that China ought to be in and that the State Department won't let them come in. Poor fellow--he's imposed on. Look at Drew Pearson. I told him to call [Nicholas] Katzenbach today and tell him to tell Goldberg--you might tell him--that if there's any difficulties between you and Goldberg, let's keep them to ourselves and stay out of Drew Pearson's column. I'm not aware of any and they don't give me any. You-all are always together, but he--about twice a week I read down here about [how] Goldberg's a very patient and good man and--but he has one view at the United Nations and another at the State Department and--

Rusk: Well, I'll tell you about--I called--I talk to him on the phone about every day or two, and he doesn't say those things to me.

President Johnson: No, but I was reading the Pearson column.

Rusk: Right.

President Johnson: [To someone in his office] What is it, Jake? I just gave it you. Hand me that Pearson column. I just told them to send it up here. [To Rusk again] I just read the Pearson column in the Washington Post. Here's what he says: "Ambassador Goldberg is a loyal member of the Johnson team." That sounds like that he's talking--that much of it. "And he's carrying out State Department orders in New York. Inside the Department, however, he has argued it is time for America to put it to China and that it's easier to deal with China within the family of nations rather than as a belligerent outside[r]. The United States should adopt a two China policy. Now, today, China has its own nuclear weapons and missiles and so on and so forth." Well, now, I don't think you're telling him that. And the two people involved are the State Department and Goldberg. So, I think somebody ought to tell him, straighten that out with Pearson and give him a little letter explaining it so we do it. But get him [Goldberg] busy so he's got some irons in the fire. See what he can deliver from France and what he can deliver from Australia and what he can deliver from Canada. And our position ought to be that we've got a congressional delegation going out there. The new Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee wants to look at it. Now, we've got a million tons on the way now in ships that are getting there in January. That we're going to have two or three hundred thousand more going in January. That if Canada, if France, if Australia will give some indication that they will do likewise, we'll be glad to join them. If nobody will do it but us, we're not going to do it.

Rusk: Right. Well now, Mr. President, I met just a few minutes ago with Orville Freeman, Bill Macomber, and Walt Rostow and we're trying to put together a package in which there would be three or four countries involved, including India, making some purchases with their own foreign exchange. And I think that kind of a package would be the strongest. We're trying to get exactly what is needed in terms of our shipments, say, between now and the middle of January. And that would take them into the greater part of their pre-election period. It looks like now it might be a total of, say, a million and a half tons, but we'll get those figures exactly for you and we'll try to work out a [unclear: club?] here so that we do it in such a way as to include the Indians in demonstrating that they can take this seriously by making some purchases out of their own foreign exchange.

President Johnson: They got 200 million. They could do that and if we could put in, oh, 500,000. I would go for it. I don't want go much over that. That's 70 million.

Rusk: All right. This is the sort of figure we're working on. We'll see what we can do on it and I'll get back to you.

President Johnson: All right. All right.

Rusk: Thank you.

Original tape courtesy of LBJ Library. This transcript is a working draft. Please let us know if you find important errors.