INT: What was the reaction to Diem's government in the 1950s?
AG: Initially it... we were far from sure that he would be able to govern, but then he was able to er conquer or overthrow the various sects that were out there and it looked as though er he was going to be able to establish and build a... a government. Er, that government was recognised would be very weak and there would be some degree of... of Com... covert Communist opposition to his er government, especially when it became clear that there would not be the elections, by which the North would have been able to er gain control of the South.
INT: Was his Catholicism and his anti-Buddhist (unintelligible) seen to be a problem?
AG: My recollection is that er Secretary Dulles had talked to Cardinal Spelman er before er making the proposal - 'scuse me - (unintelligible) happens to the best process.
INT: The nuclear issue was actually talked about at that time?
AG: No, it was not discussed in explicit terms, no. In relation to the er situation in Berlin, we had constant er consideration of what our nuclear posture was and what our nuclear options would be, but they were not specifically or explicitly er raised and discussed in relation to Berlin.
INT: Final question. Why do you think Khrushchev took the moment in the end of '58 to make the ultimatum? How much was he speaking from what he considered to be a position of strength?
AG: My own assessment of this - 'scuse me. My own assessment was that it was driven by the sight of the flight of er East Germans er trying to escape er from the er Communist area. Er that it did not come from strength, but it came from er... in a sense from weaknessand from criticthat er this was demeaning to the Soviet Union and to its policy to see the er... East Germans er undergoing this kind of a situation and we do indeed know - I think we knew then - that the East Germans were er exerting great pressure on the Soviet Union to do something about this flight of their people to the West.
INT: But to be able to do something about it, Khrushchev presumably had to feel that he had the military wherewithal to issue a threat. How important do you think his military strength was?
AG: I think er... he saw this as a means of threatening the West to see whether the West would buckle under the threat. Er, he still had the option open er as to whether actually to carry them to the point of... of er conflict. But I think that er they had a quite a good assessment of what war would be like. War was not so er long before, when they had er suffered er terrible er destruction, loss of life, sacrifice of World War Two, so it's one thing to threaten, but it would be something else actually to do it.
INT: Thank you very much.
AG: Er, the study er came about because er President Johnson had a meeting with his chief advisers and asked is it possible to win in Vietnam? And Secretary MacNamara came back and asked that a study on that be conducted. Er General Wheeler, who was then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked me, I was assistant to the Chairman, to set up a study group and to look into that. Er we did that...
AG: The study in 1965 grew out of a request by... or a question by President Lyndon Johnson, he said he wanted to ask the question, can we win in Vietnam? Er, he was meeting with his principal advisers, Secretary MacNamara came back to the Pentagon, asked for such a study to be made and asked General Wheeler, who was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to er set up a study group. I was assistant to the Chairman at that time and er Wheeler er asked me to do that. I put together a study group and we decided that it was necessary to lay out a strategy of... that would aim to accomplish er... to accomplish that, to er achieve er... freedom in which we could have confidence in er Vietnam. We did that. I set up a... a number of er assumptions as the basis for this study and er submitted it. Our conclusion was that if the strategy that we proposed were to be pursued er with er vigour and real effort, that it would be possible to win in Vietnam. Secretary MacNamara, er questioned er the study, because he questioned some of the assumptions er and er one of the assumptions was that we would do er what would be necessary in the way of er providing forces and supporting those forces. He said we should not make assumptions about what we would do. Er, on the other hand, it was an essential premise er of the study and er it was essential to the conclusion that we reached and that was that if we combined er maximum sustained pressure in South Vietnam, er with a well-targeted and sustained er air operation against the logistic routes that were supporting the effort in South Vietnam, we could, over a period of time, achieve a result similar to what had been achieved in Korea. And that... to do that... um it would be possible to do that and then to sustain it er the American force contribution could be quite limited.
INT: This was in the middle of 1965?
AG: Middle of 1965.
INT: And was the report acted on or not?
AG: Er, it was not. I don't think that er the administration wanted to be confronted with what the possible costs would be. Er we had had an assessment made by the General Harold Johnson, the Chief of Staff of the army, when he took over that post from General Wheeler, he made a very thorough study out in Vietnam, spent about three weeks in all parts of South Vietnam. He came back and said that er it could be done. It could take up to five hundred thousand troops and last as much as five years. That was squelched er because er that was more of a jolt than the administration wished to give the American Congress for American people. Er, it did take five hundred thousand troops, it did take five years. At that point we had a situation that could have been sustained, but the public and congressional support had collapsed er in the meantime.
INT: Could you just sum up what the main recommendations were of your report and what actually happened, what actually was implemented?
AG: We studied what additional forces would be required. I've forgotten the numbers, the exact numbers, but I think er we saw the need for perhaps er two or three hundred thousand additional American er troops there. The Americans, with er South Vietnamese participation, would er take the fight to the enemy. Er, for a period of time that fight would be pushed out into the high jungle er area and er back into the er... southern er area of er.. the er... the er... water area of er South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese with the participation of the Korean and the Thai forces would take responsibility for maintaining local security, er using the regional and the popular forces, as well as their er main units. The Americans, er with the South Vietnamese, would conduct air operations in South Vietnam and the Americans would conduct air operations against North Vietnam.
INT: Did you have sit-down sessions with Johnson on this or just MacNamara?
AG: I've never known just what use was made of this study. Er people in the White House were aware of it and I know that a memorandum was er provided er... a memorandum commenting on it was provided to er Mac Bundy, who was the assistant to er President Lyndon Johnson at that time.
INT: But you didn't actually personally see...
AG: I did not.
INT: Perhaps this is difficult in hindsight, but do you think would it have made a difference if your recommendations had been implemented?
AG: Oh, I think it would have. Er, I... er... but that's a big if, because er I think it would have been necessary to lay out in a very explicit and open way what the possible cost would be to er give assurance that we could attain that er final (unintelligible) and whether that would have been accepted and supported by the American people, I think is a matter of question.