July 31

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Jul 31, 1964:

Agreement on conduct of war

In a news conference, Secretary of State Dean Rusk admits there are differences between the United States and South Vietnam on the issue of extending the war into North Vietnam, but agreement on the general conduct of the war. He stated that U.S. warnings to communist China and North Vietnam indicated total U.S. commitment.

Ambassador Maxwell Taylor had met with South Vietnamese head of state Gen. Nguyen Khanh on July 23 to register U.S. disapproval of the recent calls by Khanh and Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky to extend the war into North Vietnam. The meeting was reportedly "heated." It was also said that Khanh stood firmly against Taylor's reprimands, arguing that the war had changed because of the presence of North Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam. In a second meeting, Khanh offered to resign, but Taylor, who became convinced that Khanh was at least partly right about taking the war to the North Vietnamese, not only dissuaded him but also ended up cabling Washington that the United States should undertake covert planning with the South Vietnamese for bombing the North.

Despite ongoing disagreements about how best to conduct the war, President Lyndon B. Johnson insisted that relations between the U.S. and South Vietnam were good. Rusk's comments were seen by many to be part of a campaign to reassure to the South Vietnamese that the United States would continue to stand by them in the struggle.

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