Yet the infirmities of man are such that force must often precede reason, and the waste of war the works of peace.
It was a flying fortnight, the likes of which the world had never seen, mingling mystery and flamboyance, discretion and display in an unorthodox diplomatic maneuver unmistakably stamped L.B.J. On orders from the White House, for the first time in nearly a year, North Viet Nam's skies were free of American fighter-bombers. Instead, jets winged to the four corners of the earth carrying presidential emissaries prospecting for peace in Viet Nam. At first their departures were unannounced, their message a state secret, their destinations sometimes a surprise to themselvesand their hosts.
U.N. Ambassador Arthur Goldberg was summoned from a Bahama vacation and sent off to Rome. From there he flew to Paris to confer with De Gaulle, whom he told that Johnson had sent him to Europe to see just "two great menyourself and the Pope." Next day, to his mild discomfiture, Goldberg found himself seeing British Prime Minister Harold Wilson on L.B.J.'s sudden order. (In fact, he had also paid his respects to Italian President Giuseppe Saragat.) Roving U.S. Ambassador Averell Harriman popped up in Poland so unexpectedly that he nearly caught U.S. Ambassador John A. Gronouski out of town. Special Presidential Assistant McGeorge Bundy was sent to Ottawa to see Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson, while Under Secretary of State Thomas Mann slipped down Mexico way. To Africa went G. Mennen Williams, dune-hopping from Rabat to Tunisand eventually 14 countries, seeing such Africans as Nigeria's Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta.
Neither Hide nor Hair. With the first surfacing abroad of Johnson's envoys, the secrecy began to evaporate, the "peace offensive" to be recognized for what it was, Johnson was prepared for as much. "I can no more put a wig on Averell or Arthur and hide them," he observed, "than I can on Luci." Still, the gist of the U.S. message, the precise nature of the U.S. proposals, were kept closely guarded. De Gaulle, probably with secret delight, since it so suited his own habitual taste for melodrama, solemnly informed his Cabinet that at Johnson's request he could tell them nothing of his talks with Goldberg. Harriman saw Tito, then Nasser, and thinly tried to justify his two days in Cairo as an effort to get Egypt to look into the welfare of U.S. prisoners of war in North Viet Nam. He did indeed touch on that, but on much more as well, as proved by his odyssey eastward through Teheran, New Delhi, Bangkok, Tokyo, Australia.