Page:Pentagon-Papers-Part IV. A. 3.djvu/48

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Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011


TOP SECRET – Sensitive

Dulles agreed the

task in South Vietnam was difficult (but) regarded basic factors as favorable. People were opposed to communism and had great natural resources...they received greater aid from abroad than North...situation was much improved now that there was full cooperation between French and American authorities. The problem must not be approached in spirit of defeatism. Only serious problem we have not yet solved is that of indigenous leadership. We cannot expect it to be solved ideally because there is no tradition among indigenous people for self-government. We must get along with something less good than best....(The US was) not repeat not committed to Diem in any irrevocable sense. We have accepted him because we knew of no one better. Developments have confirmed our fears as to his limitations but no substitute for him has yet been proposed. Those suggested in past varied from month to month. Now it is claimed that only Bao Dai can save situation. If that is case, then we must indeed be desperate.... We should continue to back Diem but exert more pressure on him to make changes we consider necessary.89

Mendes-France suggested the U.S. and France approach Bao Dai and mentioned the French Viceroy plan to replace Diem. Dulles countered by saying the U.S. and French might use Bao Dai but we must go to him prepared with our own ideas and not... simply accept his. Dulles did not expect any Viceroy to be able "to decide on alternate to Diem and to set up machinery to implement our ideas...our job (is) to create this machinery." He added,

We must exhaust all our pressures on Diem to get things done before considering alternate solutions....He asked Mendes not to think we had obstinately closed our minds to possible alternate solution. We had not repeat not, but our investigation of alternate must be done 011 careful basis and we must for present support Diem.90

Mendes-France agreed. He summarized his position as follows:

First, to support Diem; second, to study alternatives. Collins and Ely should be instructed to explore further possibilities including Bao Dai with great discretion... third point was that Ely and Collins should be requested to investigate matter of timing. How much further delay can be tolerated?...We must set deadline....91

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