Page:Pentagon-Papers-Part IV. A. 3.djvu/46

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

TOP SECRET – Sensitive

According to Collins,

Whatever the reasons, the failure to utilize Quat epitomizes lack of unity among Vietnamese and lack of decisive leadership on part of Diem....Acceptance of status quo with Minh elevated to Defense Ministry and sects reinforced in veto power over government is simply postponing evil day of reckoning as to when, if ever, Diem will assert type of leadership that can unify this country and give it chance of competing with hard, effective, unified control of Ho Chi Minh.83

Three days later, General Collins communicated his "final judgment" on the situation. He made four recommendations:

A. Continue to support Diem along present lines for short while longer but without committing US to specific aid programs;

B. Consider urgently, as possible alternative, the early return of Bao Dai;

C. If after short period of further test Diem Government fails to achieve substantial progressive action and if return of Bao Dai is acceptable to US Government, to support his prompt return;

D. If return of Bao Dai is not acceptable to US Government, assuming Diem Government continues to demonstrate inability to unite free Vietnam behind an aggressive program, I recommend re-evaluation of our plans for assisting Southeast Asia with special attention (to an) earlier proposal.84

The earlier proposal, made by General Collins on December 13, was that the U.S. gradually withdraw from Vietnam. Collins said this was the "least desirable (but) in all honesty and in view of what I have observed here to date this may be the only sound solution."85

3. State Department: Diem Is the Only Available Leader

The State Department went along with Collins' suggestion to avoid specific assistance commitments at the present time but could not see salvation in Bao Dai. A memorandum from Ambassador Heath, then working in the Far East Bureau is indicative of State Department thinking. Heath first called attention to "massive opposition" faced by Diem and French unwillingness to firmly support him — implying that all Diem's problems were not Diem's fault. He then spoke of General Collins' "attempt to achieve a rapid solution," said Collins' "recommendations are now based on the circumstances of a satisfactory settlement prior to January 1" — thereby suggesting that one not looking for a rapid solution might not arrive at similar conclusions.

TOP SECRET – Sensitive