AITKCVKD ECR RELEASE DATE: S
national intelligence estimate
current trends in south vietnam
Submitted by the
director op central intelligence
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current trends in south vietnam
assuming office Premier Diem has been confronted with the usual problems of ^efficiency, disunity, and corruption in Vlet-namese politics and with tho extraordinary problemsass evacuation of the Northern population and the hostility of many French officials. Despite his qualities of honesty and zeal, he has not yet demonstrated theability to deal with practical problems of politics and administration. Lacking anpolitical machine and finding control of the Army in the hands of an uncooperative chief of staff, Diem's freedom of action has been severely circumscribed.
The French Government appears too definite policy toward Southhile the French Government has not openly opposed the Diem Government, Franco has failed to support Diem and there Is nothat the French are prepared to carryolicy based on unreserved support for Vietnamese independence and nationalism. Accordingly, close cooperation between the French and Vietnamese governments,for the survival of South Vietnam, has been lacking and French motives have become more suspect.
lthough little real progress has been made under Diem's administration in dealing with pressing political, military, and socialhe still retains considerable unorganized popular support, particularly among Catholic elements of South Vietnam. He has also made some progress In reaching agreement with the powerful Cochin China sects.
t the moment the Diem Government Is threatened by the Insubordination of General Hinh, the politically ambitious Chief of Staff whom Diem has discharged. It does not now appear that the present struggle between Diem and Hinh will degenerate into civil strife. In fact Diem now appears to besome headway in his efforts to control or exile Hinh, either of which would enhance bis prestige and remove an obstacle to the strengthening of his government.
Bao Dai has remained in France and apparently Is refraining from directIn political affairs in South Vietnam. His prestige among Vietnamese nationalists has been considerably lessened by his apathy toward the fate of his country. We believe that if Bao Dai were now to return tohe would almost certainlyenter of political intrigue and would further complicate an already complex and confused situation and weaken rather than strengthen the ability of South Vietnam to achievestability.
Trends in South Vietnam since the end of the Geneva Conference have enhanced the prospects of an eventual extension ofcontrol over the area by means short of large-scale military attacks. Although Diem's government will probably survive tho present crisis of Hlnh's insubordination, and may achieve greater strength and popular support, it will continue to be threatened by Vietminh activity, and hampered by French indecision. Diem' appears to be the onlynow on the political scene behind whom genuine nationalist support can be mobilized. However, his ability toovernment that could reverse the current trend In South Vietnam dependsinimum on an early and convincing demonstration by the French of their wholehearted support.