. TMTELLIGKIICB AGEHCY
SUBJECT: : XABLE COVHtKMKOT in
To assess tho chjnces for th* ecergoncetable non-CorounlstIn South VIctaaa.
At present tho oadSho eocrficneetable Govcrrr.ent capable of effectively prosccutlns the uor in South Vietnan. Yet tho situation le cot hopeless: Jcble recima evolves fron tho present confusion It cay even Gala strength fron tho release of lona-pcnt pressures erj the eoberlns effect of tho current crisis. Of then tho scene, General Khfnh probably hes the beste of custcrlnj sufficient support tocasorr.bly stable end vorfccblo eovcrnrncct.
5. Bm dcuiifell Of tho Dice* rcgine released powerful pollticol forces previously suppressed or underground. Religious groups, principally the Djddhists, the flu-Cento, labor, ond the diverse ciray of Jatcllcelu>ls ird politic lias both ot hose end Jn. ;icV.ly to voice theirend naxe theai-sel/es felt. Ihese crosn currents uere reflected ulthln the ntlitovy establitiusr.t, particularly enong tho senior officers, 'iho struggle anouj theso various forces can Ve expected to continue until en eetoptcble Valence is struck, ouo group proves strung encigh to Ccoinate ther the febrlc of central govemioct Ii torn op>ut.
8. She convulsion? of iccent vcc'is have surfaced andthere deep-seated divisions and strains. Tbey havereciprocal eusplclosa tctuccn tao cllltary leedcrsblp and Segments of the populace, at lecot In urben areas, increased disunity vlthir. the nilitrry establishment itself, and produced sorlous discord. Including religious strife, SEOPfl the civilians. Tbe present situation Is for core serious then that of 1'ovtcbcror tto Vict Cong ero nowend3 populcr csiVuslsta over Men's ouster gavo hie Jcuediatc 'Successors e, degreeuppert end period of gracuesent shaiy goverrrcnt does rot have. the events
of the past nino nonths have inevitably increased oentircents of
war ueerinoss ond frustration, end probably caused "neutral lsia"
m end to tho constont stroscle) to appear increasJrtcly
attractive to inony. Also, tho fzetoca inherenttin tho US/OVHhove cauccd seme rise Incdlltvj, t'hlch probably vill crew.
3- Tho situation is fragile and vjlnorablo to attack or exploitation fron ell sides. It affords obvicae opportunities to
any person or group rcekle.is or entbitious enough to undcrta'to o
coup, ere ere indications of such plottins by et least tuo
croups: discruntled Dai Viots allied vlth officers vho presently
ccc=aEd key military units, and enother group influenced by
Colonel Phem Kfloc Jlico. Aeons the civilian population scree Buddhist tod Catholic leaders appear to be trying to ovoid new violence, but the spectre of rollc'.ous strife hos not been, laid to rest. Recent Buddhist derands have planted the Catholics and ailitents of either persuasion cay provoke fresh crlse3. Virilecivilian politicans wish tooostrucMve role, poet -rerainconcernedononal pewcr ond prestico tliaa national unity. She etudente eeen to be calmingt this volatile croupvulnerable to eanipulatien free various ouprtere, irxlufiina the Viet Ceng end, perhaps, tho French.
h. Tho present covermontal otrongmfcntsv.-ly to undergo sovurol cheo@ss during this rx-xt lev weeks. Tho shakyevolved cnldizconln el&ty-day enretoker cawzo.-tent hooded by en ostensible triuevlrote of rival generalsastcpsop, Scces-rettp&sr-to vill be tried perhaps in conviction with the proposed. Urticenl Coucroos. Beyond tho liraediate crisis over eoveroceatal orren^en^cts, hotiovor, ti*re ia the question of whether nay otoble recine con emerge, cnp.blc of effectively proeeculing the war. On present evidence, chances of this out-
coco rust hos loos tbon even,
5. The situation in South Vietnon is so fluid owl complex, however, that those develoroents which appear cost likely vill rot necessarily occuros, indeed, they have not on many occasions in both ancient ond recent Vieinwaese history. Therehance, oven If it be slight, that tho experiences of the last voefc or eo ftsy ultimately prove salutary, that the situation had tovorso before it could cot better. In the politicol chaos and conflict, eocceg pressures havj been released, seen smoldering grievances eiA ihow been Blrcd and possibly eoollcratod, and tho dengero Implicit in continued drift havode nore real. It Is not impossible that oOroit leader-shin couH turn theso conditions to edvontego In convincing
..; core "<
LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON HOftARY
Influential figures of tbe need for national unity under avoil-oble lenders, inperfect es theye.
6*. The real relationships of the persons and groups involved in the present situation ore obscure." It Is not clear hou ituch power General Khenh actually retains or vhat rolo ho vill play in forthconing ueefcs. In some respects, recent events bave damaged hin politically. At least eooa of his Military' colleagues ore obvicu:-ly unhappy at what they regard as hia veaVnsss In the face of Buddhist and student disorder. On the other band,nifest reluctance to use force againstelvillens nay ley to restg civilian Euaplclcca that heeo-Mcciist anxious to revcrso thoof L'ovccherictatorship. His courageous willingness to stand alone end unarmed outdst flaoon-etratln^ crovds von hin personal respect.
In the context of present realities Khnnh probably has a. better chance than any other obvious figure of providing the leadershiptable govomrent could be built. His success In thiG venture, hojover. Is far frou assured. Even if he hlcsclf shous the necessary astuteness and. willingness
* See Annex"
LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON LIBRARY
to tacxle thois success vill dependreat decree on tho vinincrcss of other Influential fltf-MSii i,tnh, end Trio lend, bin cuppovt or,loloia, to rvfrain free vorfclna ecttvely for his downfall. Gcnorel Mlnh In particular probably retains enough prestige coovernment vhtch did not hevo Mo participation, or et least his approval, voolil have considerably lessened chences of svrvival.
There ere, of course, several possibilities otheroverrasont In vhlch Khanh plcya tho porarount role. Kone MM figure ray erice orelr.wdy pecoinent pcrsonillty nay prove to havo hidden talent* or unsuspected eupyort. Hew-ever, et the ronent every lively alternative co^did&te has Individual drauteefcs or enough Vnairn opposition to cast sc-rious doubt on his ability to provido unifying leadership. Several groups or figures seta stronj enough to exercise vfcatc. ff.cto.in thc huslncss of creatingAlthough it Is possible that sow Jr.iivi<Hnl or faction my succeed In ovorthrcvinc the present governnent,ther than tfrrcl)presently seens capiblc of holding; power.
Oho lodger tho prceont unstable situation lasts, the ue.ro difficult it vill bo tocOvernKcnt vhlch coo
preserve even Iho appcararcc of unity and dctcmtnatlon. Jn such eireur-atenccj, neutralist eentlrjcnt voulu eloost certainly increase, toother vlth the dangerooselycoalition vould enerae vhlch could tr'tc advantage of frustration rnd var weariness toeutralist solution. In theabsence of flru cvntrnl direction frca Saigon, the iwrolo end cffcctlvrncso of Individual unit cos'wondcra in tho field vill. decline, imA there is even the danger that booo nighthoir ova accomodations vlth the Cecaunist encny. There inhenco that aone province or region vill secede, end there ero aUeody razors of ooparutist tendencloa In lftw,
10. On tho other herd, except for tensions in Hue,yet little sign of the Irnlnecce of sveh direIn veiling the situation in Gemlh Vletnen
it Is Itpoitent uvt to focus exclusive attention cu events In uijcn nrccs. IXring the last nenth, the vor In the provinces I been on, tho airy chows co signs of olacxeoing its efforts and, Indeed, lias rccectly scored Uk> najor successes. IacoI offlcloln havo probebly adopted tho traditional Vlclneaeoo vplt and see attitude rather then taking actions uhteh iitght Jeopordiie their own position, Trolongcd discord in tho cities
vill inevitably affect tbe rural pacification effort, but so for tb;ccontwj'which tbj eovml.>rIn.;iu,gvncy offort had inot diminished.
31. Tbo Vict Cong obviously are not indifferent to South's current troubles. Esnol end Viet Cong propog-inda eiijhasiics that the CbctJinlsts expect victory to cob* prloarlly froa Southese political failures and Instability. There Is no evidence that tho Viet Cong triggered the recent eotlons vhich led to urban upheaval, but the Cotv-unists hove elaost certainly been actively encouraging discord and violence (eleven of those arrested bs directly responsible for the vorst of recent disorders In Saigon vera cleiced by tha police to Vi known VO Bgents). Hilitorily, recent week* have been parked by an actual decline in VC nttocXs, though this "lull" isornal phase end there are signs thct the VC say nov be preparing to step up thair activity. Judging froo post experience. It vill take sees tice for the VC to ready thcrv.olvoa to take full advantage of reocnt deroloptieiits. Also, tho CoerMolsts ivish to avoid the risk of increasing tho obvious VC threatoint where it night unify ontl-Cccouiiats presently engaged in internecine political strife.
12. Seno of the recent eeltation ncainst Khanh'o covern-ncut has bed riiti-American undertones. In come circles thereeliefho US' prodded Khanh Into ettfie<ptinG to eliminate Ml oh ac chief of state end Into resunlne tho hind of tlchtfonserly exercised by Dioa. hwelf Is nanifestly resentful of vhat he regards os US undercutting of his position (though Khonh too Ms been uneasy about vhot he considers US endeavors on Kinh'c hchelf). Shoro hasrouins enti-Juserlcen feeling eoong sone Catholics vho blaiM tho US for Dleu'fi overthrow end resent vhat they consider US fovoritisa of the Buddhist ceuoc. In eone nilitery quarterseneral Khieu) ond, probably in come civilian circles ns veil there is
resentccnt at vhat Is inevitably vicved as US "neddllng" in internal Yietnwwsee affaire.
S3. Oocxunistami possibly also Frenchacntii have enccureccd and exploited anti-US setitiiit-nts. Tho Idea is alco heina circulated that South Yictcaa isttlofield on vhlch tuo elicn powers, the US end Coruunist China,iir3 var by proxy. It la lively that enti-Aicricon eentioent vill Grotfi
2. General Hsuycn Ponh: rhnnh, who regained titular
1'ienlerxobcr of the ruling triwviiolc ia the i devised oa Si August,ut of Eeelusicn and
taken over tbo reins of control againat least temporarily.
epteeber, leading eilit*ry officers swore alleglonce and signed loyalty pledges to Khnnh, but Khanh's nllttniy support Is
rot es solid as this vould indicate,h of iterious coup challenge. Khaoh currently secsu to have the support of- leaders, partly because of his willingness tothair. I upport, however, could sviftly dissipate If Kbanhts general political influence should veto or IT be should fail to rake good on Buddhist dcrwds. In ess?cce, Khanh is the first choice of few but, apparently, the acceptable second choiceay. robably has little retaining Catholic support Bis break vlth tho Pol Vlcts scois Irreparable. KhciJi's unsuccessful nld-August attctpt to acquire plenary powers has caused bin to lose .luch fece,ong tho nllitary, and probably alienated rest students and traditional
politicians, even though scoe of the letter privatelyresent needtrong: central goverrxicnt. One of Khanh's strongest cards ia his ohvlouc us bacMog, though this in itself io elto causing socic re6entinent end could be used egalust htm in ccrtein contents.
ine, it Joc&cd as if recent events hod undermined Khonh's confidence in Ma ability to outRianeuver his rivals end sapped his vill to continue the struggle in tho political arena.rief rest, he eeeris to have re-entered the fray, but it la still not entirely clear how he intends to piny his band.
Ccnerol Duong van mnh: 1'Jnh ray scor. regain his forcer positiontitular thief of state. Hxny officera
have beccce disenchanted vith Minh'a lack of leadership qualities ard en increasing rusher of senioronoral Khiest) ar* heccalng annoyed at Kirh's reluctoTKO to accept responsibility, despite his nppctlte for prestige. Koacthelco^ ho stillcnerelly popular figure vith tho troops and tony eegaonts of tho civilhis rono has considerable noQlc, and ho could ccslly bo usedat's paw by fcho faction. Synbolicelly, hoero to the Buddhists chiefly because of his rolo In ousting
Buddhist leaders apparently want Minh retainedey position, though they rccofnlio M. personal chorxccnlrvjs. The acne reasons which rnke Klnh attractive to tho Itodohlcts nako hln anathca to the Catholics. At llio uncut he setos to heairly constructive role, but Given hia post performance ana personality, KJnh is roro likely loivisivenifying elerseat in the Victrvwceso political scene. He docs not liko Khanh, resentso consider the letter's usurpation of pover, end is unlikely to give more then lukevara support, at bast, to any covemcent in which Khenhrcdooinant role.
Ccrerel Tren frhlcn Khlco; Uitli bis eustcomry political agility, Ccncrelas clung to pover through the recent crisis erd still appears to bo in control of the ar.-ed forceshough he hu apparently Eubnltted hit resignation as Htolster of pefenae. Khlen psrticirattd in both the Kovcnber end January coups, aid rany officerstheir Jobs to him. Mr. penchtnt forhovevar, tesna Inconsistent with truo leadership, and herincipal target of PuddhHt end student critlce.as preferred to wrk through lOwnh end in ellcgianeo with tbl Viet officersneludii his deputy. General Thicuho cor-nand tuch of tho striking power in Uhj Baigon. area. He has
calledUSnd seld he vac tired of having the /jaericms noddle In Internal Vietnacese affair j. His dcgyco of infJuer.ce and authority In tho dilitary establishment Gives hin con-sldereblc political power, hut he probably has too itciiy powerful opponents to be cblo to serve as the headtable goverifacnt.
llllitory Figures! The nlllteryholds tho hey to stability in South Vietnam, but itsoro probably shaV.cn by an evaieness that they cannota recalcitrant public. Furthemorc, tho nilltaryarouvtd various Generals. Host ofthe three discussed above, my prefer to bide theirtrying to vorfee so of poweroliticalvarious groups. Thereood chance, however, that
sore nilltary factionthe Ifci Viete, perhaps with Khion, or
constant Intriguers such as Colonel Kieu> Kgoe Thao, General
Do lieii, or others1 a> try to cciic controlilitary coup.
Drlat Jtoierols : Generals te van Kis, Tran yenthat Mnh, and KM buu Xuanhe quartet arrested vhenpovcr in January lf/5ft still seen to be on tho Khach's cttcxpt to have then participate inRevolutionary Cccnlttco meetingsndugust iras
voted downajority of the ISC. ro aro still frlendo eiA fonxr proteges of these officers vho feel they have been unjustly traated ctd the feet that their status Una not reallyesolved to aitfor.e'c entire satisfaction constitutescontinuing political irritant, especially in the military esUbllsh-ncnt. If, instead of cooperating, tbo present pary-nount generalo (especlelly Khnnh, Xhien,end Ilinh) should Iroex each other out of tbe ring, tho Drlet quartet (particularly Kirt or Don) night essuoororc active role. They ere unlikely to lend nuch support to tttonh, but night veil fori* en cllienconh, particularly Jf the object of that alliance were to unseat Khenh.
7. i>N: Vice Frcnter i'guyen Xuanarvard-traineda served as "cetirg premier" in KhirJv'a shscr.ve, nov aeons toatop;own, but could etlll crorgoey position. OaihechMcr.lly conpetent eA-nin-Ittrator not known to be allied with any politicallt*ry faction. h, he ray provo to bor^utral figure vho can keep Ita goven^ect nachinery ruining until tho situation Isstabilized. Oanh is probably decned accci>table to tho Anericoni, although General Khriih personally docs not liko hla. Oanh's political abilities ere questlonoblc, end to ecens unlikely to cr.ergoeel leader.
(lYNDON BAINES JOHNSON LIBRARY
6. hpiyen^onrA tbo Voltjuycii Too Uoon, VIm JVhi'ct fornd leader of thotlon of the Hit Vict Forty, has tcrdercd hla resignation frca the Covenant ond la uw on "vacation" in Hong Kono His political future is uncertain. All Dai Vict eleaente, jinrticulnrly Konn'a faction andosoer extent tho predominantly northern epl inter Croup to uhich Foreign Hlntttcr Quat bcloff/i, are critical of Khanh. Khanh'a puhllc detrireintJon of Koan hes olriost certainly ruled out rjy future rccorcrodatloo with the eouthcrnVIets. This croup ha*ioll popular bane, hut hassing Itsfficial position to recruit In tha provinces. It retains adherents In teens key nilltery ccrcands end security positions.
Vnc Dai Vlets nou seen to to allying with General Khiea, uith Koan hoplra utllzctely toriuo nlnlstcr. The Dai Vlets do notedc*cd, hovever,olution involving leadership by either Khlea or Eoan. They probably would support Hlnh if ho would permit tho petty an influential role. In any event, the Pel Victs, partlciilerly Moan's lotion, sees moested in cbtolnlnj poucr than in contributing to national unity.
* She fcoUocellst IVrty of Creator YietncM, ccucnonly called tho Dai Yicta, vas founded duringc end reached its height vnSer the Jtoo Poi regiusi) with its Chief Influence In Itorth. It splintwcd into microtis factions afterenonc uhich vera tho northern factions heeded by Dtj. I'hanat and long Van Sungnallcr tut core nilittnt routhcrn faction headed by Pr. Horn.
AINES JOHNSON UBRAIi
The BWtdhlct IcedrrsMp; Vicf the Buddhist leadership are still unclear. There aro signsontinuing internal divisions Maong thm despite tho fact that1 it wit Thich Tri tjianh obviously haa bean their loromou-tt spokesnan in the current crisis. angow personal regard fox General Hinh, but is prone to give Kinh public back insounterpoise to other Eeacralo the Buddhists do not like. HeKhiearoru because of KM en's ossociation with tho Hi en reglne than because of his nonlnal Cathollcltn, even though Cuang equates the two. tbo Buddhists were lukeunrn towardtakeover last January,ttoittered byugust charter, nevertheless, they are presently heeding lOwnh'spartly becouse of his apparent willingness to coco to terns with then Id an effort to curb his own rivals, and portly beceusoddhlsts fear the consequences of his overthrow. The Buddhists apparently want to retain their new-found pol iticcl leverage end fcarnre-xierGence of Men's followers ond of Catholic influence.
30. ThichEng: Triymbollie Buddhist ains, but his personal rotlvea ovo rx>re lie is the head of tbo Asaoclotlon of Buddhist'; in Central Vict nan and one of the nosl Influential and nllltaot renbera of tho Buddhist hierarchy.
LYNDON MINES JOHNSON LIBRARY
There continues to to no firm evidence tbet Tri Qiangpro-Coroonlcts, or pro-neutralist. There ie littlo question, however, that h9 aspires toowerful behind-the-scenes political force- Thire la considerable question about the compatibility of his ultiaalc nirw uith US interests.
tWDON MINES JOHNSON LICftARV
11. The_Catholics: Catholics have been cp;jrehcntsvc since the overthrow of tho Dica regioe. Although noro favorably Inclined lecard. nh*nh then towrd Minh, they re-win very of Kharh'eions. They strongly endorsed theugust charter, vhlch scered tolreer direction of the ver against the Vict Cong, but they now seta to regard Kh/uih as having capitulated coo-pletely to tho Suddhlsta and students. They apparently *ooi to General Khiea es their preferred leader snd they way bw incrc singly sympathetic to elawnls of theiet Party, elthoujh up to MM the Buddhist 3ebr)llna of tho Hat Vietro-Catholic party has been unjustified. Host Vietnamese Catholics would probably bo catlalfed vith .'/ tovernoent giving oronlse of effectivearid Guarantcclns thea equal righti and equal participation. Aedlltant minority identified vith Father Hoong Qjynh, ftaring both Buddhist ventc^ace and loss ofcontinues to distrust alnost nil Boddhists and to presstholtc-orlcntcd reglrco. Tiiie minority has ccKpllcatcd the events of recenta ccpeble of creating fresh crises at any tine.
IP. Buddhists, rid Tri Qjaj&tlculnr,tiHis influence on Victiunesa students, whose sympathy with tho Buddhiot canriicn ae*ir.st Mm broughtor tho flrct ticeolitical role. Students were the firct to acltcto ccalnst rhanh's easucption of "dictatorial power." They seen to hive been novedariety of factors: eturn of Mrnlst rule, var-vcerfnecs, ant oppesition to conscription. They nay also hove been naslpulnted by rival political factions, by Buddhist leaders, by poHtteslty-uisidcd professora, by the Viet Cons, by the Frenchor, tost llhely, by all of these rt various tinea snd in various ways. Tho students ere elmost ccrtnlnly not under foil control cf Vrl fueny, despite his boasts,ew of then now back Khanh. Tliero aro several responsibleleaders, but studentsotential tester for Instability.
13. Coegunist Political. Croupsi Tho only other politicalith any discernible influence,lcnclist Perty ofase of strengthintorthorn provinces of South Victim. There Is soae evidence that the Buddhists, end scce of tho BOWilvoroity profecsoru Vho opposed both WjoiA end KM em, have ViiQDD ties. I'ony of thoatgoa politicians 0spire only to positions of personal
IVHOOH WINES JOWISOW LIOftflRV
- Ay -
u they ere nore fsvorubly inclined toward. Hinh than Kfceitfi or Khlca.
]h, The rellctous sects, tho Cuo flai end lioa Ifco, hove taken
no stand In tho recent crisis. Their Military cooperation was
first aousht by Mlnh, but broucht to irultioe under Khonh, end
they probably ctlU support Xhprh. Ihe yvjiivi inporlcnce of
the sectaource of recruits for RcQtonnl Force conpanies
in several delta provinces may nahe then en incrc&sina political
'5* - Jsevidence that the Viet Cona instigated or arc responsible for recent acticno which have led to urbanlitlcol upheaval in South Vietnam, though some of
the recent violence cud socio of tho anti-Zaariecr. naitfestations
vera probably duo to, or Intensified by, Vict Cons OGCnt activity. The success of theeoicst Men has
led the Cccnunlsts increasingly to coohoslso tho Importance of the
"po^-tlcal struaGle* in the cities; end propaganda fron both Hanoi and the "national liberation Front" emphasises that tho Coranunlots
expect victory to cone primarily froct political paralysis In Saigon. luid confused situation, the Coenunists obviously hove considerable cruelty for mischief caking, There arc
grouado for sutpectins thr-t, in addition to contributing to urban violence InAere, tho Car'ir.lsts nay bo Intveesure bch'nd current political tensions end nanlfcstetlons of separatist tendencies in hVc. (lof>ixcn, tho Hue professor vho has recentlyrational Salvationnd teens to bo actively opposing ell aeagffcriltca reached in Saigon to defuse tbo current situation, has long been accused by hie opponents of havingntst affiliations.) Ceorui-isto opportunities for maneuver, pressure, end fllsgtspttow vill obviously Increcce if political IrstnbllUy end iricerteinty in tTalgon is prolonged eal if jcpular passions ccntJi.ce to bo eroutfrl ovvr religious flfferences.
16. Ih^ French: Ve bave no evidence of ety direct or indirect French hand in recent South VletiAioto political difficulties, vhlch are being vltveS in Paris ts en "Incr.iteblo" development. However, ths volatile students certainly cco&tltuto the eleoent of South Yletnatiese society to vhlch the French have tho greatest access (through their educational Influences, especially the teachers Franco provides). '.nlnn, it Is evident that recent Couth Vietnamese difficulties have been helpful to the French policy ofot by creating on ctiosphcrc uhlch lends rupport to the or&uxeiit on vhlch tills policy Is ostensiblyheosttho political situation in South Vlcttvui Is bound to deterloreto andnoroup Is capable of generating enough popular support to be eblc to defeat the Vict Cong-
- All -Original document.