THE SITUATION IN SOUTH VIETNAM

Created: 9/12/1963

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ELLIC E'NCE AGENCY

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SITUATION IN SOUTH VIETNAM

(Information a*0 EST)

FOR THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL.

FURTHER DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS NOT AUTHORIZED.

JFK LIBRARY MANDATORY REVI CASE ft NLK-DOCUMENT #

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THE SITUATION IN SOUTH VIETNAM (Information aa0 EDT)

SUMMARY

Our embassy in Saigon, reportinguicksampling of Vietnamese willing to talk tofinds that sinceugust there has been an increase in disaffection and discontent amongall leading elements of the population.

Except among students, however, thishas not been translated into antiregimo action, and the embassy believes it is likely to remainas long as no dynamic leaders emerge to energize the opposition.

The US Military Assistance Command, Vietnam,military attitudes, finds the top commanders committed to the regime ln spite of disgruntlement, with some feeling that if anything is to be done it will have to be undertaken by the US. The war effort has not been appreciably affected.

Both assessments find discontent centered more sharply on the Nhus than on Diem, but there ls wide disagreement as to whether thay can be considered separate entities, and whether Diem can ln fact be separated from Nhu.

General Dinh, military governor of Saigon and commander of the adjacent Third Corps Area,has been jockeyed out of both commands bymilitary and civilian elements who consider him ambitious and unstable. His slated replacement as Saigon military governor is considered strongly anti-American.

Student unrest continues but disorders are being held ln check. There are reports that suspectedleaders are being rounded up at night.

The Viet Cong may be attempting to launchattacks in their stronger areas to cash in on any vulnerabilities engendered by the political situation, but government counteraction baa been much more effective than press reports indicate.

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dissatisfied, and Policeore so than ever before. Special Forces Commander Tung is loyal and will go along with the regime. Almost all levels of tbe police had become increasingly antagonistic toward Buddhist demonstrations before tbe crackdown, and many upper levels endorse the actions taken. Bed1urn level officials, however, have expressed the feeling that the actions were too severe and many fool Diem and Nhu have lost face. Someis reported in Hud. There Is no indication, however, that the Police at all levels will notto work with the Diem-Nbu regime.

professionals, intellectuals This group has been In large partfor years, although many have respectedfocused their criticism on the Nhus. Theybelieve the US is in large part responsibleregime. Their reaction to the crackdown onhas been emotional. Their confidence into rule even without Nhu is greatlysome still would accept him in such They tend to believe the war cannot now

be won with Diem, but talk of turning to the VC sooms largely visceral, and they are not generally impressedeutralist solution.

Labor: The only important group, Tran Quoc Buu's CVTC, appears shocked by the action against tbe Buddhists and blames Nhu. While moro disaffected than previously, the CVTC and Buu are likely toa policy of caution. Buu believes that if the Ngo family survives, the Nhus will get worse, but seems to see no clear alternative to Diem.

Buddhists: Buddhist leadership now seems temporarily fragmented and the new GVN-spon-sored Buddhist hierarchy is probably unacceptable to most of the Buddhist following. The Buddhist campaign has promoted greater coheslveness among Buddhists in general. Militant leaders such as Tri Quang have lost all confidence in Diem but bave not proposed any alternative.

The majority ofsought to dissociate themselves from GVNagainst the Buddhists. Many fear thateventually suffer from heightened religious

tensions. However, there has been some tendency among Catholics, particularly ino close ranks behind the government as the situation has deteriorated.

2. The following are the main points of MACV's survey of military attitudes:

The military remains loyal to thealthough confidence in the regime is not as solid as it was.

The military regards Diem as the proper and legal head of state, although perhaps poorly

The military blames the Nhus rather than Diem for the regime's troubles.

Ranking officers consider Diem and Nhu inseparable for all practical purposes. Junior officers, however, tend to regard them as separate entities.

The military looks to the DS to or reduce the influence of the Nhus. If this Is nothe military will accept the status quo.

The war effort has not been affected very much, and military discipline remains good.

The military remains essentially pro-US. The crisis has not caused any discernible shift in sentiment toward the Viet Cong.

le Diem regimers Buaanist problem and is strongly in the saddle.that even though hatred of the government is

very great in the middle and upper classes and is bound to affect the war effort, attempts to get another government will probably fail, and should not be tried even If inaction also spells failure.

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THE REGIME

1. General Ton That Dinh, military governorand commander of the adjacent III Corpsto be relieved of these posts, "'

ral Nguyen

Kan ia, commander ol the capital military district, reportedly will take over as Saigon governor, while the present chief of staff, III Corps, will assume command in that area.

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South Vietnamese diplomatic posts have bean instructed by Saigon to encourage sympatheticto visit South Vietnam, and to refuse entry visas to unfavorable0 September message added that friendly writers would be considered guests of South Vietnam during their stay, although traveling costs normally would be their responsibility.

III. THE OPPOSITION

A police message ofeptember from Nha Trang on the central coast reports student restiveness there. chool disturbanceeptember was quelled by security forces, and similar measures were taken oneptember to head off new outbursts. Ten student agitators have been arrested.

New student riots erupted in Saigon today, and additional pupils have been arrested. Unverified press reports state that Vietnamese police recently have been making night arrests at the homes of suspect students.

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IV. MILITARY SITUATION

The scope of Viet Cong activityndeptemberossible attempt to exploit the political situation in South Vietnam,to the impression being given in some pressgovernment forces responded effectively and inflicted heavy casualties on the Viet Cong.

The Viet Congotal of two attacks In battalion strength and three of company size in the Fourth Corps area south of Saigon. The three smaller attackseptember, on widely separated outposts, were simultaneous,oncerted operation.

Late oneptember the Viet Cong firedoounds of mortar at an important Americanbase in the delta without hitting their target.

V. OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

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up Frencu uuiiljiiuuiufll uh UhU lit WlSBIUl thinking by De Gaulle and French Ambassador Lalouette thatbetween the North and South will lead to suspension of guerrilla warfareestoration of French economic interests and political influence. Ambassador Lodge agrees with D'Orlandi. Lalouette leaves for France today for consultations.

2. Prince Sihanouk sees neutralization of South Vietnam as the last hope for that country, and advises the Best to take this "last chance" if the Communist camp offers it. In an editorial in his weeklyThe Nationalist, datedeptember, Sihanouk dismissed as unrealistic any notion that all or both halves of Vietnam can be neutralized. Sihanoukthe beliefommunist takeover in South Vietnam is inevitable. He fears Cambodia's fate will also be sealed soon afterward.

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