TELEGRAM TO DIRECTOR FROM SAIGON RE EARLIER SESSION WITH STILWELL FELT THAT WE

Created: 9/13/1963

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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IN REPLY TO

1. IK DETAll^}ftyi,SW"0F'KEY PROBLEMS TODAY WITH JOSEPH BRENT, DIRECTORc: CONCURRED WITH THE Slid STANCE OF THE CONCLUSIONS A, B, Cs Dp FORTH TO YOU INND READILY AGREEDFORM YOU THAT HIS VIEWS COINCIOE WlTH^M'lNE. HE IS AWARE THAT CERTAIN

MEMBERS CF HIS:-STAFF, INCLUDING PH^tlPSp EXPRESSING QUITE CONTRARY OPINIONS. HE ALSO SAID THAT THJE1 U. S. MILITARY WITH WHOM HE HAD SEEN DISCUSSING THEES GENERALLY SHARED THESE SAME VIEWS. HE PARTICULARLY RSFSRRHPfo GEN. STIL'-uELL, MACV, IN WHOSE JUDGEMENT HE EXPRESSED HIGH CONFIDENCE. AD EARLIERESSION WITH STIL'dELL FELT THAT HE WERE PRETTY MUCH ON THE SAME WAVE LENGTH.

2. JOSEPH BRENT ALSO REVIEWED IN DETAIL HIS VIEWS ON THE POSSIBLE MANIPULATION OF AIDANCTION OR LEVER AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT. IN AMPLIFICATION CF SAIGON EMBASSY, II SEPT, DRAFTED BY BRENT AND APPROVED BY LODGE WHICH ISLEA TO STOP LOOK ANO

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LISTEN, 8RENT SAID HE COULD THINXO ACTION OPENHE U. S. IN THIS FIELD (WITHSI9LE EXCEPTION OF THE MOTION PICTURE CENTER) WHICH WOULD NOT ADVERSELY AFFECT THISLOSELY BALANCED ECONOMY OR THE-WARUTTING OF? AID TO COU TUNG UNILATERALLY WOULD ALSO HAVE ADVERSE EFFECTS. SPECIAL FORCES PROG It AM) > BRENT SAID THATERCENT OF THE PAY AND ALLOWANCES OF THE ARVN WERE COVERED BY PIASTERS GENERATED BY THE CONMODITY IMPORT PROGRAM. IN ADDITION? SALES OFTEMS WEREOURCE OF PIASTERS (ABOUTILLION0 PERCENT OF WHICH WERE TURNED OVER TO THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE MILITARY. HE ESTIMATED THATILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF IMPORTS WERE NEEDED ANNUALLY TO KEEP THISCONOMY GOING OF WHICH THE LI. S. PROVIDED ABOUTILLION AND HE STRESSED THAT WERE THE CIP TO BE CUT DOWN IT WOULD REDUCE BUSINESS ACTIVITY AND OF COURSE REDUCE THE FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR PR0SECUTIH3 WAR. FURTHER AIDS IN PARA* 5.

3. IN CONVERSATION YESTERDAY WITH GEN- TIMMES, CHIEF MAAG, WHO HAS LONG EXPERIENCE HERE, IS CONSTANTLY VISITING FIELD INSTALLATIONS, AND IN INTIMATE CONTACT WITH HIS FIELD ADVISORS, HE EXPRESSED FIRM OPINION THAT FROM ARVN DIVISION LEVEL DOWN WHERE MILITARY ACTION IS CARRIED OUT, THERE IS AS YET NO DISCERNIBLE LESSENING OF TROOP DISCIPLINE OR MORALE OR THE WILL TO PROSECUTE THE WAR EFFORT. HE SAID, HOWEVER, THAT IT IS EVIDENT TO HIS THAT THE SENIOR OFFICERS AT CORPS LEVEL AND ABOVE, PARTICULARLY THE GENERAL OFFICERS, HAVE LATELY BEEN ABSORBED IN POLITICAL CONSIDERATIONS RESULT INO IN LESS ATTENTION TO OVERALL PLANNING AND COORDINATION. AS AN EXAMPLE, THE IMPLEMENTATION

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SAID THE AMBASSADOR IS CONSIDERING CHARGING KACVAPPROACH TO SVNE MENTIONED, GEN. DON, TOEARLY COUP ACTION WITH. ASSURANCES. HAD AMBASSADOR MADE SUCH PROPOSAL TO* WASHINGTON AND WASWAS WITHINAUTHORITY.

THEN ASKED WHETHER APPRAISAL HAD BEEN MADE OF CONSEQUENCES

SUCH APPROACH TO SUN MILITARY INCLUDING POSSIBILITY THAT IT WOULD

SIMPLY BE REFERRED TO DIEN/NHU OR ALTERNATIVELY HASTILY MOUNTED WITH

RESULTING FAILURE. HE REPLY THAT IN THAT EVENT U. S. MIGHT BE

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FACED WITH BEING INVITED OUT OF SVN.

V FOLLOWING IS IN FURTHER SUPPORT OUR POSITION; PARAGRAPHING KEYED TO THAT OF

A. AS RESULT OF FAILURE OF EFFORT BY US TO STIMULATE COUP IN EARLY AFTERMATH OF IMPOSITION MARTIAL LAW, WE ARE AT PRESENT IN NO POSITION TO PROCEED IU CONSCIOUS. AND ORGANIZED MANNER TO FOSTEROF DIEM REGIME BY COUP D'ETAT. IN RETROSPECT IT IS PROBABLE THAT GENERALS8 APPARENT WILLINGNESS^ TO MOUNT COUP WHEN FIRST APPROACHED WAS BASED ON HOPE RATHER THAN REALITY AND THAT EVEN HAD ABSOLUTE SECURITY

BEEN MAINTAINED GENERALS WOULD NOT HAVE MADE ATTEMPT AGAINST REGIME

SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY LACKED CAPABILITY TO DO SO. IN ANY EVENT, COLLAPSE OF EFFORT, WITH ATTENDANT REVELAffION OF AT LEAST SOME OF ITS ASPECTS TO NHU, HAS LEFT US IN MUCH WEAKER POSITION THAN BEFORE TO ATTEMPT NEW EFFORT. IN INTERIM, NHU, ALERTED" TO WHAT HE MAY SUSPECT IS OURINTENTION TO SEEK EARLY OVERTHROW OF REGIME, HAS HAD FURTHER TIME TO

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HIS POSITION, TO RAKE THE NECESSARY ADDITIONAL ADJUSTMENTS IN DISPOSAL AND BALANCE OF FORCES IN SAIGON, AND TO WEAKEN FURTHER SUCH RESOLVE AS GENERALS MAY HAVE HAD FOR ACTION. BASIC PROBLEM OF GENERALS HAS BEEN LACK OF DIRECT COMMAND OF TROOPS; ONLY GENERAL PARTICIPATING IN MARTIAL LAW EXERCISE WHO DISPOSES OF TROOPS WHICH COULO BE BROUGHT IMMEDIATELY TO BEAR IS GEN. GON THAT DINH, MILITARY GOVERNOR OF SAIGON. HOWEVER, DINH HAS FROM BEGINNING APPEARED TO SUPPORT NHU, AND EVEN IF OTHER GENERALS THOUGHT THEY MIGHT BE ABLE TO PLAY ON DINH'SOPPORTUNISM, THEY WOULD BE FEARFUL OF APPROACHING HIM BECAUSE OF STRONG POSSIBILITY HIS HQS PENETRATED BY NHU'S AGENTS. LOYALTY TO DINH OF FIFTH DIVISION, BASED AT 6IEN HOA, ADMITTEDLY OPEN TO SOME QUESTION-

POSITION TO PROBE DIVISION COMMANDER'S INTENTIONS. SAME ALSO APPLIES TO COMMANDERS OF SPECIALIZED UNITS SUCH AS AIRBORNE BRIGADE, MARINES AND ARMORED BRIGADE. SOME OF THESER POSSIBLY CONSTITUENT UNITS THEREOF, MAY WELL BE DISPOSED TOOUP, BUT AT THIS TIME WE KNOW TOO LITTLE ABOUT WHERE THEY WOULD LINE UP AT MOMENT OF DECISION TO BASE NEW COUP PLANS ON THEM WITH. ANY GREAT CONFIDENCE. CERTAINLY THE GENERALS' SEEMING INABILITY TO LINE UP THEIR SUPPORT IN LAST WEEK OF AUGUST INDICATES THAT THESE UNITS WERE NOT WILLING TO LEND THEMSELVES TO GENERALS PURPOSES WHATEVER PLANS SPECIALIZED UNIT COMMANDERS MAY

HAVE FOR THEIR OWN POWER ENHANCEMENT. IN SUM, BELIEVE. NOW

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LACKS THE MEANS TO STAGE ANOTHER COUP ATTEMPT UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES OF

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CONTROL SUFFICIENT TO GUARANTEE SUCCESS OR TO ASSURE THAT THE OUTCOME OF ANY SUCCESSFUL COUP WOULD BE TO OUR BENEFIT.

PROPONENTS OF COMPLETE CESSATION OF AID TO DIEM REGIME APPARENTLY" BASE PROPOSAL ON PREMISE THAT THIS CLEAR-CUT EXPRESSIONND ATTITUDES WOULD PROVIDE NECESSARY AND SUFFICIENT CATALYST FOR EARLY OVERTHROW OF GOVT. WHILE THIS SOLUTION, BECAUSE OF ITS

SIMPLICITY, HAS ITS ATTRACTIONS, BELIEVE WE DO NOT KNOW ENOUGH AT THIS

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POINT TO HAZARD COMPLETE BREAK WITH DIEM/NHUrt WITH ALL THE ATTENDANT RAMIFICATIONS OFTEP, ON. BASIS UNCERTAIN EXPECTATION THAT IT WOULD TRIGGER EARLY AND SUCCESSFUL COUP ATTEMPT. IT IS CONCEIVABLE THAT THAT THE MILITARY MIGHT SO REACT, BUT IT IS EQUALLY OR PERHAPS MORE LIKELY THAT THE CONTROLS AND CHECKS AND BALANCES WHICH NHU HAS BUILT INTO MILITARY ESTABLISHMENT AND WHICH EFFECTIVELY IMPEDED GENERALS FROM TAKING ACTION, WOULD ALSO SERVE HIM SUFFICIENTLY WELL UNDER CONDITIONS OF CESSATION OF AMERICAN AID TO PERMIT REGIME TO CONTINUE IN POWER, AT LEASTEW MONTHS.

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B. LACX OF ANY REALISTIC OPTION OF OVERTHROWINGAT THIS TIME NARROWS OU? AREA OF CHOICE TO EXERTION OF PRESSURES INTENDED ACKISV;

REFORMS WITHIN FRWEVORK OF DIEK/NHUVEN IN THIS MORE LIMITED ENDEAVOR OUR SOURCES OF LEAVERAGE ARE UNFORTUNATELY RATHER LIMITED. DIEr

AND NHU APPEAR WILLING TO RESIST PRESSURES OF WORLD OPINION, AS' IS EVIDENCED BY THEIR DECISION TO CRACX DOWN ON BUDDHISTS EVES THROUGH THEY KNEW THE INTERNATIONAL FURORE THIS ACTION WOULD GENERATE- THAT THE POSSIBILITY OF CUT-OFF. AID WAS CONSIDERED IN THEIR CALCULATIONS PRIOR TOUGUST IS SUGGESTED BY NKU'S NUMEROUS ADMONITIONS TO LESSEE GVN OFFICIALS THAT SVN MUST LEARN TO DO WITHOUT FOREIGN ASSISTANCE AND BY FACT THAT MAJOR ITES ON AGENDA FOR SU1MER SESSION OF NATIONAL ECONOSi COUNCIL VA3 ANALYSIS OF CONSTITUENTSFINANCED COMMODITY IMPORT PROGRAM IN EFFORT DETERMINE WKICH XTEftS COULDISPENSED WITH, WHICH WERE ESSENTIAL, ETC!. TACTIC OF SELECTIVE AID CUTS, WHILE PERHAPSE POSSIBILITIES, POSES EXTREMELY COMPLEX PROBLEMS AND SHOULD BE CAREFULLY AND EXHAUSTIVELY STUDIED PRIOR TO ITS UTILIZATION. TOEW OF THE PITFALLS, ACCORDING TO USOM DIRECTOR JOSEPH BRENT, IF WE ATTEMPT TO CUT BACK ON THE COMMODITY IMPORT PROGRAM, WE WOULD REDUCE PIASTER AVAILABILITY FOR SUPPORT OF OVERALL BVH BUDGET ENCOMPASSING AMONG OTHCR THINGS VITAL COUNTERINSURGENCY PROGRAMS. FHYSICAL LACX OF GOODS AFFECTED BY CUT WOULD ALSO CREATE MATERIAL SHORTIMPORTANT TO SVN ECONOMY WHICH WOULD LEAD TO INFLATIONARY SPIRAL, CAUSING PERHAPS SERIOUS -LOCAL SOCIO/ECON DISLOCATIONS^ AND

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OUR'REENTRY INTO POSTURE OF FULL SUPPORT FOR DIEM OR SUCCESSOR REGIME MUCH MORE COSTLY IN YEAR WHEN WE ARE LIKELY TO BE FACED WITH CONGRESSIONAL CUT IN FOREIGN AID FUNDS. REDUCTIONAP SUPPORT WOULD OF COURSE HAVE DIRECT EFFECT CM ABILITY OF SVH TO PURSUE MILITARY ASPECTS OF STRUGGLE AGAINST VIET CONG. ONE TARGETNT IMZV> FOR AN AID CUT IS COL.PECIAL FORCES. THIS WOULD HAVE ADMITTEDLY SALUTARY IMPACT ON BOTH LOCAL AND FOREIGN OPINION, BUT IT WOULD PROBABLY HAVE NO EFFECT ON THOSE PORTIONS OF TUNG'S OPERATION RELATED TO HIS ROLE AS DEFENDER OF REGIME AGAINST ITS POLITICAL ENEMIES. NHU WOULD ALMOST CERTAINLY FUND THIS ASPECT OFORK FROM OTHER SOURCES. WHAT WOULD BE AFFECTED VOULD BE SUCH IMPORTANT FACETS OF COUNTER INSURGENCY PROGRAM AS CIDG, BORDER SURVEILLANCE AND BORDER CROSSING PROGRAMS. ANOTHER PRICE WE MIGHT HAVE TO PAY IS POSSIBLE EXPULSION OF U. S. SPECIAL FORCES A, 8, Zf. FROM COUNTRY AT TIME WHEN ENTIRE EFFORT BEGINNING MAKE SIGNIFICANT IK-PACT ON WAR AGAINST VC IT IS POSSIBLE THAT WE MIGHT BE ABLE INDUCE NHU TO OFFER UP CHANNEL OTHER THAN TUNG FOR FINANCING THESE IMPORTAN? PROGRAMS, BUT SHORT OF PLACING PROGRAMS UNDER CONTROL OF REGULAR VIETNAMESE MILITARY, WHICH IS PROBABLY NOT ATTAINABLE AND MAY NOT BE INTRINSICALLY DESIRABLE, WE SHOULD BE UNDER NO ILLUSIONS THAT, WHATEVER MANAGEMENT SPECIAL FORCE CAME UNDER, THEY WOULD NOT BE USED IN SAME MANNER AS PROP FOR REGIME AGAINST OPPONENTS. THERE ARE PROBABLY CSRTAIS FRILLS IN CUR AID PROGRAM WHICH COULD BE CUT, BUT THESE FALL MAINLY IN DIRECT AID CATEGORY WHICH COKRPISES SMALL PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL PROflRAR AND WHICH ORIENTED TOWARD LONG TERM DEVELOPMENTAL OBJECTIVES MOT VITAL TO REGIME. REDUCTIOIJ OR ELIMINATION OF ITEMS IN THIS CATEGORY WOULD MERELY BE OF NUISANCE VALUE AND VIETNAMESE PEOPLE THEMSELVES

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WOULDLTIMATE LOSERS.

we SHOULD ALSO BE REALISTIC AS TO WHAT we CAN ATTAIN IN TERMS OF REFORM WITH LEVERAGE AVAILABLE TO US. ALTHOUGH WE HAVE IN PAST BEEN QUITE SUCCESSFUL IN GAINING DIEM/NHU ACCEPTANCE of WIDE VARIETY OF JOINT COUNTER INSURGENCY MEASURES, WE HAVE BEENONG SERIES OF ATTEMPTS TO GET DIEM TO LIBERALIZE HIS REGIME, MODERATE HIS METHODS OF MAINTAINING POLITICAL CONTROL, AND IMPROVE FACE REGIME PRESENTS TO WORLD. DIEM's IMMOVABILITY ON INTERNAL POLITICAL QUESTIONS PRODUCT OF PERSONALITY WHICH EXTREMELY STUBBORN, WHICH VIEWS PROBLEMS IN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT TERNS THAN THOSE PRESSING REFORMS ON HIM, WHICH MORE OR LESS CLOSED TO OUTSIDE INFLUENCES ilND WHICH CONSIDERS ANY CONCESSIONS AS SIGN OF WEAKNESS WHOSE ONLY RESULT WILL BE TO ENCOURAGE DEMANDS FOR FURTHER YIELDING ON HIS PART. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT IN EFFORT TO RESTORE U. S. CONFIDENCE IN HIM, DIEM WILL AGREED TO MINOR PALLIATIVES, BUT THEY WILL do LITTLE TO IMPROVE STATUS OF REGIME WITH VARIOUS SEGMENTS OF POPULATION. ABOVE ALL, THERE IS LITTLE hope THAT DIEM VOULD AGREE TO WITHDRAWAL OF NHU FROM SCENEj HE IS CORRECT IN STATING THAT NHU IS INDISPENSABLE TO HIM, BOTH AS DRIVING FORCE BEHIND STRATEGIC HAMLET PROGRAM AND AS POLITICAL MANIPULATOR WHO KEEPS HIS REGIME TOGETHER* HOWEVER DISTASTEFUL TO US AND DELETERIOUS to FUNCTIONARY MORALEACTICS MAY BE.

C. LIMITS OF TOLERANCE BETWEEN WHICH WE CAN SAFELY OPERATE IN COMING WEEKS OR MONTHS ARE PROBABLY NARROW. FOR PUBLIC CONSUMPTION, BOTH TO CONTAIN CONGRESSIONAL PRESSURES AND TO OFFER THOSE SEGMENTS OF VIETNAMESE POPULATION MOST STRONGLY AFFECTED BY RECENT OPPRESSIVE MEASURES SOME GROUND FOR HOPE, IL S. MUST HAKE SOME EFFORT TO EXERT PRESSURE ON REGIME; HOWEVER, UNTIL WE ARE CONFIDENT WE HAVE VIABLE

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ALTERNATIVE WAITING IN WINGS, WE MUST KEEP THOSE PRESSURES BELOW

THRESHOLD OF INTENSITY WHICH WOULD CAUSE OPPOSITION TO REACH PREtfAT

CONCLUSION THAT WE ARE READY TOHANGE IN REGIMES. SITUATION

MAY ERUPT SPONTANEOUSLY IRRESPECTIVE OF OUR ACTIONS AND FORCE

U.S. HAND BEFORE IT IN POSITION TO CHANNEL DEVELOPMENTS IN DESIRABLE

DIRECTION, WE SHOULD AVOID, HOWEVER, ENCOURAGING SUCH AN EXPLOSION

OURSELVES AND SHOULD PRESS ON DIEM REGIME, TO EXTENT OF OUR LSVF.HACE.

MEASURES CALCULATED TO DAMPEN DOWN THESE TENSIONS.

D. OVERALL COUNTER INSURGENCY EFFORT, AS DISTINCT FROM JUST ITS

PURELY MILITARY ASPECTS, HAS ALMOST CERTAINLY SUFFERED FROM RECENT

CMSIS, BUT WITH LUCK IT MAY REGAIN SOME OF ITS MOMENTUM EVEN UNDSR

PRESENT REGIME. TO ACHIEVE THIS OBJECTIVE, IT ESSENTIAL TO KEEP

DIALOGUE WITH DIEM REGIME ON QUESTION OF REFORMS BELOW LEVEL OF

POLITICAL EXCHANGE WKIC* WOULD PARALYZE. WORKING PARTNERSHIP

IN PROVINCES. ASNOTED IN PREVIOUS MESSAGES TO HQS, WE lit'

BE IN BETTER POSITION TO MEASURE NET IMPACT OF RECENT EVENTS ON

VIABILITY OF REGIME IN TERMS OF COUNTERINSURGENCY PROGRAM IN WEEKS TO

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ONE DANGER IN "BUSINESS AS USUAL" APPROACH WHICH SHOULD BE

CONSIDERED IS THAT IN MAKING DECISION TO TAKE NO DRASTIC ACTION TO

RETRIEVE SITUATION AT THIS TIME, THERE MAY BE TENDENCY TO LET WHAT

PROVE TO BE ESSENTIAL THINKING, PLANNING AND OPERATIONAL PREPARATION

AN ALTERNATIVE REGIME TO FALL BY WAYSIDE. IF WE ARE TO PAYC.WY

PRICE IN TERMS' SWALLOWING OUR PRIDE AND EXPOSING OURSELVES TO CRITIC)..

COMMENT AT HOME, IN SVN AND IN OTHER COUNTRIES, WE SHOULD USE THAT TM

TO OUR ADVANTAGE. PERHAPS IT WOULD BE USEFUL TO ESTABLISH SELECT

FORKINGWHICH WOULDX IN UN SECURITY TO MAKE

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piND 7t> DEVELOP JAILED imtfUM tYCTfOAj pLAt^S.

6. MY PRELIMINARY CONCLUSIONS REMAIN UNCHANGEDENSE

TIDE IS RUNNING STRONGLY ANOTHER DIRECTION. SEMPER FIDELIS. FIRM

ETA WASHINGTON MONDAY EVENINGEPT. THIS PROBABLY CONCLUDES

REPORTING ON NQ.^BALL PORTION OF MISSION.

Original document.

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