CABLE RE STAFF EXPRESSING QUITE CONTRARY OPINIONS.

Created: 9/13/1963

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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3 sep 63

t directorction.

info i

3 sep 63

adic

saiq ae90

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in reply to:

1. in detailed review of key problems today vith joseph brent,

director jsoh, he concurred with the substance of the conclusions a., d,et forth to you in3 and readily agreed that i ^

inform you that his views coincide with mine* he is aware that certai members of his staff, including phillips, expressing quite contrary

opinions. he also said that the u. s. military vith whom he had seen discussing the fundamental issues generally shared theseiews. he particularly referred to gen. st ilwell, , hacv, in whose judgement he expressed high confidence. ad earlieression with stilwell felt that we were pretty much on the same wave length.

p.. joseph brent also reviewed in detail his views on the possible manipulation of aidanction or lever against the government. in amplification of saigon embassy, ept, drafted by brent and approved by lodge which islea to stop look and

ELEASE tATR: 5 ' .

LISTEN, BRENT SAID HE COULD THINK OF NO ACTION OPEN TO THE ll S. IN THIS FIELD (WITH THE POSSIBLE EXCEPTION OF THE MOTION PICTURE CENTER) WHICH WOULD NOT ADVERSELY AFFECT THIS COUNTRY'S CLOSELY BALANCED ECONOMY OR THE WAR EFFORT (CUTTING OFF AID TO COL. TUNG UNILATERALLY WOULD ALSO HAVE ADVERSE EFFECTS. SPECIAL FORCES BRENT SAID THATERCENT OF THE PAY AND ALLOWANCES OF THE ARVN WERE COVERED BY PIASTERS GENERATED BY THE COMMODITY 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 THIS COUNTRY'S ECONOMY GOING OF WHICH THE U. 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 PROSECUTING WAR. FURTHER AID DATA IS IN PARA. 5.

3. IN CONVERSATION YESTERDAY WITH GEN. TIMKES, CHIEF MAAG, WHO HAS LONG EXPERIENCE HERE, IS CONSTANTLY VISITING FIELD INSTALLATIONS, AND IN INTUBATE 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 HIM THAT THE SENIOR OFFICERS AT CORPS LEVEL AND ABOVE, PARTICULARLY THE GENERAL OFFICERS, HAVE LATELY BEEND IN POLITICAL CONSIDERATIONS RESULTING IN LESS ATTENTION TO OVERALL PLANNING AND COORDINATION. AS AN EXAMPLE, THE IMPLEMENTATION

ROGRAM WHICH HAS BEEN PREPARED FOR SOME TIME LOOKINGUP THE KEY IV CORPS AREA AT THE EXPENSE OF UP TO ATHE II CORPS AREA HAS BEEN HANGING TIRE. THE MOVEMENT OFOF TROOPS WITHING THE COUNTRY UNDER PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCESCOURSE, REQUIRE CAREFUL CALCULATIONS ON THE PART OF THEINSURE THAT NO ONE TROOP COMMANDER ACQUIRED AN OVERWHELMINGRE-

SPONSE TO THE FINAL PORTION OF YOUR PARA TWO,, SUBSTANCE OF PORTION OF TODAY'S DISCUSSION WITH DCK TRUEHEART FOLLOWS.

A. HE IS UNALTERABLY CONVINCED THAT WAR CANNOT BE WON UNDER PRESENT GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP; TIME IS RUNNING OUT AND ACTION TO OUST THE GOVERNMENT CANNOT LONG BE DELAYED; HE NOW REALIZES THAT CUTTING OFF AID GENERALLY WOULD PROVOKE UNPREDICTABLE AND PROBABLY UNCONTROLLED SITUATION HERE WHICH MIGHT ALSO NOT PRODUCE THE MILITARY TYPE COUP D'ETAT WHICH HE FIRMLY BELIEVES IS STILL NECESSARY.

E SAID THE AMBASSADOR IS CONSIDERING CHARGING MACV WITH MAKING APPROACH TO SVN MILITARY*,HE MENTIONED. GEN. DON, TO ATTEMPT STIMULATE EARLY COUP ACTION WITH. ASSURANCES. NQUIRED HAD AMBASSADOR MADE SUCH PROPOSAL TO* WASHINGTON AND WAS TOLD THIS WAS WITHIN LODGE'S AUTHORITY.

C. HEN ASKED WHETHER APPRAISAL HAD BEEN MADE OF CONSEQUENCES SUCH APPROACH TO SVN MILITARY INCLUDING POSSIBILITY THAT IT WOULD SIMPLY BE REFERRED TO DIEM/NHU OR ALTERNATIVELY HASTILY MOUNTED WITH RESULTING FAILURE. OT THE REPLY THAT IN THAT EVENT U. S. MIGHT BE FACED WITH BEING INVITED OUT OF SVN.

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

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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 IN CONSCIOUS. AND ORGANIZED MANNER TO FOSTEROF DIEM REGIME BY COUP D'ETAT. IN RETROSPECT IT IS PROBABLE THAT GENERALS' 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 REVELATION OF AT LErAST SOME OF ITS ASPECTS TO NHU, HAS LEFT US IN MUCH WEAKER POSITION THAN BEFORE TO ATTEMPT MEW EFFORT. IN INTERIM, NHU, ALERTED TO WHAT HE MAY SUSPECT IS OUR CONTINl ING INTENTION TO SEEK EARLY OVERTHROW OF REGIME, HAS HAD FURTHER TIME 1

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HISO MAKE 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 COULD 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 DINK'S WELL-KNOWN OPPORTUNISM, 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 BIEN HOA, ADMITTEDLY OPEN TO SOME QUESTION,

BUT

ARE IN POOR

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 UCKS THE MEANS TO. STAGE ANOTHER COUP ATTEMPT UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES OF

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 dieh 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 POIrtT to hazard complete break withith all the attendant ramifications oftep. oh-basis uncertain expectation THAT it would trigger early AMD successful coup attempt. it is conceivable tha THAT theght so react, but it is equally OR perhaps MORE likely that the controls and checks and balances which nhu HAS built uto military establishment amd which effectively impeded GENERALS FROft

taking action, would ALSO serve him sufficiently well wider cciNDn;.ot3^J

of cessation OF american aid to permit regime to continue in poker,

at leastEW

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b. LACK OP ANY REALISTIC OPTION of OVERTHROWING REGIME at THIS TIME NARROWS OUR AREA of CHOICE to EXERTION OF PRESSURES INTENDED ACHIE

REFORMS WITHIN FRAMEWORK of DIEM/NHU REGIME. EVEN IN THIS MORE LIMIiED ENDEAVOR OUR SOURCES OF LEAVERAGE ARE UNFORTUNATELY RATHER LIMITED* 01

AND NHU APPEAR VILLING TO RESIST PRESSURES OF WORLD OPINION, AS IS EVIDENCED BY THEIR DECISION TO CRACK DOWN ON BUDDHISTS EVEN THROUGH THE KNEW THE INTHRNATIONAL FURORE THIS ACTION WOULD GENERATE. THAT THE POSSiaiLITY of CUT-OFF. AID WAS CONSIDERED IN THEIR CALCiiLA?IONS PRIOR TOUGUST IS SUGGESTED BY NHU'S NUMEROUS ADMONITIOeJS TO LESSER GVN OFFICIAL? THAT SV'J MUST LEARN TO DO WITHOUT FOREIGN ASSISTANCE AMD BY FACT THAT MAJOR ITEM ON AGENDA FOR SUMflER SESSION OFALj COUNCIL WAS MALYSIS OF CONSTITUENTS OrFINANCED COMMODITY IMPORT PROGRAM IN EFFORT DETERMINE WHICH ITEMS COULD BE DISPENSED WITH, WHICH WERE ESSENT/.AL, ETC TACTICELECTIVE AID CUTS, WHILE PERHAPS OFFERING SOHE POSSIBILITIES, POSES EXTRIMELY COMPLEX PROBLEMS AMD SHOULD BE CAREFULLY AND EXHAUSTIVELY STUDIEO PRIOR TO ITS UTILIZATION. TOEV: OF THE PITFALLS, ACCORDING TO USOM DIRECTOR JOSEPH BRENT, IF WE ATTEMPT TO CUT BACK ON THE COMMODITY IMPORT PROGRAM,WOULD REDUCE PIASTER AVAILABILITY FOR SUPPORT OF OVERALL GVN BUDGET ENCOMPASSING AMONG OTHER THINGS VITAL COUNTER INSURGENCY PROGRAMS. PHYSICAL LACK OF GOODS AFFECTED BY CUT WOULD ALSO CREATE MATERIAL SHORTAGES IMPORTANT TO SvN ECONOMY WHICH WOULD LEaD TO INFLATIONARY SPIRAl, CAUSING PERi'lAPS SERIOUS LOCAL SOCIO/ECON DISLOCATIONS, AND.

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MAKE OUR REENTRY INTO POSTURE OF FULL SUPPORT FOR DIEN OR SUCCESSOR REGIME MUCH MORE COSTLY IN YEAR WHEN WE ARE LIKELY TO BE FACED WITH CONGRESSIONAL CUT IN FOREIGN AID FUNDS- DEDUCTION IN MAP SUPPORT WOULD OF COURSE HAVE DIRECT EFFECT ON ABILITY OF SVN TO PURSUE hILITARY ASPECTS OF STRUGGLE AGAINST VIET CONG. ONE TARGET BEING MENTIONED FOR AN AID CUT IS COL. TUNG'S SPECIAL 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 OF TUNG'S WORX FROM OTHER SOURCES. WHAT WOULD BE AFFECTED WOULD BE SUCH IMPORTANT FACETS OF COUNTER INSURGENCY PROGRAM AS CIDG, BORDER SURVEILLANCE AND BORDER CROSSING PROGRAMS. ANOTHER PRICE WE MIGHT HAVE TO PAYOSSIBLE EXPULSION OF LL S. SPECIAL FORCES A, B, ETACHMENTS 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 IMPORTANT PROGRAMS* BUT SHORT OF PLACING PROGRAMS UNDER CONTROL OF REGULAR VIETNAMESE MILITARY, WHICH IS PROBABLY HOT ATTAINA3LE AND NAY NOT BE INTRINSICALLY DESIRABLE, WE SHOULD BE UNDER NO ILLUSIONS THAT, WHATEVER MANAGEMENT SPECIAL FORCE CAKE UNDER, THEY WOULD NOT BE USED IN SAKE MANNER AS PROP FOR REGIME AGAINST OPPONENTS." THERE ARE PROBABLY CERTAU FRILLS IN OUR AID PROGRAM WHICH COULD BE CUT, BUT THESE FALL MAINLY IN DIRECT AID CATEGORY WHICH COMRPISES SMALL PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL PROGRAM AND WHICH ORIENTED TOWARD LONG TERM DEVELOPMENTAL OBJECTIVES MOT VITAL TO REGIME. REDUCTION OR ELIMINATION OF ITEMS IN THIS CATEGORY WOULD MERELY BE OF NUISANCE VALUE AND VIETNAMESE PEOPLE THEMSELVES

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WOULD BE ULTIMATE 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 HE/.SURES, WE HAVE BEENONG SERIES UF ATTEMPTS TOM TO LIBERALIZE HISODERATE HIS METHODS OF MAINTAINING POLITICAL CONTROL, AND IMPROVE FACE REGIME PRESENTS TO WORLD. DIEM'S IMMOVABILITY ON INTERNAL POLITICAL QUESTIONS PRODUCT OF PERSONALITY WHICH EXtRMELY STUBBORN, WHICH VIEWS PROBLEMS iH ENTIRELYtSE PRESSING REFORMS ON HIM, WHI'JH MORE OR LESS CLOSED TO OUTSIDE INFLUENCES AND WHICH CONSIDERSONCESSIOMS AS SIGN OF WEAKNESS WHOSE ANLY RESULT WILL BE TO ENCOI RAGE DEMANDS FOR FURTHER YIELDING ON HIS PART, IT IS POSSIBLE THAT iN EFFORT TO. CONFIDENCE IN HIM, DUVMlLL AGREED TO NIWR PALLIATIVES, BUT THEY WILL DO LITTLE TO IMPROVE STATUS OF REGIME VITH VARIOUS SEGMENTS OF POPULATION. ABOVE ALL, THERE IS LITTU HOPE THAT DIEM WOULD AGREE TO WITHDRAWAL OF NHU FROS SCE(E) HE IS CORRECT IN STATING THAT NHU IS INDISPENSABLE TO KIM, BOTH AS DRI'-ING FORCE BEHIND STRATEGIC HAMLET PROGRAM AND AS POLITICAL MANIPULATOR WHO KEEPS HIS REGIME TOGETHER, HOWEVER DISTASTEFUL TO US AND DELETERIOUS TO FUNCTIONARY MORALE NHU'S TACTICS 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 HOST STRONGLY AFFECTED BY RECENT OPPRESSIVE MEASURES SOME GROUND FOR HOPE, . RUST MAKE 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 PrVEMfiTUitE CONCLUSION THAT WE ARE READY TOHANGE IN REGIMES. SITUATION MAY ERUPT SPONTANEOUSLY IRRESPECTIVE OF OUR ACTIONS AND. HAND BEFORE IT IM 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 LEVERAGE, MEASURES CALCULATED TO DAMPEN DOV^ THESE TENSIONS.

D. OVERALL COUNTER INSURGENCY EFFORT, AS DISTINCT FROM JiiST ITS .PURELY MILITARY ASPECTS, HAS ALMOST CERTAINLY SUFFERED FROM RECENT CRISIS, BUT WITH LUCK IT MAY REGAIN SOME OF ITS MOMENTUM EVENPRESENT REGIME. TO ACHIEVE THIS OBJECTIVE, IT ESSENTIAL TO KEEP DIALOGUE WITH DIEM REGIME ON QUESTION OF REFORMS BELOW LEVEL OF POLITICAL EXCHANGE WHICH WOULD PARALYZE. WORKING PARTNERSHIP

NOTED IN PREVIOUS MESSAGES TO HQS, VE MAY

N BETTER POSITION TO MEASURE NET IMPACT OF RECENT EVENTS CW VIABILITY OF REGIME IN TERMS OF COUNTERINSURGENCY PROGRAM IM WEEKS TO COME*

ONE DANGER IN "BUSINESS AS USUAL" APPROACH sHICH SHOULDCONSIDERED IS THAT IN MAKING DECISION TO TAKE NO DRASTIC ACTION TO RETRIEVE SITUATION AT THIS TIME, THERE MAY BE TENDENCY TO LET WHAT MAY PROVE TO BE ESSENTIAL THINKING, PLANNING AND OPERATIONAL PREPARATION OH AN ALTERNATIVE REGIME TO FALL BY WAYSIDE. IF WE ARE TO PAYBW PRICE IN TERMS SWALLOWING OUR PRIDE AND EXPOSING OURSELVES TO CRITICAL COMMENT AT HOME, IN SVN AND IN OTHER COUNTRIES, UE SHOULD USE THAT TIME TO OUR ADVANTAGE. PERHAPS IT WOULD BE USEFUL TO ESTABLISH SELECT WORKING GROUP WHICH WOULD FUNCTION UNDER MAXIMUM SECURHY TO MAKE

SAIG) '1, EELEVEN

EXHAUSTIVEOF POTENTIAL AVAILABLE ASSETS AND TOETAILED INTERIM ACTtOtt PLAN,

6. MY PRELIMINARY CONCLUSIONS REMAIN UNCHANGEDENSE TIDE IS RUNNING STRONGLY ANOTHER DIRECTION. SEMPER FIDEL IS. FIRM ETA WASHINGTON MONDAY EVENINGEPT. THIS PROBABLY CONCLUDES. REPORTING ON NON-BALL PORTION OF MISSION.

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