851G.00/9–1547: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Consulate General at Saigon

secret

160. In telegram to Paris,8 Dept (1) expressed concern recent telegrams from you and Hanoi indicating French military contemplating offensive with start dry season, (2) stated difficult believe French contemplating such action view their economic situation, (3) noted serious effect military offensive would have on public opinion here and hence Congressional consideration US financial aid Western Europe, including France, (4) requested Emb make informal inquiries.

French FonOff has informed Emb while local military actions might take place view improving communications and eliminating Vietnam salients, it knew no plans for military offensive, for which sufficient French forces lacking. Dept assumes, however, in absence negotiations Ho’s Govt, hostilities will continue.

Paris Mil Attaché report Aug 27, based apparently authentic figures, shows French Army Indochina composed 95,000 whites and 25,000 natives with additional 22,000 natives in para-military organizations and 3,000 amphibious naval troops.

Your excellent appraisal Sep 15 (urtel 299) states inadmissible for American prestige this part Asia let French restore virtually pre-war status quo by arms. Have French in fact this capability? Urtel 285 [Page 139] Sep 99 quotes Chief of Staff as believing campaign would take only 3 or 4 months. O’Sullivan, noting amazing confidence French officials regarding outcome renewed military actions, has doubted possibility success but in tel 290 Sep 139 indicates French may have info military situation Tonkin not available him, perhaps including possibility large scale disaffections from Ho.

Your and Hanoi’s opinion requested.

Sent Saigon 160. Repeated Hanoi 73.

Lovett
  1. No. 3433, September 11, 6 p.m., p. 135.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.