851g.00/8–2848: Telegram

The Consul General at Saigon (Abbott) to the Secretary of State


188. Believe Bollaert’s views (Paris telegram 48, August 26 to Saigon1 relayed by Department) constitute in certain respects dangerous misconception present political situation Indochina.

Handling of situation by Marie considered in no way satisfactory by Vietnam leaders or French officials such as Messmer and Perrier2 who are in close touch with local developments. Failure of Assembly to act has greatly strengthened opponents of Baie d’Along Agreement both on right and left and discouraged and weakened its supporters.
Military situation has deteriorated considerably in last 2 months and exultant and confident tone can be detected even in closely censored Saigon native press. Certain sources believe real danger exists of defection to Viet Minh of Hoa Hao, Caodaist and other troops now nominally on French side. Cambodian Government agitating for return of Cambodian units fighting in Cochin China.
Announcement that Bollaert will not seek re-appointment and will return for only brief period interpreted here as further indication repudiation his policy and aroused speculation re person and policy his successor.
Postponement of negotiation of auxiliary agreements until peace is restored and referendum can be held is completely impractical, hence only chance of restoring peace depends on conclusion and ratification of agreements which will satisfy aspirations of majority of non-Communist nationalists in Viet Minh camp.
Believe return of Bao Dai with nothing to offer but vague hopes of future concessions would have little effect on local situation and feel we would only give credence to Communist propaganda that Bao Dai is American tool by any pressure on him at this time. Our influence should be held in reserve until French make “irrevocable commitments” which appear sufficiently far-reaching to give a Bao Dai government an even chance of success.

In conclusion, I feel situation has reached critical stage and only prompt and decisive action by French can save what chance remains of success of French plans as outlined in ConGentel 150, June 30.3 Immediate opening of formal negotiations regarding subjects reserved in Baie d’Along Agreement would appear to be minimum requirement.4

[Page 40]

Department please pass Paris as Saigon’s 50.5

  1. See telegram 136, supra.
  2. Chief of security police in Indochina.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Premier Marie and his cabinet resigned on August 28, and a new government was formed September 12 by Premier Henri Queuille, with ex-Premier Schuman as Minister for Foreign Affairs and ex-Premier Ramadier as Minister of National Defense.
  5. This was done the same day.