851G.00TA/3–1850: Telegram

The Chargé at Saigon (Gullion) to the Secretary of State

[Extract] secret

189. From Griffin. A. Visit this mission IC resulted following conclusions:1

Wave Communism rising in IC predominantly nationalistic not economic, social, or ideological.
While situation serious, does not justify defeatism but does justify effective application US aid endeavor strengthen Bao Dai Vietnam Government versus Communist-controlled Viet-Minh.
View Government Bao Dai not puppet but intensely nationalistic government struggling secure more control and authority from France.
Feasible through economic aid program help win from Ho’s Viet-Minh non-Communist elements that continue support Ho as well large proportion present numerous fence sitters. Believed can be promoted by application American aid through means Bao Dai government increasing appearance independence local and international prestige ability conduct useful works for benefit common people. US aid would thereby become major contribution factor psychologically and materially provided bold, quick, generous.
French Army although under severe pressure, gradually achieving important limited objective clearing Tonkin and Saigon deltas; most important population rice producing communications and urban sectors. As far we able observe locally, French Army and Vietnam units well led, efficient, will not withdraw face Communist threat. US aid following closely wake operations will speed task by village rehabilitation program.
Chinese Communists invasion does not appear immediate. US aid will better prepare French and Vietnamese checkmate it and sterilize areas Viet-Minh infection which might link up with threat. Other hand, Military Intelligence verified that limited but potentially increased Chinese Communist material support Ho has begun suggesting advisability speedy US aid.
Purely economic justification lies extreme poverty liberated areas, deterioration public works irrigation systems, rice culture, destruction by Viet-Minh farmsteads, villages, telecommunications, health facilities, etc. as personally surveyed by mission and Gullion in Tonkin. Deplorable health conditions people Tonkin warrant immediate relief.

B. Above facts govern type and tempo US aid. In general it should:

Concentrate projects which would best support military and political objectives.
Show dramatic and immediate results and arouse wide and realizable hopes prompt effect.
Be designed improve welfare living conditions as many people soonest in preference long-term projects or projects justified reference French balance payment needs.
Develop competence new government administration and create basic services and beginnings long-range program.

[Here follows discussion of specific programs, field organization, financial considerations, and other aspects of the problem.]

H. Gullion, Dickinson,2 Blum3 have collaborated in preparation this cable and concur.

Sent Department 189, repeated Paris 92. Department pass Paris. [Griffin.]

  1. For the text of the final report submitted by the Griffin Mission on “Needs for United States Economic and Technical Aid in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam,” prepared during and after the Mission’s visit to Indochina, see Samuel P. Hayes, The Beginning of American Aid to Southeast Asia: The Griffin Mission of 1950 (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath and Company, 1971), pp. 61–109.
  2. Edward T. Dickinson, Jr., Director for Program Relations, Economic Cooperation Administration; member of the Griffin Mission.
  3. Robert Blum, Chief, Overseas Territories Division, Economic Cooperation Administration, Paris; member of the Griffin Mission.