751G.00/3–2950: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in France


1363. Dept has predicated its course of action in Indochina since Feb 2 this year on assumption that fundamental objectives of US and France in Indochina are in substantial coincidence. Dept assumes:

That French are determined to protect IC from further Commie encroachments by polit, econ as well as mil measures.
That French understand that success of mil operation, i.e. containment of northern border against Commie penetration as well as reduction of Ho’s forces elsewhere IC, depends, in the end on overcoming opposition of indigenous population.
Therefore France proposes in support of this policy to strengthen Bao Dai and the Kings of Laos and Cambodia in every practical way, to end that non-Commie nationalists abandon Ho, support Bao Dai and Kings and Can thus reduce guerrilla activity.

It is evident from reaction Asian states to US and Fr effort to secure their recognition Bao Dai, from attitude Scandinavian powers and from reactions US press that large segment public opinion both East and West continues to regard Bao Dai and two Kings as French puppets not enjoying nor likely to enjoy degree of autonomy within Fr Union accorded them under Mar 8 agreements, analogous to that accorded Indo by Neth.

[Page 769]

US Govt has used its polit resources and is now engaged in measures to accelerate its econ and financial assistance to IC states. As you know Dept has requested Joint Chiefs of Staff to “assess the strategic aspects of the situation and consider, from the mil point of view, how the United States can best contribute to the prevention of further Communist encroachment in that area.”1 You are of course familiar with position Jessup has taken re SEA during his recent tour. Dept accordingly considers that its position is clear and that the character of its past actions and proposed undertakings justifies its suggesting to Fr a course of action which it believes requisite to success of operation Indochina.

As said foregoing it appears to Dept that true character Fr concessions to IC nationalism under Mar 8 agreements and ultimate intentions in that area are clear to Dept but not clear to other interested parties. Dept believes that Indochinese natl movement, interested Asiatic states and large segment public opinion Western world unsympathetic and apathetic to this great issue because Fr have not made these elements sufficiently clear. You will surely understand that Dept does not believe that present situation IC calls for further substantive concessions from Fr at this time involving parliamentary action to Bao Dai or two Kings. Obviously Bao Dai and company barely able to discharge responsibilities they are now facing. No part of representations which Dept suggests you make to Fr shld be construed as arguing for increase in concessions at this time. This connection, Dept strongly of view that transfer of Palace to Bao Dai most important single propaganda move possible now; Abbott emphasizes this, suggesting suitable attendant ceremonies. It must be clear to you and through you to Fr that Dept’s concern at present is only that Fr make its present position and future intentions clear to non-Commie neutral world.

Dept had previously considered asking that you transmit in appropriate form to Fr FonOff note quoted below. Upon reflection in the course of which views Jessup and Butterworth recd, Dept believes you shld make strong oral representations Fr FonOff using fol lines as basic guidance in such manner as wld in your judgment best serve the achievement objectives identified foregoing. Your advice as to manner and timing of such approach awaited by Dept.

“The US Govt has expressed its gratification at the ratification by the Fr Govt of the agreements with the Govts of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The real and continuing interest of the US in the strengthening and stabilization of anti-Commie natl regimes in Indochina is well known to the Govt of France as is the full confidence of the US in the intentions of the Fr Govt to adopt all measures requisite to providing the three states with the strength, polit and mil, without [Page 770] which they will be unable to defeat Ho Chi Minh and his foreign Commie allies.

The Govts of France and the US have long considered that the recognition of the govts of the three states by Asian states was a matter of prime importance in order that the anti-Commie natl movements in Indochina be accorded, in the eyes of the world, their true characters as genuine natl movements and not, as world communism alleges, the creatures of ‘Western imperialism’. The US Govt has, during the past several weeks, approached the several Asian govts most immed concern with the state of affairs in Indochina, impressing upon them the desirability of their immed recognizing the govts of the three new states. The Thai Govt recognized the Indochinese states on Feb 28. Unfortunately, the US reps accredited to the remaining Asian countries have been informed by the officials of those countries that they regard the govts of the three states as Fr puppets and that, more important, they are not convinced of the genuine character of Fr intentions ultimately to accord the states of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia the full measures of independence and sovereignty which have recently been transferred by the Neth to Indo. The responsible ministers of the Asian powers concerned have stated in substance that were the Republic of France to announce publicly that the present agreements were the first steps in an orderly evolutionary process, the end and purpose of which is to accord the three states of Indochina complete independence, sovereignty and administration of their own affairs (within the Fr Union), those Asiatic states wld be prepared favorably to consider recognition of the three states in Indochina even before such additional transfers of sovereignty wld have actually been made. Therefore, while Dept obviously unable guarantee recognition and support fol such statement, Dept believes that in absence such statement further acts of recognition by Asian states not forthcoming. Dept keenly aware of self-evident fact that Indos cannot administer complexities Indochinese affairs without Fr assistance. Dept determined as matter of general policy to emphasize interdependence France and Indochina as was successfully done in case Neth and Indonesians. Dept believes that independence and autonomy of three IC states must clearly be understood to lie within Fr Union.

The Govt of the US is aware of the concessions granted by the Republic of France in negotiating and ratifying the Agreements. The US Govt has indicated to the Govt of France its desire to be of assistance to the three states and to the Fr admin in Indochina in enabling them successfully to contain and liquidate communism in Indochina. The US Govt is aware of the fact that the Govt of France shares its concern that communism be excluded not only from Indochina but from the entire SEA region. The execution of this policy requires, above all things, a unanimity of support on the part of the nations of SEA of the anti-Commie Indochinese nationalist govts of Indochina.

With full consciousness of the difficulties involved, the US Govt requests the Govt of France seriously to consider the issuance at the earliest possible moment of a public statement of the character identified in the foregoing. While it is not for the Dept to suggest the particularities of the text of such a statement, the Dept believes that the Fr Govt shld make clear therein the concessions to Indochinese nationalism which it made in the Mar 8 agreements and the supplementary [Page 771] accords, lest both Fr accomplishments and intentions in this great matter be tragically misunderstood not only in Asia but in the Western world as well.”2

  1. See letter from Deputy Under Secretary Rusk to Major General Burns, March 7, p. 752.
  2. In telegram 230 of April 4 (repeated to Paris as 114), Gullion stated the following: “Have serious reservations about move proposed in urtel 1363 to Paris which are explained in longer wire being enciphered [see telegram 234 from Saigon, April 8, p. 773] and which I believe should be considered before action is taken.” (751G.00/4–350) In telegram 1632 from Paris, April 7, Ambassador Bruce indicated that in view of this development he had cancelled an April 4 appointment with Foreign Minister Schuman and was awaiting further instructions from the Department (890.00/4–750).