751.13/11–2450: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Bruce) to the Secretary of State


2957. Embtels 2919 November 22, 2925 and 2926 November 23 (repeated Saigon 209,210,211).1

Embassy believes that Letourneau statement to National Assembly re French policy IC2 can be described as satisfactory. It is certainly best that could be expected under circumstances. He has emphasized “independence” of Associated States within framework of French Union. He has expressed government’s intention to proceed as rapidly as possible with creation of national armies in IC. He has in effect characterized evolutionary nature of March 8 accords by pointing out that French Government will carry out not only letter of accords, but also spirit. He has stated that French functionaries in IC after January 1 with exception certain categories, will be limited to those placed at disposition three states. He has pointed to French government intentions not to give up struggle in IC, but to increase its effort. Although belated, such statements should be beneficial under present circumstances.

Pleven’s speech to National Assembly also strikes helpful note, particularly with reference to recognition necessity creation Vietnam national army, recognition IC problem cannot be solved by force, quotation from Auriol letter July 1949 to Bao Dai3 indicating Vietnamese freedom chose regime, political institutions and government and French Government’s intention increase its own military effort IC. Significant portions these two speeches included Pleven’s statement French Government would take troops from France if necessary and Letourneau’s statement France would not appeal to UN unless Tonkin border crossed by Chinese Communist troops.

While French Government knowledge US government’s views re French policy IC plays important part in these statements by Letourneau and Pleven, it is believed MacDonald’s influence exerted [Page 937] during his recent visit to Paris also had an effect—perhaps a more immediate one.

Socialist Party’s position during national Assembly’s debate on IC completes almost full circle in reversal its position in earlier years. It has swung from favoring negotiations with Ho-Chi-Minh to seeking UN solution and during debates Socialist’s present position as presented by Pineau4 is that appeal to UN would have no positive results as international solutions can become outdated; what was possible before Chinese Communist arrival at Tonkin border having now become impossible. Pineau indicated that while no UN solution desirable, US and UK must take increased interest and closer cooperation must be established by France with her allies. This same note struck very pointedly by Pleven in his reference to need for concerting with France’s allies necessary steps to be taken in event Chinese Communists crossed Tonkin border.

Pleven Government has weathered this crisis, probably very much as was to be expected. It has not been expected that IC problem in itself would endanger Pleven Government, but if further reverses IC do occur after government has been granted authority and powers it seeks, what has been described as National Assembly’s feeling of uneasiness, even though it voted approval of ordre du jour may in future express itself in much stronger terms.

Reaction as shown in debate gives some indication of how far National Assembly has come in its thinking on IC problem, which naturally is influenced by strong desire find some solution this problem. Letourneau’s emphasis on “independence” Associated States within French Union, reference to March 8 accords, transfer internal administrative authority to Associated States and withdrawal most French functionaries IC passed almost unnoticed and both his and Pleven’s statements re creation national armies IC were accepted without any real dissent.

It seems to Embassy that French Government statements of its policy IC now provide opportunity for Bao Dai and Vietnam Government to buckle down to tasks facing them and Embassy suggests Legation might take opportunity offered by these statements of French Government intentions again to draw attention Vietnamese to those things which are essential to improvement in situation and which they alone can do.

Sent Department 2957, repeated information Saigon 219.

  1. None printed.
  2. See footnote 2 to telegram 2873, November 21, p. 932.
  3. For a translation of the letter from Vincent Auriol, President of France and the French Union, to Bao Dai, July 27, 1949, see telegram 3322 from Paris, August 10, 1949, in Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. vii, p. 71.
  4. Christian Pineau, Socialist Party leader; President of the Finance Commission, French National Assembly.