751G.11/1–3052: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Legation at Saigon1


1110. Legtels 1505 Jan 30,2 1497 Jan 28.3 Altho we have had occasion in past to question wisdom of Bao Dai’s analysis of IC scene Emperor has, in Dept’s opinion, exceeded his own past record in proposals outlined reftels.

Without attempting comment detailed points it is difficult understand how man who has shown as little inclination or ability to exercise already considerable auth for benefit his country and people cld be expected to do better if that auth were enlarged. Therefore assumption he cld and wld successfully carry out functions HICOM and CinC with auth in all three states impossible accept.

If there is any truth in allegation proposal he succeed de Lattre actually emanated from latter, which we doubt, we can only surmise that it was part of plan to increase Bao Dai’s titular auth over Viet [Page 28] natl army for morale purposes and gen strategy blast Emperor loose from his aloof lethargy and force more active role upon him.

Dept has always recognized desirability pursue latter objective and is still anxious consider any reasonable plan which might further this end. Past disillusionments have, however, led us to suspect that Emperor puts personal above natl considerations. We have concluded, for instance, that reason he has not accepted transfer Norodom Palace is because it wld entail move from Dalat to Saigon with resultant curtailment pleasures and increase workload.

We find proposal that Bao Dai wld lead “effective resistance” against Chi after invasion among most unrealistic suggestions this extraordinary interview. If there were no other reason why suggestion he replace de Lattre as HICOM and CinC is, at least, impracticable anticipated violent reaction of Laotian and Cambodian govts to such a proposal cld be cited, a subj which it is noted was not broached in interview. It is unnecessary refer to reaction of Fr and North Af troops were they asked to serve under his mil leadership.

We continue to recognize present indispensability and potential usefulness Bao Dai despite his faults, but until he has demonstrated will buckle down to job and put existing auth to good use in dealing with immed and pressing problems it is premature encourage enlargement his role, particularly as suggested.

  1. Repeated to Paris for information as telegram 4642.
  2. Ante. p. 22.
  3. Not printed.