611.51/11–1352: Telegram

The Ambassador at Saigon (Heath) to the Department of State


989. Rptd info Paris 166. Re Deptel 954 to Saigon Nov 6.1 We concur with the recommendations contained in Paris tel 2729 November 3 to Dept.2

With specific ref to topic US aid and Indochina, we believe that it wld be in best interest US to grant $125 million “difference” which Fr has requested which, conditional on favorable Congressional action (which was not forthcoming), was promised Letourneau last June in Wash. We are concerned over weariness large segment Fr with IC effort and possibility that short fall in US aid might be seized only by Fr as excuse reduce effort in IC. It is of utmost importance to US that Fr financial and military contribution to IC war not be reduced. [Page 280] Comparing magnitude and importance of fighting in IC with that of Korea, where our expenditures are tremendously greater, it is evident that the war here is too important to US for us to quibble over sum involved.

It is suggested that in order that the greatest possible psychological impact be made on Fr public opinion, Eisenhower3 might at a suitable early opportunity—for example fol a foreign policy conf with the present admin—issue a statement to effect that question of additional funds for Fr was being actively and sympathetically explored.

  1. In telegram 954 to Saigon, Nov. 6, the Department of State repeated the text of telegram 2729 from Paris, Nov. 3, which is printed in part in footnote 2 below. (611.51/11–352)
  2. In telegram 2729 from Paris, Nov. 3, Ambassador Dunn addressed himself to various aspects of United States relations with France. The section on Indochina read as follows:

    “US aid—Indochina. For present fiscal year the maximum (in addition to end-item aid and normal OSP) that Fr have any reason to hope for is $650 mil. Rightly or wrongly, Fr public opinion has been conditioned to this figure as fair and equitable US contrib to Fr mil budget for Metropole and Indochina and as figure US had led Fr Govt to expect. Fr public opinion has also been informed that, with this assistance from US, Fr can develop mil program which will enable achievement of 1953 objectives in Fr NATO build-up and Indochina operations. Again rightly or wrongly, if $650 mil is not made available during course of annual review the ‘shortfall’ in US aid will continue, in Fr public opinion, to be cause of any failure of Fr to meet not only mil targets but essential civilian requirements. By granting differential between 525 and 650 and accepting Fr link to Indochina we gain out of all proportion to sum involved. Concurrently, of course, we shld undertake continuous judicious release of pertinent statistics and related info to disabuse Fr Parl and public of widespread picture of Fr alone bearing full Indochina burden. Substance of long-term Indochina problem is too vast to be tackled now.” (611.51/11–352) For the complete text, see volume vi.

  3. Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected President of the United States on Nov. 4, 1952.