Editorial Note

On September 2, 1953, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles delivered an address on Korean problems before the American Legion at St. Louis. His remarks included the following statement with regard to Indochina:

“We do not make the mistake of treating Korea as an isolated affair. The Korean war forms one part of the worldwide effort of communism to conquer freedom. More immediately it is part of that effort in Asia.

“A single Chinese-Communist aggressive front extends from Korea on the north to Indochina in the south. The armistice in Korea, even if it leads to a political settlement in Korea, does not end United States concern in the western Pacific area. As President Eisenhower said in his April 16 speech, a Korean armistice would be a fraud if it merely released Communist forces for attack elsewhere.

“In Indochina, a desperate struggle is in its eighth year. The outcome affects our own vital interests in the western Pacific, and we are already contributing largely in material and money to the combined efforts of the French and of Viet-Nam, Laos, and Cambodia.

“We Americans have too little appreciated the magnitude of the effort and sacrifices which France has made in defense of an area which is no longer a French colony but where complete independence is now in the making. This independence program is along lines which the United States has encouraged and justifies increased United States aid, provided that will assure an effort there that is vigorous and decisive.

“Communist China has been and now is training, equipping, and supplying the Communist forces in Indochina. There is the risk that, as in Korea, Red China might send its own army into Indochina. The Chinese Communist regime should realize that such a second aggression could not occur without grave consequences which might not be confined to Indochina. I say this soberly in the interest of peace and in the hope of preventing another aggressor miscalculation.

“We want peace in Indochina, as well as in Korea. The political conference about to be held relates in the first instance to Korea. But growing out of that conference could come, if Red China wants it, an end of aggression and restoration of peace in Indochina. The United States would welcome such a development.”

For the full text of the address, see Department of State Bulletin, September 14, 1953, pages 339–342.

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Secretary Dulles amplified his remarks on Indochina at his press conference of September 3. Department of State Press Release No. 475 of that date read as follows:

“Asked at his press conference on September 3 whether his St. Louis speech was subject to conflicting interpretation as to whether the United States was willing to include the question of a possible restoration of peace in Indochina at the Korean political conference, Secretary Dulles made the following reply:

‘I do not think that I ever said that these political talks would necessarily be limited exclusively to Korea. We have said that the conference as originally set up, in our opinion, should be limited to Korea. But also I think I have made clear that, if matters at that conference go well and the Chinese Communists show a disposition to settle in a reasonable way such a question as Indochina, we would not just on technical grounds say, “No, we won’t talk about that.”

‘Of course, any discussions which dealt with Indochina would have to have a different participation than the conference which dealt with Korea. For example, the Republic of Korea is an indispensable party to a conference such as is projected about Korea. But Korea would not be an indispensable party to discussions about Indochina. So that in effect it would not be the same conference. Certainly in any discussion about Indochina, for example, the three Associated States of Viet-Nam, Laos, and Cambodia would be necessary parties. They are not parties to the Korean conference. What we mean is that if the atmosphere, insofar as it may be contributed to by Communist China, seemed to be conducive for the settlement of the Indochina war, we would not be opposed to that.” (Department of State Bulletin, September 14, 1953, pages 342–343)