751G.00/4–2654: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Dillon) to the Department of State


4073. Repeated information niact Geneva 128. Raymond Aron of Figaro came to see me this afternoon, saying that he wished, as a long time friend of the US, to describe to me the situation as he saw it. He said that the last time he had been to see the American Ambassador was the day after the invasion of South Korea, and that he felt that today was even more significant in world history.

He said that it was essential that the US intervene immediately with armed force in Indochina. He said that it was certain that Dien-Bien-Phu would fall in any event and that unless there was US intervention it was very likely that this would be followed in short order by the fall of Hanoi. This latter would be due to disintegration of Vietnamese morale. US intervention, even on a modest scale, could right the balance and save Hanoi. Aron thought intervention would be effective even after the fall of Dien-Bien-Phu provided it came before the fall of Hanoi.

Such intervention, he said, would have an electrifying effect on France, and throughout Europe, and would be the only thing that could redress the balance at Geneva and make possible a successful negotiation there. If the US did not intervene in the immediate future, he felt that the present French Government would fall and be replaced by a neutralist government, which would not agree to any form of German rearmament. This, he recognized would endanger the whole concept of the NATO alliance. Such a weakening of NATO would in his opinion prepare the way for World War III.

Aron then said that our present publicly enunciated policy seemed to be that we refused to help France negotiate a peace in Indochina and at the same time denied active military assistance to France when they were no longer able to carry on themselves. This would not be understood by any Frenchman.

I pointed out that the Secretary had advanced the concept of joint action with the other countries interested in the area. Aron replied that if that means, as he had seen in the press, that we required British agreement before acting, then it would be quite clear that the US was not yet ready to assume the obligations and risks of world leadership. He said it was obvious that the British would have to follow any strong lead taken by the US.

He left after asking me to report his views as those of an average Frenchman, who was deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation, [Page 1416] and after saying that he would be in daily hope of hearing that the President had announced his intention of delivering a personal message to the Congress on Indochina.