751G.00/5–1354: Telegram

The Chargé at Saigon (McClintock) to the Department of State


2389. Repeated information Paris 840, Geneva 108. Re Embtel 2348, repeated Paris 817, Geneva 88.1 De Jean said this morning that, speaking as an old friend, he could not refrain from frank comment that Secretary’s press conference day before yesterday had done very much harm in Indochina. There was widespread fear here that our government had already written off Vietnam, to say nothing of Cambodia and Laos.

De Jean then asked if I had had any information whether Defense Secretary Wilson planned to visit Indochina. As I had not yet seen Deptel 2261,2 I said “no”, but that Vietnamese Foreign Office thought he was coming. De Jean said it would cause many people in Indochina to wonder if Mr. Wilson failed to visit this theater, since only active war against Communism in Asia is going on here, and if he did not come, public would be inclined to feel we had already discounted Indochina as a lost cause.

This afternoon De Jean’s diplomatic counselor Froment-Meurice called and said he had just drafted a telegram for De Jean’s signature which invites attention of French Government to fact that not only is Wilson not coming to Indochina but that apparently General Van Fleet has no intention of visiting this area either. De Jean will add that these facts coupled with visit of General Hull to Singapore will impel many in Indochina to wonder if US has adopted “MacArthur strategy” of island encirclement and thus bring them to feel that whole [Page 1560] cause here is already lost so far as US strategic planners are concerned.3

  1. In telegram 2348 from Saigon, May 12, not printed, McClintock reported that local press treatment of the news conference statements by Secretary Dulles on May 11 was giving rise to widespread fear that the United States had written off Indochina as a bad investment. (751G.00/5–1254)
  2. Telegram 2261 to Saigon, May 12, confirming that Secretary Wilson would not visit Vietnam, is not printed. (033.1100 DI/5–1254)
  3. Here follows the text of a memorandum by Douglas MacArthur II, Counselor of the Department of State, dated May 15. Reference is to Captain George W. Anderson, Jr., Assistant to Admiral Radford.

    “Captain Anderson called me this morning and referred to Saigon’s 2389 indicating that de Jean in Saigon was unhappy that neither Secretary Wilson nor General Van Fleet was going to visit Indochina. Captain Anderson said Admiral Radford wanted us to look at this telegram because if the Department of State desired Secretary Wilson to modify his schedule so as to visit Saigon, such a suggestion could be made. Admiral Radford wished it clearly understood that the Department of Defense considered this entirely a political matter and simply wanted to touch base with us.

    “After consulting with Mr. Murphy, I called Captain Anderson and informed him that at this juncture we did not believe it desirable for Secretary Wilson to visit Saigon. It would give rise to widespread speculation and might imply some kind of commitment on our part for action on our part which would not be fulfilled. We would keep this matter under consideration but did not think anything should be done now. If we changed our views we would be in touch with him.

    “Captain Anderson said he understood and agreed and that they would forget about this unless further word was heard from us.” (Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 289)