751G.00/5–854: Telegram

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


2277. Sent Geneva 66, Paris 786, London 50. We have given preliminary consideration to Bidault’s proposed position at Geneva as set out Secto 106, repeated Paris 201, London 121, Saigon 331 and to valid comment of US delegation as indicated Secto 110, repeated Paris 203, London 123, Saigon 34.2 Department and USDel Geneva will have already seen De Jean’s preliminary reactions as described my telegram 2276 today.3

De Jean put his finger on essential point which is what guarantees will exist for fulfillment in good faith of terms of any cease-fire and armistice agreement which might ensue from Geneva conference. Obviously from oversimplified French view it would be splendid if US would take up this burden.

I am strongly opposed to such a concept. Situation in Indochinese war has reached point that very soon both French and Vietnamese, who presumably are our friendly clients, will seek to blame US for whatever disaster may befall them. Furthermore, so far as Asiatic [Page 728] opinion generally is concerned, there will be a tendency to blame US for acts of commission and non-commission.

If this analysis is valid, it seems to me that we should with utmost insistence demand that United Nations be brought into picture. If Geneva conference arrives at an agreed cease-fire and armistice, conference should then request United Nations Security Council to assume responsibility for providing guarantees of armistice conditions and for supervision execution thereof. I do not see how Russians would be in a position to veto such a fair proposal and furthermore, from their policy point of view, they might find it advantageous to permit Security Council to assume jurisdiction here. Under President’s recent pronouncement that no military action will be taken in this theatre without following constitutional processes,4 again it seems to me that recourse to United Nations would afford President much greater liberty of potential action since Senate has already consented to treaty which is United Nations Charter, and police action under Chapter 7 of Charter could in fact be contemplated in event Security Council’s supervision of armistice were flouted by Communists here. If Soviet veto aborted Security Council action we might still be able to work out some arrangement for collective self-defense under Article 51.

Foregoing is largely devoted to juridical aspects of problem. We should not blind ourselves to practical fact that if a cease-fire and armistice brings an ostensible end to military conflict in Indochina, it will have little effect on that clandestine but even more dangerous conflict which will continue; namely that cold war whereby Viet Minh can easily infiltrate all of this peninsula and eventually by legitimate democratic means take over this area.

  1. Dated May 5, p. 694.
  2. Dated May 5, p. 696.
  3. Dated May 8; see volume xiii.
  4. For summary of the President’s news conference, Apr. 29, see editorial note, p. 604.