86. Telegram From the Embassy in Cambodia to the Department of State1

551. [1 line of source text not declassified]

Difficult believe man Nhu’s experience could have said GVN will attempt overthrow Sihanouk by end November. If so, he must be serously misinformed.

I disagree emphatically with idea it would be desirable even from GVN point of view to eliminate Sihanouk, particularly by end of November.
I see no evidence that there is any cohesive group opposed to Sihanouk that would venture to plot his overthrow at present. On contrary, Sihanouk’s prestige very high as result his recent tours.
King and Queen would be unlikely receive Nhu agents or intermediaries; much less be persuaded by them to urge Sihanouk, on whom they dote, to take long vacation in favor Monireth. [3 lines of source text not declassified]
Royal attitude re recognition ChiComs presumably reflected in Queen’s strong defense this action to me (Embassy telegram 144).2 [Page 258] Even if not pleased by recognition, they probably realize difficulties reversing process five months after event.
I doubt most seriously any group “led by Sam Sary” could mobilize support to carry out a “coup force”. Embassy has no indication FARK support and MAAG doubts seriously present or past CO tank battalion, Phnom Penh, would support such coup.
Nhu must realize US would oppose any plot such as reported.

Nhu should also realize no plot could succeed if GVN involvement known and no government established as result GVN intervention could command popular support.

If Nhu is, nevertheless, considering action along lines report, he should be promptly disabused. There is always danger some incident between GVN and RKG and if one should occur, it might convince Nhu that it was time to act. I hope Department and Embassy Saigon will fully appreciate that if a serious report of Nhu’s plotting should reach Sihanouk, he will assume US has knowledge of it and will react violently to the gravest detriment of our position in Cambodia and with resultant bad effect in area.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751H.11/11–858. Secret; Limit Distribution; [distribution indicator not declassified]. Repeated to Saigon and Bangkok.
  2. In telegram 144, July 27, Strom reported Queen Kossamak’s reaction to his demarche about the dangers of Chinese Communist subversion:

    “Queen reacted sharply and strongly implied it was not my business to concern myself with this matter; that it did not make any difference to Cambodians what political beliefs foreigners among them held as long as they did not interfere with government’s policy of neutrality. However, pointing at throne behind which we were seated, she said, ‘We know that if the Communists come the throne goes.’ She added that there have been 80 Kings on Cambodian throne and Cambodian people are united in defending it.” (Ibid., 611.51H/7–2758)

  3. Telegram 551 bears no signature.