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273. Memorandum From the Counselor of Embassy in Viet-Nam (Mendenhall) to the Public Affairs Officer in Viet-Nam (Anspacher)1

SUBJECT

  • Proposals for Improving the Organization and Broadening the Base of Support of the GVN

Attached is a paper prepared at the Ambassador’s request containing certain specific proposals aimed at improving the organization of the GVN and broadening the base of its support among both the educated classes and the masses. Your comments and suggestions on an urgent basis would be appreciated. It would be particularly helpful if MAAG could briefly spell out for inclusion in this paper the specifics of fleshing out the authority of the Field Command over military counterinsurgency operations.2

The Ambassador has made no decision about the use of this paper, but he wishes to have it available for possible use during the current negotiations with the GVN in case he is asked by the GVN for specifics in the fields covered by the paper.

858 3

I. Organizational steps

1.
Make the national-level Internal Security Council into a fully functioning body meeting at least twice weekly and making all policy decisions relating to the conduct of counterinsurgency planning and operations.
2.
Have the national-level Internal Security Council presided over regularly by the Vice President or, in his absence, by the Coordinating Secretary of State for Security.
3.
Retain Mr. Nguyen dinh Thuan as Coordinating Secretary of State for Security and appoint him as Secretary of State for National [Page 659]Defense, but at same time remove him from all other positions since each position he now holds needs a full-time official.
4.
Appoint three Assistant Secretaries of State for National Defense in order to spread the growing burden of work in this mammoth department and broaden the base of the government.
5.
Appoint as Secretary of State for the Presidency an official who is a capable administrator who can serve as the implementing executive of the national-level Internal Security Council.
6.
Give the Vice President as Coordinating Secretary of State for Economic Development full power and authority over all the economic ministries, requiring them to report to him and leaving to his decision the further questions to be taken up with the Internal Security Council and with the President.
7.
Give similar power and authority to the Coordinating Secretary of State for Social and Cultural Affairs.
8.
Raise the Direction [Director] General of Information to ministry level and replace the incumbent by an official who is experienced in the use of information techniques and who can work with the Minister of Civic Action and the ARVN Psywar Director.
9.
Establish internal security councils at the regional, provincial and district levels.

II. Steps to rally support of educated class

1.
Appoint to the Cabinet various representatives of a really independent spirit and assure them of a full voice in policy determination and of freedom within broad policy bounds of running their departments. (Names can be supplied on request.) Aim should be to establish a “Cabinet of All the Talents”.
2.
Find a means of removing Mme Ngo dinh Nhu completely from the public eye in view of the adverse affects (unintentional, to be sure, but, nevertheless, true) of her activities on the political standing of the Government.
3.
Release non-Communist political prisoners, and place certain of them in high position as a political gesture to establish national unity in the face of the Communists.
4.
Permit all non-Communist political parties to operate and to put up candidates for the 1962 National Assembly elections.
5.
Liberalize press censorship permitting criticism of both the government and the personalities therein, but excluding pro-Communist propaganda.
6.
Set up a public tribune for the free expression of ideas and criticism within the same limitations as those applied to the press.
7.
Establish an independent judiciary with the Ministry of Justice in the hands of a real independent.
8.
Give the National Assembly freedom to debate on the measures placed before it. As an example, send back for thorough open debate measures recently adopted at Madame Nhu’s instigation re taxi girls and establishment of a women’s paramilitary force.
9.
To insure that deputies actually represent their constituents, establish requirement applicable to 1962 elections that all candidates must be bona fide residents of the districts in which they present their candidacies.

III. Steps to rally support of masses

1.
Appointments to the Cabinet proposed under II, 1, above, can also serve this objective provided representatives of the Cao Dai or Hoa Hao are selected.
2.
Increase Diem’s personal contact with people through more informal trips to countryside, by making himself available at palace to ordinary people, either in groups or individually, by occasionally hearing mass in small church or visiting Buddhist Pagoda, et cetera.
3.
Frequent, frank, and down-to-earth talks over radio (at least once a month).
4.
Stop emphasizing “sacrifice and discipline” theme in talking to the people and tell them what they are anxious to hear-that better times are coming and that soon they will not be afraid to sleep at night.
5.
In Saigon and other cities institute, visit, and dramatize labor-consuming projects for unemployed who have increased considerably as result influx into cities because of insecure conditions in countryside.
6.
Initiate and publicize economic and social programs aimed at improving conditions in every village.
7.
Proceed to set up provincial councils which President Diem has already promised publicly.
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 84, Saigon Embassy Files: FRC 66 A 335, GVN-Government of Viet-Nam 1961. Secret. Initialed by Mendenhall; also addressed to McGarr, Gardiner, and Colby.
  2. No response by MAAG to the paper has been found.
  3. [Attachment]
  4. No drafting information is given on the source text, which includes several handwritten interpolations, apparently by Anspacher. Attached to the source text is a memorandum of November 25 from Anspacher to Mendenhall, in which Anspacher said he had no basic disagreement with the paper, but suggested certain textual changes.