315. Editorial Note

On December 8, 1961, the Department of State announced that it had released a two-part report entitled A Threat to the Peace: North VietNam’s Effort to Conquer South VietNam, which had been referred to informally within the government as the Jorden Report. A transcript of the Secretary of State’s news conference that day, at which he issued a statement regarding the release of the report and responded to questions about Vietnam, is in Department of State Bulletin, December 25, 1961, pages 1053-1059.

Part I of the report consisted of an introduction and the following eight chapters:

The Background
The Setting (South VietNam)
The Pattern of Viet Cong Activity in the South
Direction of the Viet Cong by North VietNam
The Viet Cong Organization in North and South VietNam
Evidence of External Guidance and Support of the Viet Cong
The Present Danger

Part II consisted of photographs and documents referred to in Part I.

Assistant Secretary of State W. Averell Harriman held four separate meetings on December 7 with representatives of the Vietnamese, Australian, French, British, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippine, Thai, Indian, and Canadian Embassies in Washington to present them copies of the publication and brief them on its contents. A composite memorandum of these four conversations, drafted by C. Benjamin Wood, is in Department of State, Central Files, 751K.00/12-761. Harriman also met separately with British Ambassador David Ormsby Gore that day. Harriman’s memorandum of the conversation as it related to Viet-Nam reads: [Page 726]

“I gave the British Ambassador copies of the Viet-Nam White Paper. After a discussion of it, the Ambassador raised the subject of whether the Soviet Government as a co-chairman should be called upon to use its influence to end the aggressive actions to the North Vietnamese. He said his government felt that to approach them now might be considered a sign of weakness, and that it might be more effective if done after some progress had been made in putting down the guerrillas or after an important victory was won.

“I replied that I understood this question was still under discussion. The argument for doing it now was that it might be some time before the situation improved. Obviously, if the approach was made now, it must be vigorous. It should include an expression of firm determination to prevent South VietNam’s being taken over by force and to warn the Soviets not to permit escalation. He said he expected the matter would come up in discussions between Lord Home and the Secretary in Paris. He mentioned also the activities of the Thompson group, expressing the hope that they would achieve the objectives of assisting Viet-Nam without interfering with MAAG. I told him that we were anxious that the Thompson mission should continue and believed that such minor differences that occurred could be straightened out in Saigon.

“I emphasized our determination to support Viet-Nam and that the dispatch of combat forces was not excluded. He indicated that the British Government agreed it was wise to make sure the North Vietnamese understood this.” (Ibid., 751K.00/12-961)