5. Notes on a Meeting Between the Secretary of State and the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Parsons)1

JGP: Personalities Lansdale = Col. Hillandale.2 Able performance in Manila. Close to Diem. Lone wolf and operator. Tagged as operator. Flamboyant.

Secy: How tagged?

. . . . . . . . . . . .

JGP: Not a team player. Has resented attitudes other Americans particularly FS.3 Durbie: Tired. Shld be removed. Ladejinsky: Able, sensitive, close to Diem, about to quit. Tried to interest Diem in ordinary people. Durbie has gone pretty far on same line even recommending Nhus and Can Lao. This about ended his influence. Re unsuccessful coup d’etat, Durbie probably saved D’s life indirectly. Also kept Diem from being too punitive. Some of his messages on this misinterpreted by Lemnitzer and DOD and played up too much. Thus military antipathy to Durbie.

Secy: Does Diem feel Durbie doublecrossed him?

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JGP: To some extent. We pushed so hard for liberalization [and failed]4 that Diem may think we went over to the other side to get more liberal regime. Trouble in VN is monologue. Diem has again shown his courage and coolness during coup attempt.

Lansdale memo:5 Jibes generally with our views. Much emphasis on what US should [do]; little emphasis on what GVN should do.

It recommends we intensify support of Diem. We agree he needs help, inspiration and encouragement.

Recommends opposition party guided by U.S. We think unwise.

Secy: Is situation in VN soon to be critical?

JGP: It is near critical. Not hopeless. Diem best fellow.

Secy: Is Diem unpopular?

CBW: He is respected, not popular. Respect has weakened.

Secy: Geneva Accords limitation?

JGP: Amounts, kinds of weapons, numbers our people (MAAG).

Secy: There is an ICC?

JGP: Yes, they have failed in three ways: Kontum, insurgency,6 transit USSR aircraft.

Counterinsurgency plan looks like good way mobilize GVN resources.

Secy: Where does it stand?

CBW: Awaiting DOD recommendation, being studied here.

JGP: Recently received.

Re Durbie—should he and McGarr. They sometimes differ, but there are understandable differences.

  1. Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 66 D 193, 20 General Lansdale, V-N 1961. Secret. Drafted by Wood. The source text is Wood’s handwritten notes.
  2. Colonel Hillandale, an American intelligence operative in the novel The Ugly American by Burdick and Lederer.
  3. Foreign Service.
  4. All brackets in the source text.
  5. See Document 2.
  6. On November 10, 1960, the Republic of Vietnam reported to the ICC that Communist attacks during October in Kontum province involved regular North Vietnam troops and constituted open aggression.