119. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

1119. Saigonʼs 1117.2 On March 8 Department officer had long talk with Canadian Counselor Rettie, who has now studied ICC/Viet-Nam so long and carefully that he understands much of it and therefore may be considered one of small number experts this esoteric subject. His views carry weight with Ambassador Heeney and probably in Ottawa.

Following emerged from conversation:

ICC/Viet-Nam should continue.
As an awkward “early model Troika” ICC/Viet-Nam must not be expected deal successfully with large concepts, legal or otherwise. It responds best to limited stimuli. Thus we should not openly make sweeping statements to effect: [Page 254]
We will give no more notification.
Breach by one side justify non-observance by the other. Difficulty here compounded by fact we had used DRV breach cease-fire (articles 19, 24, etc.) as justification bringing in men and material (articles 16 and 17). Rettie unable find clear precedents in international law to effect breach one part a treaty by a party justified non-observance other parts treaty by other party.
Rettie also made plea that our actions should not be too sweeping, e.g., avoid upsetting ICC equanimity by spectacle scores US helicopters on dock opposite Majestic Hotel (Department officer commented ICC eyesight seemed far more acute Saigon than in Hanoi where after 15 months airlift apparently still not visible).
Rettie again confirmed that Canadian strategy on ICC would continue to be one of attempting persuade Indians rather than taking obdurate position to counterbalance Poles.

Rettie then gave advance indication favorable ICC action re subversion (Saigonʼs 1157).3

Comment: We believe Rettieʼs theory international law incorrect, but we shall send subsequent instruction on whole ICC question which at present under study.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.00/3-162. Secret. Drafted on March 16 by Wood; cleared by Hubbard, Morgan, Salans (State), and Heinz (DOD); and approved by Cottrell. Also sent for action to Ottawa and New Delhi and for information to London, Moscow, and CINCPAC for Polad.
  2. Document 91.
  3. Dated March 9, not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 751G.00/3-962)