137. Letter From President Diem to President Kennedy1

Mr. President: I believe the facts of Communist aggression against the Vietnamese people are now well known to you. Despite Communist lies, the evidence on record cannot be hidden.

However, I would like to draw your particular attention to the January 18 Hanoi announcement of the founding of the so-called peopleʼs revolutionary party. This announcement is virtual admission of Hanoiʼs direction and control of the Viet Cong rebels who are brutally attacking our people.

On January 18, the Hanoi radio broadcast the declaration of the new Communist creation, the so-called Vietnamese peopleʼs revolutionary party. This declaration states that in the last days of 1961 “Marxist-Leninists” in South Vietnam established a new party, with its “immediate tasks” being to unite the people and “to overthrow” the Government of Viet-Nam. It also declared that the party “calls on the people in the North to build an ever more prosperous and strong North Vietnam, making it a solid basis for the struggle for peaceful reunification of the country, to give active support to their compatriots in South Vietnam in their revolutionary struggle.” Here at last is a public admission of what has always been clear-that the Viet Cong campaign against my people is led by Communists.

The North Vietnamese admission that the Viet Cong attacks on the free people of Viet-Nam—attacks which now average more than 400 per week and claim total casualties of nearly 800 per week—are henceforth to be openly Communist directed must be a matter of concern for all nations.

The Communists have now themselves made it clear that they are making another brutal attempt in their effort to achieve world domination.

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This attempt is not new. For more than seven years the Communists have most cynically violated the Geneva Accords of 1954. The central purpose of these Accords, which established a cease-fire, is to maintain the peace in Viet-Nam. The Communist regime in Hanoi is violating this basic purpose by its direction and support of the expanding guerrilla war which it is carrying on in South Vietnam.

The Hanoi regime made clear its objective when the Communist (Lao Dong) Party in North Vietnam stated at its 1960 congress that a strategic task of “the Vietnamese revolution” is “to liberate South Vietnam”—the Communist jargon for conquering a country already free. Evidence based on captured documents and prisoners shows that, in order to carry out this task, the Hanoi regime is infiltrating armed personnel by the thousands into South Vietnam to mount over increasing guerrilla war activities.

In view of this guerrilla campaign, the Government of the Republic of Viet-Nam has been compelled to appeal for increased military assistance and support from free world countries to help prevent it from being overwhelmed by massive subversion from Communist North Vietnam, backed by heavily increased support from the Communist bloc. Even the regime in Hanoi has recognized that the free worldʼs increased assistance is needed and being used in South Vietnam for defensive purposes. In an interview broadcast over Hanoi Radio January 1, 1962, Major General Nguyen Van Vinh, chairman of the so-called “National Reunification Commission”, stated that the Government of the Republic of Viet-Nam supported by the United States is not now preparing for a “march to the North.”

On the other hand, the Communist bloc has conducted an extensive airlift of military supplies into North Vietnam for aggressive purposes for well over a year. Part of this military material has been sent on to Laos to support the rebels and Viet Cong fighting the legitimate Government there, but much of it has been turned over to the Communist regime in North Vietnam to build up its war potential against South Vietnam.

A grave threat to peace thus exists and can be removed only if the Communist regime in Hanoi is forced to desist in its guerrilla war against the legal Government of the Republic of Viet-Nam, of which I have the honor to be President. World opinion is likely to serve as an important factor in the future decisions of the Communist authorities about this guerrilla war. I am, therefore, writing to you, Excellency, to bring the facts about the serious situation in Viet-Nam to your attention and to request that you raise your voice in defense of freedom and [Page 287] peace in this area of the world by condemning the Communist aggression against the duly constituted Government of the Republic of Viet-Nam.

Yours sincerely

Ngo Dinh Diem
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.00/3-3162. Official use Only. This letter was also sent to the Pope and 92 heads of state in non-communist countries. The Australian Mission to the United Nations had agreed to circulate the letter to all member delegations, but on April 26 Madame Chuang, the Vietnamese Ambassador to the United Nations, undertook the distribution herself.