97. Memorandum of Conversation, Department of State, Washington, March 2, 19621
- ICC and Vietnam
- A.D.P. Heeney, Ambassador of Canada
- E.R. Rettie, Political Counselor, Canadian Embassy
- Mr. Edward E. Rice, Deputy Assistant Secretary, FE
- Mr. Wharton D. Hubbard, BNA
While waiting for his appointment with the Under Secretary on March 2, 1962 regarding another subject, Ambassador Heeney took the occasion to make some observations to Mr. Rice about the question of the ICC in Vietnam.
The Canadian Ambassador said he thought it had been fruitless to instruct the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa to attempt to persuade the Department of External Affairs of the validity of the legal principle that a breach of an accord by one party automatically allowed the other party to break the agreement also.2 The Department of External Affairs had reported rather fully to Ambassador Heeney on this approach by the Embassy at Ottawa and had noted that the Embassy had been instructed to make the point that such a legal thesis was based on well recognized principles of international law. The Ambassador added that the legal staff of the Department of External Affairs could not accept such a thesis and could find no legal justification for such an assertion. In any event, he continued, it was not really worthwhile to push this point. He believed that the legal aspects of the ICC had already become so Byzantine that to add to the complexity of legal assertions would not be productive.
Ambassador Heeney went on to say it was not for him to say what the United States should or should not do. He understood only too well U.S. anxieties about Vietnam and he shared them. He believed that, if the United States thought the only way to save Vietnam was to bring personnel and materiel above the limits set by the Geneva Accord, then he would be willing to accept this judgement. He would bless any attempt to save Vietnam, but nevertheless saw no point in stressing legalisms. Ambassador Heeney thought a double citation was probably the best solution available at this time, and, in this connection, noted that he had received word from the Canadian Commission in Saigon (Hooton) that it believed it would be possible to bring the subversion issue out of the Legal Committee by mid-March.
On another aspect of the same subject, Ambassador Heeney discussed the manner in which U.S. materiel had been brought into Saigon. He understood that the reason for delivery being made in the principal downtown area of Saigon had been to buttress Vietnamese morale and faith in its government being properly equipped to defend itself. Nevertheless, this quite open way of doing things did make matters rather more difficult for the ICC and he imagined that the effectiveness of this materiel in coping with insurgency would probably do as much for moral as anything.[Page 199]
Mr. Rice said he was insufficiently informed about the legal problems involved but said he would speak to Mr. Chayes about it—which he did shortly thereafter.