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

1271. Embtel 1236.2 Request you see Diem promptly and inform him orally or in writing that you have been instructed inform him officially there is no change in consistent U.S. policy supporting Vietnamese Government and people against Communist attack.

Change of Ambassadors was foreshadowed when Ambassador Nolting came to Viet-Nam for two year tour. Appointment of Lodge as Ambassador has been under consideration since late April. (FYI, prior May 8. End FYI.)

In designating a distinguished Republican who has a sympathetic interest in Viet-Nam (FYI, for example, he spent his active duty tour as Major General last year on Viet-Nam problems. You may use this orally. End FYI.), it is our purpose to demonstrate to President Diem, to the Vietnamese people, and to the world the importance which U.S. attaches to its support of Viet-Nam and to demonstrate that this policy has support of both political parties. As U.S. Ambassador, Lodge will continue carry out U.S. policy of supporting Viet-Nam and of perfecting effective cooperation with Government of Viet-Nam

Peril of the present situation has dictated that, as partners in Viet-Nam’s struggle, we present our views with utmost frankness.

Our belief that Viet-Nam’s continued success against Communist attack now requires the GVN to give continuing and unmistakeable proofs of good will to all its citizens and to the world remains unchanged.

Our clear intention is to warn a long time ally of a disaster which may yet be avoided; not to weaken him.

The decisions and actions are his sole responsibility.

FYI. Seems from here your demarches have helped Diem face facts, but that you must see him frequently to counteract suspicions which Nhu sows between your visits. When you have presented above you may wish ask Diem present his views with equal frankness and seek draw him out on reasons for his doubts of U.S. intentions.

While ensuing monologue may be painful; it may also help unburden Diem and regain his confidence. Leave completely to your discretion.

[Page 416]

In dealing with press queries re Lodge appointment, you may use on background basis points in first three paras. Dept will do same.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, AID (US) S VIET. Secret; Operational Immediate; Eyes Only; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Wood and cleared by Rice and Hilsman.
  2. Document 186.