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

822. Ref Saigon’s 771.2 Herewith principal points re Viet-Nam in Senate Foreign Relations Report “Viet-Nam and Southeast Asia”:3

I. Letter of transmittal (Mansfield to Fulbright).

Focus report is Viet-Nam.
Mansfield expresses “great admiration” for Diem, but voices deep concern over trend in VN in seven years since last Mansfield visit. “Viet-Nam now appears to be, as it was then, only at the beginning of a beginning in coping with its grave inner problems.”
[Page 123]

II Body of report.

During lull in struggle (1955-1959) considerable constructive work undertaken, but in past three years these achievements overshadowed by resumption guerrilla war.
By 1961 total collapse in VN dangerously close. A joint US-VN re-evaluation undertaken. Vietnamese themselves devised new strategic theories to meet situation.
Strategy three-fold: to win Montagnards in order to render hazardous VC supply lines, to enable ARVN seize initiative, and to regroup rural population into strategic hamlets.
Responsible Americans and Vietnamese directing operations predict “success in a year or two”. Success defined as “reduction of guerrillas to point where they no longer serious threat to stability GVN”.
In best circumstances very substantial outside aid will be necessary for many years and will not suffice “without a great mobilization of selfless Vietnamese leadership in all parts of the country and at all levels.” GVN is in many respects authoritarian. Very difficult situation which GVN inherited when it took power, VC pressures and some political and social progress are recognized. However, “present political practices in Viet-Nam” do not appear to be mobilizing potential capacities for able and self-sacrificing leadership on a substantial scale. Such mobilization necessary for success.
Primary responsibility success lies with GVN and VN people, “…4 there is no interest of the United States in Viet-Nam which would justify, in present circumstances, the conversion of the war in that country primarily into an American war, to be fought primarily with American lives.”

In final conclusion dealing with all SEA report makes several recommendations of which following concern Viet-Nam:5

Induce more equitable contribution from other free nations to costs aiding freedom in SEA.
Encourage vigorously … throughout region relations of mutual advantage.
Help bring internal peace to VN, but maintain scrupulously our advisory capacity, recognizing primary responsibility in all areas is Vietnamese.
Emphasize social, economic and political aspects our policy.

Comment follows in septel.6

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 US/MANSFIELD. Official Use Only; Priority. Drafted by Wood and cleared in SEA by Deputy Director Norman B. Hannah. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD and pouched to Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Rangoon, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Manila.
  2. In telegram 771 from Saigon, February 25, the Embassy requested the text of those portions of the Mansfield report that dealt with Vietnam. (Ibid.)
  3. The report, Viet-Nam and Southeast Asia: Report of Senator Mike Mansfield, Senator J. Caleb Boggs, Senator Claiborne Pell, and Senator Benjamin A. Smith, was released as a Senate Foreign Relations Committee print on February 25. For background on the preparation of the report, see footnote 4, Document 24. The report was generally known as the Mansfield report.
  4. All ellipses in this document are the source text.
  5. The numbered paragraphs correspond to numbered paragraphs in the report.
  6. See Document 43.