103. Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Harriman) and the Director of Central Intelligence (McCone)1

Mr. McCone called Governor Harriman. Mr. McCone said he is becoming increasingly concerned over the report of the possibility of Nhu making a deal up north. He said he is going out to the station to say concentrate attention immediately on that problem. He wondered if State might want to do the same thing with Cabot. Governor said yes, he thinks it is a good idea.2 Governor said if he does that we are in a much stronger position. He isn’t going to get anywhere with the people. Mr. McCone said he didn’t know whether that is true or not. Governor said he thinks if our soldiers are right at all, the spirit of fight against the Communists seems to be the one thing they agree on. Mr. McCone said depends on basis of deal he makes. Mr. McCone referred to Thompson’s cable this morning.3 Governor said not sure he saw that; he saw Thompson telegram yesterday dealing with it.4

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Harriman Papers, Telephone Conversations. Transcribed by Mildred Leatherman of Harriman’s staff.
  2. In telegram 406 to Saigon, September 13—7:48 p.m., the Department asked the Embassy to be particularly alert to indications of the Government of Vietnam’s contacts with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. (Department of State, Har-Van Files, South Vietnam Policy File, August 31-September 15, 1963)
  3. Not found.
  4. Reference is to telegram 496 from Saigon, September 12, 6 p.m., in which the Embassy summarized a conversation with the British adviser to the South Vietnamese Government, R.G.K. Thompson. Thompson noted that the war could still be won if the Government of Vietnam “totally changed its conduct, looked to the future and spoke to the country eloquently about the ‘National Campaign Plan’.” He had no hopes that the situation would change for the better and “stressed the dangerous tendency in the GVN to overdo political activities and to be preoccupied with fighting back via press interviews.” The Embassy concluded: “Thompson believed the only trump card Nhu had was the withdrawal of the US. For this, he said, North Vietnam would pay almost any price. What, he asked, would we do if the Govt of Vietnam invited us to leave?” (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET)