222. Memorandum for the Record by the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (Krulak)1
Washington, October 28, 1963.
- Visit to Representative Zablocki
- At the direction of General Taylor I called on Representative Zablocki to discuss his Vietnam visit.2 He stated that his views would ultimately be expressed in writing but, in advance of the written report,3 that he would be glad to summarize them orally, generally as recounted below.
- He began by saying that his group included several members who
left the US with a preconception that the Diem regime must be liquidated,
while others went to Vietnam with an open mind. All returned, after
3-1/2 days in-country, with about the same convictions; specifically
- Diem, with all his faults, his autocracy, his tolerance of venality and brutality, is durable, and has been winning.
- There is no visible substitute for Diem—at least none which guarantees improvement; thus, actions by US representatives to join with coup plotters, as was apparently true in August, is harmful.
- The conduct of the resident US press is a grave reflection upon their entire profession. They are arrogant, emotional, unobjective and ill-informed. The case against them is best expressed by their having been repudiated by much of the responsible US press.
- He has serious doubts as to the efficacy of our commodity import suspension, in that he fears it will shake the confidence of the common people, inspire inflation and affect the war effort adversely. He is, at the same time, in full sympathy with the suspensions related to the Vietnamese special forces.
- He is favorably impressed with Ambassador Lodge; believes he is attacking a most difficult task with sincerity, tenacity and vigor. He is likewise favorably impressed with General Harkins and his energetic approach to winning the war. He spoke unfavorably concerning Trueheart and Mecklin, in terms of their defeatist and anti-Diemist attitudes, although he did not explain how he reached this judgement in such a brief time.
- He believes that intensified operations against North Vietnam are an essential to early termination of the war; that Ho Chi Minh’s truce noises should be a signal for more pressure on him.
- The Zablocki group visited the Delta and, by his account, were favorably impressed by the morale and enthusiasm of both the US and Vietnamese military. Someone had obviously told him of General Cao’s tactical weaknesses, which he recounted accurately. He also observed that we should not lose sight, in our impatience to see the Delta war ended, that neither the French nor the Vietnamese had ever been able to establish much of a presence there; that it is indeed a hard problem.
- At the end of the conversation—in which he did most of the talking-I noted that he had not mentioned the Buddhist problem. He then characterized it as a political matter, said we probably have as much religious discrimination in the US as there is in Vietnam, and compared the number of Roman Catholics in our own high government circles with the situation in Vietnam.
- I asked if Mr. McNamara and General Taylor might have the favor of an advance copy of his report. He assented, but avoided saying when it might be complete. From remarks made by one of his secretaries I reached the conclusion that they are shooting for this weekend.
Major General, USMC
Major General, USMC