303. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State1

951. CINCPAC for POLAD. Two characteristics of new provisional GVN stand out: 1) largely made up of technicians and not politicians; and 2) military clearly have upper hand.

  • Regarding 1) above, no political figures appear in government and all civilian members, with possible exception of Quang (Rural Affairs), have only non-political professional and technical experience in their fields. Some of them are considered by Mission personnel to be competent, honest public servants, but at least two (Tinh, National Economy, and Cung, Premier’s Office) have reputations of being careful bureaucratic types. Quang (Rural Affairs), Lam (Foreign Affairs) and Giang (Labor) stand out as the best civilian appointments. Giang [Page 579] maintains excellent relations with CVTC, whose leaders are known to be pleased with appointment. Most members of new government are southerners and Buddhists.
  • Regarding 2) above, Revolutionary Military Council holds legislative and executive powers “pending amendment of constitution” and President of Council, “Big” Minh is Chief of State. Council “entrusts” executive power to provisional government, whose members are chosen by Premier Tho but subject Council’s approval. Moreover, Chief of State Minh, Minister of Defense Don, and Minister of Security Dinh, in addition to being members of Revolutionary Military Council, are Chairman and Deputy Chairmen respectively of Council’s executive committee.

As might be expected, complaints about new government already being registered by Vietnamese, primarily by those with histories of political activity and, presumably, political ambitions. While Embassy sampling still small, such complaints center on fact government 1) non-political and technical; 2) allegedly lacks vision and drive to solve Vietnam’s problems; and, therefore, 3) cannot long maintain support of people. Additional complaints heard: 1) large percentage members of government pro-French, and 2) various elements in Vietnamese political life not represented.

Countering above criticism, based on all available samplings by Embassy, rank and file of population delighted at end of Diem regime and army unquestionably has wide popular support for its initiative. Nhu’s death not regretted; Diem’s death regretted but not to extent of detracting from army’s popularity.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 S VIET. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to CINCPAC. Received at 7:06 a.m. and passed to the White House at 7:30 a.m.