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304. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam 1

746. Eyes only for Ambassador Lodge from the President. Reference your 949.2 Your message makes a fitting ending to the weekly [Page 580]reports which you have sent in response to our 576,3 and from now on I think we should be in touch as either of us feels the need, but without this particular process of continuous watching on a specific set of questions.

Your own leadership in pulling together and directing the whole American operation in South Vietnam in recent months has been of the greatest importance, and you should know that this achievement is recognized here throughout the Government.

Now that there is a new Government which we are about to recognize, we must all intensify our efforts to help it deal with its many hard problems. As you say, while this was a Vietnamese effort, our own actions made it clear that we wanted improvements, and when these were not forthcoming from the Diem Government, we necessarily faced and accepted the possibility that our position might encourage a change of government. We thus have a responsibility to help this new government to be effective in every way that we can, and in these first weeks we may have more influence and more chance to be helpful than at any time in recent years.

I am particularly concerned myself that our primary emphasis should be on effectiveness rather than upon external appearances. If the new Government can limit confusion and intrigue among its members, and concentrate its energies upon the real problems of winning the contest against the Communists and holding the confidence of its own people, it will have met and passed a severe test. This is what we must help in, just at it was ineffectiveness, loss of popular confidence, and the prospect of defeat that were decisive in shaping our relations to the Diem regime.

I am sure that much good will come from the comprehensive review of the situation which is now planned for Honolulu,4 and I look forward to your own visit to Washington so that you and I can review the whole situation together and face to face.

With renewed appreciation for a fine job, John F. Kennedy.

Rusk
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET. Top Secret; Priority. The text of this message was sent by McGeorge Bundy at the White House to the Department of State for transmission to Saigon.
  2. Document 302.
  3. Document 195.
  4. November 19-20; see Document 321.