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

393. Eyes only for Secretary. CINCPAC POLAD exclusive for Admiral Felt. ReDeptel 294 and 295.2

Your 295 states the issue admirably.
I agree that we must keep our eyes fixed on main purpose of our presence in South Vietnam which at the very least is to deny this area to the Communists and, hopefully, also to transform South Vietnam into a country strong enough to stand by itself. It is for these enormously important reasons that we are asking our fellow citizens to risk their lives.
I also agree that GVN and Nhus have made it much harder to achieve this purpose and that a continuation of the status quo may make it impossible to achieve.
I do not, however, exclude the possibility that an improved situation can be created if Madame Nhu and Archbishop Thuc could leave the country; if Nhu is restricted to work on Strategic Hamlet [Page 81] Program, if the post of Prime Minister is created with Thuan as Prime Minister, and if I get on a footing with the GVN in which I try to influence them to act like responsible political leaders in the best sense of the word. In addition I should get assurance of repeal of Decree Law Number Ten, restoration of damaged pagodas, release of students, and Buddhist prisoners, reopening of closed universities, removal of press censorship, and negotiation with true Buddhist leaders on implementation of June 16 agreement.3

[Numbered paragraph 5 (3-1/2 lines) not declassified]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET. Top Secret; Immediate. Repeated to CINCPAC. Received at 8:37 a.m. and passed to the White House, CIA, and Department of Defense at 9:01 a.m. On another copy of this telegram there is an indication that the President read it. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, State Cables, Part I)
  2. Documents 39 and 40.
  3. See vol. III, p. 397.