63. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

335. Ambassador from Hilsman. My two-hour executive session today with Far East Subcommittee of Senate Foreign Relations Committee revealed far-reaching doubts regarding not only Diem-Nhu leadership but also advisability of continued US participation in Viet-Nam war. Subcommittee mood augurs heavy sledding in upcoming Senate aid debate as well as probable introduction of resolution condemning further US support for GVN; e.g. “It is the sense of the Senate that the American people are no longer willing to support a regime in South Viet-Nam that oppresses the people and religious sects. Continued support of such a regime is inconsistent with the basic precepts of American democracy.”

Major themes of Senatorial concern today were: “disaster course” of Diem-Nhu leadership; dangers in Viet-Nam and elsewhere of US identification with repressive regime; press reports of Nhu contacts with Hanoi; failure of US to produce alternative to Diem-Nhu; absence of clear indications as to where we go from here.

Suggest that you make use, at your discretion, of this Congressional storm-warning in your approaches to GVN.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 S VIET-US. Secret; Priority. Drafted by James C. Thomson, Special Assistant, Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs; cleared in draft with John R White, Legislative Officer, Bureau of Congressional Relations; and approved by Hilsman.
  2. In telegram 431 from Saigon, September 6, Lodge informed Hilsman of the use he made of telegram 335 to Saigon: “Your 335 came at the right moment and was most helpful. I read it to [less than 1 line not declassified] who were profoundly moved and are immediately seeking interview with Nhu and the Madame. They do not propose to bargain but simply to tell him that now he and his wife have no choice but to leave the country for six months. Will keep you posted. This will open the way for my showdown conference with Diem.” (Ibid., POL 1 S VIET-US)