147. Memorandum of a Meeting1
Saigon, May 11, 1964, 11 a.m.
- Conference with Ambassador Lodge Prior to SecDef Arrival (111100 May 1964)
- Ambassador Lodge
- General Taylor
- General Harkins
- Mr. Sullivan
During the discussions, the following points we reopened: [Page 305]
- The Ambassador is not particularly afraid of a military coup to oust General Khanh. He does regard the Buddhists as a possible source of danger to the government. In particular, he thinks that Tri Quang, the Buddhist leader, is a potential trouble maker. Having overthrown one government, he may feel like trying again against Khanh. He has indicated to the Ambassador that he does not regard Khanh as a “good Buddhist”—meaning, presumably, that he is a Buddhist who does not follow Tri Quang’s direction.
- From a discussion of a possible coup, the Ambassador expressed the view that we should be giving serious consideration to our course of action if Khanh were ousted or assassinated. He suggested the possible need of a US presence to take over and run the government. In such a case, he thought a naval base at Cam Ranh Bay might be used as a US headquarters external to Saigon. He apparently feels that in a situation of civil turmoil, the US facilities in Saigon would not be available.
- In discussing the famous interview with General Khanh,2 he explained Khanh’s frame of mind as one of frustration at recent heavy losses and the inability to bring the VC to bay. He is not happy in contemplating a long drawn out guerrilla war offering no decisive victory. Hence, he looks to the North as a battlefield offering more attractive targets.
- Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 69 A 926, 333 Vietnam. Top Secret; Sensitive. The source text is Enclosure A to an undated memorandum from McNamara to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of DIA.↩
- See Document 136.↩