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

235. Saigon pass COMUSMACV. Refs: Saigon’s 196, 2032 and related CAS messages.3

Referenced messages have suggested to us following possible explanations for reported attitude Khanh and other members MRC:

1.
Khanh may simply be expressing frustration felt by himself and other military, in view of recent military difficulties and consequent feeling war cannot be successfully prosecuted under present concept This mood may be transitory and could be assuaged by reaffirmation of our conviction that pacification program can be successful and must be vigorously pushed, which will be fortified by impending announcement of increase in U.S. military and civilian advisory assistance.
2.
Khanh may be reacting against pressures from the neutralist-minded by pushing openly for strong action against the North. His retreat from this tactic may have led some of the military to doubt our [Page 563]continued support of Khanh personally. If you feel that there is indeed slightest doubt about our continued support for Khanh as Prime Minister, you should make every effort to remove these doubts.
3.
Recent developments suggest we should watch closely as possible neutralist thinking in Vietnamese circles and specifically watch for any indications of DRV contacts with former junta generals, GVN officials or leading Vietnamese exiles. To avoid generating misinterpretation our interest it might be best alert British to pass us promptly whatever their assets can learn of any such developments.

Rusk
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 VIET N–VIET S. Secret; Flash; Limdis. Repeated to CINCPAC. Passed to the White House on receipt in the Department of State. Also published in Declassified Documents, 1979, 91B.
  2. These telegrams from Saigon, July 24, described rumors in the capital that Khanh’s position as Prime Minister was becoming “shaky.” (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 6–3 VIET S and POL 15–1, respectively)
  3. Apparent reference to CIA telegrams TDCS DB–315/00231–64 to DB–315/00236–64, all July 24. Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. XIV; published in Declassified Documents, 1977, 94F–95D)