421. Message From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Taylor) to the President1

Embtel 1536.2 The Huong government is still in business but has made little progress since my last report. The harassing attacks of minority groups continue the political unrest in Saigon. Troops and [Page 936] police have shown considerable restraint in dealing with demonstrators and have behaved reasonably well in consonance with the orders issued. Reports of deaths and injuries to demonstrators have been greatly exaggerated—we know of no fatalities. Huong complained to me that politically subsidized newspapers were reporting casualties in advance of demonstrations. Chief of State Suu is turning out to be a soft spot in the government structure. He has undercut Huong’s position by sending a letter to the High National Council urging it to convoke a national assembly as soon as possible (by implication to put Huong out of business). He has also shown himself vulnerable to pressures from many quarters and to be unduly concerned for his own popular image. It is a great pity that the Chief of State is not a man of some strength to bolster Huong and his Cabinet.

We had a good military week with Viet Cong activity low and government counterinsurgency activity both high and effective. There were several very good operations conducted by the Vietnamese Army. The losses inflicted in VC during week amounted to 425 killed in action and 146 prisoners.

Clean-up in the flood area in Central Viet-Nam continues to make progress. As predicted, we are finding that the losses will be less than originally reported. Fortunately, there have been no epidemics.

The big question remains the ability of the Huong government to ride out the present rough weather. The typhoon disaster diverted some attention from the government but now the Buddhist leadership is returning to the attack, chastising the government for its “repression of innocent people who only sought to present their just aspirations”. Huong continues to insist that his government will survive.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Nodis. Transmitted as telegram 1630 from Saigon, which is the source text.
  2. See Document 413.
  3. Telegram 1630 bears this typed signature.