260. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State 1

2016. 1. In a talk which Calhoun and I had with Bui Diem July 28, I asked him about the way things were going between Thieu and Ky. Bui Diem said that he thought their personal relationship was improving and that they were working together quite well on the campaign and related matters. When I pressed him, he said he foresaw some future problems, particularly after a new government is formed, in the role of the military leaders. He said a collegiate form of control was emerging among the top military leadership and that the latter would seek to continue this control if Thieu and Ky were elected. He did not know what form this might take, but was worried about its relationship to broader civilian-military cooperation and to the Constitution.

2. In this connection Bui Diem said that they were still attempting to spell out more clearly the understanding between Thieu and Ky regarding the division of responsibilities.2

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 15–1 VIET S. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.
  2. In telegram 2105 from Saigon, July 29, Bunker reported more on this conversation. He confronted Bui Diem about Ky’s offhand remark about resorting to a coup in the event of unfair elections, and sternly repeated his previous warning that “we could not contemplate any such action as a coup.” (Ibid.)