89. Memorandum From William Stearman of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • CIA Report on Impact of “Eagleton Amendment” in Indochina and Thailand

At Tab A is a memorandum from George Carver containing the views of CIA Station Chiefs in Cambodia, Laos, South Vietnam [less than 1 line not declassified] on the impact of the “Eagleton Amendment” on these countries.2 These views are summarized below.

Cambodia

Here the crucial question is whether or not logistical support to the FANK could be continued under the terms of the Amendment. If such support can be continued, the impact of the Amendment would be as follows:

  • —The physical impact on FANK would be serious, but not necessarily fatal.
  • —If it does not fall prey to defeatism, FANK should have the capability of protecting Phnom Penh and keeping Routes 4 and 5 and the Mekong open; however, the additional forces needed for these missions might require the effective surrendering of such beleaguered cities as Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, Takeo, Kampot and Kompong Thom.
  • —Panic, disorder, anarchy or a wave of anti-Americanism in Phnom Penh, though possible, are not probable in the near term. Trouble would come from small enemy raids or rocket attacks.
  • —There is not likely to be a disastrous disintegration of FANK, although its morale would suffer from a lack of U.S. combat air support.
  • —A political crisis could develop leading to In Tam’s resignation and to a Sirik Matak government.

Communist negotiating demands would probably not change. They would regard the bombing halt as a major victory and would intensify [Page 363]military and propaganda efforts against the GKR. They would soften up Phnom Penh by infiltrating cadre and sapper teams and by cutting off its communications. Should they estimate that it would take too long to effect Phnom Penh’s collapse, they might concentrate on taking isolated GKR cities (e.g., Takeo and Kampot) thus placing their side in a strong position to dictate the terms of a coalition government to a supine GKR.

If, however, the Eagleton Amendment were to be interpreted as prohibiting logistical support for FANK, the results would be:

  • —A rapid disintegration of FANK, probably within ten days.
  • —A psychological and political impact on the nation as a whole “nothing short of disastrous” and food riots in Phnom Penh and other urban centers resulting from an implied cessation of rice deliveries.

Laos

  • —The military situation will not be significantly affected.
  • —An absolute proscription of U.S. bombing in Laos would undoubtedly encourage Pathet Lao intransigence in the talks and may increase the RLG’s willingness to compromise on fundamental political and military issues.

South Vietnam

The Amendment will encourage the Communists and strengthen their belief that we have given them a free hand in Southeast Asia.

  • —By the same token, this will contribute to weakening the GVN.
  • —There is not likely to be any immediate change in Communist tactics and policies in South Vietnam; however, it will be easier for them to consolidate their position in the country (through increased freedom of action in Cambodia) and the onset of new pressures against the GVN will probably be hastened.

Thailand

  • —If the North Vietnamese did not launch heavy attacks in Laos and Cambodia, the Thai would probably react calmly. However, the Amendment would call into question the dependability of U.S. protection and would reinforce those calling for a rapid détente with China. Some Thai leaders might also publicly question the retention of USAF units in Thailand.
  • —On the other hand, should the North Vietnamese launch heavy attacks on Thai volunteers in Laos, the reaction from the Thai leadership would be quick and angry, and heavy casualties would probably result in the withdrawal of Thai units. The inability of the USAF to rescue and extract these units would create considerable anti-U.S. sentiment in Thailand and a definite cooling of U.S.-Thai relations.
[Page 364]

Comment

For the most part, the projections of the various Station Chiefs seem plausible enough; however, in assuming a worst case situation (i.e., logistics cut off), the Phnom Penh Station Chief has not taken into account the possibility of alternatives (e.g. charter or VNAF airlifts) to U.S. logistics support which could ameliorate the hopeless situation he projects.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 209, Agency Files, CIA, 1973. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Kissinger’s initials appear at the top of the page.
  2. CIA memorandum, “Impact of the ‘Eagleton Amendment’ Throughout Indochina and Thailand, as Seen by CIA Station Chiefs,” June 28, attached but not printed.