Document 22. Paper Prepared by the Ambassador to Vietnam (Taylor) and the Deputy Ambassador to Vietnam (Johnson) (1)

Saigon, May 20, 1965.


1. As a guide to present and future discussions of possible ways to settle the Vietnam question, it may be useful to list a few of the fundamental factors controlling the attitudes of the principal parties concerned.


(1) The DRV/VC objective is to unite the two Vietnams under a Communist regime. They will not give up this objective until it becomes clearly unattainable in the foreseeable future. Even then, they will defer their efforts, not abandon them.

(2) The DRV/VC strategy is now based on accomplishing their objective in three stages stretched over a period of years--first a negotiation between the NLF and some Government in Saigon for a coalition government; secondly, a take-over of that Government by the NLF; and lastly, an integration with the Hanoi regime. They believe they can attain their objective following this track. They cannot be talked or negotiated out of it until they are convinced it is a losing game, particularly since they feel that at Geneva in 1954 they were tricked out of accomplishing this objective which was then
within their grasp. They are thus especially wary of "negotiating tricks".

(3) The DRV/VC expect that war-weariness, government instability, U.S. sensitivity to domestic and international pressures, and Vietnamese xenophobia will lead to a situation which will shortly permit them to accomplish the first stage, i.e., a coalition government.

(4) No amount of bombing of the North is in itself going to persuade the DRV/VC to abandon their strategy. They can be persuaded to abandon it only if they are convinced that the trend of events in the South is against them and the factors cited above are not panning out. They are not yet convinced that this is the case.

(5) The VC will never really disband their armed forces in South Vietnam until they are fully in control of the government. They might as a ruse "play dead" without giving up their arms--but that is all. By the same token no extended cease-fire is practical.

(6) To the degree that we or the GVN seem anxious to negotiate from what the DRV/VC still estimate is a position of weakness on our side we encourage the DRV/VC to continue their present course. To the degree that we can impart to the DRV/VC a sense of calm confidence and willingness indefinitely to pursue our present course, the DRV/VC will be encouraged to look for ways out.

(7) At such time as the DRV/VC estimate that the tide has turned against them in South Vietnam it will be important to have a carefully thought out and agreed program that will further induce VC defections, facilitate DRV/VC acceptance of their defeat and "heal the nation's wounds" as promptly as possible.

b. ChiCom-USSR

(1) Neither country will go to war with the U.S. to save the VC. They will, however, take defensive precautions to see that the Communist regime in North Vietnam is not endangered. They will vie with each other vocally in condemning the U.S.

c. GVN

(1) The present government or its predictable successors will not tolerate recognition of NLF or the inclusion of VC in the government.

(2) No solution is acceptable which does not assure the end of infiltration from DRV and the break-up of the VC military apparatus in South Vietnam.

(3) There will be no agreement to a withdrawal of U.S. forces until the conditions of paragraph 2 above are met.

(4) The GVN will resist violently any political solution to which they are not parties from start to finish.

2. Although the foregoing attitudes are deeply entrenched, they are not unmovable. They are susceptible to the leverage of such forces as the universal fear of expanded war, international opinion, U.S. military power, and U.S. political and economic support. Our negotiating task is to accommodate those attitudes which are compatible with U.S. objectives and to apply effective leverage on those which must be changed.


(1) Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27-14 VIET S. Top Secret. For background information on this paper, see Document 287.

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