22. Paper Prepared by the Ambassador to Vietnam (Taylor) and the
Deputy Ambassador to Vietnam (Johnson) (1)
May 20, 1965.
AND COMMENTS RELATING TO "A PLAN FOR A POLITICAL RESOLUTION
IN SOUTH VIET-NAM" (2)
Why do we consider that the Viet Cong would offer the cooperation
which is indispensable to the success of this plan?
We agree with the estimate expressed that the Viet Cong will
be willing "to submit to heavy punishment rather than give
up their long-sought objective of a Communist State covering
the whole of Viet-Nam". We also believe that they consider
that their present course of action will bring ultimate success.
Hence it is hard to see why, under these circumstances, they
would consider it advantageous "to move the conflict from
the military to the political arena".
is the suggestion (Part II. B.) that the DRV/VC will find the
plan attractive because it will fatten the South Vietnamese
sheep for the eventual enjoyment of North Vietnamese wolves
at a later time. Also there is the implication that this "later
time" might come to the Viet Cong as the result of exploiting
the political advantages resulting from their infiltration of
the South Vietnamese government. However, if this advantage
is real enough to convince the Viet Cong that it is worth joining
in a cooperative effort with the GVN to rebuild South Viet-Nam,
the plan is probably too risky for us to engage in it.
Will the "carrots" contained in this package be more
appealing to the DRV than those already suggested and thus far
rejected by the DRV?
The President has made it fairly clear that the DRV could participate
in many advantages if the leaders ceased their aggression against
South Viet-Nam. This offer, coupled possibly with that of political
recognition of Hanoi, might seem to be a more attractive package
than the risks of cooperating with the GVN in the social and
political reconstruction of the country. If such is not the
case, we had better reconsider whether we are not risking too
much in our own plan.
Why do we think that the promulgation of a new Plan for Social
and Political Reconstruction would offer hope and credibility
to either the South Vietnamese or the Viet Cong?
We have been engaging for several years in attempting the social
and political reconstruction of South Viet-Nam, utilizing all
the ideas and resources which the United States Government has
been able to produce. From this experience, we have learned
that the success of social, political and economic development
is a function of security and effective government. Because
of the security factor, conditions are favorable to development
only in the cities and about 10 provinces; the conditions are
spotty in about 22 provinces and are virtually impossible in
about 12 provinces. As for the governmental factor, the record
shows how feeble governmental performance has been since the
fall of Diem. Performance is getting somewhat better now but
still has a long way to go. Out of consideration of these two
factors taken in combination, one can see little reason to hope
that a newly promulgated program for social and political reconstruction
will convince any large number of Vietnamese, north or south,
that a new era is at hand and a new deal imminent which is too
good to miss.
What is the precise purpose of the limited pause in military operations?
The paper (VII. A.) merely states the purpose as being "to
assure that the other side gives serious attention to the plan".
It is not clear whether, during the pause, the advantages to
North Viet-Nam and the Viet Cong would be spelled out specifically
by GVN spokesmen. As indicated in the discussion of Question
1., the features of the plan which might be considered really
attractive to the Viet Cong are such that one could hardly allude
to them in public--certainly no GVN official could.
Under what circumstances during the pause would we revert to military
operations? Specifically, if the DRV merely maintained their normal
pattern of behavior, do we continue to respect the pause?
This question arises from the language in Paragraph VII. B.
3 and 4 and D. It seems quite likely that the Viet Cong would
not change their pattern of conduct at least for a considerable
time. Would this lack of favorable reaction invalidate the entire
plan or is it considered feasible to carry on some parts of
the plan even without Viet Cong cooperation? It would certainly
not be satisfactory to the GVN (nor, we would suppose, to us)
to cease offensive action both in South and North Viet-Nam if
the Viet Cong adhere to their present level of aggression.
Under what circumstances and in what terms would we announce our
willingness to withdraw U.S. forces?
This is a most sensitive subject for discussion within South
Vietnamese hearing. There are always latent fears that the U.S.
somehow will wriggle out of commitment to South Viet-Nam. On
page 12 [V. C. 6] of the reference paper, there is a reference
to a withdrawal of forces "on a phased basis" (assuming
proper response from the other side)". We should be very
clear in our own mind what would constitute a "proper response"
before opening any discussion of this matter with our allies.
To what extent will Viet Cong or former Viet Cong be allowed to
engage in political activities?
At the present time, Viet Cong defectors under the Chieu-Hoi
program may take part as voters in local elections and, in principle,
are not barred as candidates providing they are approved by
the proper government authorities. If, however, unreformed Viet
Cong are eligible to vote and run for provincial office and
for delegates in a constituent assembly we would appear to be
tacitly encouraging the eventual creation of the type of coalition
government which, on past occasions, we have publicly equated
to communization of South Viet-Nam. As we read the paper, we
understand that under the amnesty Viet Cong who are willing
to cease fighting will be offered full political privileges
without renouncing Communism. If this is so, the point will
be hard to sell to the CVN who have taken seriously our arguments
against popular front governments.
How does the government go about seeking "to establish its
presence with a minimum disruption of local administrative arrangements
acceptable to local populace"? What functions would government
officials attempt to perform in Viet Cong controlled areas?
Paragraph VI. C. seems to indicate that we would accept the
status quo insofar as government control or lack of control
of population and territory is concerned. On the other hand,
in Paragraph VI. E. one contemplates at some point attaining
a situation where "the government has effectively extended
its authority throughout the country". As a practical matter,
the Viet Cong will never allow government officials to operate
in their areas of authority nor is it likely that we will find
many government officials willing to try to enter Viet Cong
bailiwicks unless amply supported by ARVN bayonets. Thus, if
the thought is that government officials could at a minimum
effect the registration of voters country-wide, we consider
the possibility highly unlikely.
When, if ever, would there be a cease-fire and how would it come
By the time elections are taking place, presumably the shooting
will have died down. We are not sure how this will have come
about, whether by tacit agreement or by some more formal understanding.
We do not see how we could have much confidence in the duration
of a cease-fire if the Viet Cong have not been disarmed.
Under this plan, how do we ever assure the ending of infiltration
from North Viet-Nam and the dismantling of the Viet Cong military
within South Viet-Nam?
As for infiltration under this plan, we see no reason why North
Viet-Nam could not continue the clandestine infiltration of
men and equipment as has been done in the past. Similarly, we
do not see how the plan disposes of the hundred thousand odd
armed Viet Cong who constitute at present the principal threat
to security in South Viet-Nam. In the absence of reasonable
assurances on these two points, it is equally unclear how the
United States government can ever free itself of its present
obligations in South Viet-Nam.
Can this plan be sold to the GVN?
We can see little if anything in this plan which would appeal
to the GVN. Local leaders will be quick to see the danger of
a coalition government and of the failure to assure the end
of infiltration and to liquidate the Viet Cong military thread
within South Viet-Nam. If we mention U.S. withdrawal, they will
shy even more. In its present form, it is highly unlikely that
the GVN would accept the plan without a great deal of unpleasant
arm-twisting on the part of the Americans--perhaps not then.
Such pressure tactics could only be applied at a very substantial
sacrifice of the present good relations existing between GVN
and USG. If the GVN yielded to this pressure, it is entirely
possible that a military-Catholic coalition would overturn the
Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27-14 VIET S.
Top Secret. For background information on this paper, see Document