17. Editorial Note

On January 14 at the Pentagon, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Radford briefed those present at the joint Department of State–Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting on his trip to the Far East, December 22, 1954–January 5, 1955. The following extract from the Department of State’s memorandum of discussion of the meeting presents the discussion on Vietnam:

Admiral Radford found General Collins in rather low spirits.

“Mr. Robertson rejoined that there now appeared to be important plus signs in the equation which had developed since the Admiral’s visit. Importantly, there was the evidence of Premier Diem’s popular appeal as evidenced by his recent trip through the villages.

Admiral Radford said that he had met Diem, that he certainly was a nice little man, but that unfortunately did not make him strong politically.

“There ensued a discussion of the French role in Vietnam. It was the Admiral’s confirmed opinion that the French had not honestly tried to make Diem’s term of office a successful one. He saw in M. Daridan the epitome of French animosity with respect to Diem. Daridan, in the Admiral’s opinion, should be quietly removed from the Vietnamese scene.

“Mr. Robertson generally agreed with Admiral Radford’s opinion of the French. He said that the French were encouraging the religious sects in Vietnam to work against Diem. Not only that, the Admiral noted, the French had given encouragement to General Hinh. Mr. Robertson agreed that the French had not given up by any means.

“Concluding, Admiral Radford said that the French were definitely working for all of Vietnam to fall to Ho Chi Minh, and to be attached to the French Union.” (Department of State, State–JCS Meetings: Lot 61 D 417)

At the meeting of the National Security Council held the previous day, Radford had reported briefly on his impressions of Vietnam along similar lines. (Memorandum of discussion by Gleason, January 14; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)