201. Memorandum From the Deputy Director, Plans, of the Central Intelligence Agency (Wisner) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson)1


  • Current Situation in South Vietnam
[Page 433]

In response to Mr. Robertson’s request,2 the following are the comments of … on the current situation in South Vietnam, with particular reference to Diem’s current capabilities to deal with dissident elements:

  • “1. Premier Diem is believed capable of handling the problems he has chosen to attack at this time. Diem’s Government must take a strong stand to solidify its position. Diem is more aware of the need for sure success than anyone else in Vietnam and he is therefore being most careful to stack every military and political card in his favor first. Lack of popular support behind his present enemies facilitates his actions.
  • “2. According to [name and title deleted], negotiations were completed on 2 June for the integration of 3,000 of Lam Thanh Nguyen’s troops into the Vietnamese National Army. This follows a long held government plan to keep its enemies split into small groups.
  • “3. There is every evidence that the planned military operation against Tran Van Soai and Ba Cut is extremely well laid out and well developed logistically. Barring unforeseen major mistakes, there is every reason to believe that it will be successful if it is needed.
  • “4. Diem has shown to Colonel Lansdale the plans for military moves against Soai and Ba Cut, if such steps are necessary. … Diem assigned a liaison officer with Soai when Colonel Lansdale pointed out the favorable conditions for political negotiations with Soai from a Diem position of strength. It is possible that Diem is similar to most Asians and entered into political negotiations primarily to gain time in order to strengthen his military forces against Soai. However, Diem did open the way for proposals from Soai in which he reportedly asked that ‘his duchy concept’ be made legal. Diem turned down such a proposal flatly.
  • “5. On major issues Diem has given proof in the past of heeding American advice. We feel certain that Diem would listen to and thoroughly consider concrete realistic American advice directly from Ambassador Reinhardt, or through Colonel Lansdale.
  • “6. Diem’s influence, that of his followers, and that of Ngo Dinh Nhu have brought the Revolutionary Committee under control of the Government. All moves by extremists to control the Committee have been blocked by the Government’s adroit use of counter moves and balances. As an, example, the demonstration of 15 May could have been made to order for exploitation by extremist or Viet Minh elements, but the whole affair was well-organized and well-controlled. Diem has no fear of losing this control.
  • “7. Huu is technically not under arrest, but is being detained in Vietnam and the Government has taken his passport. According to Ngo Dinh Nhu, General Le, with the full backing of Diem, was responsible for Huu’s detention.
  • “8. The action of the Government in continuing to arrest opposition leaders could lead to increased skepticism, wariness, and concern as to the real intentions of the Government on the part of neutrals and intellectuals who are not at this time opposing the Government, [Page 434] although they are not supporting it. As yet, however, there is no sign of any real growth of feeling along these lines. Available information indicates that the Dai Viet sentiment will continue to be oppositionist unless the Government accepts the Dai Viets on their terms.”

For the Deputy Director, Plans
George E. Aurell3
  1. Source: Department of State, FE Files: Lot 56 D 679, Vietnam. Secret.
  2. See Document 198.
  3. Printed from a copy which bears this typed signature.