219. Telegram From the Secretary of State to the Embassy in Vietnam 1

8. Saigon 6041 repeated Paris 1507.2 We believe potential danger to Free Viet-Nam, if deposition Bao Dai be accomplished by other than legislative forum, is so great that you should talk further with Diem personally to attempt to prevent his provoking an incident which might give us all great trouble.

It seems to us, one of Diem’s greatest assets is the potential support of an assembly. Actions taken by such a body would have to be accepted as an expression of national sentiment and not as easily attacked actions of a clique.

Specifically in matter of Bao Dai, if Diem’s cabinet simply votes deposition and attempts to carry it out they will be in no more sound a legal status than Revolutionary Committee, which has already so voted. Opportunity for competitive rump committees to vote the removal of Diem or adopt resolutions favoring Viet Minh or sects will be greatly enhanced. Balance would then rest on comparative military strength rather than on present legality of Government.

United States would have grave difficulty in making effective its aid and support under those circumstances.

While we understand the revolutionary sentiment which impels Diem to consider this act, we believe a careful and legally defensible procedure much preferable to course he is considering.

If there are acts by Bao Dai or others which appear to make former’s deposition a matter of urgency to avoid serious threat to Free Viet-Nam, we have not been informed by Diem of such.

Request you inform Diem substance above.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.00/6–2955. Secret. Drafted by Hoey and cleared by Young and Robertson. Repeated for information to Paris; pouched to Phnom Penh and Vientiane.
  2. This telegram, June 29, reads as follows:

    FonMin Vu Van Mau told me June 29 in strictest confidence that Cabinet was considering decision to hold referendum with view to deposing Bao Dai. Decision, although not yet reached, might be forthcoming soon. I endeavored to explain to Mau advantages both internally and externally to Vietnam if this important constitutional matter were dealt with by an elected assembly, rather than precipitately before govt had completed census, let alone carried out elections.” (Ibid.)

  3. See Document 221.