The Pentagon Papers
Document 79, Telegram from Ambassador Dillon to Secretary of State Dulles with Additional French Reaction to Dulles' Letter to Mendes-France, 11 July 1954, pp. 552-53
TO: Secretary of State
NO: 133, July 11, 9 p.m.
FOR SECRETARY FROM AMBASSADOR DILLON
During conversation with Mendes at Geneva, I informed him of contents of DEPTEL 84 and of our feeling that Vietnam Government should be kept more fully informed by French. I told him that we felt time had now come for Vietnam to be informed of general lines of seven point program. Mendes said he would consider informing Vietnamese after discussing matter with his advisors during afternoon: He said he had originally felt it preferable not to inform them until he could assure them that US was prepared to guarantee them against further aggression or subversion.
He then spoke at length of necessity for a clear-cut US guarantee that would protect Associated States in the event that the Communists did not honor the spirit of any agreement that might be reached at Geneva. Without such a guarantee he said that a settlement would not be worth the paper it was written on. Mendes asked me to inquire as to whether if a settlement within seven point framework was obtained, Secretary would then be willing to come to Geneva to close conference and to work out necessary guarantees to protect Associated States.
He then discussed in some detail the situation which would arise if no settlement was reached at Geneva. He said the sending of conscripts to Indochina would then be debated on July 22 and 23. If the National Assembly approved, the first division would leave on July 25 and the second division about 10 days later. It would take a month to reach Indochina and three more weeks to get troops ready for action. Therefore the first division of conscripts would not be ready in Indochina until about September.
This schedule for reinforcements would be known to Viet Minh and the result would undoubtedly be a massive Viet Minh assault during August prior to arrival of new troops.
Mendes said he doubted if French alone could successfully resist such an assault. He said that French Government would officially inform US of these facts at end of July if no cease-fire reached.
I reminded him of US requirements for action on our part, and he said he could not foretell how French Parliament might react. They might react strongly and request US help to continue the war or they might have what he termed a "nervous breakdown" and push for capitulation at any price to save expeditionary corps.
If no cease-fire, Mendes will resign, but in view of the above, I feel it is possible that if no cease-fire is reached the French Government which will succeed Mendes may appeal for US armed help, and may meet all US terms. Not possible to estimate timing of such an appeal but it could occur during August when US Congress no longer in session.
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