Indo-China - part 1

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Indo-China - part 1

A.E.

Tel. 257. Alarmist approach by Dulles.
Had arranged to see him on followg. a.m. (Sat.) to discuss other ques. But he went on, instead, with I/Ch. - Tel. 262 : Radford being there.
Fear R. has facile view of wht. cd. be done in I/Ch. - mil. & politically.
D. Bien Phu written off anyhow. But U.S. think much can be done by U.K./U.S. intervention i) morale effect ii) air intervention alone.
E.g. R. asked if we hadn't a carrier.
Fighting v. hard. at D B. Phu. 600 seriously wounded exposed to fire.
2.600 less seriously wounded. Only 3.000 effective left.
About 4.000 V.Nam left - but not standing up to artillery fire.
A worse & larger Malaya. U.K./U.S. intervn. wd. be immensely costly & of doubtful value. But U.S. think of it as naval/air only, with no grd. troops.
Bao Dai has told D. he would like Fr. to go out & U.S. to come in. But D. admits he represents v. little now.
Rescue of garrison in D.B.Phu might have bn. considered. But U.S. now admit tht. it isn't possible.
Air strike - wd. have to be v. lorry borne supplies. Even that unlikely to be more than 10% effective.
No talk yet of using a. bombs. there. But at NATO, D. made it clear tht. U.S. wd. feel free to use a. weapons in retaliation - not necessarily in place when they had bn. attacked.
U.S. reports of what Fr. want were not borne out by what Fr. said to us. Insisted therefore on talks with them. Results : No. 267. Fr. have not asked us for help. When I suggd. it, he said we shd. be grateful for anything you can do.
Fall of D.B.Phu may lead to fall of Fr. Govt. and replacement by a neutralist Govt. - prs. led by Faure.
Comm. views. Canada (Pearson) deprecates any intervention & has made that clear to D. Tel. 269 : para 2. wd. be ill received by world opinion & wd. be ineffective.
Australia prob. think same, tho' Casey wobbles.
Hope he wd. follow our lead. Tho' naturally A. is worried about consequ. of Fr. collapse in I/Ch.
Reflections:
i) no hope of preventg. large parts of I/Ch. falling under Comm. control. Best hope therefore is partition. Shd. increase Fr. bargaining power for that at Geneva. By warning Ch. of consequ. & by encouraging Fr. to continue resistance.
ii) But these objections won't be secured by premature mil. intervention.
Threat of more in future is more effective than a small action at present.
Draft memo. Designed as directive for Geneva.
SEA pact. Concerned at U.S. haste. Sure it wd. be mistake to hold early public mtg on this. The 10 aren't impressive qua Asia. Dangerous esp. while Colombo mtg. is on. Hope Ceylon & P. will prevent rash action at Colombo.
Para. 4 and 8 are new offers.
R. was pessimistic about Malaya if I/Ch. went. I answered tht. our pol. posn. in M. was much stronger than that of Fr. in I/China.
Read to Cabinet letter fr. D. to Bidault. [Not known wtr it has bn. sent - B. was reluctant to receive it.]

P.M.

Must avoid a row with U.S. - esp. over what we can't do.
Rescue opn. we cd. have gone into : but not indefinite mil. commitmt. in I/China.

A.E.

All R. wants is one carrier fr. us. But p. opinion wd. ask what we were doing in such opns.

O.L.

U.S. thght. Korea cd. be handled w'out ground troops.

A.E.

U.S. haven't faced possibility of using ground troops in I/China.

P.M.

We shd. stand on paras. 4, 6 & 8 of draft directive.
At same time, we mustn't under-rate effect of Comm. triumph at D.B. Phu. Will spread throughout Asia. Commn. over capitalism :
Asian over European. Viet. Nam opinion will move at once v. France.
Sitn. will be much graver. But doesn't follow tht. method of dealing with that is to go into I/China now.

A.E.

Or to open war with China, as R. believes.

C.N.S.

R.'s view has always bn. tht. we shd. attack Ch. - on view tht. R. won't intervene.

A.E.

A v. dangerous assumptn.

P.M.

We mustn't lose our influence with U.S. But we shdn't go into this.

CIGS.

Para. 4. If area guaranteed includes any part of I/China, it will involve v. gt. effort - pol. and mil.

A.E.

I agree. Hope tht. if we draw this line, it will be outside I/China.

M.F.

Alternative i) ill-considered and ineffective intervn. in I/China.
Must rule that out because of consequences.
ii) Paras 4 & 6 of directive.
This is our only course.

O.L.

What will be sitn. of Malaya?
Importance of Kra peninsula. If we cd. seal off Malaya there, deterioration in M. won't be v. rapid. We have orgn. and power to deal with insurrection.

A.L.

We shall lose the rice.

O.L.

Supplies are better. x/ We must lay our hands on all available surpluses.
Experiments on new areas have bn. procdg : but they are slow.
I will have it examined again, with view to x/.

CIGS.

Morale effect on M. can't be ignored.
Loss of I/China & pressures on Siam emphasises need to seize Songkla posn. before any risk of Siam's falling.
Our policy shd. be to develop M. as area of strength & stability.

A.E.

Shd. we not talk to R. about Songkla. Get U.S. agreemt. tht. we shd. seize that posn. at appropte. moment. Don't believe Siam will go quickly. Comm. don't hurry.

CIGS.

We mustn't be drawn into giving mil. support to Siam. Broken reed. Not the place at wh. to put up main resistance.

A.E.

Yes. Tho' we cd. encourage U.S. to buttress Siam. Our role being to hold Malaya.

A.H.

We shall prob. need more troops in M. if threat fr. north develops.
We can't occupy Songkla and preserve order against deteriorating internal sitn. in M.

C.A.S.

Wd. this be good moment to raise with R. w'drawal of some of our troops from Korea. We have 10,000 in all.

A.E.

Don't see why we shdn't move a brigade from there.

P.M.

For Songkla we cd. take it - and prs. a divn. fr, Canal Zone.O.L.'s movements ? Cut out Nyassaland : and return to Ldn as soon as Queen leaves Uganda.

O.L.

I can be back by 9/5.

Taken from C. 30(54) - Meeting held on 25 April 1954.