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Fear of Impending French Defeat:
Vice-President Richard M. Nixon

". . . . What is to be done [about the war in Indochina]? For one, the problem is not one of materials and wasn't four months ago. More men are needed and the question is where to get them. They will not come from France, for France is tired of the war, as we were tired of Korea. Therefore, additional man power must come from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, particularly Vietnam. The French, however, while slow in training the native soldiers, resent the idea that the United States or others should send men to do the job.

More difficult is the job of spirit. Encouragement must be given to fight and resist. Some say if the French got out, the Vietnamese will fight with more spirit, because they would be fighting for their independence.

But the Vietnamese lack the ability to conduct a war by themselves or govern themselves. If the French withdrew, Indochina would become Communist-dominated within a month.

The United States as a leader of the free world cannot afford further retreat in Asia. It is hoped the United States will not have to send troops there, but if this government cannot avoid it, the Administration must face up to the situation and dispatch forces.

Therefore, the United States must go to Geneva and take a positive stand for united action by the free world. Otherwise it will have to take on the problem alone and try to sell it to the others.

French pressure will be exerted at the conference (beginning April 26) for negotiation and the end of the fighting. The British will take a similar position, because of mounting Labor Party pressure and defections in the Conservative ranks. The British do not want to antagonize Red China, which they have recognized.

This country is the only nation politically strong enough at home to take a position that will save Asia.

Negotiations with the Communists to divide the territory would result in Communist domination of a vital new area. Communist intransigence in Korea perhaps will teach the French and the British the futility of negotiation and bring them over to the plan of "united action" proposed by Secretary of State Dulles . . .

It should be emphasized that if Indochina went Communist, Red pressures would increase on Malaya, Thailand, and Indonesia and other Asian nations. The main target of the Communists in Indochina, as it was in Korea, is Japan. Conquest of areas so vital to Japan's economy would reduce Japan to an economic satellite of the Soviet Union. . . ."

Sources: Vietnam & America, pp. 51 and 52.

A. Dulles speech to the Overseas Press Club, New York City, March 29, 1954 in Department of State Bulletin, 30 (April 12, 1954), pp. 539 - 540.

B. Nixon's speech, The New York Times, April 17, 1954.