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.