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Situation in South Vietnam
Date of Creation:
March 3, 1965
Date of Declassification:
November 24, 1980
Type of Document:
Weekly report
Level of Classification:
Status of Copy:
Pagination, Illustration:
21 p., 1 map
The emergence of peace movements in Buddhist and other civilian circles occupied increasing attention during the week. After a series of statements by leading Buddhist monks on the theme of peace, a small student demonstration in Saigon calling for an end to the war, and the arrest of certain politicians who sponsored a peace petition signed by 300 civil servants, Quat?s cabinet met to take a stand on the issue. On 1 March, Quat issued a statement declaring his government opposed to any negotiated peace until the Communists ceased infiltration from North Vietnam and ended subversion in the South. Although the government has warned that it will curb propaganda from Communist-inspired groups, it has distinguished between such groups and the aims of the Buddhists..... Nevertheless, there is a common theme in the remarks of various Buddhist leaders concerning a return to the "relative calm" of 1955. Although they have not so far echoed Communist terms for a settlement, their new emphasis on peace lends itself to Communist exploitation. The Buddhists may also use the peace campaign as a political lever on the Quat government or on the military. A continuing series of command changes within the armed forces reflects the efforts of various generals to step into the strongman role vacated by General Khanh. General Thi, the commander in the northern provinces, who has so far dictated most of the changes, reportedly has also sent Premier Quat a letter recommending a similar "purification" of the civilian side of the government. Reports of continued maneuvering and plotting within the military may foreshadow additional shake-ups before any governmental stability is possible. The Viet Cong are continuing to make significant gains in the northern and central provinces of South Vietnam, particularly along the low coastal regions. Viet Cong effectiveness in Binh Dinh Province was manifested in their ability to isolate the coastal districts and to restrict government control to all but the district towns and heavily populated areas. Viet Cong efforts in Binh Dinh were mirrored in the neighboring coastal provinces of Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa but were less intense. The government is clearly on the defensive in the north and has been unable to contain, much less reverse, Communist gains. It seems likely that the Viet Cong will increase the pressure still more in the north, principally through continued small-scale attacks, harassments and acts of terrorism. Moreover, the Viet Cong retain and appear to be improving their capability for multiple battalion-size attacks against major lucrative targets in all areas. Pacification remains stalled and further deterioration of rural security is expected. The US Embassy reports that growing involvement of US directly in the war in South Vietnam, including use of US jets, coming on top of strikes against the North, has tended to offset the psychological effects of deteriorating security to some degree, but that, unfortunately, many Vietnamese seem to welcome increased US participation as an opportunity for reducing Vietnamese responsibility for the war effort.
Declassified Documents Reference System Location: