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Situation appraisal of Buddhism as a political force during current election period extending through September 1967
Date of Creation:
May 4, 1967
Date of Declassification:
April 21, 1993
Type of Document:
Intelligence information cable
Level of Classification:
Status of Copy:
Pagination, Illustration:
13 p.
The Buddhist dissident movement at present poses less threat to political stability in South Vietnam than at any time since early 1963. The Government of Vietnam (GVN) has had good intelligence on the activities of the militant Buddhists, and their control measures have been calculated to control the situation without over-reacting which might have precipitated serious disturbances. Thich Tri Quang is at present the sole leader of the militant faction and the only person sufficiently motivated and capable to direct anti-GVN activities. The personal power struggle between the militant faction and the moderated led by Thich Tam Chau is likely to continue. It is estimated that Tri Quang might be able to control only about 180,000 votes in his areas of greatest strength--Central Vietnam and Saigon. He is capable of stimulating and inspiring others to action, however, and his followers in the Buddhist hierarchy appear to be loyal and disciplined and centered around a hard core of approximately 600 monks and nuns. Tam Chau is supported by the northern refugee Buddhist groups, although much of this support is probably a reaction against the extremist political activity undertaken by the militants. Tam Chau is weak in organizational ability and has no reservoir of devoted cadres. Although most Buddhists probably oppose the current military regime, both the Tam Chau and Tri Quang factions will probably not oppose the presidential and National Assembly elections but rather quietly support the election and try to see that as many of their followers as possible are elected. Tam Chau will probably support Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky and Thich Tri Quang may announce for Tran Van Huong. While the Buddhists in their political role are undoubtedly penetrated by Viet Cong (VC) there is no hard evidence that the Buddhists are dominated and controlled by them, despite the fact that they frequently play into the hand of the VC. The GVN appears to be well in control of the situation, and while Tri quang will continue to embarass the GVN whenever possible, there are indications that Buddhist leaders disapprove of a continued struggle outside the law. In September and October the Buddhists, both militants and moderates, will very likely flock to the polls instead of to the barricades.
Declassified Documents Reference System Location: