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December 12, 2016
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May 16, 2002
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April 21, 1954
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2J5X1 . 25 Approved F & elease 2002/06/13 : CIA-RDP80R01 000463f0001-1 '" , X1 Approved For 0370001-1 f,. 25X1 Approved For Release 2002/06/13 : CIA-RDP80R01731R000400370001-1 Approved For Release 2002/06/13 : CIA-RDP80R01731R000400370001-1 Approved F elease 2002/06/13: CIA-RDP80ROl 000400370001-1 How We Helped Ho Chi Minh By HILAIRE DU BERRIER The war in Indo-China today is no accident. Plans were laid in China in 1941; stepped up by American aid which went for arming the "agrarian reformers." In ages past, natives shunned the jungles along the Seam Rap River of Indo-China. Phantom armies, they said, swept ceaselessly through the forest led by weeping queens on shadowy elephants. Today armies are there but they are not phan- toms of the vanished empire of the Khmers. Crack divisions composed of some 120,000 men of Ho Chi Minh's Red rebels have cut Indo-China in two and are bleeding France white in both men and money-one-fourth of her officer cadre and more money than France has received in Marshall Plan aid in the disheartening years since World War Two theoretically closed its ledgers. Aid to France has thus been more than nullified by the lone struggle in Indo-China. But there are ghosts in Indo-China-the same sort of ghosts that haunt the record of America's part in the fall of the Chinese mainland. For in Indo-China, too, the background of the Commun- ists' rise to power follows a grimly familiar pattern: an American-fostered propaganda line that the Communists were agrarian reformers; that their leader Ho Chi Minh was a "good man" despite his Moscow training; that forces opposing the Communists were reactionary and not to be listened to. Moreover, in Indo-China, American aid initially armed the very troops the French are fighting today. Thus, in the horrible topsy-turvy of diplo- matic blunders we find ourselves paying 80 per cent of the war cost in Indo-China to combat a foe we actually encouraged with our help. A Lulling Tune The Institute of Pacific Relations was given a full report on Indo-China as far back as July 1950. It was, in effect, a Wedemeyer-like report, de- tailing the Communist build-up and pointing to future aggressions. The report was rejected in its entirety. Instead, I.P.R. and the American public listened to a more lulling tune. The pace of the "line" on Indo-China was set in Harper's Magazine in a series of articles by Harold R. Isaacs. These articles, in turn, were the by-product of a reporting trip Isaacs had just completed for Newsweek, to which he was then contributing as an authority on the Far East. Isaacs' line was simple and to the point-the Communist point: Ho Chi Minh was a patriot, fighting the evil colonialism of the French. Isaacs' view aroused a number of readers. Ho, the man Isaacs defended as a sort of local saint, was educated in the Soviet's Orient Uni- versity and then, in 1925, sent to Canton as an assistant to Borodin. In 1931 the British dis- covered that he was head of the Southeast Asia Bureau of the Third International, and expelled him from Hong Kong. At the time Isaacs was in Shanghai as a newspaperman certainly in a posi- tion to know what was going on. Yet, in the Harper's articles he described Ho as a patriot kept alive by "honesty of purpose and absence of illusion." In 1941 (not 1943 as indicated by U.S. reports of the "tenth anniversary" of Ho's government in December 1953), Ho's Vietminh Front first emerged as a shadow government. It was established, not in Indo-China, but on Chinese soil. The man who planted its seeds was a southern war lord named Chang Fa-kwei. It was his hope actually to take over the rich provinces of Kwangsi, Yunnan, and Kwantung and, eventually, part if not all of Indo- China. Ho, then posing as head of an "exile" government during the Japanese invasion, seemed a perfect foil. Chang Fa-kwei "recognized" Ho. His master plan called for Ho, after American arms had run off the Japanese, to run off the French. Then Chang could run off Ho ! The plan benefited only Ho. Chang Fa-kwei is now in Hong Kong, himself an exile from both Formosa and the mainland. Gradually, forces he set in motion en- circle him. Within three years Ho's "government in exile" was given full diplomatic status and established as a going concern in Luchow. Large quantities of American arms, from that moment on, were dumped in Ho's eager hands. He was, of course, supposed to fight the Japanese. There is only one instance on record of any friction between the Vietminh and the Japanese during this period. It was an incident in an isolated village. Eight Japanese were killed. The Japanese were well aware of what was going on; that Ho would pounce on the French as soon as the Japanese withdrew. So it was to Ho and his American-equipped forces that the Japanese sur- rendered their arms when they gave up in North- ern Indo-China. After V-J Day American officers ar ivaa Approved For Release 2002/06/13 Approved For ase 2002/06/13 : CIA-RDP80R01731 0400370001-1 ? of our opinion makers and politicians to admit their past blunders and lack of principle. In general the American press, too, avoids re- examining the past in favor of preserving the illusion that Roosevelt's "unconditional surrender" policy and the Teheran, Yalta, and Potsdam agree- ments were justified. The danger which results from this pretense is that the, public can be persuaded that future agreements with Moscow and Peiping are both possible and desirable. It has already been proved that Mr. Dulles was wrong when he said, following the Berlin Con- ference, that the Soviet "alternatives to Western planning" are so repellent that even France would recognize the necessity of permitting western Ger- many to rearm. On the contrary, the French are not only showing less and less inclination to ratify the European Defense Community treaty. On March 19, after Dr. Adenauer's government had managed to persuade the Bonn Parliament to amend the Con- stitution to permit German rearmament for the defense of Europe, the Allied High Commissioners intervened at French insistence to delay President Heuss' signature to the constitutional amendment. Finally, France was persuaded to withdraw her veto on condition that Germany should never re- arm except within the confines of the EDC treaty. France would never have dared to take such action were it not for the encouragement given at Berlin to the French politicians who want peace at any price in Indo-China, and who, having never liked the European Defense treaty, would be de- lighted to sacrifice it for the sake of an entente with Moscow and Peiping. As the New York Times said in an editorial February 25: "The Geneva Conference can become a trap only if France permits herself to be lured into abandonment of the European Defense Com- munity and her own safety in return for a `peace' in Indo-China that can be broken the next day." The one thing wrong with this statement is the word "only." For, as the New York Times' own Paris correspondent reported on March 21, U. S. officials have "reluctantly come to the con- clusion that the French government wants to preserve the European Defense Community issue as a bargaining point at Geneva," on the assump- tion that throwing EDC into the discard will be "the price exacted for a settlement in Indo- China." At Geneva Mr. Dulles will have to contend not only with the French appeasers. He will also face the more formidable opposition of the British empire. Sir Gladwyn Jebb has publicly stated that the Chinese Communists should be admitted to the U. N. provided they "purge themselves" of their aggression in Korea and Indo-China._ Mr. Lester Pearson, Canada's Minister of External Affairs, has declared that we ought to take "a more realistic, less emotional look" at Communist China, provided she refrains from any "fresh acts of aggression." And Mr. St. Laurent, the Canadian Prime Minister, after conferring with Nehru, announced in Manila in March that Can ada must sooner or later recognize Communist China as "the government that the people want." Meanwhile Adlai Stevenson has been busy preach- ing the old Lattimore line, as when he said in a speech at Harvard March 19: "In Asia Commun- ism has the advantage of the great weight of the New China's power and attraction." Betrayal of Asian Allies The stage is set for our abandonment of the Chinese Nationalist Government, and in the course of time, also of Syngman Rhee. The be- trayal, urged upon us by the British and French, need not take the obvious form of recognition of the Peiping government and its admission to the U. N. What the Communists want now is not de jure recognition of Peiping but trade with the Western world for the purpose of preparing them- selves to attack and destroy us in the future. They will be well satisfied if we agree to supply them with the sinews of war even if we remain outwardly loyal to our old ally, Chiang Kai-shek. It is all too obvious that Mr. Dulles faces not only a hard, but a well-nigh impossible task at Geneva. He cannot at the same time satisfy Brit- ain and France and the American people and Congress. The former are clearly ready to let the Far East go for a few paper promises from Moscow and Peiping, making it possible for France to retire gracefully from Indo-China, and for Britain to resume unrestricted trade with Red China and the rest of the Soviet empire. The Secretary of State's speech on March 29 shows that he will make a valiant effort not to give way to appeasement pressures. But since the American people are prepared neither to risk war now before Moscow is ready to attack us, nor to appease the Communists for the sake of peace in our time and to please our faint- hearted allies, there seems no solution for Mr. Dulles' problem. He may have only himself to blame for the impossible assignment he is faced with at Geneva. However, it seemed to me while in Berlin during the first two weeks of the con- ference that Dulles, having first adopted a high moral and also politically realistic position, was being forced to climb down from it by Washing- ton as well as by Paris and London. For instance, according to information given me by two corre- spondents who attended his highly select small press conference on Sunday February 7, Dulles stated he had had a two-hour conversation with Washington the day before, and went on to say that he would go along with Bidault on the Far East. He is clearly slated to be the scapegoat for America's irresoluteness and for the shortsighted selfishness of our Western allies. Approved For Release 2002/06/13 : CIA-RDP80R01731R000400370001-1 Approved FWelease 2002/06/13: CIA-RDP80R017 000400370001-1 Saigon, Hanoi, and Haiphong. A pair of them as- signed to investigate the situation in Indo-China got in touch with the French "underground" officer who had written the report on which they were acting. The officer was in rags. He had no facilities to entertain them. He had, after all, just been through a war. So had Ho's men, but, unlike the French, they had not suffered. Within twenty-four hours the American officers were firmly in the hands of a well-primed and sufficiently heeled group of English-speaking Communists and former col- laborators who efficiently set about denouncing the French and praising Ho-in direct opposition to the demonstrable facts the French were trying un- successfully to get the officers to heed. "Guides" and "Translators" The efficiency of these "guides" was increased in ever-widening circles as other American mis- sions lavished their vitamin tablets and K-rations on them, while the French remained relatively impoverished. And, as in China, as soon as the Americans became committed to any part of the line being fed by the "progressive natives," they acquired an unshakable vested interest in all parts of the line. Before long such an officer as Major Robert Buckley of the 01S8 wrote off all French charges against Ho as mere gripes, to be ignored. George Sheldon, a bitterly anti-French observer to begin with, worked with OSS in the area, then returned to Saigon as vice-consul. From that van- tage he wrote letters, official reports, and articles (for I.P.R.) supporting Ho's cause against the French. Another American officer, while French officers who knew the situation watched amazed and helpless, donated money to Ho and made a stirring speech on his behalf. To keep this American support going, Ho used a device that had served the Communists well in China. As if by magic pro-Ho translators always appeared to grab jobs with American missions. A bright young man named Li Xuan was an out- standing example. In his day-by-day work, Li simply told natives that American aid would come because of Ho. And for the Americans he "translated" their replies to any questions as ringing tributes to Ho. What either side in the conversation really said was incidental and unknown. After a while Li acquired G.I. clothes and went off more and more on his own, linking American aid and Ho for the benefit of the impressionable natives. Finally, after ",hitch-hiking" to Shanghai aboard an American general's plane, he instigated there a rebellion of Annamite troops against the French. This time he even posed as an American officer to whip up the fury. A full report on his activities was greeted by the thoroughly buffaloed OSS with the comment: "The French are beefing again." And so Li went merrily on. From the garrison- rousing he went to Fred Hamson, bureau chief of the Associated Press in Shanghai, and made an arrangement to work as a "stringer" correspondent in Indo-China. Back home he affixed A.P. war cor- respondent badges to his clothes and, besides filing news to the international wire service, again used a phony American connection to raise Ho's prestige. When Hamson tried to stop him he simply dis- appeared. Meantime, the barriers against any factual re- ports from Indo-China grew. A North Dakota-born OSS employee was summarily dismissed on orders from Washington after warning -against Ho. The reason given: that the man was a Canadian! Back in America things were humming for Ho, too. When a Vietnam-American Friendship Asso- ciation held a banquet in New York in 1948 (and it must be recalled that Vietnam, today, is anti- thetical to Ho's Vietminh), the pro-Ho OSS Major Buckley was on hand to provide his learned views. Harold Isaacs' was busy, too. After leaving News- week at about the time of the Alger Hiss trial, he busied himself as a reviewer of books on the Far East for the New York Herald Tribune. In April 1950 he turned up as a lecturer at the American Academy of Political and Social Science in Philadelphia. On the same dates the meeting was also addressed by Owen Lattimore. A year later Isaacs denied knowing Lattimore. American Fears Tied French Hands With war finally blazing, of course, the direct- support phase of the great Ho Chi Minh hoax was over. Indirection became the only possibility-a situation again comparable to the one in China. In the fall of 1953, as more and more signs pointed to the building up of the present Red all-out offensive, French officers debated possible counter-measures. The situation was desperate. Public opinion at home was against further sacri- fices in a lone fight for an area in which little influence or interest would remain to them if they won it. While they felt they were staving off the communization of southeast Asia alone, portions of the American press continued to oppose such aid as they were receiving with the cry that America was perpetuating colonialism. Specialists on the Far East, led by a former underground leader in Indo~China, hit on an idea. Commerce in the Associated States of Indo-China is largely in the hands of Chinese merchants. It was their war also. A Chinese general of sufficient stature to command a following in the border provinces of Yunnan, Kwangsi, and Kwangtung was enlisted to form an anti-Red Chinese volunteer army, take over a sector of the front, and start hacking his way toward Red China. In return for arms and support he pledged a guerrilla movement within these provinces that would cut Chinese aid from Ho Chi Minh and even harry the Vietminh APRIL 19, 1954 517 Approved For Release 2002/06/13 : CIA-RDP80R01731R000400370001-1 Approved For rear. With Ho's defeat, the Chinese might gather momentum and roll into Red China. Again Amer- ican fears of bringing Mao Tse-tung openly into the struggle tied French hands. As in North Korea in the case of General MacArthur, we committed the French to ?a struggle without victory. In Paris a rumor spread at the beginning of this year that the fighting would cease with a direct deal between Washington and Moscow. Whether the idea was inspired by the Communists to bring about French inertia while their own plans for reinforcement proceeded, or whether the forth- coming Geneva conference is a step toward that end, it is still too early to say. Letter from Paris Bidault's Mistake By R. G. WALDECK Only a few weeks ago American diplomats in Europe believed that the Berlin Conference had convinced the French that no solution for Europe was to be expected from talking with the Russians, and that speedy ratification of EDC was the only alternative. But it came out quite differently. Opti- mistic observers here note that the conference had no effect on the French attitude on EDC one way or the other. Pessimistic ones insist that resistance to ratification has stiffened since the conference. My own observations gibe with those of the pessimists. This much is certain: the efforts made by Wash- ington and Bonn to get the French to ratify EDC before the Geneva Conference have failed. The Parliament feels that there is no use in beginning the debate on EDC before the Saar question is settled and close association between the United States, Britain, and EDC countries is guaranteed. As for the Saar question, it looked for a moment as though a settlement was within reach. Dr. Adenauer, in his eagerness to bring off EDC, "of- fered up the Saar to Europeanization in a non- existent Europe," as one sharp-penned German journalist put it. However, the French suddenly raised the ante, and talks have been suspended. Bidault, it is said, wishes to use ratification as a trump card in Geneva. Premier Laniel, who has been in power for nine months, wants to beat the record of M. Queuille, who stayed in power for a whole year-but the debate over EDC, he fears, might spoil it all. Also dampening to the govern- ment's enthusiasm is the growing suspicion that only a socialist government, headed by Europe- minded Socialist Guy Mollet, can bring about a vote for ratification. It will be, at best, a hard fight. For the French feel more strongly than they did a year or so ago that EDC constitutes a long-term adventure of the first magnitude. Still, in the end, France is likely to ratify EDC as being the lesser evil. At least that's what the public opinion polls indicate and what most friends of the West hope for. "Just let them end the war in Indo-China," they say, "and the ratification of EDC will go through like a breeze." But will the Geneva Conference end the war? While in the United States the conference is con- demned as a "concession" to the French which might result in a Far Eastern Munich, the French, too, have their misgivings about the conference. In fact, with the exception of M. Bidault and his friends inside and outside of the Cabinet, almost everyone seems to fear that nothing good can re- sult from it. Also, a heated debate is raging both publicly and privately as to whether or not it was clever of Bidault to insist on this new confrontation with the Reds. Bidault, it is well known, founds his hopes for Geneva on the apparent alacrity with which Molotov in Berlin jumped at the chance of a conference on Asia; and on reports that Mao does not get on with Malenkov, is sorely in need of economic aid such as only the West can furnish, and is eager to play his part in the concert of nations. Thus Bidault believes that Mao would be ready to stop aid to the Vietminh in exchange for admission to the U.N. and economic concessions. But, even assuming that Bidault knows the score, politically minded French- men realize that only the United States can fur- nish what Mao covets. And they think it unlikely that the United States will abandon her resistance to recognizing Red China just to end the war in Indo-China. Not that they approve of Washington's intransigence concerning Mao. His de facto recog- nition is inevitable in the long run, they say, and it is unwise to resist unduly the inevitable. Although the French have cried "wolf" fre- quently since the Liberation with a view to extract- ing aid from the United States, it would be a mis- take, I believe, to take too lightly the fears they voice at present. The failure of the Geneva Con- ference to produce peace in Indo-China might well result in the collapse of the pro-Western conserva- tive regime in France and its replacement by the neutralists, who would end the war at any cost and delay the ratification of EDC indefinitely. No wonder, then, that quite a few astute French politicians consider the Geneva Conference as a trap, designed to swallow up the Atlantic Alliance, and as a device to delay and kill the European army plan. They argue that while there might be a ghost of a chance for peace in direct negotiations with the exhausted Ho Chi Minh, it was sheer mad- ness to expect peace from Molotov. Why, they argue, should Molotov wish to facilitate the ratifi- cation of EDC by making peace in Indo-China? It just isn't his way of doing things, they say, and they fear that Bidault made a fatal mistake in letting the West in for the conference. 518 THE FREEMAN Approved For Release 2002/06/13 : CIA-RDP80R01731R000400370001-1 pprovecff6jj5gse 20 tQrNuttt WILL CIRCLE CI,4SSIFLCATJ"TOP AND SOTTO CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY OFFICIAL ROUTING SLIP 3818istant to the rector ~rg RESTRICTED UNAASSI APPROVAL ACTION COMMENT E] CONCURRENCE INFORMATION DIRECT REPLY PREPARATION OF REPLY RECOMMENDATION EISIGNATURE RETURN DISPATCH LI FILE REMARKS: FE does not believe that acknowledgment of this letter is necessary. SECRET CONFIDENTIAL Z"? ? "794-1 U. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE f ft 31!,- IM-5-4847