Selected pages from an April 28th, 1975, cable from Graham
Martin, United States Ambassador to South Vietnam, to Secretary
of State Henry Kissinger
text of the cable:
** DECLASSIFIED **
SECRET/SENSITIVE 28 12:15 APRIL
1975 VIA MARTIN CHANNEL
SAIGON 0757 IMMEDIATE
APRIL 28, 1975
TO: HENRY A. KISSINGER
FROM: AMBASSADOR GRAHAM MARTIN
REF: WH 50768
- It seems to
me your views in reftel again assure the "worst
case" development, and the time frame is far more
rapid than one should expect in Asia.
- I still think
they will opt to follow the scenario (their interpretation,
of course) laid down in the Paris Agreements. There is
a curious compulsion to prove they have fully intended
to comply all along.
- Minh and Vu
Van Mau who will be his Prime Minister and Foreign Minister
are thinking of quickly recognizing the "PRG" as
a legitimate government. If this occurs, we will have
the reality of three Viet-Nams - DRV, PRG, RVN.
- The immediate
task is the negotiation of a "cease-fire".
This will cause enormous pressure to do away with the
American military presence, and to emasculate the RVNAF
into an ineffective force. Minh seems to recognize that
both are bargaining chips, at least the speed with which
he agrees to do this may become so. Both these are being
rapidly accomplished, the first by our rapid drawdown,
the second by the lack of prospect for future military
aid, and the rapid departure of many senior officers.
Today, Hanoi's domestic service in Vietnamese said that:
QUOTE Yesterday, 27 April, the U. S. Defense Attache
Office in Saigon announced that it would close in 36
hours, putting an end to the system of U. S. military
advisers which has lasted for as long as 25 years in
South Viet-Nam. UNQUOTE
- After the cease-fire
and area delimitation can come the formation of the NCNRC.
My guess is that it will take at least three months to
get to this point. My further guess is that it will not
necessarily be a "two/thirds communist". I
would expect more a 60-40 lineup in some months with
the 40 percent or even less on the communist side. They
are simply not in that much of a hurry.
- The first concentration
is going to be on formation of local administrations
that can begin to get the countryside under control.
After all this is accomplished - a year or more - they
may begin to tighten the screws on the administration
of Saigon. Even here, I would judge, they will wish to
show a gentle face for a while.
- Now all this
provides time. The new administration will be counting
on us, I think, to help them buy a little more time.
The withdrawal of our presence in an immediate or precipitate
way would almost certainly finally pull out the rug.
- Where does the
U. S. interest lie? My own emotional inclination is to
close down. But I don't really think that course will
really serve U. S. national interests as well as playing
it cool for a while longer. While this is not true, it
saves face for Hanoi and permits them to permit a more
slow liquidation by announcing it has already taken place.
- Phong, the GVN
negotiator in Paris, said today he had received by telex
from Paris the following four conditions from the PRG:
- The GVN
must be entirely of new composition. There must be
- Policy of
new government must be one of reconciliation and concord.
- All American
military personnel, or those camouflaged as military
personnel, must be removed from country.
- All "political
prisoners" must be released and civil liberties
- The first two
and the fourth are easy. We are helping them achieve
the third before it can be a bargaining lever.
- So there should
be little ban to commencement of serious negotiations.
The French apparently agree with you that Paris is the
preferred spot. The first item after the cease-fire may
well be delimitation of areas. It would not surprise
me to see a Nha Trang-Dalat-Tay Ninh line, although they
may well be more harsh in their terms.
- One important
point to remember is that the way the transition was
managed leaves us no sticky problem of recognition. There
has been only a change in the Chief of State. We have
no more technical, legal problem than when Huong succeeded
Thieu. Even Nhan Dan this morning referred to Minh as
President of the Republic of Viet-Nam.
- Minh has sent
word this morning that he does not intend to interfere
with the current pace of our evacuation for a while.
At five o'clock he made a very simple speech of acceptance
of the powers of the Presidency. There were no anti-American
overtones and twice the Paris Agreements were invoked
providing the frame for "political solution" and
for the spirit of reconciliation. Obviously, this airlift
cannot go on forever. It is still illegal for any Vietnamese
citizen to leave without official government permission.
Yet we keep rubbing their noses in it a hundred times
a day by comments made in Washington. I think we can
simmer it down after a while and keep the airlift running
for quite a while.
- While we
still have a functioning Republic of Viet-Nam, and
will for quite a while, I think, I see no U. S. policy
interests to be served in either leaving in pique or
trying to create condi- tions that would force our
- If we do
so, then there would seem to be some semblance to the
oft repeated distortion that we were only interested
in supporting Thieu, and that, as soon as he left,
we said the hell with the people of Viet-Nam.
- We should provide
a modicum of relief and rehabilitation, not to the new
government, but because the people of Viet-Nam need it
- As of now, we
have 825 people assigned to the Mission. Of these 478
are in wholly security, air transport, communications,
and functions, leaving only about 349 to carry on the
substantive work of the Mission. To carry a minimum relief
effort, and satisfy the GAO that the liquidation of previous
programs was properly done, and a modicum of reporting,
we cannot do with any and no less at all as long as the
- There isn't
much in here that I haven't said before. You see, I don't
give you anything but a considered judgement in the first
- You can take
this advice or that of your WSAG colleagues who have
not, it seems to me, crystal balls of the first quality.
Neither do I but I do think about the questions you raise
and I don't get spooked by SAM 2s, definitely identified,
which turned out to be trucks loaded with logs.
- Warm regards.
February 11, 1994 **