TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS
THE CATHOLIC COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO
A JUST SOLUTION TO THE INDO-CHINA WAR
MAY 20-31, 1971
On May 19, 1971 a group of forty-five concerned Christians celebrated the Eucha-
rist together in the Kennedy Airport chapel and boarded Pan American Flight 114
for Paris. The CATHOLIC COMMISSION OF INQUIRY had a twofold purpose; to acquire
first hand information on the apparent failure of the Paris Peace Talks and to
learn as much as they could of the condition of the Church in both North and South
Priest, nun, lawyer, doctor, housewife, seminarian were united in this common
purpose for eleven days and nights. I was privileged to be a part of that comm-
ission--to work and learn with them and to attempt to document, as closely as
possible, their work.
This transcript represents most of the factual information presented to the comm-
ission. No written transcript could, of course, convey the subtleties and
nuances of the speaker's words or reflect the concern, frustration, or anger of
his tone. Nonetheless, the transcript is a tool, a valuable one we hope, in
reporting the findings of the commission and moving us perhaps one small step
closer to achieving a just solution to the Indo-China War.
A note about the transcripts. The interviews and speeches contained in this
document represent the distillation of over thirty hours of audio tape recorded
during those eleven days in Paris. The speeches and interviews by both the PRG
and the DRV were delivered in Vietnamese and translated by staff interpreters
of their respective delegations. Other reports were delivered in English. The
documents of this transcript have been edited for grammatical clarity. In cases
where editing might, in any way, interfere with the meaning of a statement or
the context of a sentence, no editing was done.
Special thanks are in order to Miss Kathryn Nelson and Miss Laura Tueting who
spent hour after hour listening to the original tapes and transcribing them into
a first draft of the transcript; to Mrs, Sandra Jacobs for typing large sections
of the final draft, to Mrs. Susan Reuter and John Torburg for their original
sketches; and to Rick Reuter for his help in editing and proof reading the final
Thanks also to the members of the commission for their patience with me--for
allowing the constant presence of microphone, recorder and camera, and to Mrs.
Marianne Hamilton, organizer of the commission, for never failing to answer her
telephone when we called and always knowing how to spell every Vietnamese name
we asked for.
Director, Camelot Communications
TABLE OF CONTENTS
hadam Nguyen Thi binh, minister of Foreign Affairs,
Provisional Revolutionary Government ........................................ 1
Xuan rhuy, Chief Negotiator, Democratic
Republic of Vietnam ....................................................... 12
Colonel Nguyen Huy Loi, ARVN, and Vu Khac Thu,
Expert, Foreign Affairs, Embassey of the
Republic of Vietnam (South) ......... ......................... ...... .. 25
Steven Ledogar, Press Officer, United States delegation ................... 32
Chau Seng, Special Minister, Provisional
Cambodian Government .......,......... ................ 47
Questions from the Commission to the
Vietnamese priests ........ .......... ........................... ,.. ..... .. 52
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ADDRESS BY MADAM NGUYEN THI BINH
Minister of foreign Affairs
Provisional Revolutionary Government
May 25, 1971
We wish to express our heartfelt thanks for your sympathy with and sup-
port of our just cause. I think you have-been aware of the situation in
Vietnam and in Indochina -as a whole, but, in order to make your work more
beneficial, I think that it is necessary now to introduce you to the
situation and our -own position in a more comprehensive way.
My introduction -todaywil.l be comprised of three parts. The first,
the general situation in South Vietnam. The second, our position towards
a peaceful settlement of the South Vietnamese problem. The third, our policy
toward religious and national unity and the concrete policies of the
National Liberation Front and the Provisional Revolutionary Government to-
ward these general ideas. I will try to be brief and yet rather compre-
hensive although it will be very difficult for me to do so. If I miss any-
thing, my colleagues here will give you more comprehensive answers during
the question period this afternoon. The talks today will be informal.
Although I have the title and position of "minister," today I want to
speak to you as a friend.
Condemning the general situation in South Vietnam, I want to discuss
the development of the situation in the past few years. When Mr. Nixon took
power and the Paris Conference on Vietnam began, everyone hoped that the
conference would soon reach a peaceful negotiated settlement of the problem.
But, as you already know, instead of serious negotiation, Mr. Nixon obstin-
ately has persued his policy called "Vietnamization" of the war. He boasts
that this policy will help the U.S. to get out of the war quickly and bring
an end to the conflict. But, facts over the last few years have proven
that the Vietnamization policy is only a policy to prolong the war.. Or,
in other words, the policy is one of using Vietnamese to kill other Vietnamese
to secure U.S. domination of South Vietnam. Mr. Nixon has made much propa-
ganda over his withdrawal of a number of U.S. troops from South Vietnam, but,
his intention is -ot to withdraw completely. This point is not only
claimed by us; Mr. Nixon has stated it too.
The U.S. Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird, recently declared that the
U.S. intended to maintain permanent armed forces in South Vietnam, including
ground forces; and the U.S. will retain indefinitely both air and naval
forces in South Vietnam. The partial withdrawal of American troops does not
mean de-escalation of the war. In fact, the war in South Vietnam is going
on fiercely now-in some aspects more so than in the past. In order to fill
the gap created by the withdrawal of a number of U.S. troops, The U.S. has
intensified bombing, shelling, and the spraying of toxic chemicals. I would
like to give some figures to demonstrate this-figures given to us by the
United States Defense Department. In two years, 1969 and 1970, the U.S.
in South Vietnam used 5,384,000 tons of bombs and shells. In the four years
of the Johnson administration, that is, from 1965 to 1968, the U.S. used
6,000,000 tons of bombs and shells in South Vietnam. That is to say, the
ton.ago of bombs and shells used by Mr. Nixon during his administration is
approximately equal to that used by President Johnson during his four years
in office. The quantity of toxice chemicals sprayed in South Vietnam has
also increased greatly.
In order to filling the gap created by the withdrawal of U.S. forces,
the U.S. doubled the effectiveness of the puppet troops. The number of
these puppet troops was previously 600,000; that number is now over 1,000,000.
This is the policy openly declared by Elsworth Bunker, the U.Si Ambassador to
South Vietnam. It is the policy of "changing the color of the corpses." You
will realize that Vietnamization is a fierce and brutal aggressive policy.
During the past two years, hundreds of My-Lai type massacres have taken place
in our country. I think that you have a lot of information about these
things so I will not elaborate the many crimes of the U.S. I think that
everyone of conscience in your country is greatly indignant at, and condemns,
the crimes committed by the U.S. against our inhabitants. And the religious
believers who we think are very generous and kind and have hearts filled with
human feelings- these people are most shocked by the crimes which are com-
mitted by the U.S. agressors against our people. They must condemn more
vehemently. Our South Vietnamese people have a tradition of deep and great
patriotism. They have fought over the last decade for the independence
and freedom they deserve. That is why they realize that the Vietnamization
is brutal and aggressive and, that is why, from the beginning, they have
opposed it vigorously. The Vietnamization policy has received heavy defeats.
Mr. Nixon has claimed that the PRG in South Vietnam is breathing its
last breath. I think the breath of each person is limited, but the breath
of all of the nation, determined to fight in defense of its independence,
is limitless. Mr. Nixon hopes that by his brutal political and military
maneuvers he can decrease the casualties of the U.S., but, in fact, the
casualties of the U.S. troops have remained high. In two years, 1969 and
1970, over 300,000 troops were killed or wounded. The U.S. hopes to
strengthen toe Saigon army so they can later take over the role of U.S.
troops. But the U.S. has failed to achieve this aim, because, while it is
able to arm the Saigon army with weapons and materials it cannot give them
high morale. The invasion by the U.S. puppet troops in southern Laos,
(both in southern Laos and South Vietnam--since the battles raged between
both countries) demonstrates this low morale. One of the aims of that op-
eration was to test the fighting capacity of the Saigon puppet troops; in
other words, to test the effectiveness of the Vietnamization policy. The
U.S. sent to this operation the most highly trained units of the Saigon
army and greatly mobilized its air and artillery forces to give very strong
support to the Saigon troops. But, as a result of this operation, 4/5 of
the puppet troops sent into southern Laos were wiped out and the major part
of the U.S. helicopters, tanks, and armored cars were either shot down or
attacked on the ground. So, perhaps you will agree with me that the breathes
of the Vietnamese and Indo-Chinese peoples have been strong enough.
The struggle in the countryside against the Vietnamization war policy
lies in the struggle to oppose the U.S. "pacification" programs. As you
already know, the pacification policy involves military, political, and
economic aspects. The U.S. uses all means possible to force the peasantry
to leave their villages and relocate in areas under the grip of the U.S.
and Saigon administrations. The struggle between the Vietnamese peasants
and the aggressors in this aspect is going on very fiercely. The peasants
have to contest village after village, hamlet after hamlet, and small bit of
land after small bit of land. Those people are herded into concentration
camps and there wait and struggle to smash those camps and return to their
villages and hamlets. Then, the U.S. and Saigon troops attack their hamlets
and return them to the concentration camps. The process goes on dozens of
times like that. In the end, the pacification program mapped out by the
U.S. is not being carried out as successfully as the U.S. hoped. That is
why you hear of many new programs for "pacification." For example, in the
past it. was the "accelerated" pacification program; after that they changed
to the program with "concentration points in key areas:" after that to a
"special" pacification program. Now the program being carried in South
Vietnam is a "new" pacification program.
In talking to you about this, I find it very difficult to describe
the barbarity of the program. It has created untold massacres against the
inhabitants of our country. The Vietnamization policy takes the form of
suppression in all areas; that is, repression of all those who oppose the
presence of U.S. troops, who oppose the Thieu--Ky--Khiem administration and
who demand peace, independence, and national reconciliation.
As you know, in order to materialize the Vietnamization war policy, the
U.S. needs not only a puppet army, but also a puppet administration to
serve as its instrument. That is why there are many campaigns conducted by
the U.S. and Saigon administrations against the urban population. These
campaigns bear very fine names, such as the "campaign for the people." The
U.S. and Saigon administrations killed, arrested and tortured over 200,000
people within two months. This is to show you that the "for the people camp-
aign" is actually a campaign against the people. That is why, now, in the
South Vietnamese prisons there are about 200,000 patriots detained and there
are some figures that say the number is up to 300,000 or 400,000. It is
difficult for the American people to imagine the barbarous regime of the pro-
sons in South Vietnam. In the U.S.--Saigon administration prisons there are
Catholic priests, Buddhist monks, and great numbers from other religions.
There are old people over sixty; children under ten;and a great number of
In the face of this repression, the urban population is conducting a
vigorous struggle. Dozens of mass organizations are being set up in the
cities: "Catholics For Peace," "Women For the Right to Live," "The Committee
for the Improvement of the Present Regime," etc.-- all these organizations
are struggling to demand the right to live, to demand the U.S. withdrawal
of all its troops from South Vietnam, to demand the replacement of the Thieu-
-Ky--'Khiem regime, and to demand peace, independence, and neutrality.
This movement is developing with every passing day in the face of the rep-
ression by the U.S. and Saigon administrations. As a matter of fact, these
administrations have concentrated their efforts to implement the Vietnam-
ization policy, but the Vietnamese have defeated the initial step of this
policy. I am convinced that if Mr. Nixon continues this policy the Vietnamese
will defeat it completely. Our people cannot allow the U.S. to make use
of the Vietnamese to kill and massacre other Vietnamese. Our people see
more and more clearly that the Vietnamization policy has not only caused great
loss of life but also losses in the economy, in human dignity, and in the
natural resources of South Vietnam.
I will now talk about the settlement of the problem in the Paris Con-
ference. In searching fr a settlement to the problem, the policy of the
Nixon administration over the past two years has been the Vietnamization
program. But, in reality, that program is in opposition to a peace set-
tlement. If we compare the proposals that have been made by the U.S. on the
one hand and by us on the other you can decide for yourself very easily
which is the better. The most comprehensive proposal president Nixon has
made is .the Five Point Initiative of October 1970. In this program, we
can sum up the intentions of Mr. Nixon as follows. He demands that the
Vietnamese people stop fighting immediately, on the spot, and without pre-
conditions. He is demanding that the Vietnamese people lay down their arms
while the power is still in the hands of the Saigon administration This
simply means that we have to surrender. Mr. Nixon also demands that we
release all prisoners without preconditions. Demanding, without any issue
being settled, that all the prisoners be released is a thing never seen in
any war in the world. Demanding that we release prisoners while we are still
fighting to defend our country means denying our people the right to attack
apgrposing forces. In the meantime President Nixon refuses to withdraw all
the U.S. troops from South Vietnam. He sets many conditions to the withdrawal
of U.S. troops. Ultimately this just means that a residual, permanent U.S.
force will remain in South Vietnam indefinitely.
Recently President Nixon has put forward two conditions for the with-
drawal of U.S. troops. The first one is that U.S. troops will stay in South
Vietnam as long as there is one U.S. prisoner left in Vietnamese territory.
The second is that U.S. troops will remain as long as the Saigon army and
the Saigon administration are not yet able to support the war themselves.
This means that the U.S. will never withdraw their troops. It is not because
we went to the U.S. and forced the young Americans to go and fight in South
Vietnam, that the conflict has arisen. If we settle the problem of the war
in South Vietnam then the question of the prisoners will also be settled.
It is not the other way around that settling the question of the prisoners
will end the war. We would also like to know when the Saigon administration
and the Saigon army will be able to defend themselves. You can see clearly
that these so-called peace proposals of President Nixon are just maneuvers
to hide his intention to step up the war. Along with his five-point proposal,
President Nixon said that he will go on continually supporting the Saigon
administration and that he will never give up his "beloved friends" in Saigon.
The fifth point in this five-part initiative is a proposal for an inter-
national conference. Don't you find it illogical that within the Paris
Conference the U.S. delegation refuses to really negotiate, and then it pro-
poses another international conference. To start with, the proposal for an
international conference dealing with very widely different subjects is a
delicate matter. The present Paris conference has all the required conditions
to settle the problems of war except for the sincere will of the U.S. dele-
gation to negotiate. This is quite a maneuver that the U.S. administration
has put forward to conceal the fact that the U.S. delegation has brought the
conference to a deadlock.
I would like to talk about the proposals of the PRG at the Paris Confer-
ence and before starting, I would like to remind you of the aims and purposes
of the struggle of our people over the last ten years. If you have the
opportunity to search into the history of our people, you will notice that
they have an age-long tradition of sincere and deep patriotism. We remember
that there was a patriot during the French colonization who said, "It is only
when the last bit of grass has been uprooted from the soil of Vietnam that
there will not be a patriot to oppose the French aggression And you perhaps
know the statement of the late President Ho Chi Minh that there is "nothing
more precious than independence and liberty." All the pretexts put forward
by the U.S. government saying that they are defending the liberty of the South
Vietnamese people and are opposing the communist ideology are simply pretexts
to conceal the fact that this is U.S. aggression. We have been fighting for
more than 20 years to oppose aggression and gain our liberty and independence.
We have been proposing this aim from the creation of the National Liberation
Front in 1960. We have set as our aim since then freeing our peoples and
making Vietnam an independent neutral, and democratic country that will
gradually come to reunification of its whole territory peacefully. You see
among our aims that the first one is independence. While half of our country,
the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, goes on building a socialist society, we
have decided that in order to achieve our independence we will follow a
foreign policy of peace and neutrality. This shows the longing for indepen-
dence and neutrality of the South Vietnamese people. You can also see that
the problem of reunification has been put last to be achieved later. This
is in spite.of the longing, the desire for reunification on the part of the
South and North Vietnamese people. Due to an arbitrary separation, there are
tens of thousands of families who are separated, some being in the north
and some being in the south. Going from thesouth to the north is sometimes
more difficult than for us to go from Vietnam:to.France, for instance. There
is little possibility of sending letters from one part of the country to the
other, to say nothing of the possibility of visiting each other. There are
some wives and children who haven't seen their fathers and their husbands
since the Geneva agreement. For the time being, we leave aside this desire
for reunification and concentrate on how to achieve the independence of our
people that is to say the survival of-our people. The South Vietnamese
people are determined to fight to the last to achieve our independence and our
Our people are a peaceful and humanitarian people. When the U.S. govern-
ment accepted to discuss in Paris.a peace settlement, we agreed. For two
years we have made great efforts .tp fnd logical and reasonable answers to
the question. You certainly know the;peace proposals that we have made.
Here we should like to stress two fundamental points in our proposals: they
emphasize the right of our people to independence and self-determination,
but as you have seen, as we pursue the aim of independence and self-determin-
ation we have paid attention to the desire for peace of the American people.
The first point we put forward is the withdrawal of all troops from South
Vietnam. In order to respect the right of independence of the Vietnamese
people the U.S. Government has to withdraw all of their troops without any
preconditions. There is no international law whatsoever that permits the
U.S. Government to maintain its troops and puppet troops in South Vietnam,
particularly because our people are very far away from the U.S. and have
never harmed the territory of the U.S. We have proposed last year that as
soon as the U.S. Government declares it will withdraw all troops from Vietnam
before June 30, 1971, there will be an immediate cease-fire. At the same
time the two parties will also enter discussions about how to guarantee the
safety of these troops and to discuss also the problem of the captured military
men, the prisoners. Mr. Nixon has not answered, and there is only one month
left before the deadline of June 30th. If Mr. Nixon had accepted last year,
I think that right now we wouldn't be discussing these questions, but would be
discussing how to increase friendly relations between our two peoples. At
the same time, the anxiety of the families of the captured military men would
also be over by now. There seems to be right now no progress toward these
settlements; we said a month ago that if the deadline of June 30th does not
suit the U.S. Government, they can propose another date that would be
reasonable for the withdrawal of their troops. As you know, until now,
President Nixon has refused to set the date when U.S. troops will be with-
drawn from South Vietnam. We think that most important, the most crucial
point now is for the U.S. Government to give a precise date for the withdrawal
of all U.S. troops from South Vietnam, and then the other issues can be
resolved. What is more, it is only when the U.S. Government will agree to
cease all aggressive intentions towards the Vietnamese people and show respect
for the independence of our people, that we can discuss the cease-fire between
our two countries and discuss such issues as the liberation of prisoners.
If the U.S. Government goes on saying we will withdraw our troops and then
we will stop fighting there will be no possibility of settlement.(sic)
Actually, I'm substituting words for Mr. Nixon. He never actually said that
he would withdraw all American troops from South Vietnam, but only most of
them. And I would also like to stress this other point. The U.Si Government
must set a reasonable date for the withdrawal, because if the date is too
far removed this won't be a withdrawal of all the troops in order to stop
aggression and achieve peace; rather this will mean a permanent extension of
the war, and unlimited occupation of South Vietnam. If President Nixon gives
a reasonable date it will be in the interest of both the Vietnamese people
and the American people. The fact that you mention in your resolution that
the withdrawal should take place at an early date is also a good proposition.
But we think that if you can be more concrete about this date, it will put a
greater pressure on President Nixon. For instance, some people propose that
the U.S. administration withdraw all troops before the end of 1971. You see
that this proposal is at the same time reasonable and flexible,
The second point that we put forward is linked with the right to self-
determination of the Vietnamese people. Everybody knows that the present
Thieu-Ky regime is a clique of war-loving and corrupt people. They want to
prolong the war because they are making money on it. You certainly know that
Mr. Thieu has been seeking total victory including an invasion of North
Vietnam. You also know about Mr. Ky saying that Hitler is his hero. It is
not that we alone want to replace this administration, but it is the whole
people of South Vietnam, including members of the present Saigon administra-
tion that want to remove this Thieu-Ky regime. We have said that the Thieu-
Ky regime is an obstacle to the settlement of the Vietnam problem. If the
U.S. administration goes on supporting the present Thieu-Ky regime it means
that they want to prolong the war and carry on the Vietnamization program.
With each passing day our people are struggling more and more to remove this
corrupt Thieu-Ky regime. We also call on you to rally public opinion in the
U.S. and demand from the U.S. administration that it stop supporting the
Saigon administration. As you know, President Nixon argues that he cannot
interfere in the internal affairs of the Saigon administration and therefore
that he cannot remove or overthrow the Thieu-Ky regime, but as you know this
is only a maneuver, a delusion. As you know very well, without dollars and
U.S. troops the regime of Mr. Thieu cannot survive.
We propose that in Saigon there be a popular administration, an admin-
istration for the people. This administration will include patriots, people
that support peace, independence and neutrality. We will not be part of the
administration that will replace the Thieu-Ky regime, as you see we are
quite flexible. We have said right away that we will frankly discuss with
that administration the settling of the provisional coalition government.
There only need be a Saigon administration that does not want war but peace
and independence and wants to discuss with us. We propose that this provis-
ional coalition government will include three components. The first component
will be members of our present provisional government. The second component
will be individual persons within the present Saigon administration that
support peace, independence, neutrality, and democracy. The third component
will include members of the different political and religious organizations
that are not members of the provisional revolutionary government or of the
Saigon administration. You cansee that such a government will actually
represent the whole of the South Vietnamese people. It is obvious, that all
the forces of Vietnam would be represented in that government and these
conditions would support peace, independence, and neutrality. It is the
sincere wish of the whole of South Vietnamese population that this provisional
government organize general elections where all the.South Vietnamese people
will be able to vote and decide which government they want. The aim of the
PRG is not, as Mr. Nixon pretends, to take total power. Our purpose is to
achieve a condition of democracy and freedom so that our people can choose
their own regime.
Now that these two:basic points have'been made we would like to talk
about a principle of ours that was ,brought: out recently in our humanitarian
policy. As you know, last April;.the command of our armed forces in Vietnam
delivered a statement. The principle was:that -we will not attack American
troops or American persons, that-would be:against the war and would not take
any actions supporting the war. And if we take prisoners that have with
them documents that are a:proof of theit opposition to the war we also will
treat them humanely. Have you ever seen a war where such measures have been
taken? While bombs are being dropped on our people, we have decided not to
attack American troops that would be opposed to the'war. This point shows
that we are really longing for peace. As for the American people, we have
only friendly feelings. It is only if American troops deliberately attack
us that we respond.
As you can see right now, the Paris Conference has come to a deadlock so
that it is certainly unfortunate that many of you are eagerly asking for
peace, and the Paris Conference has not brought a settlement. We think that
we have assessed in the correct manner the strength of our people and the
strength of the anti-war movement in the U.S. President Nixon is using every
maneuver and pretense to carry on the war in:Vietnam. He does so,-we think,
because he is frightened by the strength and the power of the anti-war
movement in the U.S. We think that you play a part in the victories of our
people. For instance, the end to the bombing of North Vietnam came first
because President Johnson was being defeated in South Vietnam; but also there
was another reason and that was the beginning of the anti-war movement in the
U.S. I think it is the same with President Nixon. We will show President
Nixon that all his ferocious maneuvers will not enable him to gain victory
over us. We hope that you will also endeavor to put pressure on him and show
him that he cannot go on indefinitely waging this illogical and inhuman war.
We have two ways of settling the problem. One way is President Nixon's
carrying on the Vietnamization program from one year to the other. This will
cause much more suffering for our people and the peoples of Indochina, but
will also mean suffering for the people of the U.S. Ultimately we will go
on fighting and President Nixon will have to stop the war and respect our
right to independence. Another way, simpler and more pleasant, is that
President Nixon attempt to really negotiate at the Paris peace talks and
present a precise date for the withdrawal of all troops, stopping his support
of the Saigon administration which all of the South Vietnamese people oppose.
In return, President Nixon will have the release of the prisoners, and the
waste of property and human lives will stop. We will go on with our policy
of peace and neutrality and will have normal relations with the government
of the U.S. at the level of foreign affairs and economic and cultural relations.
Eventually there will be friendly relations between our two peoples. For
the time being, President Nixon is holding to the first way. We very much
wish to take the second way. We hope that the people of the U.S. and all
the peace-loving peoples of the world will help us compel President Nixon to
choose the solution that will be more favorable for everybody.
To conclude, I will take up the last point in a very brief way. Regarding
the policy of the PRG towards its religion, we can say that there are two
basic principles. The first is that our purpose is to unite all of the South
Vietnamese people in order to chase away foreign aggressors and to rebuild our
country. As a matter of fact our people are gentle and loving people and
many of us are believers in one religion or another Catholicism, Buddhism
and many others. We think that being a believer is a good thing; however
the primary thing is being a member of the South Vietnamese people. This
principle is our unity among the Vietnamese people. Our second principle is
that we will settle on democracy in South Vietnam; that is to say, we will
achieve for each individual in South Vietnam the right to democracy.
I believe that the fundamental points that I wanted to outline to you
have been made. To conclude, from what I can gather all of you have been
members for a long time of the anti-war movement in the U.S. This comes from
your fundamental right and your humanitarian attitude. This explains why
you have been opposing the war in Vietnam. This is only natural because,
since this war was originated by the U.S. Government, every American citizen
has a responsibility of his own. This demonstrates the long tradition of the
American people, a tradition of love of independence and democracy that we
very much respect. Your many actions for peace are objectively a contribution
to our own struggle to achieve independence and peace and we know also that
you are acting in very difficult conditions. We esteem very highly the
actions that you have organized. I would like you to allow me on behalf of
the South Vietnamese people to express my sincere thanks for all of your
actions. We hope that the day will come when the people of South Vietnam
and the people of the U.S. will have friendly relations.
QUESTIONS FROM THE COMMISSION
Q: What is the condition of the Catholic church in South Vietnam? Are there
A: Regarding Catholics, there are about 1,800,000 members. There are Catholics
in the liberated areas, in the cities, and in the occupied areas. Regarding the
different religious believers, the policy of the NLF and the PRG is that there
should be freedom of religious beliefs. As for the Catholic churches within the
liberated areas, right now American bombs are destroying them. But of course,
some of these churches have been rebuilt in a smaller size and even some of them
have had to go underground. There are Catholic members in the Liberation Front
and also in the central'committee of the NLF. Regarding the situation of the
Catholics in the areas controlled by the American and Saigon administrations, you
certainly know about that. Among these Catholics there is a great number that
also desire peace. They also struggle to stop the war, to have independence and
the overthrow of the Thieu-Ky regime. They have a central Catholic organization
called "Catholics for Peace." Three months ago, in February, they staged a
demonstration for peace with marches in different centers in Vietnam. There are
also a number of Catholic papers expressing the views of the "Catholics for Peace."
Catholics also take part in the general struggle of the population against the
government they are arrested and imprisoned, and just as suppressed as the rest
of the people. Within the tiger cages that you have heard of there are also
Catholics. Two months ago perhaps you heard that two priests who were arrested
by the Saigon administration were sentenced to nine months in prison. This was
because they exposed the reality in South Vietnam'and the reality in North Vietnam
and because they were opposed to the war and to the presence of American troops
in South Vietnam. Perhaps you know that a priest is the director of a magazine
called Confrontation in South Vietnam denouncing the anti-democratic, repressive,
and warlike measures taken.by the Saigon administration. You know that in the
national assembly there are Catholic representatives who oppose the government.
These representatives have been attacked and their houses have been seized. One
of them has a newspaper and that newspaper has been seized for almost one day out
of two. This newspaper published a photo of the young student who burned herself
for peace. This issue was the fourth anniversary of the government. This is the
general situation of the Catholics in South Vietnam.
Q: If the minister of education is here, we would be interested in knowing if
there were Catholic schools in these villages. Do the liberated villages still
have Catholic schools? What is the system of education of the youth under the PRG?
A: Regarding education, Catholics do not have separate schools. They are members
of the regular schools but they also have Catholic schools that teach religion.
Q: Is the system of education in the schools part of the revolutionary system or
is that quite apart from the schools? Or is there an education in the whole move-
ment, in the whole school system?
The revolutionary movement was not a part of the former school system under
tne French but now is it part of the system? Where do the young get their
political education? Through the system or apart from it?
A: The fundamental purpose of the schools is civilization and culture. Regarding
political education, there are organizations for that purpose. Of course, in
these schools, current events are also taught.
Q: Concerning the anti-war movement in the states: I've been very impressed
that the PRG seems to have put together many political groups, ethnic groups,
etc., to form a political movement and also to create a financial base to carry
on your work in Paris and Vietnam. This is something we have a difficult time
doing in the states, forming an anti-war movement. How have you been able to
bring these various factions :together?
A: The struggle of our people against the American aggressors has achieved victory
principally because of the unity we achieve among the people. In the NLF we have
several political parties and popular organizations. We have common programs for
the whole of the front, that is for all these political parties and organizations,
and the latter unite around these programs. The purpose of these programs is to
achieve peace, independence, neutrality, democracy, and the gradual re-unification
of our country. All the different political parties and mass organizations agree
with this purpose and unite in order to achieve it. Each of these have their own
aims but they all unite around this fundamental purpose. We all fight together in
order to achieve independence, freedom, neutrality and democracy for the people.
We hope to achieve general unity and solidarity among the people in order to
achieve this purpose.
Q: The PRG itself is a coalition. I'm having a hard time in my own mind figuring
if Madame Binh's proposal of a coalition formed of the PRG, NLF and Saigon regime
will work. Isn't the PRG already an.umbrella organization?
A: The question you have just raised is a good question because it is true that
our PRG represents a large number of the population and is already a coalition
between the NLF and the People's Alliance for Peace and Democracy. It is true
that the NLF is the larger and older organization because it originated in 1960,
and the People's Alliance is smaller and dates back to 1968. In spite of these
facts, they are on an equal basis in their relationship. Right now there are
different small political organizations in Saigon that do not belong to the NLF
nor to the People's Alliance or the PRG, and we also treat them on an equal basis
because democracy is our objective. This attitude comes from the principle of
unity and national solidarity of our government. We are ready to discuss and act
together with these organizations on the common process of achieving independence,
peace and democracy. It is on these principles that we have made the proposal for
the three components for the acting government. This demonstrates our patience
and flexible attitude in achieving unity with the whole of the people.
Q: What is the main purpose of the Five-Point Relocation Program in relationship
to the fact that militarily that area had been occupied before 1954?
A: The aim of the Thieu-Ky regime and the American administration in removing
the inhabitants of the four northern provinces and concentrating them towards the
south has been to turn these provinces into deserted, unpopulated areas. This
measure is part of the general program of the U.S. and Saigon administrations in
concentrating all these people in order to control them better and compel them to
comply to the Saigon administration, keeping them from any contact with the
Liberation forces. It is also to make it easier for them to suppress the struggles
of our people. Up to now this program has been defeated and with each passing day
it will be even more clearly defeated. You certainly have heard about the herding
of the population into what are called strategic hamlets. You also know that they
concentrate people around the main cities that they control, and around the mili-
tary posts and bases and they do so in order to avoid our attack. They do so to
deprive the people of their economic means of subsistence in order to make them
more dependent on U.S. aid and the Saigon administration. We are struggling
fiercely, and up to now, half of the strategic hamlets have been destroyed. The
people in the strategic hamlets have been fighting to tear them down and return
to their native land and villages and return to their former life. Regarding
the program that you mentioned, that is, removing population from the northern
provinces, it is true that the Saigon administration and U.S. administration had
intended to do so last year but in the face of the popular reaction, it was
difficult for them to achieve their intention. We can tell you that up to now
the American and Saigon administrations have not yet been able to complete that
program. We are always on the alert against such an eventuality. This is another
one of our general programs and it covers two or three million people; it doesn't
concern only isolated villages. It is the American experts themselves who worked
out this program and it is the U.S. administration that is going to financially
support the program. It is because of our people's opposition that this program
has not yet been achieved, but we are always careful for the future. We are quite
vigilant in the face of this intention of the U.S. and Saigon administrations.
ADDRESS BY THE HONORABLE XUPN THUY
Democratic Republic of Vietnam
.ay 26, 1971
We have seen the resolution passed by the International Conference of
of Christians and we want to thank you--we appreciate it. We are thankful
to all those who attended the conference, especially our American friends.
It was a great pleasure for me to have attended the conference and to be
among you today.
I hope you will allow me to briefly discuss the situation in Vietnam.
After my presentation I will try to answer any questions you might have.
Our history is a long one of many thousands of years. It is a con-
tinual history of the struggle of the Vietnamese people to sustain their
nation and safeguard their land.
Early in our national history there was a period of independence. Fol-
lowing that period we were invaded by the Chinese feudalists who occupied our
country for roughly a thousand years. During that occupation the Vietnamese
people continually struggled and finally won independence again. In the
19th century the French came and occupied Vietnam for about a hundred years.
Again, our people struggled against them. The French tried to divide our
country into different parts, but did not succeed. Then, World War II came and
the Japanese invaded Vietnam. Our struggle against the Japanese came to a
successful close in August, 1945 with the founding of the Democratic Republic
of Vietnam headed by the late Ho Chi liinh. But, by the end of 1946, the
French had come again. We had to fight them again, this time for nearly nine
years. In this resistance we had only the most rudimentary weapons while the
French had planes, cannon and sophisticated weapons. They also received mil-
itary aid from the United States. We resisted until the battle of Dien Bien
Phu. After that battle the French had to sign the Geneva Agreement. Under
the terms of the Geneva agreement Vietnam was temporarily divided into two zones.
The reason for the division was to separate the two beltligeret parties and to
regroup them. The French forces went south of'the 17 parallel; the revol-
utionary forces grouped in the north, pending the total withdrawal of the
French. This regrouping was necessary because this war had very particular
characteristics. The French used conventional tactics while we used guerilla
tactics. There were no definite front lines. The French were present every-
where as were the guerilla forces. This is the reason the French had to regroup
before pulling out. The terms of the Geneva Agreement were that the two parts
of Vietnam should have organized general elections in July of 1956 with a view
toward reunifying the country. If the U.S. had not intervened in the Vietnamese
affair, the present situation would not have happened, This then is the brief
history of Vietnam.
Now, regarding the problem in South Vietnam, I think you have to meet with
their representatives to know about the problem. I shall limit my discussion
to North Vietnam. A clear distinction should be made between Vietnam, Laos, and
Cambodia. These are different countries with different customs and habits,
different spoken languages. Before the French invasion these three countries
were independent. But, the French came and formed what they called, "French
Indo-China." As far as Vietnam is concerned, in both the Jilorth and the
South, our people speak the same language with only a minor difference in
the tone. They have the same customs and habits. There has been a constant
unity of mind and ideology. In terms of geography and natural resources there
is a difference. South Vietnam has a long coastline while it is shorter in
the Niorth. They have a very beautiful landscape and there are a great num-
ber of mines and underground resources. As for cultural products, we are not
as rich as South Vietnam. Only in 1954 when North Vietnam was completely li-
berated could we start to rebuild our country. Then we advanced to socialism.
Ours is an agricultural country, a backward country. The technical
standard is low. i.hen the Japanese fascists came they only tore down the co-
untry. Thre French came again and, because of the war, destroyed it further and
left behind a very poor heritage. It is now our objective to secure in-
dependence for the country, a decent life for our people and to have enough for
them to eat, enough to keep themselves warm.
At the Peoples Conference which assembled all the representatives of the
people; religious leaders, politicians, and social workers to discuss how to
rebuild the country the social workers advocated that reconstruction should
follow the style of the western countries--France, England and the U.S. But
if we followed those paths, the result would be that a small percentage of the
the people would be very rich while the majority would be poor. A few
people would have big bank accounts, five or six small cars, big palaces, while
the majority of the people would have to sleep under bridges and out in the
open. Prostitution would continue. The religious people, the Buddhist, said
that since Buddha advocated justice, fairness and social justice people should
pray for these things...when the people became better, social justice would
come. But, we asked them, "How long must we pray before we come to such a
society/" 'hey could not give an answer. They said a great number of churches
should be built. Catholics said that masses should be said and the people be
allowed to go. Many people should go to church on Sunday and should engage in
social work. Then they will become socially conscious and justice will follow.
Again, we asked how long it would take. They could not answer.
The question of building up an army arose and the religious people discussed
it with great animation because, to them, there shouldn't be an armed forces.
According to Buddhism, we shouldn't kill anything. But some of them did say
that sometimes we have to kill--to kill one man to save a thousand men. The
Christians said we could build an army because, in the past, there were the
Crusades. Some of the Christians opposed this idea too.
It was affirmed by everyone at the conference that we should have social
justice and that if we followed the paths of France, England, and the U.S. it
would only lead to shortcomings--to suffering. Everyone should be happy.
The poor should have better lives. TJhat was the shortest way to acheive this
aim? "e advocated that the socialist way could arrive at these objectives
rapidly. The aims of socialism are the same as the aims of the religious
people--to better the lives of the poorer sections of the population, the pea-
In two years there were great land reforms, bringing the land to the people.
1957 was the hinge year to switch to massive construction of the country.
We began a three year plan in 1958 to build socialism. After that we had a five
year plan which went on till 1965. The three year plan was concentrated at meet-
ing the needs of the people; the five year plan a.t building industry.
In 1965, the destructive war of ir. Johnson began, e" can look back
though from 1965 to 1954. In the past, our country could not afford enough
food for the poor. avery year we had to bring in rice from South Vietnam
or import it from abroad. There was family and some people starved. Some had
to immigrate, to look 'elsewhere for work. It the end of 1944 there were bad
crops, while the Japanese were collecting rice for the war. In a short time
in three small provinces nearly 2,000,000 people died of starvation. But,
after we started socialism, there was no longer a question of famine and we
are self-sufficient in rice. In fact, we have a small excess to export.
In the past, clothes, consumer and household goods had to be imported from
France, China, and Japan. After we started socialism we have been able to
produce everything we need. In the past over 90% of the people could not
read. Now, everyone can read and write. In the past only the rich could send
their children to schools--to colleges and universities. They had to go abroad
for an education. But now, everyone, all the children, can go to school. And
they can go on to higher education. The problem now is that we don't have
enough schools to receive all of these students. Before liberation, during the
French stay, the whole of Indo-China had only three universities, a law school
and a higher school of fine arts. Now, in North Vietnam alone, we have over
thirteen universities. As for secondary schools, we have them in every dis-
In the social area and the field of security, in Hanoi and other cities, all
the houses had to have strong locks. rhe windows had to have iron grates. In
the countryside the families had very strong gates and high walls to protect
themselves from bandits and.thieves. At present, in the cities, one family rel-
ates to many others and will often ask their neighbors to look after their house
when they are away. In the countryside, the walls and gates have been torn
down and used for other purposes.
Before liberation tens of thousands of poor women had to become prosti-
tutes. After liberation we gathered them all together to explain to them
that because of the old society they had lost their personal, human dignity.
"You had no role at all; because you were poor you had to go into such a pro-
fession." Now we teach them handcrafts and, after they have learned how to do
something, they try to find a husband. Prostitution is no longer existent in
In the last few years while building socialism the people have become more
confident. They have better lives. They are happier. The religious people
now realize that the objectives of socialism actually implement their goals
of social justice, fairness, and better lives for the people.
Now, what is the society of North Vietnam like? There are not too many
rich people or too many poor people. They have roughly the same standard.
They have enough money to eat, for clothes, enough to send their children to
school. They have the means to afford cultural entertainment; cinemas, dances,
orchestras. In the past certain food items were reserved for the French rulers,
governors, and high mandarins; but now they are for all the people. In the past,
in Hanoi, there was a quarter of the town reserved for commercial use by the
French only. Now all people can go there.
I would now like to say a few words about religion in North Vietnam. The
greatest religious community is that of the Buddhists. e don't know the exact
number because some people are completely devoted to Luddhism and they live
in pagodas. Others live at home while still others live both at home and in
pagodas. As to Christians, there about one million, not counting over 50,000
who wont to the South. In 1954,..the Catholic leaders said that the Communists
were atheists and were taking over the country. God would now leave and go to
South Vietnam. very Christian had to follow Christ to the South. Other
Christians said that when the Communists took over they would confiscate every-
thing and would practice sexual promiscuity, exchanging husbands and wives. At
that time, the Canadian representative to the International Commission, in co-
lusion with the U.S. incited the people to go to the South. They used vio-
lence to make the people go. They used armed forces and troops. They used
much violence. Some Catholics were able to remain in North Vietnam. They
now realize that the propaganda at the time by the Christian loaders was not
true. They see that the big land owners have had to share part of their land
with the poorer peasants. .They see that industrialists, the owners of firms and
factories, have had to take measures to better the lives of the workers. In
the past, not counting the prostitAts I have mentioned, men were allowed to
take any number of wives they liked. IWomen were oppressed and had to limit
their activities to the home. They could not work in society. Husbands had the
right to beat their wives and drive them out of the family. But, when we start-
ed to build socialism, we established a law concerning with families and
marriage. fTe wrote in our constitution that men and women are equal and that,
legally speaking, a man could take only one wife. There is no forcible mar-
riage. People are free to try and understand the opposite sex and see whether
they can conjoin their lives. Women are free to engage in any activities--
in the home, in society, in the village and commune, etc,
,omen are allowed to vote when they reach the age of 18, just like the men.
They have the right to be candidates for office when the reach the ago of 21.
420 members of the National Assembly were recently elected. There were
over 500 candidates and 420 were elected. 98.881 of the voters went to the
polls. Among the 420 elected, 91 were workers, 90 were collective peasants,
125 were women, 87 were socialist intellectuals, 27 were military men, 72 were
from ethnic minorities, 8 represent various religions. There are no Catholic
In North Vietnam there are 10 dioceses with 12 bishops. There is a pro-
vision in our constitution and our government has also promulgated a law con-
cerning freedom of religion. It says that anyone is free to believe any rel-
igion but is also free not to believe any religion. Freedom of religion means
that each religion is free to practice its cult and every Vietnamese is free to
follow any religion he likes. Freedom not to believe means that every Vietnamese
is free not to believe in any religion if he so wishes.
It is the policy of the government to create favorable conditions for the
practice of the cult of every religion--Buddhist, Catholic, etc. The govern-
ment practices equality among the religions. The birthday of Buddha is a nat-
ional holiday, as is the birthday of Christ. The government does require that
religious activities be strictly religious and that the leaders of religions
should not profit from religious activities or hinder the implementation of
government policies or the activities of the population. .'e should mention that
after liberationth ee were two groups of Christians in North Vietnam. One is
the priests, the leaders who came from bases of resistance. These priests had
always limited themselves and their activities in accordance with the policies
of the government. The second group had been living in French occupied regions.
After the departure of the French, some went south with the French, some went to
other countries, and others remained in North Vietnam. These leaders did not
cooperate with the government but rather opposed it. Gradually these priests
realized that the policy of the government was very clear and explicit and
that the masses could have a better life, good food, enough clothing and more
liberty than before. The Catholic masses realized that under the Democratic
Government they can study better, and discuss the affairs of the region and of
the nation. Noai they are enthusiastic to join agricultural cooperatives. They
enter into government factories and learn that they can live very comfortably in.
these places. They join the army. The Catholic women realize that their lives
are very different from the past. J.s the Catholics increase their knowledge they
can better integrate themselves with other segments of the population. Faced
with these realities, those Catholic leaders who remained after the departure
of the French realize they cannot say anything against the government. i1ow
the situation with them is much better.
Now I would like to talk about the Paris Conference. ,e first met
officially with the United States on iLay 13, 1968. But, we could only reach a
decision to end the bombing at the end of October. Even if ir. Harriman wanted
to come to an agreement,' r. Johnson did not. By the end of October i.r.
Johnson agreed to let i.r. Harriman discuss with me the bombings and we came to
the agreement that by November 1, 1968, the U.S. would stop completely
all the bombardment and other acts of war on the DRV, under any condition.
Afterward, iLr. Nixon alleged that there had been some "secret understanding'.
This was not true. It was a fabrication. Ir. liixon invented this "under-
standing." So, we agreed that after the cessation of the bombing by the U.S. a
four party conference would be held; including the delegations of the DRV,
the FNL, the U.S. and the Saigon administration to discuss settlement of the
Vietnam problem. Before the discussion I asked ur. Harriman, "are you sure
that the Saigon administration will send a delegation here?" 1-L Harriman
answer, "no doubt since we are sure that we have agreed to hold a Four Party
Conference, Saigon will come." iLr. Harriman proposed that the first session of
the Paris Four Party Conference be held either Ijovember 2nd or November 6th,
1968. He asked me if I could be sure that the FNL delegation would arrive in
Paris in time for the first session. I told him that I had been in touch with
them and that they would send a delegation to Paris before the fixed date for
Saigon did not send a delegation to Paris. Why didn't they come in time?
We heard a recent statement by ir. Harriman, published today in the Inter-
national Herald Tribune today. He made the statement hay 24, 1971. It
says, "Saigon has undermined the progress of the negotiations and tried to
create difficulties." They did this in the hope that the election of ..r. Nixon
would be to their advantage. Saigon hoped that ir. Nixon would be elected
and would continue the war. If this happened then they would not have to at-
tend the conference. When ir. Nixon was elected he was faced with a very dif-
ficult situation. If Saigon did not come to the conference, the war would be
stepped up. He was not yet roaddy for the stepping up of the war. He would
have been blamed for immediately undermining the peace negotiations follow-
ing his election. So he ordered Saigon to the Conference and they had to
I shall tell you of some of the procedural difficulties created by Saigon
and referred to by 1r. Harriman. They demanded that the whole conference be
moved to another room--this we agreed to. They demanded that any delegation
be allowed to have their national flag behind it--wo agreed. They demanded
that the tables at the conference be rectangular; the U.S. and Saigon on
one side, the DRV and the NLF on the other. They called this a two sided con-
ference. "e did not agree to this. e said that since we are four different
delegations, there should be a square table, each delegation occupying one
side. That would be fair. They did not agree. So, I proposed another thing--
a round table so anyone could sit wherever they liked. They did not agree to
that. Remove the table! Only chairs! .Lhey did not agree to that either.
The discussion on the table,shape dragged on and on and they finally accepted
the round table. Eut then they proposed to have a white line in the middle
of the table with the U.S. on one side and the iLF and DRV on the other. iWhy
so many complications? Remove the green trays and have nothing on the table.
We proposed that they remove everything from the table and we all sit on the
floor. They didn't agree to that. Finally, in the face of world criticism,
they agreed to a round table with a green vase on it. I told the U.S. delegate
that they could sit anywhere they wanted and we would take the remaining place.
So now the U.S. and Saigon delegations sit side by side.
The first session could not be held until January 25, 1969. Pt the confer
once the DRV proposed four points; the PRG ten points. Each time we made a new
proposal, some time later hr. i'ixon made a counterproposal. He made his pro-
posals first in eight points, then in five. In our view we think that these
proposals are not really aimed at a negotiated settlement on the basis of
respect for the fundamental national rights of the Vietnamese people--not for
the right of the Vietnamese to self-determination--not for ending the war. '1e
think the proposals are only aimed at legalizing the agrossion by the U.S. in
Vietnam; legalizing the administration's established setup in South Vietnam.
Currently the debate centers on two questions: withdrawal of U.S. forces and
those of foreign countries taking the U.S. part,
(The U.S. speaks of a DRV withdrawal) But, we are not making aggressive moves
against the people of Washington in the United States, There are no Vietnamese
planes bombing the U.S. There are no Vietnamese troops coming into the United
States. There is no reason that the U.S. delegates demand the withdrawal of
Vietnamese troops to Laos. It was the U.S. which signed the Geneva agreement
with us in 1962. But it has been the U.S. which undermined these agreements,
undermined the national Union Government of Laos. It was the CIA that overthrew
the neutral government and undermined the situation in Laos, not us. U.S. planes
are flying throughout Laos and drzpTing bombs. There are no Vietnamese planes
at all. It was the U.S. that organized its "Special Forces" and those of the
1iao minority commanded by General Lon Nol. It is the U.S. that sends Saigon
troops into Laos with air and logistical support. W'ho staged the coup d'etat
in Cambodia? It was the CIA. Nixon said he would withdraw troops from
Cambodia in 12 months. I told Mr. Bruce that this proposal was made by Mr.
Nixon as early as iiay, 1969 and the 12 months were up. It is just like an inn-
keeper who hangs up a sign saying that tomorrow dinner will be free. Tomorrow
customers come in and it is not yet "tomorrow." This is why it is important
that a definite withdrawal date be set.
If 1r. Nixon had accepted our date of June 30, 1971, the withdrawal could
have been completed by now. I wonder if it is possible for lr. Nixon to
withdraw U.S. forces rapidly? The seaways are controlled by Mr. Nixon. The
U.S. has plenty of ships for transportation. The airways are controlled by
hr. Nixon and he has plenty of planes. He would be able to rapidly withdraw
U.S. troops if he wanted to. I even told Mr. Bruce, "I wonder if you have
difficulties in transportation for the withdrawal?" "If so, I would help you
solve this difficulty." We don't have any ships of our own, but we can bor-
row ships from our friends and lend the ships to you for the transportation
of your troops" But, I don't think it true that the U.S. is lacking in trans
portation. I wirll give you this information from remarks made by the Deputy
U.S. Commander of the marine Corps. On ipril 9, 1971 he said that if the U.S
wanted to bring three Marine divisions in from Okinawa it would take only
five hours. If it wanted to put a division on board ships of the Seventh Fleet
it would take only thirty minutes. American General David Shoop said that if
he had the right to decide on troop withdrawal, it would take ten to thirteen
days for the preparation and the withdrawal could be complete in fifteen
days. If we keep to these statements, from now to June 30th is over one month,
it is certainly enough'time for the U.S. to get out of this war. It is
the unwillingness of ir. Nixon to withdraw forces that keeps them there.
He has imposed two conditions for troop withdrawal. He says that we set
the conditions, but he actually did. One is that only when North Vietnam
returns all American prisoners will he withdraw troops. The second condition
is that hewill withdraw forces only when the Saigon Government is strong eno-
ugh to fight against the communists.
It should be said that the release of the prisoners is an aftermath of the
war. Because there is agression--troops of one country sent to another coun-
try for agression--there is fighting. When there is fighting, prisoners are
captured. Therefore, it is always after the settlement of the war that the
question of the prisoners should be solved. We had a precedent with the
French. We fought against the French, but after the signing of the 1954
Geneva Agreements all the French prisoners were released. We had even cap-
tured some French generals and we released them. When we came to Paris, some
of them came to visit us and spoke of the decent treatment they received while
in captivity. It is something quite unusual that in the present war that,
while hostilities are still going on, we released some Americans. When we
released them they held a press conference and spoke of the good treatment
they received. Even when they returned to the U.S. they spoke well of their
treatment. However, some months later, they went on the radio and wrote news-
paper articles speaking of they inhuman treatment they received. They are
being used by the U.S. administration to make these false statements. So far
as I know the U.S. Government has staged fake cells and fake doctors and taken
fake photographs to make anexhibition of them in the U.S. Because of this,
there is no reason for us to continue to release prisoners while the hostilities
are going on; when the U.S. only makes propaganda of it to continue the war.
,What Mir. Nixon wants is to put the cart before the horse. The question of
prisoners will never be solved as long as there are American troops station-
ed in Vietnam. Because, as long as they are there the people will fight ag-
ainst them and capture American soldiers and the list of the prisoners will
Now, about the second condition. ir. Nixon says that he will keep troops
in South Vietnam as long as Saigon is not strong enough to oppose a Communist
takeover. First, Ilr. Nixon proclaims that he respects the right to self-
determination for South Vietnam. If so, he has no right to force the South
Vietnamese population to accept an anti-coaiiunist government. The people
must be free to choose any form of government they like. Whether it be com-
munist or not is up to the people of South Vietnam to decide, moreover, the
PRG and the NLF have been constantly saying that the future government of
South Vietnam will be neutral. iLr. Nixon waits for the time when Saigon is
strong enough. Who will decide when it is strong enough? Suppose that we
release all American prisoners now. lir. Nixon would still say there is the
second condition. Saigon is not strong enough.
Recently the Gallop Poll asked, '"r. Nixon says he will withdraw U.S.
troops when Saigon is strong enough--Do you believe his intentions? A few
answers were that the U.S. could withdraw in three years, but the majority of
the answers were that he could never withdraw U.S. troops. Forty-four per-
cent of the answers said that Saigon would never be strong enough. ioost
people did not believe that he would ever withdraw the troops. Sixty-seven
percent of the answers did not believe that !r. Nixon is telling the truth
to the public. Now, I don't know how accurate the Gallop Polls are, but
we believe that iir. Nixon will only withdraw troops to a certain limit, not
completely. He must keep a ground force in South Vietnam and have U.S. air
force and the Seventh Fleet at hand to bring in at short notice to support
the Saigon puppet administration set up, nurtured, financed, and cormmanded
by the U.S. Everyone knows that without U.S. ground, air, and navy forces,
Saigon could not stand alone. So he cites all kinds of pretexts to deceive
I told ir. Bruce that iir. Nixon raises the question of prisoners and
stages all sorts of propaganda including sending letters--to Paris--to Rome
sending people to those places and various other capitols to stir up this
question of the prisoners. It is only for deception of the Inerican people.
He will never succeed in deceiving the Vietnamese people. The Vietnamese can-
not be fooled: they will continue to fight against the Americans in South
It is said that we treat the prisoners very inhumanely. No. io are
a people who highly regard human beings. 'ie are a socialist country with
Vietnamese traditions toward humanity. For instance, we respect aged peo-
ple, because, in our philosophy, we think that the aged create history for
the coming generation. i.e value the youth because they are the moving force
in our society. i'e love children because they are the successors who will
continue our cause. ;e respect women because they make up half of the human
race and because their responsibility is very great. The capability of wom-
an is as great as those of men. There is no difference. 1ell, we are fight-
ing aggressors. But, when they are captured and in our hands, we consider
them as human beings. Life has to be preserved, just as in the teachings of
Christ. .e captured many French prisoners of war--among them Ilgerians,
lorrocans, and ifricans. I.hen we captured them we told them, "you are bro-
thers; you have been forced by the French to fight but we will now help you
do what you are capable of." When released, remained herm Others, we allow-
ed to return to their country. 'hcn they left we saw them off. Is I told
you, while we oppose the Nixon Administration, we consider the fAmerican
people our friends. So we follow this policy; on the one hand we must fight
against the bombing and aggression; on the other hand we should be patient,
convinced that the American people will gradually come to know the truth. !e
should not be in a hurry. Ue should not bear a grudge against the American
people. ,Je are only angry at the rulers of the U.S.
'ie have received many U.S. Congressmen hr and they raise the question
of the prisoners. I tell them I will not talk if they want to discuss pri-
soners. If you talk of prisoners you are only serving ir. iixon, whether
consciously or not. They change the subject and talk about things like the
Peace Talks. But later they ask, "Can I go to Hanoi to visit the imerican
prisoners." "Lr. iixon is deceiving the nAmerican people, I am for Vietnam."
"If I can go to Hanoi to see the prisoners, I will return to the U.S. and tell
the American people the good treatment you are giving the prisoners." I then
ask them if they can keep secret the place where we are detaining the prison-
ers when they return to the U.S; keep it secret not only from the American
people but from the Pentagon and ir. Nixon. Iihen they find out they will send
troops, allegedly to "rescue" the prisoners but really to bomb the camps
and put us on fire. Then these Congressmen suggest that we allow the Inter-
Uational Red Cross to go to Vietnam. I told them it would be better letting
you go than the Red Cross people. You know, the Red Cross people went to South
Vietnam but couldn't find the'tiger cages" at all. I must say that the
International Red Cross is working for Ir. Nixon.
I propose to the congressmen that we send a delegation of Vietnuaese
families--victims of U.S.bombings--people who have lost relatives, to the
U.S. They would talk to the american people in \ashington and New York.
But, if we send such a delegation, could you assure me that hir. Nixon
would give them a visa? Are you sure:that such a delegation would not be
harmed on the way back to Vietnam--that their plane would not be downed? And
these American senators say they cannot assure it. ell, then I cannot assure
you in your demand to go to Vietnam. You should not raise the question of
prisoners with me now.
hy does the PRG constantly demand the removal of the present leaders in
the Saigon Administration? Because the present administration and its dele-
gation to the Peace Conference said they are opposed to Communism. They are
opposed to neutrality or to any form of coalition. Let them oppose communism;
we have nothing to say about that. But, the PRG advocates a neutral government.
iJhy are they opposed to neutrality? And to coalition? There are only two
main forces on the earth: the U.S. on the one side, the socialist forces on
the other. In the middle is neutrality. Since the South Vietnamese administra-
tion is opposed to communism and to neutrality the only way left to them is the
U.S. As long as the present leaders of Saigon remain, no talks are possible--
no settlement is possible. There will be elections in South Vietnam in
October. But the constitution and the election laws have all been drafted by
by the Saigon Administration and just and fair elections are not possible under
those conditions. In the past during elections in South Vietnam the number
of votes cast was double the number of voters.
oe, the delegation of the DRV support the proposals of the PRG to form a
provisional coalition government with three segments to organize the elections
in South Vietnam. lir. Nixon's policy advocates that the Paris Conference
should just mark time. Genuine negotiation should lead to genuine respect for
the fundamental national rights of the Vietnamese. Instead, Ir. Nixon wants
the negotiations to lead to neo-colonialism in South Vietnam, Cambodia, and
Laos. He wants to maintain the U.S. presence in these countries and control
their puppet governments. He wants to seize these countries, expand U.S.
influence in S.E. isia and encircle the DRV. So, in his mind, negotiations
should be directed this way. This is unacceptable to us so he prolongs and ex-
pands the war.
ir. Nixon committed three great errors. First, he didrit attach much
importance to the Paris Conference. It is just a formality to him. He continues
Vietnamization, but, it has met much opposition and has turned into a failure.
Therefore, he committed the second, the extension of the war into Cambodia. He
pretended that he was fighting communism, but, since Sihanouk is not a communist
this couldn't be true. Cambodia was a Eeacoful and neutral country. But,
due to Sir. Nixon, all the people of Cambodia have taken a stand to fight ag-
ainst U.S. aggression and have liberated over 7/10 of Cambodia with over 4
million inhabitants. Now, Cambodia has become a battlefront. Nixon has to
pour money, equipment, planes and puppet troops into Cambodia. He thought
by extending the war into Cambodia he could relieve the political situation in
Saigon; but he did not succeed. This is also the reason he extended the war in-
to Laos in February and iiarch of this year. His third error: the invasion
of Laos. It was to be a test of the viotnarization policy and a test of the
"Nixon Doctrine." All the means of war were poured into Laos--the crack
troops of South Vietnam and unconditional U.S. air support. The plans were
all made very clear; when they would capture certain places, etc. The outcome
was, however, a bitter defeat. So, strategically, Ir. Nixon has failed, in
the sense that he wanted to cut Laos into to parts and isolate them. He wanted
this to make up for the failure of the Vietnamization policy. He has also
failed technically. The tacts of transport by helicopters, the use of armored
vehicles, of intensive artillery fire, air support, those have failed. Tanks
and other vehicles brought into Laos could not be used and had to be abandoned.
The troops had to flee through the jungles back to South Vietnam. The Laos
Campaign shows that the Vietnamization policy has failed in the sense that
Saigon troops need to fight with U.S. support and under U.S. command. They
cannot fight alone.
Besides these three areas, ir. Nixon has again committed the error of
resuming the bombing of North Vietnam. Ir. Johnson kept up the bombing for
four years with no success, and ir. Nixon will not accomplish anything by it
either. iiore planes will be downed; more pilots captured. So Mr. Nixon's
claims about the success of his Vietnamization policy, the success of the
Nixon doctrine, the victory in South Laos are all lies. And all these allega-
tions about U.S. forces withdrawing that the forces can withdraw because of
the victory he has won are not true. The question is whether all U.S forces
will be withdrawn. And the question is when, on what date, all U.S. forces will
be withdrawn. And in this connection, Mr. Nixon does not dare give specific,
concrete statements, but I think that we are not astonished when hr. Nixon says
that he has won a victory, because there is no reason for him to admit that he
has met with defeat. We look at Mr. Johnson...he had met with severe defeat
and he refused to be a candidate again. He maintains t hat it was because he
was not attached to the presidency role, but in the interest of the American
people he refused to be a candidate.
So I think that the only way now is to engage in serious negotiation.
By general negotiations, we have in mind the interests of the Vietnamese people
and also the interests of the American people they will no longer lose lives
and materials and the difficulties in the U.S. in the social field, financial
and political fields will end. Moreover, the world will be relieved of the
burden of the extension of the war.
It is the policy of the DRV that we shall continue our path to socialism
because we feel that this path is beneficial and conforms to the aspirations of
our people. We shall continue to follow the path of equality between men and
women, of the equality and freedom of all religions. The Vietnamese have enough
food, enough clothing and the means to go on to school. Social justice will be
ensured. No one will bully another. With regard to South Vietnam, we respect
the political program of the NLF. That is, an independent, peaceful, neutral
and democratic South Vietnam. After the withdrawal of the U.S. forces, whatever
form of government, whatever form of path the South Vietnamese people shall
follow, we will allow them to. We shall not compel the South Vietnamese people
to follow the path of socialism as it is in the north. Mr. Nixon often claims
that the Vietnamese are very revengeful...that there will be a blood bath after
the withdrawal of the U.S. forces. This is only a pretext for keeping the troops
in South Vietnam. The Vietnamese have a very strong sense of humanity, a deep
sense of affection for other people. All the killings, shootings of the past
long yearsare due to colonialism, to imperialism, and at present,are due to Ir.
Nixon. After liberation, after withdrawal of the American troops, ,he Vietnamese
will know how to come to national accord, to reconciliation, to rebuild the
country on their own.
In the present DRV there are many ministers of war, as there were ministers
during the Japanese days. I myself, during my revolutionary activity, was
imprisoned, arrested many times by Vietnamese mandarins and these mandarins now
are within the government and they talk with me. We frankly, normally forget
the past. There is no retaliation from the Vietnamese. The Saigon administration
fear that they will be subject to retaliation. Let ir. Nixon bring them to the
U.S. Let him bring hr. Thieu back to Washington and nurture him. Let him do that.
Concerning the re-unification of Vietnam, we Vietnamese are not in a hurry.
Our county is the people. Reunification depends on concrete conditions, con-
crete circumstances and situations. We shall let the South Vietnamese decide
when they want to see the country unified. We are maintaining good relations
with the Soviet Union, with China, with all other socialist countries. They are
relations of friendship, of brotherhood, of unity, and they give use whatever
aid and assistance we request because our policy is to unite with them, but at
the same time we have our independent policy. We Vietnamese are deeply attached
to our national traditions, but at the same time we are keen to learn from
other countries, whether they are socialist countries or not, we don't care.
We want to learn the best of them. In our ability to learn from abroad, we have
to suit knowledge to Vietnamese conditions. Whatever is suitable to Vietnamese
conditions, we apply. Whatever is not suitable, we leave aside. But we want to
maintain friendly relations with all nations throughout the world. we would like
to have trade relations with all countries. We want to have scientific and
technical assistance from all countries.
If Mr. Nixon really wants peace, tomorrow we shall have peace. If Ir. Nixon
is unwilling to restore peace, we shall continue fighting, no matter how long
it is. If iir. Nixon follows his erroneous policy, he will suffer defeat. We are
all desiring an early restoration of peace to South Vietnam, to all of Indo-China.
After the restoration of peace, after withdrawal of the troops, South Vietnam
and North Vietnam, although not yet re-united, at least will have normal and good
relations. And we shall establish relations with the United States. You will
help us in the scientific and industrial fields, and we shall have trade relation-
ship between Vietnam and the U.S. We shall exchange tourist delegations between
Vietnam and the U.S. I think that it would serve better than to continue the war.
I think that now the Vietnamese and Americans have come to a mutual understanding.
Therefore, I think it is our common task now to win an early end to the war and
an early restoration of peace.
QUESTIONS FROI THE CO1~ SSION
Q: Regarding relations between the Vatican and the Catholic Church. I don't know
a lot about the problems that may exist between the Vatican'and your country and
whose fault it is, but from our point of view as Roman Catholics, it would be
most helpful to us in working with the peace movement in the U.S. if a bishop from
your country would be able to attend the synod in Rome next October. Is there
any possibility that that might happen?
Al As far as this question is concerned, we guess you should contact the two North
Vietnamese priests who are attending the conference. Whether or not the repre-
sentative of the Catholic church in Norht Vietnam will attend the synod in Rome,
I can only speak from the point of view of the DRV government, and we think this
depends mostly upon the Vietnamese churches and the Vatican, rather than on us.
It depends on whether or not the Catholic representative of North Vietnaz would
like to go and attend that synod and would like to ask for the permission of the
government of North Vietnam.
Q: Could you comment on the comparison of the present level of bombing that has
been re-instituted by the Nixon administration and some of the heights of the
bombing under Johnson?
A: Since iHr. Nixon took office, he has in many cases carried out bombing and
strafings against the DRV. Since the beginning of this week there have also been
bombings in North Vietnam. For example, in the month of April, counting only the
B52 bombings, there were 4,740 tons of bombs dropped. In liarch there were 178
raids by tactical jet planes against North Vietnam and 25 raids by B52 bombers.
For Laos and Cambodia, since irr. Nixon has taken office, the bombings have
increased several times in comparison with the past. The bomb and shell tonnage
is a little higher since the beginning of 1969 in all of Indo-China and has sur-
passed the tonnage during the entire Johnson administration. Figures given by
the Pentagon from 1965 to the first three months of 1971 are the total of the
American bombs in Indo-China, over 11 million tons. Of the figure of 11 million
tons, over 5 million tons were dropped since Hr. Nixon took office. In order to
help make a comparison, during the second World War the bomb tonnage over the
whole surface of Europe and the Pacific was only 2,700,000 tons. (The figure 11
million tons includes bombs and shells; bombs alone were 5- to 6 million tons.)
I can give another figure for comparison. During the second World War on the
whole European battlefield, counting the bombs used by both sides, the average
figure for one month was 130,000 tons of bombs, while in Indo-China the figure is
250,000 tons used only by the American troops in a month. By this you can measure
the atrocity of the war carried out by the Americans. Another fact is that in the
second World War the highest number of planes used by Hitler against the Soviet
Union was 6,000 airplanes at one time. The airplanes used by the U.S. in Indo-
China (which is very much smaller than the Soviet Union) amount to 5,000 planes
and 10,000 helicopters, not including the B52s. That shows more of the atrocity
and barbarity of the war in Vietnam. Another point is that chemical warfare is
another aspect of the war which is no less atrocious. This is the pacification
project called Phoenix, the urgent pacification which has made from 6 to 7 million
people in Vietnam homeless at the present time. Remember that among the Vietnamese
the cult of the ancestors is sacred. They cling to their native home, where the
bones of their ancestors are, for generations, but the bombings and shellings have
destroyed the graves of the ancestors, making a great many people leave their
villages and the graves of their ancestors.
Q: wouldd you develop a little bit the cult of the ancestors and the importance
of the village or place, because we are a very mobile society in the United States
and do not have that kind of attitude. It might help us to understand you better.
A: The cult of the ancestors is not a religion, but it is something related to
morals. In every Vietnamese family, whenever our grandparents or our parents
died, there was an altar where the whole family used to get together once or
twice a year in order to carry out the cult of the ancestors. The first day of
the first month of the lunar calendar, on the third month of the lunar calendar
year, our people get together in order to celebrate the ancestors. It is because
this isn't a religion that every Vietnamese, whether they are Catholic or
Buddhist or any other religion, have the cult of the ancestors. This is because
of the tradition in our country that people have respect for the aged. It is
also in conforming to this tradition that the children have to feed and take care
of the aged people.
Q: What is the relationship between the NLF and the -DRV? Are there communication
links? Are there machinery, personnel and supply links?
A: There are relations between the DRV and the PRG. The first one is that, as
our minister said this morning, as North Vietnamese we recognize the political
program of the PRG which stands for independence and neutrality for South Vietnam.
The PRG has special representation in Hanoi. This cannot be seen as an embassy
of a foreign country, because fundamentally Vietnam, north and south, is one.
Nevertheless, it has a representational form, and that is why we call it the
special representation of the PRG in Hanoi. The government of the DRV and the
people of North Vietnam spare no effort to assist our compatriots in the south
in the war of resistance against the U.S. aWgrssion and for national restoration,
since the two zones make one country.
Q: Catholics are supposed to be believers, but many have been so conditioned by
our government that they have become unbelievers of the things you say. You
spoke of freedom of the press in North Vietnam and the Catholic newspapers. It
would be helpful for us to get copies of these publications to show to the
A: Your suggestion is welcome. We will.be glad to supply you with publications
in the future, but not at this time because we are negotiating at the conference.
Colonel Nguyen Huy Loi, ARVN
Vu Khac Thu' ETxpert, Foreign Affairs
Embassey of the Republic of Vietnam, (South)
Iay 28, 1971
Q; Some of the Cambodians-were mentioning that about 50,000 Vietnamese-
born persons who lived in Cambodia for some time were expatriated back to
South Vietnam during the time of the coup d'etat and the American incursion.
Since we are quite interested in the Catholic Vietnamese and this group was
composed of a good number of Catholics, would you please address yourself to
the question of their expatriation?
A: Yes. You remember that in March of 1970 there was a change of government
in Cambodia. In the midst of the confusion there was a story of bodies float-
ing in the Mekong River. lhany people were killed and floating there. There
are many stories about that. according to some versions we heard that the
communists who controlled North Vietnam were in complicity with Prince Sihanouk
and wanted to stir up public opinion against/the new government. You might have
noticed in some of the photos that the bodies floating in the river were strip-
ped of all markings, all clothing and identification. According to a story in
Phnom Penh, some of them were killed by the communist North Vietnamese. They
attributed these deaths to Cambodia. This is something that the Vietnamese people
have to bear. The communists are very expert at playing one group off against
After the coup I went to Cambodia to settle things. I stayed at Phnom Penh
for two weeks to talk with the Cambodian Authorities and the Vietnamese community
in order to settle the conflict. In Cambodia there wrce about 600,000 Vietnamese.
After the coup, the South Vietnamese under the Sihanouk regime participated
actively in the communist side. So, when the North Vietnamese attacked the
Cambodian armed forces, there was some repression from the government against
the Vietnamese community. That is when I went to Phnom Penh, in inay of 1970,
to try and settle things., lany of the Vietnamese run off by the Cambodian
government asked to come to South Vietnam and I made arrangements for this
with the Cambodians.
Q: iiy understanding was that a number of those Vietnamese in Cambodia had
already left South Vietnam because of repression there. Why would they want
to go back?
A: These Vietnamese settled in Cambodia a long time ago because Indo-China
was under French control. They settled there because there was a lot of land
and it was not crowded. Most of the Vietnamese went there some fifty years
ago. So, it was not because they were against the government. There were a
lot of Catholics in that group. I have met.several Vietnamese priests there.
But there is one thing. Under Sihanouk, the so called PRG established itself
in Cambodia. So, there were some Vietnamese who were against the South
Vietnamese government that settled in Cambodia; but the majority of those
that settled came to see Cambodia as their home. Only after the overthrow of
Sihanouk was there any conflict. Then there was some repression and they had
to come back.
1: Colonel, do you acknowledge any difference between the DRV and the PRG?
Are they all considered communists or are some considered patriots or national-
A: No, I couldn't say they are all communist. I have met them and know that.
Most of them, Catholics, came from the north and they all discouraged the com-
munists. And all of the younger men and girls, they are not communists. But,
they are under communist control. I have talked to some of the younger prison-
ers of war. They were young men iwh lived in hamlets in remote areas when,
one day, the communists came and took them off to the jungle and trained them
with rifles and sent them to the front, hany of them are returning now--
about 170,000. Some are real communists but a lot are not communists at all,
but simple peasants, lured by communist ideas. They follow the communists for
a while and, when there is.an opportunity, desert.
Q: Can we return for a moment? You said the birth of the PRG was in the
forth. It was my understanding that it began in the south with discontent over
the land reform and with the Diem regime and its repression.
A: I think a lot of Western people, Americans, don't make a distinction be-
tween the PRG and the NLF. In 1960, Hanoi stated that they would form a front
to carry on a struggle in South Vietnal. It was to be a group of intelligent
people, professional people like doctors and lawyers and professors. It was
a group of people who really believed in what they were doing, believed in
resistance against our government and the Americans. But, the main thing is
that this is a communist party apparatus. It is supported directly by the
communists who call themselves the "Central Office of South Vietnam." The
chief of the "Central Office" is a deputy prime minister of the DRV. iJe know
that they are all under the direct control of Hanoi. The PRG or the NLF is
just a screen to make it look like all the Vietnamese people oppose the govern-
ment. But, they are a communist organization under the direct control of
Hanoi. Most western people are not aware of this. So, at the beginning,
this movement was all right, but now everyone knows their orders come from
Q: Colonel, what is the business of the United States here, no matter whose
side we are on? What business is it for a foreign country so far away to be
A: Well, now we speak in a military field so I think I can explain. After the
Geneva Agreement of 1954 there were two or three years of peace. But, in 1958
began what the other side called "repression" from our government, and some
people joined a movement against the government. In 1960 the Front was organ-
ized by Hanoi. At this time there were no U.S. combat troops in South Vietnam;
just a group of U.S. military advisors. But, we had to fight to overcome the
resistance to our government. In 1962 the North Vietnamese began to send troops
and, at the end of 1962, there were about thirty North Vietnamese battalions in
South Vietnam. But, still no U.S. troops. The northerners continued to go to
the south in 1963 and there was political trouble in Saigon with the South
Vietnamese forces rising up against the Diem gciernment. There was great trou-
ble, political and military.Hanoi thought this was a good time for them to step
up their invasion. North Vietnamese battalions, regiments, and divisions flowed
south, the years 1964 and 1965 were the worst years for our armed forces.
They had to protect the people and, at the same time, fight against division
sized attacks from North Vietnam. Each week we lost approximately one battal-
ion. Our government asked for help from the people of the free world, but mostly
from the United States. Early in 1965 U.S. combat troops came to help us.
Q: But, do you think it would be all right if the southern United States at-
tacked the northern United States to ask your country to help?
A: No, it is stupid to say that. After 1954 Vietnam was divided into two
countries with the north under the.control of the communists, receiving aid
from the Russians and the Chinese to build up their armed forces. The south was
a free and democratic country that continued to reduce its armed forces after
the Geneva Agreements. We do hope that some time in the future, through a free
election, we can reunify the country. But, North Vietnam wants to sieze South
Vietnam by force. They have invaded us by crossing an international border.
This is not a Vietnamese civil war. It would not be a civil war if East Germany
crossed the border and attacked West Germany.
Q: But now, isn't the United States, along with South Vietnam the aggressor,
invading Cambodia, Laos, and, through the bombing, North Vietnam?
A: I hope that our government can become strong enough so that U.S. troops can
withdraw. The withdrawal began in 1969 and goes on now. I hope that after the
U.S. withdrawal we will be strong enough to maintain our self-defense against
invasion from the north.
Q: Yes, but you also have troops in Cambodia, don't you?
A: Yes, there are still some troops there.
A: First of all, because the North Vietnamese had bases there from which they
attacked us. As a military man I think this was a very good thing for us to go
in and attack those bases.
Q: You mentioned free elections. Would you address yourself to the history of
arrests of anyone opposing the government? It seems that every time someone,
not always a "communist" voices opposition to the government, he is put in
jail. There were many arrests yesterday and the day before for example. The
head of the 'Women's Right To Live" was arrested yesterday.
A: I am not a politician but will try to answer. Students can demonstrate
peacefully. No one can interfere with them. But, if they attack cars, etc.,
its not a political demonstration at all. It is then the duty of the government
to stop them.
Q: But also, a newspaper, Tin Song, was forced to stop publishing.
A: In a country at war, like our country, we can accept criticism of the govern-
ment--many newspapers in South Vietnam do criticize it. But, if a paper helps
the enemy, I think it would have to be stopped.
Q: Colonel, are there any contingent plans for the South Vietnamese, with U.S.
support, to invade North Vietnam?
A: 1any people talk about this, even our president. We want to stay within
our borders, south of the 17th parallel. But, if the North Vietnamese continue
to mass their troops and prepare to attack us, we have to do everything to stop
them. As a military matter this is very logical. If you speak of any "plan's
well, I don't know.
Q: Do you envision a total withdrawal of U.S. troops, including the air force
and navy, or do you see a contingent left, as in South Korea?
A: We are strong enough to take care of ourselves. But, if Hanoi, with the
full support of China and Russia continues to attack us, we will need some kind
of support--air support. North Vietnam has modern i1G aircraft, ours in the
south are very obsolete. I think we will need some kind of support in the fu-
Q: Can you estimate the number of U.S. and South Vietnamese casualties in the
A: With the" troop withdrawal, the number of U.S. casualties has been decreas-
ing, but I think the number of Vietnamese casualties will increase. The war is
not as "hot" now as it was two or three years ago and I think casualties on both
sides will be reduced to a minimum. Right now, Hanoi is making raids against U.
S. camps to raise the number of American casualties to make propaganda in the
United States. Actually, 90% of the military operations are being carried out by
our troops. From now till the end of the year I:don't think any U.S. troops will
participate in operations.
Q: Colonel, I'd like to ask about the "psychology" of your military forces. Do
you really hate those men from Hanoi or do you have a mixed feeling? They are
your brothers, with a tradition of hundreds of years of being a sovereign nation.
A: Sir, I can say that we don't hate them. All of us are Vietnamese. But, the
war between the Vietnamese Communists and the Vietnamese Nationalists has been
going on so long with the communists trying to stir up hate. we think this is
a real tragedy for the Vietnamese people--that we can't sit down and stop the
war. I hope in the future they will realize that the war can lead nowhere and we
Q: But, at the present, you think it better that people should be dead rather
then be communist?
A: No, we would rather talk to end the war--that is the best way. Its stupid
to continue to kill each other.
Q: It' your people's blood that's being wasted, isn't it?
A: Yes, blood on both sides. This is really a stupid war. The best way to end
it is to sit down and talk--but they refuse.
Q: Colonel, do you believe the Saigon administration has popular support?
A: The leaders have been elected by the people in a free way in South Vietnam.
All the Vietnamese are weary of the war--they hate the war. They want peace.
But, they want, peace and freedom. We do have some noisy people, noisy opposi-
tion people who try to put headlines in newspapers that the population is against
the war and the government. But, we have an armed forces of about 1,000,000
men. Behind them is the "Self Defense Organization" in which the total pop-
ulation participates. Ve issued weapons to 4,000,000 of them to defend their
hamlets. Opposition is just noisy people in the Saigon area. The majority of
the people do support our government's policies.
Q: The PRG say they favor a coalition government. Wouldn't this satisfy you
A: There is a tendency in South Vietnam to identify the opposition with commun-
ism---this is not true. Remember, we are dealing with a war initiated by the
communists in North Vietnam--they have never denied that. Their leaders claim
every day that they will reunify the country under a socialist regime--a commun-
ist regime. It is very understandable, and, I suppose we would think the same
way if we were in their position. Lffter all, thirty years ago we all joined in
the struggle against the French colonial regime. At that time there was only a
small group of Vietnamese communists. Wje had a number of nationalist parties and
gb6d nationalist leaders, but they were not as well organized as the communists.
That is true all over the world, not only in Vietnam. They are always more and
better organized than the so called nationalist groups or forces. The Vietnamese
that fought at that time against the French did it under the leadership of Ho Chi
innh. No one can deny that Ho Chi .inh is a nationalist and a patriot. He was.
But, above being a nationalist and a patriot he was also a strong and dedicated
communist and he really believed in communism as a way of life--as an ideology.
He tried to set up a communist state. It was in about 1943-45 that the so-cal-
led nationalists, now communists, realized that there was that very forceful,
active group of communists trying to sieze power. That was their aim. Now, the
nationalist parties didn't want to take power, they were just fighting for indep-
endence against the French. We had a fight with the Vietnamese communists in
1945-47 when they took the opportunity--any historian in the world will confirm
this--to literally massacre all the nationalist leaders and destroy the national-
ist parties. In fact, we have not recovered from that time, and, since then, we,
the non-communists and nationalists in the south, have had a crisis of leader-
ship. Ill the people of the caliber of Ho Chi hinh were masacred. We didn't
have any leaders left. We have had a succession of leaders, but were not able to
find anything to counterbalance the image of Ho Chi 1iinh. He is an exceptional
figure. He founded the French Communist Party here. So, that is the problem we
have to remember.
The North Vietnamese believed they could take over South Vietnam after the
fall of Diem. The military situation that followed the 1963 change and the fall
of Diem was terrible. The situation in 1964 was so bad that I think you could sry
we literally drove the country to the communist and pro-communist forces. That
was when we had to make the painful and vital decision to call for assistance--for
foreign troops. We know full well the problems those troops would bring. Ex-
perience from World War II shows that wherever you have a U.S. base there are
problems all around. We have over a million soldiers and they became involved
in all aspects of our lives. We knew that; but, it was either giving up or cal-
ling for help in a last effort to resist. We knew if we gave up it would be for-
ever. Experience shows that the colonization of countries is an irreversible
process. You have never seen a communist country go back to what we call a
"free society," a democratic society in our sense. I think many people in South
Vietnam would be ready to play the communist game--if they knew that when the
people didn't like communism they could return to another form of government.
But they know they can't, and they don't even want to try it. This is one aspect
of the problem we are facing.
Another aspect is that of building an underdeveloped society. Even if we
didn't have a war we would have that problem. On top of it we have the problem da
trying to build our society the free way. Some people would say that some sort
of dictatorship would work better; a very strong kind of government would achieve
it faster. But, we have opted for the more difficult way. Of course, you can-
not have a democracy in South Vietnam the way it took the French, the Americans,
the British, and others a hundred years to build. We can't have that in five
or ten years. That's why the picture in South Vietnam is one of extremes; peo-
ple trying to find equilibrium in building their society. On the one hand we
have over fifty newspapers printing anything they want, including the overthrow
of the regime. You know very well that in every country there is a clear line
drawn between opposition and subversion---you can criticize, but not call for de-
struction every day. The other extreme, of course, is that you see pictures of
our police clubbing people, arresting people.
Another aspect of our problem is Article Four in our constitution which
prohibits communists from operating in South Vietnam. I remember in 1966 that
article was passed in circumstance permitted by war; people live differently un-
der the circumstances of war. ionths were spent debating that article...it being
argued that it would be better to have communists operating openly than to force
them to disguise their activities. On the other side it was argued that vio-
lence is an inherent part of communist thinking throughout the world. You can-
not expect them to renounce violence. The position we are taking now is that
communists will not be allowed until they renounce and effectively guarantee that
they will not use violence.
Q: Some months ago a Catholic group at the University of hinnesota asked for
and received permission to have a Catholic priest from South Vietnam, Tran Von
Con, come and speak to them. He has subsequently been arrested. I wonder, does
this imply that he is a communist?
A: I don't think so. I have said that I cannot make any claim about specific
abuses. I can't guarantee that we have no abuse of any kind. But, it is not a
government policy to repress those who oppose us. There are a lot of people now
in South Vietnam that openly oppose the regime and are still free. They must be
involved in a violent demonstration or with crooks to be arrested. I don't know
of anyone that has been brought to court with the charge that he was simply
against the regime, unless, in the case of Chou, who was said to be involved in a
spy ring. But, that is not my business, it is the court's. Even in the case of
these newspapers that have been sized (every week there are two or three) they
are brought to court; it is not an action of the executive. There is a press
court, established by the newspapers, and it is up to the court to decide.
Q: If there were a coalition government in the south where only a third would be
communist, is it possible that they would be strong enough in their neutrality
that they might even fight with you to prevent a takeover from the north?
A: you know, we have explored that point a lot with the other side and, knowing
very well that their purpose is to overthrow the present government and size
power. First, when they say that they are willing to have a coalition government
composed of one third PRG, one third Saigon government, and one third people that
agree to have neutrality and independence--that last one-third means that they
(the PRG ed) will choose them. In fact, they have already started to veto a
number of people--Thieu, Ky, and Kiem.
Q" Are there any groups in South Vietnam now who are excluded from the elections?
You mentioned the communists earlier and...
A: The communists will run--if he doesn't say he is a communist, no one will
know. That's the problem with this kind of war.
Q: But, for voting, won't known peace groups be excluded? Neutral groups?
A: No, not at all. People often say that communists and neutralists are in the
same group, but I don't think you can say that. In South Vietnam we have never
said that we are against the neutralists. It is up to the people to decide.
There is a conflict and the people are called upon to decide on the conflict. No-
body has the right to decide besides the people. It is the duty of all the parties
to work out conditions so that all of South Vietnam can decide freely and without
coercion. We haven't said how this could be done--we have invited others to come
in and help with that.
That is the difference between our position and the one taken by the commun-
ists at the negotiating table. They propose that we wipe out what exists now in
South Vietnam and set up their Provisional Coalition Government. That would run
the election. We don't agree with that because it imposes a government on the
people before they come to the election. In our proposal of July 11, 1969, we
proposed the elections, with an electoral committee to run them, having a repre-
sentative from their side. The committee would be responsible for the entire el-
ection and they would be represented on it. The second thing was that the elect-
ion would be under international supervision, worked out by all sides so that no
one would take advantage of it. A point of tha proposal says, "We invite the
other side to discuss with us the time-table and the modality, the procedures
for the holding of these elections." ie are not imposing anything; we are asking
them to meet with us and decide about the elections. That is thefairest pro-
posal imaginable. All they want is to destroy the present governmental structure
of South Vietnam. They would move in with their Provisional Coalition Government
--with people chosen by their criteria, excluding anyone they wish. I don't
think that is fair.
INTERVIEW WITH LR. STEVEN LEDOGAR
United States Delegation
inay 28, 1971
Well, what can I do for you besides change Nixon's policy?
Q: The question people are asking at home is "what is the hang-up here in Paris
to reaching some kind of agreement?"
A: To answer the question we must go back to 1968 when, on arch 31, as you
recall, President Johnson announced a partial bombing halt. A few days later,
the North Vietnamese agreed to meet with us, but to discuss one subject only--
the total cessation of the bombing. After a period of discussions, we agreed on
Paris as the site. Their delegations and ours arrived here in early lMay with
the first "officials" conversations taking place on Lay 13, 1968.
After a long period of time of public meetings (there were private meetings
going on at the same time) an agreement was reached on what the conditions
would be for a total halt in bombing. That agreement was reached, although
part of the agreement was not to call it an "agreement." Nevertheless, we
accepted as common policy that on November 1 the bombing and other actions in-
volving the use of force were halted. In exchange, there was one public agre-
ement and their so called "understanding" on which you will have to take our
word as they do not admit to them.. They do admit to the one public understand-
ing that a press announcement would be made which would state that President
Johnson would, at such and such a time, order the cessation of all naval and
artillery bombardments and all other acts involving the use of force on the en-
tire territory of the DRV. That order would take place twelve hours after its
announcement. The important words in the press announcement are; "In order to
find a peaceful settlement to the Vietnam problem, a meeting including the re-
presentatives of the DRV, the South Vietnamese National Front of Liberation, the
United States, and the Republic of Vietnam will be held in Paris not earlier
than November 6, 1968." That, as I say, was the public part. No doubt that
they agreed that the purpose of the meetings was to plan a peaceful settlement
to the Vietnam problem.
There was a long period of time there when Saigon said that you didn't get
the other part of the agreement nailed down; namely, the agreement not to shell
cities, not to violate the DiZ during the course of the wider meetings, and the
understanding that rvonaisssrewould continue. We never claimed that they
agreed to that last part, but we know that they understood it by the choice of
the words; that the cessation of the bombardment and other acts involving the
use of force were what w( were talking about--bombing, shelling, naval gunfire,
and such things. We reserved specifically on the subject ofoaur~* mcr. We
told them it would continue because we deemed it necessary for the protection of
our forces south of the border. Saigon said, "we don't have that very clear,"
that they could easily violate the claim and say it was never an agreement.
Th didn't want to come to Paris at first, but they finally did come.
There was a problem with the change of administration. Johnson was on the
way out and Nixon was on the way in; nobody knew exactly what the new policy
would be. So, it was not until December that we got the procedures agreed upon.
There were some serious procedural problems. Unfortunately these were interpre-
ted to the public as merely an argument over the shape of the table. There
was an argument over the shape of the table; but there was an argument over who
is a government, and who is an aspirant to power and who is in power but il-
legitimate, and who is going to hold a seat to the title when.... The basic
formulation, which was a compromise, for our part was that we were going to con-
sider it a two-sided conference and those were rofered to as "our side and
your side." We told them,"You can pick anybody you want on your side." "our
side is going to be made up of two separate delegations; the government of
the Republic of South Vietnam and the U.S." "We recognize that on your side
you are going to have others, but we will refer to it as your side." They said,
and continue to call it, a four party conference. They used the word "confer-
ence; we used the word "meeting." We wanted a two sided table; they wanted a
square table. We finally agreed to a round table with markings to deliniate
the two sides.
So, the final arrangements were thrashed out and the wider conference be-
gan in January of 1969. Thats when Nixon came in. His ambassador was Lodge.
The four parties sat down at the round table and we soon found out that, des-
pite these statements of November 1, 1968, the North Vietnamese demand was that
you must now get rid of that party on your side. You must first get rid of
them, and you, the United States, must take them apart and replace them with
people who meet with our approval. And we .said; "You agreed to negotiate, to sit
down and talk with them." They said, "Here we are, in the room; now our first
demand is to get rid of them." We said, "Lets talk this over privately." But
they said, 'We will not meet in private with them." "We will meet with you,
the Americans, but we will not meet with them. "Lets,have a coffee break,"
we said. 'We will not take coffee with them.- They represent no one. -They
are traitors; they are corrupt generals; they have used abusive language from
the beginning and continue that position today."
That was demand number one. Demand number two is that before we can dis-
cuss any other subjects, (and we soon realized that there were only three
basic subjects--two more important then the other--the problem of how you get the
killing stopped and the opposing military forces disengaged; two, how are you
going to solve the basic political problem that was the origin of the conflict,
and three, what about those victims of the war that you still can't do anything
about...including the prisoners.) Now, we assumed thereafter, faced with the
two demands which they put in the form of preconditions--their saying that they
will not discuss these subjects until you do at least two things. Number one,
you must withdraw your troops immediately, unconditionally, and without making
any conditions whatsoever. (That has subsequently been modified to 'We will
give you six months and will let you name a date, as long as it is acceptable
to us.") They had never defined what they meant by "withdraw," only to say
"withdraw" from South Vietnam. The political demand was first just in vague
terms, but that has been defined first in the Ten Point Program and then in
their Eight Point Program. They say that they can only deal with some of the
people in the present Saigon regime--only those who are in favor of "Peace,
independence, neutrality, and democracy." "Alright, will you define those
terms?" "Any good Vietnamese knows who is in favor of peace, independence,
neutrality, and democracy." "Well, how can you tell; who will make that deter-
mination?" "Anyone who is in favor of the U.S. getting out immediately and the
present government being replaced by a coalition government is obviously, by
definition, in favor of peace, independence, neutrality, and democracy." In
other words, "If you can agree with us we can deal with you." "The only three
members who are tainted are Thiu, Key, and Kiem." Now they (the North Vietnam-
ese ed.) make it sound like there was a vendetta against these three fellows,
although the revolution has been going on for twenty-five years. These three
fellows were teen-agers twenty-five years ago. The origin of the conflict
could not have been over these three people. But it doesn't make any differ-
ence who wins the elections in October. A split second will be the time
between the communist criticism of the Thieu, Khiem clique to whomever
else is elected. They'renot interested in individuals. They are deeply
concerned about unraveling the organized, non-communist structure--basic enemy
number one. This is true in any situation, military or not, when any minority
wants to sieze power. They try to create some kind of disorganized majority.
They try to disrupt the government and get into a strong position. Its a very
wise thing to do, from their point of view. However, from our point of view,
its an obstacle to negotiations.
You see, they are saying, first you must agree to get out, and then you
must agree to take apart this structure that exists there now. You put it
there so you must take it apart.
Q: Do we, the U.S. believe that the majority of the people of the Republic
of Vietnam support their government?
A: That isn't necessarily true. JWe don't know what the majority of the
Vietnamese people would prefer. We do know that the majority of the South Viet-
namese would not prefer the government of the NLF, now calling themselves the
We do know that, and we would suggest to you that it would be absolutely
immoral to use force were that not true. But, we are not going to discuss the
morality of the situation. There's proof of that. I suggest this to you, that
the allied position has been and is today that at any time, stop the killing
and have a vote. This has been true since it was officially formulated on July
11, 1969. It is theoretically possible for men of good will to come in here
and run a reasonably fair election in which anybody can run; everybody can
campaign; everyone can call themselves whatever they want. It would be as close
as human society is capable of organizing a free election. Let's try and use
that as a way to solve our differences. That fact that we proposed that sug-
gests only that we believe that they will not win in a plebecite. You may or
may not agree with that.
Q: They say their numbers are growing every day.
A: We don't beleive that--we're willing to put the entire situation to a
Q: Thor will, of course, be an election in October.
A: That's an entirely different thing. One thing that we've got to clear up,
that seems to be the basis of misunderstanding. If the war continues, the non-
communists are going to try and govern themselves; and, they are going to try
and govern themselves in whatever way they think best. And, they will continue
to have rules that will prohibit the communists from interfering with them as
long as the communists are going to continue to try and interupt things and
shoot them and kill and take over through force. If, on the other hand, the
other side is interested in resolving this thing by elections, then, all the.
rules that pertain to holding the election in October under the constitution
obviously have to be changed. You can't expect the NLF to come into Saigon
and participate by the rules set up specifically to discriminate against com-
munists and even liberalists who, in the opinion of the ruling government, ad-
vocate neutrality. So, the offer of elections made in July, the kind of elect-
ions we are talking about in our Five Points, should not be confused in your
minds with the (October) elections which will unquestionably be discriminatory
against certain people.
Q: What kind of discrimination?
A: ihat you are talking about, for instance, in the elections in October is
the legislation that was passed requiring a ten year residency period. That
was considered discriminatory--those kinds of regulations. Our proposal
(for elections) is open to negotiations. We have no preconceptions as to what
it ought to be. One way you could do it is to have a mixed electoral commis-
sion under international supervision. We have gone no further than that. We
haven't determined the modality or the rules or the details. 'We want to sit
down and thrash them out-the object being to come up with a political solution
that we think represents the total realities.
Q: The discussion has...
A: They refuse to discuss it at the Peace Talks. The one thing I want to
call to your attention, and I'm sure you've seen it but may not have focused on
it, is that the real articulation and modification of the U.S. position was
made on October 7 in which we set forth the Five Points.
I'm sure its as difficult for you as it is for me to try to disassociate
ourselves from the realities of the problem and try to talk in terms of theory.
But, I do think it worthwhile to try to get your consideration of this one
thing. Certainly as someone who is interested in peace; certainly as someone
who is interested in Christianity, as a basic principle you ought to try to
think of resolving problems in which you might have to use force. Here's
the problem. There is a conflict going on. One side proposed, "let's cease
the use of force and try to resolve the problems that caused us to get into the
fight in the first place." The, other side says, "we will only cease the
use of force after you have first agreed to our version of what the original
conflict was." Just try to hang on to that as you read the First Point. We
propose a cease fire in place. This is the President,"First, I propose that
all armed forces in Indo-China cease firing their weapons and remain in the po-
sitions they now hold. This would be a cease fire in place. It will not, in
itself, end the conflict, but it will accomplish one goal that all of us have
been working toward--an end to the killing. I do not minimize the difficulty of
maintaining a cease fire in a gurilla war where there are no front lines..."
That statement represents the ideas we have. None of those ideas are
for preconditions. Lets discuss how we can stop the killing. He goes on and
points out that by this we mean everything--all U.S. power--air power used
throughout Indo-China. It includes Laos and it includes Cambodia. It certain-
ly includes all of South Vietnam. A cease-fire would include not only the fir-
ing in South Vietnam but all over Indo-China. Conflicts in this area are close-
ly related. The U.S. has never sought to widen them...and so forth. We recog-
nize it would create a host of problems. Its always been easier to make a war
than to make a truce, and so on. Ours is the side that proposes that, first
of all--stop the killing, in Laos, Cambodia, and in South and North Vietnam.
Recognize that when you supported the position of the other side, you are
supporting a position that says, first of all, the political and military de-
mands of one side of the conflict must be resolved completely before you are in
favor of stopping the killing. That is the position you have taken. It is
your right to do it, so I'm not going to argue with you. Just understand that
the position you support is that first a political and military set of demands
precede the stopping of the killing. The position that you oppose is the stop-
ping of the killing immediately, then a resolution of the conflict through other
means. I know their position at least as well as you do. I listen to it every
week and I read it six days in between. I know their rationale for why the
cease fire is nothing but an insidious plot by ir. Nixon--an attempt to legi-
timize the U.S. presence and the puppet government that the U.S. has installed.
I know all that. But, nevertheless, the position you support is that there
must be a political and military settlement first. Then you are in favor of
ceasing the killing. You are not in favor, first of all, of ceasing the kill-
ing and then trying to resolve the problem.
Q: Are you saying that this is the more "Christian" view?
A: Well, I should say that...
Q: Well, you're suggesting it...
A: I suggest that when you do things in the name of the "Catholic Commission
of Inquiry" or whatever it is, that is something you should think of. And, I
probably have no right to say this, but I happen to be a Catholic myself, brought
up in a philosophical tradition that was probably similar to yours and I person-
ally do not like to be excluded when you make it sound like all Catholics are
of one belief. But, I shouldn't do that--I'm a government employee and I have
no business telling you that.
The second point is "Why the Conference on Indo-China?" We recognize--
we aren't trying to stop this one--but we recognize that this conference is not
competent to deal with all the problems in Laos, nor is it competent to deal
with all the problems in Cambodia, nor is it really competent to effectively
address itself to what we all would agree upon would be the neutralization of
the entire area. You have to got the major powers and the leaders involved,
and countries that would be in supervisory roles. So, we suggested that there
be a wider conference. 1o, they said this is an internal conflict. That we
could solve it if we went home. Well, we too are in favor of the U.S. getting
out completely and as rapidly as possible. However we have to have some idea
of what will happen to the other forces that in our opinion are where they ought
not to be.
Q: Is that in conflict with Secretary Lairds position that fifty...
A: Its more in conflict with Nixon than Laird.
Q: As was reported in the Wall Street Journal, he did say that he felt that
A: I'll get to that. You're talking about apples and oranges. They may sound
like the same thing. But, we are negotiating a settlement in which everybody
will be happy. What he is talking about is not negotiating, but moving on with
what we call "Vietnamization." We will probably have a residual force for some
time, and that is questionable. But, negotiations means, everybody out.
But, it also means the North Vietnamese have to get out of Cambodia and out of
Laos. If they want to stay in Vietnam that's not going to be a problem because
the problem of North Vietnam being where it ought not to be is the North Vietnam-
ese in Laos. That's where the Ho Chi Minh trail is. If they would just get
out of Laos, then the U.S. would go home--we could get out quicker than they
can because we have better means of transport. That's called negotiated depar-
ture and that means everybody.
The fourth point, and I will read some of this because people don't under-
stand our position on political settlements. The President said, "I asked the
other side to join us in a search for a political settlement that truly meets
the aspirations of all South Vietnamese. Three principles govern our approach.
(Igain, these are not demands, he's just trying to explain his approach) lumber
one, we seek a political solution that reflects the will of the South Vietnamese
people. Number two; a fair political solution in our opinion should reflect the
existing relationship of the political forces in South Vietnam. Number three;
we will abide by the outcome of the political process agreed upon." Now, that's
pretty sweeping and it's hard to take issue with. If you are willing to ne-
gotiate, what we are interested in is not a solution where our plans get every-
thing, because that obviously will not last. "e are interested in a solution
that reflects the existing forces. Let's see, what are the number of true re-
volutionary forces and how much support do they have. That's how much of the
action you get. On the other hand, no matter how much you bad mouth our govern-
ment or the ones who are trying to get in the contest aaaong the non-communists
(and there are fifty-two political parties of which only a few are represented
in the present government) everybody's solution will be represented in this
government. The word, "coalition" does not mean the same thing to the South
Vietnamese as it does to us. To us it means some form of the sharing of either
the executive or the legislative power, or both. It is, to us, a form of gov-
ernment where we agree that for the purposes of running the country we will
leave some of our philosophies aside and will at least cooperate on the operat-
ion of the society. To them, however, it means communist takeover. That's
what the word coalition means in Saigon and throughout the country, because that
was their experience in 1946; that was their experience in Hanoi in '54; that
was their experience throughout everything they look back on.
If you talk to a Vietnamese nationalist and ask him to define coalition,
he'll tell you that it means,"the other guy takes over." It means they come
and pretty soonth'cyne cutting our throats and pretty soom they are running the
country. It means that once they take over the iinistry of the
Interior, it is a matter of months before they run the whole country. They will
cite you chapter and verse the history of Eastern Europe so quickly I can't
keep up with them. You and I disagree with that definition, but, take my word
for it, that's what it means to them. If you call it a coalition it means a
Q: The DRV propose a coalition government that will take over initially and
then they will have elections. Your idea is that we should have elections to
form the government and then we will pull out. Is that the basic policy dif-
A: Our pulling out is not part of the political settlement. What we have said
is that this is really a problem for the South Vietnamese to organize, but we
have these broad principles. -e do not favor a crunch where one guy wins every-
thing. That includes not our people, not the "out" politicians, and not the
revolutionaries. We think that it should follow more or less what is already
there. But, we are not going to impose the rules under which the election will
be held. If they want us to assist in convincing friendly countries, neutral
countries, and socialist countries that they ought to help in the poll watching
and international supervision, we will do that. But, basically, we are not
competent to reorganize the South Vietnamese society. We have made too many
mistakes like that around the world as I'm sure you already know.
Q: From what I have heard, we are actually saying that we will stay as bng as
the Saigon government needs our support. This implicitly says we support the
Saigon government and in inequalities in their constitution that don't allow
other parties to participate.
A: Unfortunately, of course, we're there. It's the same as in many other
places around the world. Once you got involved in their lives, once you decide
that you will help the people, you wind up helping them through the organized
service. Theoretically then, you are responsible for their failings. That's
true, in Greece and in South America. Its true in many places. Its a tremen-
dous problem and everytime they make a mistake we take the blame. It is true
that they have a higher tolerance for public misbehavior than anything we
know. Certainly they are disorganized. The French left nothing in terms of
in terms of central structure. Certainly they are tired of the war. They are
not the most "gung ho" campaigners that you would like to have on your side.
They have all sorts of faults. Inevitably will do something like throw Tran
Van Tzu in jail after the election, alledging there were some money dealings.
But, he did happen to have said some nasty things. There is nothing you can do
to explain to the world that the man who just lost the election got thrown in
jail and is still there. I can give you chapter and verse the charges that were
brought against him and his prior .reputation and whether anybody in Vietnam
cares about the case. But, I can tell that everyone of you knows about it.
It's been splashed all over as the typical evidence to show that this is a lousy
outfit we shouldn't have any part in supporting.
Q: We. seem to agree on at least one point--holding elections that would be
fair and democratic. What bothers me is how can we be assured that the present
South Vietnamese government has the support of the people?
A: By putting it to a vote, I suppose. How else can you be sure?
Q: Because we have no evidence of that.
A: ilay I suggest that if you are in favor of a plebicite, then you are not a
revolutionary, and, you are not in favor of the PRG's position. Their position
is absolutely that the minority is going to take over because it is best for the
Q: I think that if you look at their points you will see that they are not say-
ing that at all.
A: Oh, yes they are.
Q: It would encompass an election.
A: It would encompass an election, but it is an election that would be held un-
der the supervision of the Provisional Coalition Government. The PCG is com-
posed of three parties; themselves, what they call other stratas of South-
Vietnamese society (those who are in favor of peace, independence and neutrality)
and even members of the present existing government who are in favor of peace,
independence, and neutrality. The test is, who is going to decide who will be
the people that make up the one-third, one-third, one-third. They will de-
cide, because they use their definition and only those who are members of their
group and support their position will be allowed to be in the organization and
hold the power while the U.S. forces leave. Then they will hold elections.
Now, the South Vietnamese view that as something other than a free and fair el-
Q: I think it our contention that we see no evidence that this present regime
has any popular support. That's my problem in in why I support the PRG, We
see a lot of repression in South Vietnam today.
A: I have discussed this with many concerned Americans and have a feeling that
this is where we left each other. 4Why do the policies that I support seem ab-
surd and vicious to you? I go back to one basic thing. If you do not believe
that before 1954 and as a result of the 1954 Geneva Agreements North and South
Vietnam were two separate political entities in the sense that the first para-
graph of the United Nations Charter means when it says you may not use force to
redress grievances no matter how gross they are. If you do not believe that;
if you truly believe that Vietnam is one nation with people of two different
persuasions; that this is a civil war, anything I say or the president says
will never make any sense to you. Because, if you believe that North Vietnam,
because of grievance, has the right to go into Laos, into Cambodia, into South
Vietnam in numbers now over a quarter of a million--a quarter million outside
of North Vietnam.
Q: This may be something of a philosophical question. It seems to me, vis a
vis the whole involvement in this small country, that, while the U.S. may win
the inning, we're going to lose the ball game. As Vietnamization continues
world opinion of the U.S. continues to go down, down, down. Is it worth it to
win the inning?
A: I can tell you that David Bruce, Hubbard, Rogers, Rusk before him, not
a soul, not a reasonably honest man that has ever been involved with this that
wouldn't tell you if he had it to do over again he would make all the same de-
cisions. That isn't the situation in the world today. So you have two separate
things in your question: number one, would we do it all over again if we had to
and, number two, what do we do now given the present situation. Here are our pro-
blems as professional diplomats. You try to learn from history. You try not to
repeat the mistakes of the past; but, you are often in the position of defending
the policy as it exists today. Here, in my hands, is today's "traffic"--report
on the death, the killing, the military operation, the political conflicts, etc.
We do not help ourselves by saying,'back in 1963 we really ought not to have
made it clear to the generals that we were throwing our force against them.
Q: But, why do you continue to let American opinion, world-wide, go down and
down because of this war?
A: Well, you can put it another way. W1y, after you have given your word do
you continue to try to discharge it even though it has become unpopular, even
though it becomes expensive. That's sort of an emotional way in which you ask-
ed your question and I'm giving an answer back to you in an emotional way. I
will say this, that, in my opinion, there are only three arguments you can
use against the present policy that are coherent and unified. There are too
many people who scatter their shots.
Number one is that, despite the past, the higher interests of the United
States are to get out. Our international reputation is gone; our society is
being torn apart, the dollar is crumbling, so forth. That is a coherent argu-
ment. It is cogent and convincing. 1How, if you throw into that, "Besides, it's
a bunch of corrupt generals and that Eisnhower said back in 1953 that 80 of the
people would have supported Ho Chi iinh anyway...then you are not making sense.
You're not making sense to someone who is deciding, "yes, my policy is the best
I can do so far, but now I recognize that I can no longer carry it out because
there are higher considerations."
The second argument, in my opinion (obviously it is not U.S. government op-
inion) is that the cure is worse than the disease. If you say,"boy, you will
kill them all before we resolve the problem of the ggression that they face and
that its better to be Red than dead." If you say, "Look what we're doing to the
Vietnamese society, paving the whole country, moonscaping it." Of course, a
lot of people are saying that as if it were true and they have never flown over
Vietnam, never driven down a road, never talked to anybody that has, but...
Q: I think that's probably true. Imericans have a misconception about how
much destruction there has been in the country. I'd agree that it has been in
relatively isolated spots.
A: But, if its true, not even in terms of physical destruction, even in terms
of social destruction, and that's the way it was pointed out by one of the
ladies from Saigon that agreed with your support of the program of the wider com-
mittee. She talked of the right of people to live, about how the society' the
family structure is overwhelmed. That is a coget argument. But, if y6u mix it
in with all this business about"napalm is basically an immoral thing" and "you
should have signed the 1954 accords" or,"You should have allowed the elections,"
all of which are easily answered, then you have scattered your shots.
The third argument which, in my opinion is unified and makes sense all the
way down the line is that the use of force is immoral. When someone.comes in
here and says, "You've got to stop the killing because it is wrong to kill for
anything." That is a logical argument. It makes sense. But to also say,"Be-
sides, you put Tranh Van Tzu in jail," scatters your shots.
Excuse me for trying to tell you how to argue your case, but those are lo-
gical things and would be convincing. They way you as concerned Americans can
change the policy if you don't like it is not here in Paris--you can learn about
it here--but you have to go back and work through the various ways that you have
to put pressure in the places that get our policy changed.
iJow, to get back to talking about damage in populated areas. In Europe,
during World War II, the U.S. and Great Britain were dropping bombs on cities.
They weren't aiming, they were dropping them on cities and the tonages were
large. There are no civilians that have been targeted in Vietnam. A lot of
civilians have been killed and I've seen it. I've seen where they mistook a
bridge they were after for a different one and killed twenty-five of our police-
men. It was a pretty far miss--about a hundred yards. So I know there are a lot
of civilians being killed but none have been targeted in this war. If anyone
tells you differently they don't know. If you have been there then you do know.
You might argue that that they do have some special targets and are allowed to
go after a specific person, by name,and can use "extraordinary force" including
assassinatie. But this is done to a military man who was a member of the gel-rilla
structure. But, thank God, nobody targets civilians in this war on our side.
Q: Don't we hit villages in "free fire zaoes"?
A: There are a lot of mean military commanders, especially when the criticism
is on their necks for taking too many casualties, who, when they make that judge-
ment which every military man has to make--the protection of the civilian as op-
posed to the military target who will fudge it a little bit more to say, "Oh
well, you know they were probably Viet Cong in disguise. Then they will go
ahead and use force. Unfortunate, but very true.
Q: We have these figures from the iiorth.Vietnamese which they say are from the
pentagon. They state that in Vietnam,.250,000 tons of bombs and shells are dro-
pped per month compared with 130,000 tons a month in World War II. Is that
A: I have no idea. It could possibly be true. They are not the best source for
tonaesa You could get that yourselves by writing the pentagon.
Q: Isn't Vietnamization only "Changing the color of the corpses"?
A: I don't know who said that, but it makes great propaganda for them. It is
a terribly immoral statement. If anybody on our side is interested in any corpses
we are the side the proposed a cease fire.
Q: Can you describe how the Vibtnamization program is going. We have heard
several criticisms of it.
A: First-of all, its second choice. -First choice is the negotiated settlement.
The obstacle tohonegotiations here-iin Paris is that they refuse to negotiate un-
til we give in to the two basic demands I have already mentioned. They refuse
to sit down and talk i:aout those subjects. Under no circumstances will they
meet with the, Saigpngeoernment. But, the first choice is still negotiation,
if ppssibl4, But, 'they-hav rendered it impossible unless we are willing to sur-
render everything as a precondition.
The second choice is a program whereby we get out under our own time-table,
best calculated to leave behind our allies capable of handling their own pro-
blems. That means if we are successful and we get it down to sero or down to
the residual that will always be necessary in the opinion of some people, the
South Vietnamese will be able to handle the North Vietnamese still rampaging
around Cambddia'-.,still coming down the Ho Chi iinh trail, and still coming all
around the mountains in South Vietnam.
,That's the objective. Now, what's the timetable? The timetable is certain-
Sly,.subject to argument. There ism argument about the fact that we are getting
'- out. No argument to the fact that we are approximately down to one half now of
what the peak was.
Q: You're talking about troops. What about equipment .or aircraft, or...?
A: The total aircraft support is down by about one half now. The total number
of sorties being flown by U.S. aircraft throughout South East Asia is about one
half of what it was in January, 1968. The total number of B 52's which was what
is called a "budget" of 1,8000 is down to 1,200 a month. That is forty percent
down. Total sorties are down by 50"' Those are tactical air sorties, and B 52
sorties and that means tonnage. B 52 tonnage is 401~ of what it was two years
ago. This will continue to go down. However, it is not going to go down to
zero. We have made no commitment in the Vietnamization program to take out
air support, whether it is in Thailand or on carriers in the Seventh Fleet.
Q: The facts that they gave us are that in the two years of the Nixon adminis-
tration more bombs have been dropped than in the four years of the Johnson ad-
t: That's absolutely wrong. However, their are things that make it seem not
what it is an, therefore, not quite as wrong as it seems on face value. I'm
talking about U.S. reductions, but I haven't talked to "ou about South Vietnam-
ese increases. During the same two year period, the South Vietnamese air force
has tripled. I guess their number of sorties would have tripled too. What the
communist side does is say that during the Nixon administration, since they re-
gard all South Vietnamese as just tools of iixon, they say the total force used
against them has actually increased. Well, it hasn't acdally increased because
we pulled out more air sorties than the total increase in South Vietnamese ca-
pability. We do not tend to leave behind an army with the same fire power as
Q: The fact is we aren't really do-escalating.
A: Oh yes we are.
Q: We may be but the war isn't,
A: That's not true because the total amount of fighting has gone down re-
markably. The total number of people being killed, which is a fairly good
estimate figure, has gone down. The war has de-escalated and has also moved
away from the populated areas.
See the p-tionti of the South Vietnamese if you can. Conceive of putting
yourselves 6ith thomtn. If I may be critical, I don't think you can because you
didn't even' ry to visit the South Vietnamese delegation.
Qs We have people at the South Vietnamese embassy right now...
A: Excuse me, I apologize...
Q; .e have really been trying. Letters were written to all of the delegations
asking for time. ilo didn't receive a reply from the Saigon delegation and,
since we have been here for ten days we have been try...
A: Their position is that there would be no conflict, no struggle, no violence
if people would leave them alone. If their neighbors would leave them alone.
That's their point of view. You may disagree with it but their point of view is
that North Vietnamese troops have no business in South Vietnam. They offer no
threat to iorth Vietnam except that every once in a while, General Ky at a meet-
ing of his old pilots, when he talks about, 'boy we really hit 'em back there
in 1954' every once in a while he will make some noise about going to the north.
But we won't let him and he knows that. He knows that his president won't let
him and that there is no chance that the people would support him because they've
got nothing that they want in Jorth Vietnam. WJhat they do want is to be left
alone by the iorth Vietnamese. But, North Vietnam wants to take over. The peo-
ple ask, "what are Hanoi's objectives?;' That objective can be summed up in one
word--Saigon! Very simple. Hanoi's objective is Saigon or, in Saigon, an or-
ganization they can effectively control and which, in a graceful period of time
will-remerge the country back into North Vietnam. Don't kid yourself about it.
Now, you may say, as I have said before, "So what?" "That's their business."
Or you may say "I don't care who wants whom, we don't use force--certainly
American's don't use force." Or, you might say," !e should but, if it gets too
expensive we can't continue to do it." But, don't kid yourself into thinking
their objective is anything other than wanting to take over the south. There am
a lot of people who believe they really only want to expel. the Americans--that
the Americans are the agressors and once they got out the war would end happily
Q: As a basically Catholic body we are of course very interested in the situa-
tion of the Church in North and South Vietnam. From our visits this week we
come away with the belief that the Church in the north is given freedom. "e
have statistics on the number of seminarians, of Catholics in the government, i
etc. How do you see this? There were two North Vietnamese priests here in
A: I know. I suppose you could get Soviet priests from the Stalin era who
would come out and tell you its swell; we have perfect religious freedom. You
also would have guys who would come out and tell you that they spent twenty years
in Siberia. We don't know the facts. One part of the Geneva Agreement of 1954
was that for a period of three hundred days the border would be open and all
those who wanted to go south could go south and those who wanted to go north
could go north. The people who came south were for the most part, Catholics.
There was an enormous number. Country-wide the percentage of Catholics is only
about 14 or 15". Its harder to count Buddhists because that like trying to
count Catholics in Italy or something like that. They may go to the Pagoda
once a year but when you beat the drum the right way they all come out for a
parade. The Buddhists can certainly organize more than 14,. Their number,
the faithful, are a lot more than the Catholic minority. So, it was an extremely
high percentage of those Catholics that came down. There are various reasons
why. The clergy was involved and they started the move. They are a force in
Vietnamese society and can organize it and get it to go. The leadership decided
"we had better get out of here." They were the better educated, the more advan-
taged anditherefore, had the most to fear. from a totalitarian society, They
were right because there were purges as soon as the borders were closed. They
came down to South' Vietnam and moved into the army and the government in large
numbers. They formed little enclaves and, for the large part, became hawkish.
So, if you look at the Catholics in South Vietnam today you will find that they
are to the'right on the issue of war and peace for the most part. However,
as is the same in our own society in arguments about the war, you don't find
necessarily that hawks become centralists and then become doves and then'become
screaming doves. They very frequently leapfrog over. You can find a senator
that was ready to "bomb them back to the stone age" a year ago and whob now
saying, "pull out." "Pull out immediately and don't bother me with the conseq-
uences." Its not as hard to imagine as you may think, because, if you keep
your argument simple--that it's not worth it--he was right in the beginning but
only to a certain point, then it became wrong.
Well, a lot of the Catholics in the South (I'm talking about those who
came from the north. Don't forget they have been there now for a full genera-
tion) have gone over this way. So you will find the Catholic Church in South
Vietnam is not supporting the central government any more than they did before.
They have sort of arced over that position. You will get a pretty solid argu-
ment from the organized Catholics now on what should be done on the issue of
war and peace. You won't find any of them on the communist side. You do have
fellows, I understand you saw some of them, who are allegedly from the North
Vietnamese People"s Revolutionary Church. You can go visit literally millions
of them and go talk to the archbiships and the parish priests.
I personally don't like the role that the Catholic Church plays in South
Vietnam. Not because of their politics but because of their refusal to cooper-
ate with any government. But, that's their social function. It has nothing to
do with war and peace. But, they are certainly there, you can talk to them.
You can communicate with them. You can write to the Vatican and ask them to
put you in touch with their hierarchy and see who they represent and try to
get a sounding on what their opinions on war and peace are.
Q: I think some of our delegation are trying to go on to Saigon to see the
Church there, I do want you to fool that we are attempting...
A: I understand that because I've been reading a whole lot of what we had
quoted to us yesterday. In the Peace Conference yesterday, the communist side
talked about, as an example of how our policy is so terrible, that nobody
supported it. They quoted you and your program in that meeting yesterday. We
have had Radio Hanoi and Radio iloscow crowing about how they have the Catholics
of the U.S. on their side. Well, I do feel, though I ought not show it, a
bit of pique at this, because you know you don't have the Catholics on your
side. Yours is a Catholic opinion, not the Catholic opinion.
They troop out someone who is a priest from north Vietnam or wherever
PRG-land is (it's certainly not in South Vietnam. If they have a seat of gov-
ernment its in Cambodia somewhere) and they say here he is and he will give you
their position. tell, I'm not going to troop out anybody, but I am going to
suggest to you that you can got it through organized church sources. Just get
in contact with them. Get your people over there. We won't direct you to
anyone. !e will give you charts, briefings, anything else. But there is a
large, militant, organized, articulate church over there. It is split apart
on this issue but it certainly does have clout because they managed to get more
than half the senators in the senate past the election of the Buddhist slate.
The Catholics can get out the vote and keep it unified.
Q: Do you have any information on why some of the Catholics that used to sup-
port the Saigon government no longer do?
A: War fatigue. Like a lot of people they believe there's a better way. I
myself don't feel they articulate a better way. They say what a lot of people
say, "negotiate--don't shoot--negotiate," 1iell, as one who's been seeing and
butting his head against the obstacles of negotiations for a long time, I don't
have too much patience with a columnist who says that our policy is wrong, we
should stop this and then negotiate a settlement of the war. You ask him how
and he'll say, "That's your problem." Our problem is that they won't talk to us
about anything unless we're willing to pay the entrance fee. The entrance fee
is to yield to their two basic demands. Now, that's a tough negotiating posi-
tion. They, in effect, want moroehere in Paris than they would get if they won
militarily over there. If they won militarily a good number of the South
Vietnamese Jationalists might give up Saigon but they're certainly not going to
stop the fight. They will take to the hills. There is no other choice for them.
They know what their fate would be if they lose. That causes part of the mil-
itancy. What they want here is not only their total military demands but also
their political demands--all as a precondition to the beginning of discussions.
That's a tough position.
Q: When you discuss the fate of the nationalists, are you talking about a
A: Well, blood bath is too emotional a word; but, I'll tell you that an awful
lot of fence-sitters looked to Hue and the twenty-two days that the North Viet-
namese held the city. I don't want to talk to you about Northern atrocities
because you can talk about Southern atrocities. But I tell you as a historical
fact. A lot.of fence sitters stopped sitting on the fence as a result of the
North Vietnamese conduct at Hue. It was an extraordinary experience. With
meticulous efficiency with clipboards and so forth, they eliminated everyone
who was an enemy of the revolution. They took apart every single structure of
the society, including structures that were absolutely in favor of them, inclu-
ding the Communist Youth movement in the University. They eliminated anyone
who had any organization. i total of about 6,500. In twenty-two days, with
very few witnesses that survived. That's what the South Vietnamese fear.
Q: This morning, we heard that the woman who was the head of the "Right To
Life" committee was imprisoned and the head of the Student Union imprisoned.
A: I hadn't heard that. I haven't read about it.
Q: Have you read Ken Atkins appraisal of the situation in Hue? He wrote in
Sthe Christian Review after having been in Hue for about six months after
the American's came back. He interviewed people and has a completely different
A: I'm not going to argue appraisal and I'm not going to cite sources. I'm
just telling you that in my opinion one of the factors that has affected the
South Vietnamese position is the fear of the same sort of treatment. You can-
not deny that there are 6,500 fewer citizens in Hue and the people of Hue be-
lieve that they were done away with by the North Vietnamese. You can't argue
about that any more than you can about the facts of iy Lai. It is one of those
Q: Iiay I ask a question on the whole communism question and where and how you
see the PRG in terms of dictation from lioscow.
A: Because there's only a couple of minutes left, the answer is very simple.
v e s, : "i
The PRG takes its orders 100% from Hanoi. Hanoi takes their instructions from
no one--they call their own shots. They totally eliminate and neutralize any
unwanted pressures from their two major socialist allies by playing one off ag-
ainstA-the other. This leaves them total free to do what they want. Russia and
China have been competing with each other to pour aid in, and yet their advice
isn't taken--they effectively cancel each other out so that the North Vietnamese
are masters of their own house.
You can consider the PRG a separate political entity if you like--Boy, do
I wish you were right. Do I wish they were separate from Hanoi, because then
we might have a chance. If there was somebody who was interested in the welfare
of southerners and who was not always preaching the welfare of the present gov-
ernment in Hanoi we might be able to negotiate. But, PRG-land is strictly
Hanoi-land. Incidentally, Mrs. Binh has no communications of any sort. That's
a matter of intelligence. We know that she has no radio or any other way to com-
municate with anybody. There is no central government. All communications go
Q: I asked that question of her deputy and he said they were in daily contact
with the war situation.
A: It goes through Hanoi. .We know that there is no radio broadcasting, in
code or otherwise, to South Vietnam. This is a group that wishes it was the
government. But it isn't. They don't organize anything at present. They may
think they represent people who would prefer to have them as their govern-
ment, but they. don't run anything. The Saigon government is a government. It
has the schools, the roads, it has the post office system. They are a govern-
ment and have all the structures of government, down to the village level. They
have all the archives, records, etc. The PRG is a group that believe they ought
not be in power, that somebody else ought to come in.
Q: If I understand the prisoner of war argument correctly, we are now saying
that we can justify U.S. presence in that we will not pull out until the last
of our prisoners is returned. Is the correct?
A: That's not what we've said. That's strictly their interpretation of it.
What we do say is that we are not going to pull out the last of our men until
we get our prisoners back.
Q: What is our position in regard to prisoners?
A: Two separate things.
First of all, the question of the exchange of prisoners which, unfortunate-
ly, historically has waited until after the resolution of the conflict. There's
no reason in law or in humanity that requires one side or the other to exchange
prisoners. They are totally within their rights in holding anybody they hold un-
til the end of hostilities. On the other hand, there is all sort of law and all
sort of international custom with regard to how you ought to treat prisoners.
We have been trying to get for the men they hold better treatment. We have been
trying to get better treatment for their wives. They say the whole problem, in-
cluding treatment must wait until the end of the war. They say, "If you really
want to solve the problem of prisoners, end the war on our terms." They say,
"You want those ladies to know whether their husbands are alive or dead; whether
their kids have fathers, whether they should collect their life insurance; whe-
ther they should remarry--first give in to our political demands. They say, You
want international inspection to get someone in and see what the camps are like-
give in to our political demands." They say, "You want the people to write let-
ters--give in to our demands."
So sure, there's a big campaign. We participate in it. Those ladies
participate in it. Ross Perrot participates in it. Probably forty million
Americans have some participation in it. They dismiss it all. They tell us
we are trying to obscure the issue. If we were really interested, "Give in to
our political demands."
We say we are talking about treatment, not release--if you insist we will
wait till the end of the war for release. Our camps are open. The International
Committee of the Red Cross visits them regularly. Here are the lists, the names
of your prisoners. We are presently trying to get 570 of th sick and wounded
North Vietnamese prisoners back--unilaterally. Hopefully that will go through.
Yet, they tell us that we are "obscuring the issue." They tell you that the
husbands of those ladies should not be identified; nor should the prisoners be
allowed to write their families until we give in to their demands. Is that
not what they told you?
Q: On the issue of inspection they said they would be willing to let you go if
you would be willing to let some of the victims of the bombing come to the
United States and speak to the American people.
A: We will do that anytime. You communicate with them and tell them we will
take their offer. We didn't hear it but if they want to repeat it we will ac-
cept. I don't know what else they told you but it is a fact that not one pri-
soner held by the so called PRG has been identified. Not one letter has gotten
out. Through pressure, North Vietnam has identified some prisoners, but
nobody held in Laos or South Vietnam or Cambodia has been identified.
I'm afraid I'll have to leave now.
ADDRESS BY THE 01N0ORAtLE CHAU SENG
Provisional Cambodian Government
Lay 24, 1971
We're very happy to be among our American Catholic friends today. We don't
speak English very well because we wore colonized by the French. I don't want
to make too long an expose". A brief rundown on the situation in Cambodia and the
people there. After that, I would like to create a real dialogue between us.
We have seen quite a number of American friends over the last few months. It's
always very interesting, especially on a problem as interesting as the Cambo-
dian problem. You know a lot about the situation in Vietnam, but the Cambodian
might not be as familiar because it was the last to be a victim of aggression.
Because of that, a lot of our foreign friends know very little about the sit-
uation in Cambodia--the true situation. Cambodia is a kingdom. Even Prince
Sihanouk, even in Peking, has said he could not become a communist, being too
old for that. We have sixteen years of peace linked to our policy of indepen-
dence and neutrality. But since 1956 and the famous Foster-Dullas, who called
neutrality immoral, we have had to submit to aggression on the part of American
and South Vietnamese troops on our soil. From 1962 to 1969 there were more
than 8,000 instances of aggression on land, sea and air in our territory. hore
than 300 dead and 600 wounded, not to mention the damage caused by defoliation.
Already in 1959 the CIA used a Japanese-American who was employed in the embassy
in Phnom Penh (Col. hiatsui). He worked as a Cambodian general in order to stir
up a coup d'etat against Cambodian nertrality. But we took measures and were
able to capture him along with a number of kilos of gold and radios that were
being used to build the coup. The CIA, despite this failure, pursued its mis-
sion and eventually it got General Lon Nol and was able to stage the coup d'etat
on iharch 18, 1969. If the Americans are incapable of winning a victory in South
Vietnam, it's Cambodia's fault. ~hon iixon invaded Cambodia and imposed an anti-
nationalist government on it, he still had to go into Laos. So it's the failure
of the escalation policy. That shows that Cambodia has committed no crime to be
put into the position of victim of invasion.
There were neighboring people suffering from the war but we were unable to
imagine the suffering of those people. You have to live through it to really
feel the suffering. You can't imaginethe bombardments by the B52's, the use of
toxic gases, the use of fragmentation bombs, of plachet bombs or magnetic bombs.
In short, the American government, in the name of your people, committed crimes
never before equalled in history. And the Cambodian people aren't even communist.
But in every misfortune there's something good. The French, who have censured
colonialism, were never able to unite the Indo-Chinese people of their colonies.
The friendship of Indo-Chinese people has become a reality now in a few months
thanks to U.S. aggression. Now the Indo-Chinese people are united forever. Now,
in the territory of Cambodia, the United National Front of Cambodia controls over
70%. The regime supported by the Americans controls only the capitol, Phnom Penh,
and a few provincial centers. All of the communication lines are cut off and
those American controlled urban centers are cut off from one another and isolated.
Ten ministers of the royal government now direct the struggle in the interior of
the country. All over the country they have put together People's Committees to
lead the struggle throughout the country.
Politically, we have created a solid structure capable of leading a long
struggle. On the other side, what is there? Politically the regime of Phnom
Penh is nothing. It's a vacuum. Lon Nol is paralized; he's dead politically.
He carries no weight; and that's why there are hundreds of intellectuals who have
joined the liberated areas of Cambodia.
On the military level we have organized our People's army of Liberation.
We have never claimed any credits that we don't have. The Western press continues
to say that in our country it's the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong who are
operating. But when one knows history, he knows that the liberation of the peopled
can only be carried out by the people in question--by themselves. You have to
count on yourself first. You can't count on your friends. You have to count on
your own sacrifices. .nd the Cambodian people count on themselves first. Our
liberation army, supported by the people is victorious everywhere in its en-
counters. The army has only a nucleus, on the other hand, which were trained and
paid and put together entirely by the CIA. They were completely trained and put
together by the Green Berets. The rest of Lon Niol's army is made up of boys 12
to 14 years of age. We've given our troops orders not to shoot at those boys.
And we have recovered a large number of weapons from that army because in battle
conditions the young boys flee and leave behind their arms. But since the Amer-
icans pay, Lon Nol always presents the bill to the Americans saying that we have
an army of 300,000 men and here's the bill. Lon Nol has the habit of enlarging
the figures of his army in order to collect that much more money in order to pay
non-existent imaginary soldiers. And in as much as the dollar is worth more than
the local currency, no doubt, he is going to increase still the numbers of his
phantom army. Despite the economic aid of the U.S., which is about 400,000
dollars, the Lon Nol regime can't do anything because it controls only the cap-
itol, There is no back country to support an economic structure. In certain
provincial capitols even dog's meat is rare and very expensive to eat because
they are cut off from the capitol. And little by little we are going to enforce
our blockades of the principal towns and cities.
On the diplomatic level, there are 23 countries that recognize us. And
more and more people, including the American passivists and peace movement people
are making contact with us and we are enlarging our support in the world. That
is the essence of what he wanted to as in this brief expose. He wanted to
stress in particular the national character of the struggle of the Cambodian
Are there any questions which you would like to ask?
Q: iWhat effect has Nixon's invasion of Cambodia had on the relationship between
Cambodia and Vietnam, particularly the South Vietnamese people?
A: "We have undergone more than 8,000 incidences of aggression but those aggres-
sions are not a matter of the Vietnamese people who are in struggle. Vietnamese
people are not responsible. The people of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are con-
demned by geography to live next to each other. There is no reason for us to
fight between ourselves for all eternity. The colonialists and imperialists
always have the habit of dividing to conquer and reign. The French ordered the
Cambodian soldiers to fight against the Vietnamese; the Vietnamese against the
Cambodians. It was in this way that they managed to reign as long as they did.
All the more,. the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam signed with Cam-
bodia before the coup d'etat of 1970 an accord recognizing the frontiers of Cam-
bodia which Cambodia claimed. This is in contrast with the government of Saigon
which claims no personal hostility against our people.
Q: Uas Lon Jol the only major advisor of Sihanouk?
A: He had his own army and it was he who made the agreement to sell to the
Vietnamese. (American questioner: If he wasn't the only advisor then it seems
strange that Sihanouk should be fooled by Lon idol's advice.) That's in the
character of Sihanouk. He had too much confidence in Lon Nol. He didn't change I
the chief of the Army.- If you are President of the United States be sure to change
the head of the Pentagon. Sihanouk has said in later statements that he was
naive. As for myself, I went into exile two years before the coup d'etat and I
have statements which were made that far back. I said to the French five years
ago that Lon;Nol.... .as; a personal ehemy.I knew what he was up to.' Tir'm an in-
tellectual in regards toemilitary. The military doesn't like intellectuals very
Q: One last question would Jeowhere is the center of Government right now? Is
it in exile here in Paris? .:.Where is it? Is it in Geneva; is it with Sihanouk?
Where would I go to get a vissar?
A: The center is in Cambodia;. It is those who have a gun. Those are the.ones
who.have the real power. The few ministers who are abroad like myself are simply
given the job of spreading the word. Our only importance is our work of infor-
mation. Prince Sihanouk has changed. Before it was personal power, now it is a
political bureau that decides. It is not the secret 'state and President of the
Front which decides but rather it is a college or group decision. It is not a
personal decision. It is not the same structure as before when there was a per-
sonal goal involved. fnd it is the Vice-prime minister who is within Cambodia
along with nine other ministers that direct the interior government.
Q: Who pays your salary?
A: ,We are revolutionaries. We don't get a salary. We earn our living by our
own means. I am responsible for Europe but I give courses here and there. I am
not paid by the government.
Q: Would you care to comment on why there were large amounts of refugees that
left Cambodia after the coup d'etat for Vietnam?
A: Right after Lon liol took power he practiced a very racist policy. He killed
thousands of Vietnamese. Certain Vietnamese who live inside Cambodia only know
Vietnam by name. For generations they have lived inside Cambodia. They are Cam-
bodians completely. And the regime of Lon \ol massacred thousands on Vietnamese.
Ind with the agreement of Saigon they repatriated perhaps 50,000. Some& 6o00,00
more went back into the liberated areas and took arms. One encounters Vietnamese
in the back country of Cambodia but they are still Cambodians. ft the present
time the Vietnamese remaining in the capitol of Cambodia don't dare go out after
six in the evening. Other centers for the Vietnamese are concentirtion camps.
They have been undergoing terrible sufferings under the Lon Vol regime. If it
had not been for the U.S., the coup d'etat would not have taken place. It perhaps
is not President irixon and Saigon. All the American secret services are mixed in-
to it. There are so many funds that the secret services have at their disposal
that they can do whatever they want. They will pull off something and then
present it to the President afterwards.
Q: Describe the government as it was prior to the overthrow of Prince Sihanouk?
A: Before the coupd'etat the Prince wanted to play at democracy. He therefore
asked the National Assembly to form a government. But the National Assembly in
the elections of 1956, there were friends of Lon lol who were candidates every-
where. The French did not want to put up a single candidate for the election.
Universal suffrage when the people are not politically mature can lead to ca-
tastrophic results. In 184.8 the French Republic established universal suffrage.
All the candidates who won in 1848 were nobles. If you put in universal suffrage
in Africa, all the tribal chiefs will be elected. In Cambodia, when there are a
lot of candidates for office, those that have the most money are elected. And
such was the case. I t every pagoda they gave out coins to everyone so Lon Nol
was able to have his candidates elected to the assembly, Ifter that theywent in-
to great detail about the errors of Sihanouk and the discontent of the people.
You think all people are content with their government? Are you content with
Q: When we return to theU.S. we will be speaking with many Catholic friends
and I'm sure they will ask about the situation of the Catholics in Cambodia?
A: That's another thing that is special about Cambodia. A religious tolerance
that you can't find among any other people exists in Cambodia. But despite the
work of missionaries, 99% of Cambodia has remained Buddhist. There are perhaps
20,000 Catholics. But even so, the majority of Catholics in Cambodia are Vietnam-
ese. It was the agents of Lon Iol that sacked the churches and the villages
around Phnom Penh. They did this because they identified Catholics with Viet-
namese. When they wanted to massacre the Vietnamese they massacred the Catholics:
it was the same thing. All of the churches were pillaged. We are ashamed of that,
Q: What year did the bombing of Cambodia begin? How many instances are there of
attacks on so called non-military targets?
A: In 1959 the bombing began and every time it bcdured we had it checked out by
the International Control Commission. We have a thick book of International
Control Commission documentation concerning these incidences. There is no mil-
itary personal or for that matter Viet Cong that have been killed by these attacks,
just civilians. Check it out with the International Control Commission. Canada,
India and Poland are the three countries on this Commission. It's rare that the
three get together but they've always agreed on this unanimously.
Q: What is the program of the United National Front; their program for the
A: I've just said that the war of National Liberation is also a revolution and
that it changes necessarily the economic relations. The future political power
will be, necessarily, the power of the people. The army will be a people's
army. We're not afraid of any coup d'etat in the future with the army that's
struggling now. On the economic level, we want, first of all, to count on our own
resources. You know foreign aid has never allowed a country to develop. Indo-
nesia is an example. The more foreign aid Indonesia receives, the more it asks
for. The object of aid should be that you won't need any more in the future;
that you should get beyond needing it. At present, the opposite happens. First
of all, we want to build with our own hands. We don't want to spend more than we
earn. As for aid, we don't count on it. We count on our own forces to build
our own country. That's the base of our political as well as economic program.
Q: hore specifically, how did he envision....did he envision a more decentralized
government similar to the DRV or on the province level, a consensus type thing?
A: We need a centralized government because our country is small. do are going
to build our own model. We don't take any foreign models from anyone. It must
always respect local tradition, and always be aware of the realities of the par-
ticular parts. For example, on economic socialization, we are going to work out
our own model.
The Cambodian monarchy has never been hereditary. That's why the French
always played some off against others. The Cambodian kings don't have sons that
inherit the thrown. It's an elected monarchy and always has been. Sihanouk
succeeded his grandfather but it's not automatic. He had to be elected.
Q: Do you think that the American withdraw al from Saigon will possibly increase
their support for the government in the North? Do you expect a continuing support
of the Saigon administration by the American government in Cambodia?
A: Nixon is counting on his policy of Vietnamization, not on the peace talks.
It's the yellowing of the corpses. That's all. He continues the war, but with
others. If he wants peace, he'll have it tomorrow. It's simple enough to promise
a date of withdrawal. He just needs to say that sometime in 1971 he will with-
draw all troops. That's all. The troops of the 1.LF will cease to attack the
American troops. Immediately we will resume at the conference of Paris on a new
basis. We will begin discussions of releasing the prisoners; of the setting up
of a coalition government in Saigon. Peace is within reach of hr. Nlixon. iho
could want peace more than the peoples of Vietnam. If you don't know the suf-
fering of our people, I can't describe it. You have to feel it. We desire
peace enormously. But the only peace President Nixon has proposed up to now is
the peace of cemetaries. We have nothing to lose at this point. We have only
our honor and our dignity. President Nixon just continues with his Vietnamization
policy all the time refusing to talk peace. He's not going to attack liorth Viet-
nam any more. Having undergone reversals in Cambodia and having gotten really
smashed in Laos, he continues his escalation. Almost every day now there are
bombings. It becomes a habit and one even forgets to talk about it. At that
moment they try smiling at the Chinese. All it is is diplomatic ping pong.
But the Chinese aren't going to play those games. They support us and will con-
tinue to support us all the way. You can't image all that we have received.
We count on all you Americans because the only thing Rixon can listen to is his
own public opinion and voters. An old proverb says that every people has the
government it deserves. So in a democracy it is necessary to commit yourself and
get into the decision making of your government, because the U.S. government
couldn't give a damn about world opinion. Because no other country in the
world supports the war.
QUESTIONS FROM THE .COia'ISSION
*TO THE VIETNAiESE PRIESTS
Q: How many seminarians are there in the north at the present time?
A: In 1954, with the Catholic movement to South Vietnam, all the Catholic priests
and seminarians went to South Vietnam, so in ilorth Vietnam we had to try to form
new seminaries and new priests.
Q: How many seminarians are studying to be priests?
A: In our diocese there is a small Christian seminary and there are many
students, but in other dioceses there are about 40 seminarians. Now in North
Vietnam there are ten dioceses.
Q: How do you finance your seminaries?
A: In the seminary there is sufficient food and the government aids the semin-
aries in the dioceses. It means that after Liberation, the government provided
the funds for the seminaries and actually helps the seminaries.
Q: What changes in the church life has the father seen since 1954?
A: I said before that since 1954 the government procures the main things for the
diocese. The lives of the Catholics and priests are very sufficient.
Q: Can father come to Rome with us and speak to the holy father, Pope Paul?
A: We are very busy because our purpose in coming to Paris was only to partici-
pate with the International Assembly of Christians. After hay 31 we have another
session of the National Assembly in North Vietnam. Therefore-we must return
before Miay 31. In June there is the election of the new government in North
Vietnam and we are members of the national assembly; we must be present in North
Vietnam to participate in this election.
Q: There are two parts to this. Has father been to Rome and would he like to
meet the holy father?
A: I never have been in Rome. I would like to go to Rome very much, but we are
very busy and must return to North Vietnam. Now we are occupied; perhaps later
we will go to Rome.
Q: When we spoke with the delegation of the DRV we asked them about a bishop
going to the Synod. They said to speak to the fathers about that. We think it
extremely important that a North Vietnamese priest come to the Synod in October.
Would you see to it that can you ask some bishops to come? Do you think it a
A: We will talk about this problem, but going to the Synod of bishops depends on
the bishops of North Vietnam. It means that, the bishops of North Vietnam must
discuss it with the government before it could be done.
Q: The government indicated to us it was no problem for them, it was simply up
to the bishops. We would like you to urge the bishops to come. It is so valuable
for us to meet and share views that it would seem very important for bishops of
North Vietnam to come. It would also be important that these bishops apply for
visas to come to the United States and speak with the Catholics about the
situation in North Vietnam.
1: There is no problem, but to reach the two governments is the problem. We can
go to the U.S. but the government of the U.S. wouldn't allow us to go. What do
you think about it?
Q: That's what we're going to try to work on. We're gcfing to try to put pressure
on the American government to allow them to come at the inviation of the Imer-
ican bishops, but we can only do that -- we want to make sure that if we allow
them to come, they'll want to come.
A: We're an independent country and because we are linked with our government,
all programs must be discussed with the government. And when the government
allows us to go to the U.S., ifr something happens, you are responsible. If the
U.S. government allows them to go to the U.S., you can be sure the North Vietnam-
ese government will also allow them to go.
Q: Father, why have no priests from North Vietnam traveled outside of North
Vietnam since 1954?
A: The government has the power and authority, and if the bishops want to go out
of North Vietnam, they must discuss it with the government, and still now, the
bishops of North Vietnam haven't discussed it with the government. The propa-
ganda always made you believe that the church of North Vietnam is one of silence
and the bishops of North Vietnam are oppressed..
Q: Why didn't any North Vietnamese bishops attend the Vatican II?
A: They didn't go to Vatican II because either the bishops did not want to go
or they didn't ask the government about it. Or they did not get a visa to go out,
Q: It was explained to us that they were not refused a visa, but rather that
they never asked for one. Did they ask for visas to go to the Second Vatican
A: They never asked for a visa.
Q: Does father think it would help the conditions if the Vatican recognized
North Vietnam as a sovereign nation...recognized the government of North Vietnam?
A: Yes, it would help if the Vatican had diplomatic relations with North Vietnam
but the Vatican does not recognize North Vietnam.
Q: Father is a parish priest?
A: Yes, I am a parish priest. 1iy parish is very near Hanoi, in the center of
Hanoi, near the ministry of Foreign Relations.
Q: How many parishioners in father's pr.ish?
A: In 1954 my parish had more than 1,000 members, but presently there are only
300 because the rest went to South Vietnam.
Q: Do you offer the liturgy in Latin or in Vietnamese?
A: In the Latin language.
Q: Would the bishop give permission to offer liturgy in Vietnamese?
A: There are some parts of the mass said in Vietnamese and the canon in Latin.
Q: How many baptisms were there in your parish last year?
1: Every child born is baptised three days after birth. I baptised more than
Q: How many marriages?
A: More than ten marriages.
Q: Are there any totally Catholic schools taught by sisters or priests?
A: All of the children go to public schools, but in every parish there is a
catechism class that the children attend, Thursday and Sunday.
Q: Have the documents of Vatican II been translated into Vietnamese?
Q: In French?
A: There are some documents in French, but not many.
Q: How many priests in Hanoi:
A: Ten priests in Hanoi. In 1954 all of the priests went to South Vietnam.
Q: Are there any non-Vietnamese priests...missionary priests, like French that
are still there?
A: No. These priests wanted to get out. The government did not force them to
leave. Some of them went to South Vietnam.
Q: Could I come to visit the father in North Vietnam?
A: You have to discuss with the government...
Q: But if I did, would I be allowed?
A: In Hanoi they receive very many Americans.
Q: by Vietnamese is not very good. If I came would there be someone nearby who
A: Yes, there is.
Q: Are there any sisters, nuns in North Vietnam?
A: There are catechists...they live a religious life, they work in the churches.
Thank you father.
QUESTIONS FROM THE COm.iiSSION TO SECOND VIETNAMiESE
PRIEST' (English speaking..,now living in Paris)
I have been one of the fathers, but because of my political position, now I am
not in a parish in France. I have been working in France and have left the
French parish and now I am working for a group, fori our movement. We are in a
group called "Movement of Vietnamese Catholics for the service of the nation."
Q: Are you connected with some people in Saigon?
1: Yes, in Saigon and North Vietnam, particularly in Saigon. We have many
professors and priests in Saigon. Professor Chin Chung, Father Ky, Father Ranh.
Q: Are you sure they're not in jail?
A: Yes, some of them. I don't know what jail.
Q: There's a lot of misunderstanding. What would you say are the major mis-
understandings between your people and the United States? What are the main
things that are causing the difficulty?
A: I think our country has the most difficulty in our relations with the
American people because we like the American people but we don't like their
belligerent government. We go to war with the American government, not the
Q: Was that the same with regard to the French?
A: Yes, the French too. I was in France during the war. We do not have
difficulty with the French people, but with the government.
Q: Father, one thing that I'm interested in -- you started this Vietnamese
parish but you are no longer there. How many Vietnamese Catholics are there?
A: I don't know there are about 10% of the Vietnamese living in France that
are Catholic (about 1,000). There are five priests working there at the same
time. There are 30 or 40 in the Paris area.
Q: And those priests are less political, would you say?
A: Not less political, but they are allied with the Saigon government.
Q: WIhat about the Catholic Vietnamese in Paris that are not with the Saigon
government? Where do they go to church?
A: There are very few. Only our group is not with the Saigon government.
Q: This progressive group of Catholics, where do they go to church?
A: They go to French churches.
Q: So they don't have any priests except you?
A: There are three with us in the conference.
Q: When do you think you will return to North Vietnam?
A: I don't know. The situation there was not clear until now. Because of the
situation we had no regular relation with North Vietnam. I was the first to
publish a paper on the church in North Vietnam in 1966, so I have been very
badly, viewed by the bishop.
Q: You are viewed better by the bishops in North. Vietnam?
I: Very well, and now I am known by the North Vietnamese delegation hero and
I am now very well accepted by them.
Q: When was the last time you were in iorth Vietnam?
A: A very long time ago. I have not a visa to return.
Q: Would you like to go back?
A: Oh, yes, very much, but now our work here is very important.. .developing
international world opinion.
Q: When were you last in Rome?
I: I have been in Rome. I studied in Rome before I came west and I traveled
all over Europe.
Q: would you like to visit Rome with Harry (Bury)?
A: No, I'm very busy, but I'd like to.
Q: One of the questions that the Imerican Catholics would like to know is what
about the life of the church in North Vietnam?
A: Yes, I think the people in the U.S. must know about the existence of the
c'lurch in North Vietnam.
Q: But they don't know about it. Could you send information-to us about the
church in North Vietnam? You understand that American Catholics don't know that
the church is alive at all in North Vietnam. In fact, they don't think it
exists. How do we overcome that, help them?
A: Yes, that was the case here (Paris). At first no one knew about the con-
dition of the church. Then I published my papers and more people know about it.
Q: Do you have associates in North Vietnam with whom you correspond who could
give us ongoing information about the life of the church in North Vietnam?
A: Yes, I could write to you, but I don't write well in English. Could I write
in French and you could have it translated? I have also written some newspaper
articles in France and could give them to you.
Q: Lrould you like us to have your articles translated and published in America?
i: Yes, I think that would be helpful.
Q: If America withdraws its troops, will the Catholics living in Paris go back
A: Yes, I think they would. They could go back with a feeling of security.
ij: Do you think it would be a good thing if the Pope were to visit with -ladame
A: Iadame Binh was in Rome and was not received by the Pope.
Q: Did she ask to see him?
Q: Do you think it would be a good thing if the Pope were able to moot with
bishops from North Vietnam?
A: I think bishops in North Vietnam are not prepared to reveal the reality, the
truth about the church in North Vietnam because they oppose the government.
Q: The bishops are against the government?
J1: All bishops in North Vietnam are against the government because they don't
want to accept the regime.
Q: But I thought the regime was good for the people...it's a socialist regime
that has been very helpful to the people. Doesn't the government pay for the
seminaries and the priests' salaries?
A: Yes, the government does...not the bishops' salaries,though it does give
the bishops and religious communities land.
Q: Bishops own land in North Vietnam? How much? A lot or a little garden in
the backyard? How much?
A: Land for their houses and grounds.
Q: Then why don't the bishops like the government?
A: Because of ideology. The bishops in North Vietnam have never accepted the
ideology of the government.
Q: Do the Catholic people accept the regime? .
A: Yes, and so do the priests. The bishops don't consider the church in North
Vietnam to exist. They say that all Catholics are represented in South Vietnam.
Q: Do they say mass for the people in ENorth Vietnam?
A: Yes, but for example, they don't say masses for victims of bombings because
that would be political. They would never protest the bombing. It's a very
peculiar situation. The church in North Vietnam is much like the old 17th
century French church was.
Q: How do the bishops think of you?
A: Not very well.
Q: Where were you ordained?
Q: How do the bishops here (France) regard you?
I: The bishop of Paris is a very good man. ie are very free in France,
especially in Paris.
Q: I understand that there are Frenchmen still in prison left over from the
French days and you say that is not true.
P: There are French people in North Vietnam now, but not in jail or prison.
Not any prisoners.
Q: How would you suggest that could be refuted? How can we prove to people who
believe that there are French still in prison in North Vietnam? Is there any-
thing that the French government has said about that? Have they said there are
1: They must ask the French government. The French government has a delegate
in North Vietnam -- not an ambassador, because the French do not recognize North
Vietnam. They can ask the French foreign office. There are no French prisoners
in North Vietnam. ill the French were released in 1955.
Q: The father said the North Vietnamese bishops did not ask for visas to go to
Rome. Is this because they consider themselves a church in exile?
1: Yes. Think about the popes in 1871, from Pius IX to Pius the XII. They
all are considered as exiles in the Vatican, because Pontifical status had been
stolen by the Italian government. It is the same thing in the minds of the
Vietnamese bishops in North Vietnam, exactly. Now if the government wants to
establish relations with the religious community, the government must give back
Q: Did they lose land during the reform?
A: Yes, very much land and houses. They are very angry about that.
Thank you, father.