Vietnam War: The Documents - 17

Associated Press Report on the Honolulu Conference

The Honolulu Conference was a top-level meeting of the President's advisors charged with reconsidering Vietnam policy in the wake of the coup that toppled President Diem. Kennedy and members of his administration were disturbed by the repression of the Diem regime, and had come to doubt that it could successfully defend the nation. The new military regime held out the possibility of a government that would be less repressive, and rally Buddists and peasants behind it. The following is from the Peoria Journal Star, November 22, 1963. It was printed in many papers across the nation. It notes that "signs are promising" and that "it may take six months" to determine whether the new government can defeat the Communists.
Say Viet Nam
Regime Must
Prove Self

WASHINGTON (AP) - Top U.S. officials who assessed the postcoup situation in South Viet Nam reportedly concluded the new military regime still must prove it can win support of the Vietnamese peasants.

Administration officials who met in Honolulu two days ago with American diplomatic and military leaders from South Viet Nam agreed cautiously that things are going reasonably well so far.

SOURCES FAMILIAR with what went on at the Hawaii conferences indicated the report to President Kennedy is unlikely to call for any sharp policy changes.

Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, who was among those taking part in the Honolulu talks, will meet Sunday afternoon with President Kennedy at the chief executive's country place in Virginia.

The views that Kennedy eventually gets from all of the top participants in the Hawaii meeting are expected to sum up this consensus:

The signs are promising but it may take six months to tell whether the overthrow of the Diem regime has brought victory in the anti-Communist war closer.

U.S. OFFICIALS do not expect a Democratic regime patterned after the American image to emerge in South Viet Nam. This, they believe, is not realistic.

What they are hoping for is a government that foreswears brutality and repression -- and thus far the military junta seems to be tending in that direction.

The Honolulu meeting was told that the peasants who make up the bulk of South Viet Nam's 14-million population still are apathetic.

It long has been a cornerstone of U.S. policy that the war against Communist insurgents infesting South Viet Nam cannot be won without the backing of the peasants.

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