Neutralization in Southeast Asia

March 25, 1964

Report Outline
Headaches for West in Southeast Asia
Termination of Region's Colonial Period
Neutralization and Guarding of Freedom

Headaches for West in Southeast Asia

Southeast asia, scene of almost continuous warfare O and crisis since the beginning of World War II, is again close to the center of the world stage. Three non-Communist states that formerly made up most of French Indo-China—Cambodia, Laos and South Viet Nam—are trying to maintain a precarious independence in the face of internal weaknesses and, in Laos and South Viet Nam, strong Communist-supported guerrilla pressures. On their efforts may depend the future of other independent states of Southeast Asia—neighboring Thailand, Burma, and the young Federation of Malaysia.

Should the Communist guerrillas, armed and aided to an important extent by the Red regimes governing North Viet Nam and mainland China, succeed in taking over substantial areas in Southeast Asia, the strategic position and the food resources of Communist China would be greatly enhanced. In addition, American influence in the Far East would be seriously impaired. The United States was long since termed a “paper tiger” by the Red Chinese; it is feared that any substantial loss of territory to the Communists would induce American allies and neutral governments in the region to turn toward Peking.

Worsening of Wak Position in South Viet Nam

The guerrilla war in South Viet Nam, where 15,500 American military advisers are helping the Vietnamese army to combat the Communist guerrillas or Viet Cong, has admittedly been going badly. Secretary of Defense Robert S. MeNamara told reporters, March 5, that the situation was grave and that support of the Viet Cong by North Viet Nam was increasing. To make an on-the-spot assessment, MeNamara and a group of advisers, including William P. Bundy, newly appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, flew to South Viet Nam the next day. MeNamara observed that the trip was “a further affirmation of the United States commitment to furnish whatever economic aid, and whatever military training and logistical support, is needed by the South Vietnamese to suppress this insurgency and to continue to furnish that support for whatever period it is required.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Vietnam War
Feb. 18, 2000  Legacy of the Vietnam War
Dec. 03, 1993  U.S.-Vietnam Relations
Mar. 18, 1988  Vietnam: Unified, Independent and Poor
Jul. 06, 1984  Agent Orange: The Continuing Debate
Nov. 04, 1983  MIAs: Decade of Frustration
Mar. 11, 1983  Vietnam War Reconsidered
Oct. 21, 1977  Vietnam Veterans: Continuing Readjustment
Jan. 18, 1974  Vietnam Aftermath
Feb. 21, 1973  Vietnam Veterans
Jun. 09, 1971  Prospects for Democracy in South Vietnam
May 06, 1970  Cambodia and Laos: the Widening War
Jan. 07, 1970  War Atrocities and the Law
Jul. 02, 1969  Resolution of Conflicts
Apr. 17, 1968  Reconstruction in South Vietnam
Aug. 23, 1967  Political Evolution in South Viet Nam
Jan. 11, 1967  Rural Pacification in South Viet Nam
May 26, 1965  Political Instability in South Viet Nam
Mar. 25, 1964  Neutralization in Southeast Asia
Apr. 17, 1963  Task in South Viet Nam
Jun. 14, 1961  Guerrilla Warfare
May 17, 1961  Threatened Viet Nam
Sep. 23, 1959  Menaced Laos
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific
U.S. at War: Vietnam