Threatened Viet Nam

May 17, 1961

Report Outline
Communist Threat to South Viet Nam
Partition of Former French Colony
Foreign Assistance to Divided Viet Nam

Communist Threat to South Viet Nam

Laos as Red Stepping Stone to South Viet Nam

Whatever is done or not done about Laos by the conferees now struggling with the problem at Geneva, increased Communist pressure on the adjoining Republic of [South] Viet Nam seems in store. If a strictly neutral status should be achieved for Laos, the Communist drive to penetrate more deeply into Southeast Asia would still go on. If Laos sooner or later falls completely under Communist domination, the southward push will simply be facilitated. Either way, South Viet Nam is the logical next target for Red expansion in that area.

This situation was foreseen when the Council of Ministers of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization met at Bangkok at the end of March to consider the growing crisis in Laos. The Council in its final communique, March 29, noted “with concern the efforts of an armed minority … to destroy the government of Viet Nam” and declared “its firm resolve not to acquiesce in any such take-over of that country.” Vice President Johnson's recent trip to South Viet Nam obviously was undertaken to give proof of that resolve on the part of the United States. Although this country has not yet offered to send American troops to Viet Nam in case of need, military assistance of other kinds is being sharply increased.

Secretary of State Dean Rusk told newsmen, May 4, that Communist guerrilla activities in South Viet Nam had already been greatly increased. Since late in 1959, the organized armed strength of the Viet Cong, which is the guerrilla organization in the republic, has grown from about 3,000 to more than 12,000 and has been supplemented by increased numbers of political and propaganda agents. More than 3,000 local officials, military personnel and civilians were murdered or kidnapped in the year 1960 alone. Rusk pointed out that the upsurge of guerrilla operations apparently resulted from a decision of the Communist Party of North Viet Nam in May 1959 calling for reunification of Viet Nam by all “appropriate means.” The North Vietnamese party in September 1960 had named as a major strategic task the liberation of the South from the “rule of United States imperialists and their henchmen.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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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
Cold War
Conflicts in Asia
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific
U.S. at War: Vietnam
War and Conflict