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Indian Independence: World War II Source 4

Telegram from the US State Department to the American Ambassador at Paris, February, 1947

[L/P&S/12/4705]

"Since there is cause for added concern over developments in Indo-China I am of the view that you should at an early opportunity have a candid conversation with Bidault or Ramadier, or perhaps both along the lines of the discussions you have previously had with Blum. But on this occasion you should in fact proceed beyond the position you established in those conversations. We not only have most cordial feelings for France but are anxious in every possible way to help France to recover her political, military and economic power and resume her position in fact as one of the world's major powers. Despite any misapprehensions which may have occurred to the French with regard to our attitude vis-à-vis Indo-China, they must understand that the United States has a full recognition of the sovereign position of France in Indo-China and that the United States has no desire to have it appear that the United States is attempting in any wise to undercut that position. The French must also appreciate that it is our wish to be helpful and that we are prepared to aid in any appropriate manner to seek a solution of the problem of Indo-China. But at the same time we cannot ignore the fact that this problem has two sides and that reports reaching us indicate both an absence of French understanding of the other side (in Saigon more than Paris) and of continued adherence to outlook and methods in Indo-China which are dangerously outmoded.

"Moreover the fact is inescapable that modern trend is to the effect that nineteenth Colonial empire systems are speedily becoming thing of the past. The action of the Dutch in Indonesia and of the British in India and Burma are profound instances of the above-mentioned trend. Further, the French themselves, both in their new constitution and in their agreements with Viet Nam, took cognisance of this new trend. But we are not unaware that Ho Chi-minn has connexions of a direct nature with Communists and it should be clear that we do not wish to see colonial empire administrations inherited by political organisation and philosophy stemming from and controlled by Moscow. It is a fact, however, that in Indo-China there obtains a situation which no longer can be regarded (if it ever was so regarded) as of a local character. Should that situation continue to deteriorate some nation with a direct interest will in all probability take it up before the Security Council in accordance with the terms of Chapter II of the Charter. The United States at this time has no intention of taking such action, but France will be cognisant of the fact that the United States possesses a vital interest in the economic and political well-being of Indo-China. Should some nation take the matter to the Security Council, the United States would find it hard to oppose an investigation of the Indo-Chinese situation unless discussions were being carried on between the two parties directly concerned. Additionally, in our estimation, it would not be to France's long-term interest to utilise her privilege of the veto to prevent the question from arising before the Security Council. In all frankness, we are unable to suggest a solution to the problem.

"Basically, it is a matter for the parties to work out between themselves. From our reports from Indo-China and from your reports, we are led to believe that both parties have sought to keep the door open to a settlement of some kind. We are cognisant of fact that Vietnamese initiated the present hostilities in Indo-China on 19th December, 1946, and that for this reason French have found it more difficult to adhere to a position of conciliation and generosity. We trust that the French will nevertheless find it possible in trying to find a solution to be more than generous." [Ends].