Sample Policy Objectives – Vietnam 1968

Memo – Confidential/Classified


RE: Directive – Overall Policy Objectives and Recommended Actions for Southeast Asia 

In the matter regarding current instability within Southeast Asia, it is recommended that the United States immediately bring all ideological, psychological, diplomatic and economic powers and means to bear on the Southeast Asia theatre, particularly in the Associated States of Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and the peripheral nations adjacent to the South China Sea.  Given the new consensus that the Soviet Union is the principal source behind the clandestine spread of Communism within the region, it is imperative that we move to quickly avert further shifts in influence. 


We can no longer assume activity in Indochina to be both unique and purely nationalist in nature.  Any lack of action will result in perceived weakness or ambivalence on the part of the United States to act in the face of communist threat. Our limited response so far with regard to Indochina only proves this point. This continued perception will undoubtedly embolden the Soviet Union and communist sympathizers, leading to further subversive actions in a variety of vulnerable countries.  It will also result in an exponential increase in the threat to the national security of the United States, our allies and free governments in the region.  We must make our stand or face a much larger communist bloc.


This directive includes recommended actions in four (4) distinct areas:


1.       Economic Assistance and Infrastructure:

Ø  Enact swift new economic aid and assistance initiatives in the region by way of Congressional approval and in coordination with our allies.

Ø  Provide and coordinate political, infrastructure and military training with the current internationally recognized government in Saigon.

Ø  Establish new commerce and trade partner zones/agreements to influence cultural and economic growth, stability and alignment with free world viewpoints.

Ø  Dispatch educational assistance missions to countries in Southeast Asia to help subvert the spread of communist ideology within the youth.

Ø  Direct agricultural assistance funding and training to all countries in Southeast Asia.  Re-organize and promote vibrant agrarian economies with the desired result of increased inter-Asian and international trade growth.


2.       Military/Intelligence:

Ø  Deploy a limited military advisory presence, including the dispatch of covert intelligence operatives for penetration into Northern Indochina, Malay, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.  Gather intelligence for use in policy and possible future military decisions.

Ø  Provide military and political advisory units to Saigon to support the new pro-Western government and to help train and organize native troops.  Native troop strength should be rebuilt and supplied with U.S. armament and training with set benchmarks for growth.  Local mixed civilian/military defense units should be created to help integrate new native troops into communities in the South.  These will provide security and stability to protect the central government from interior plots, revolts and threats.

Ø  Deploy Psy-Ops units to various locations along the border region of the 16th Parallel.  These will engage in subversion and sabotage in order to confuse and complicate the activities of the Northern regime.  We must keep them off of their footing to prevent consolidation of their power and strengths.

Ø  Initiate propaganda campaigns to support purge and purification of communist ideology and support within the citizenry of Indochina.  Focus specifically on elements of sympathizers in parts of the South and in the entirety of the North.


3.       Diplomacy:

Ø  Renew diplomatic efforts to accelerate inclusion of new member states into a new treaty organization for the Southeast Asia theatre.  We must welcome these new countries into the fold as potential new allies, no longer dismissing them as inferior.

Ø  Participate in further talks with our European allies to negotiate for joint efforts in aid, materiel, and influence for the region.  We need to offset our financial burdens.

Ø  Engage in discreet talks with allies for multinational support in case of escalated conflict.

Ø  Use proxy diplomacy with China to 1) find ways of keeping them neutral or 2) gauge their complicity with the Soviet Union.  In either case, we must find ways to drive a wedge between the USSR and China to avoid potential pacts between the two regimes.  Although ignoring them in the past, we now must selectively re-engage China.


4.       Perception Management:

Ø  Internal – Coordinate efforts in the media to achieve the education of American citizenry and legislators.  The goal is to create a strong grass roots support base for government initiatives in the region (i.e. – prep to support current position as well as any future need for military involvement, if necessary).  Commission of draft legislation, deployment and budget proposals for Congress in the necessity of military engagement.  This will give foundation for possible troop insertion, ongoing budgetary funding and covert operations.  We must have groundwork in place to act swiftly by military means if necessary.

Ø  External – Initiate an extended tour of Presidential addresses and diplomatic summits with allies throughout Europe with consistent commentary on the U.S. way of life, the U.S. will to support nations in pursuit of liberty, and to make clear the U.S. strengths as a direct signal of deterrence to the Soviet Bloc.  We must clearly show our ideals, principles and resolve to countries seeking a better way of life, open trade and prosperity.


The following concerns should be noted while working to achieve our objectives:


·         Economic Concerns:

§  Rubber, tin, other natural resources for potential trade could be lost to the U.S. and, conversely, abundantly available to the U.S.S.R. and its communist allies. 

§  Japan could be turned if other Southeast Asia countries fall, further damaging economic strategic partnerships.  This would also create a fragile security atmosphere for the shipping lanes in the South China Sea, Taiwan Strait and the Gulf of Tonkin.  This would sharply affect U.S. and world economic commerce and shipping.  This scenario also gives rise to potential future tensions that may unavoidably draw our naval power into play in potentially dangerous maritime confrontations.  We must continue to rebuild and strengthen our social and economic ties in Southeast Asia, particularly with Japan and the Philippines. 


·         Political Concerns:

§  Maintaining the status quo could lead to stalemate, viewed as a communist victory.

§  Negotiating a settlement or treaty would also be viewed as a communist win. 

§  Any division of the country would result in a communist win, adding territory that can be exploited to launch communist efforts into surrounding countries. 

§  Worse-case scenario: Indochina falls and Communism turns eastward, spilling through India and into the Middle East, shifting the balance of world affairs.  This would lead to three (3) communist world power centers (Soviet Bloc, Asia, Middle East) versus only two (2) capitalist/democratic power centers (North America and Europe).  This result is not acceptable to the United States.


·         Military Concerns:

§  We must remain aware of the China involvement.  They have a strategic ‘backyard’ advantage in the theatre and can rapidly aid and supply the North (as well as other surrounding countries) to counteract us. This could also precipitate Soviet involvement, resulting in intervention by the U.S. and our allies, further escalating the situation to the possible extreme potential of world conflict and/or nuclear action.  Bringing all communist interests into play must be avoided.

§  Involvement in Southeast Asia could also push China, the Soviets and other local interests into a regional communist pact.  Levels of U.S. involvement must be measured against the potential for provoking this possibility.


This recommended shift in U.S. policy towards Southeast Asia is born from the emerging reality that the United States and its Allies no longer hold a monopoly on ideological influence in the region.  Southeast Asia is no longer an insignificant dark corner of the world.  We must shine the light on this theatre with new intensity.  It must now be the center of our attention, viewed much the same way as post-WWII Western Europe.  Engagement and involvement must be methodically elevated to similar levels.  Slowing the progression of communist ideals throughout the free world begins with our new policies for Southeast Asia.