Volume #25 - 395.|
COMMISSIONS INTERNATIONALES DE SURVEILLANCE ET DE CONTR&OCIRC;LE
Le sous-secrétaire d'État par intérim aux Affaires extérieures|
au commissaire de la Commission internationale de surveillance pour le Vietnam
Letter No. Y- 166|
le 5 août 1958|
REDUCTION OF COMMISSION PERSONNEL|
For more than a year we have been applying ourselves to the problem of reducing our commitments in Indo-China. Largely as a result of Canadian initiative, the activities of the Commission in Cambodia have been reduced to a point where only the final step of withdrawing the Commission remains. In Laos the political situation is rather unsettled at the moment but we hope we will be able to convince the Indians of the desirability of eliminating some of the southern teams. However, our commitments in Laos are considerably smaller than those in Vietnam and we believe that the Vietnam Commission should be the first target for an all-out effort to economize.
2. The expenditure of personnel and money involved in our participation in the International Commission has become increasingly burdensome and our efforts to effect reductions have resulted in little more than periodic hopes that the Indians plan to do something about the situation. Admittedly, some steps have been taken to reduce expenditures; the tightening up in the use of Commission transport is the main example of this. In addition, the Indians have modified the communications arrangements in Vietnam so as to release a number of Indian Signals personnel from their duties. However, although these steps have eased the burden on the Common Pool and on India, they have not done anything to improve the Canadian position.
3. Some arguments can be made for maintaining the Commission in Vietnam in its present form. It is true that the Commission's job of policing North Vietnam is facilitated by having the full number of teams operating. However, the teams are so restricted in their operations that it is fairly easy for the North Vietnamese to evade control and any adverse criticism that might result from effective Commission control. Because of the nature of the borders being controlled by the Commission, supervision in South Vietnam tends to be more effective than that in the North, and South Vietnam therefore comes in for the larger share of criticism.
4. Canadian team members do provide useful intelligence information about an area in which the Western intelligence net is not very highly developed. However, the restrictions imposed on teams by the North Vietnamese reduce the value of this activity considerably. As we mentioned in our letter under reference,10 DMI does not envisage that any serious effects would result from a reduction in the number of teams.
5. Finally, there is the risk that any drastic move on our part to reduce commitments in Vietnam might disrupt the existing arrangements and jeopardize the maintenance of peace in Vietnam and in Indo- China as a whole. It is of course difficult to estimate accurately the effect of any attempt on our part to force the issue. It is quite clear, however, that our desire to reduce commitments in Vietnam is shared by a number of our friends. The United Kingdom has indicated that it favours a reduction, although apparently it has not given detailed consideration to the procedure which should be followed. France is very concerned about the continuous financial drain represented by the Commissions. South Vietnam has no objection to the presence of the Commission but would be happier if the Commission restricted itself to supervision of the demilitarized zones and the demarcation line.
6. It would appear that North Vietnam, China and the USSR are in favour of maintaining the Commission at its present level. Probably they fear that any major change in the framework established by the Geneva Agreements would weaken their legal stand about the final unification of Vietnam and, what to them is concomitant, the absorption of South Vietnam by the communists. They also know that the tactics of North Vietnam have largely protected it from adverse criticism without interfering with its military build-up, while the honesty (or ineptness) of the South has placed it in a less fortunate position.
7. It seems clear that Canadian interests would be served by a reduction of Commission personnel in Vietnam. The reduction of teams would not affect appreciably the effectiveness of a control system which, we are convinced, is not very effective anyway. However, we have an interest in maintaining the status quo in the area and it would not serve our purposes to go about the problem in a way which would threaten to rupture the whole fabric of the Cease-Fire Agreement.
8. If we are to accomplish our goal with as little disruption as possible, we require the co-operation of the Indians. Mr. Kaul, as long ago as last February, indicated that he and his Government were interested in effecting economies and reducing activities.11 Mr. Desai also said in February that a reduction in the Commission's activities was desirable, not only on financial grounds but also in view of the changed circumstances. Mr. Mitra said in March that Kaul was empowered to make a number of reductions himself and stated that the Indian Defence Ministry was applying pressure to reduce the size of the Indian military establishment in Indo-China.
9. If we take these statements at their face value we can assume that Indian desires coincide with our own. However, the Indians appear to be drifting along with the present arrangements, and in our opinion the time has now come when we should make a strong effort to cut down on commitments. We have been discussing the problems with the Indians for many months and so far there have been no results. This would appear to be an appropriate time to indicate to them in no uncertain terms that we are very concerned about the problem, and that we want to reduce our commitments substantially and as soon as possible. We do not wish to endanger the peace in Indo-China but we do believe quite strongly that a reduction in teams and in personnel would make the size of the Commission more consistent with the usefulness of the role it can perform under present circumstances.
10. The job of the Commission and the magnitude of its duties should remain fairly constant from now on. The line up of countries in favour of reduction and against also will remain constant; therefore, there seems to be little advantage in postponing our move until circumstances change; conditions probably will not become more favourable in the foreseeable future and our determination to reduce commitments may as well be clearly stated now.
11. Our general line of attack, it seems to us, should be first of all a direct approach to Kaul, emphasizing the seriousness with which we view the situation. The new Government is applying itself to finding ways of effecting economies, and reducing our commitments in Vietnam is one aspect of this programme. Kaul himself has indicated quite clearly his intention to reduce the size of the Commission and more than five months have elapsed without any concrete steps being taken. If Kaul refuses to co-operate in the necessary action, then we could consider a more direct approach to the Indians in New Delhi. Of course, we do not wish to appear intransigent to the Indians and we would like to have their co-operation in this move. However, they should recognize our concern, and attempt to meet our desire to cut commitments down to an acceptable level.
12. It is one of the unhappy facts of life that the reduction in personnel probably would result in a reduction in the supervision exercised by the Commission. However, this does not necessarily mean that the effectiveness of the Commission would also be reduced. We would be quite happy to see a number of teams in South Vietnam abolished but naturally we would be unhappy about the reduction of Commission activities in North Vietnam which would be necessary. However, having accepted the necessity of reducing our commitments we have no choice but to resign ourselves to the fact that teams will have to be decreased in size, and, soon after that, in number. It is a situation in which we have to weigh the advantages of the present strength of Commission teams against our financial and personnel requirements. The latter seem more important.
13. Perhaps you already have approached Kaul on the subjects we raised in our letter under reference. In any event, it would be very useful to us to have as soon as possible a clear picture of Kaul's thinking on the general problem of reduction. If he sympathizes with our position, and if he intends to follow up the plans he mentioned in February, then we shall have to determine the best way of carrying out reductions.
14. You have made very clear a number of times our dissatisfaction with the effectiveness of control, particularly in the North. However, perhaps in the near future we should formally put our general position on record. This would serve as a foundation for our campaign to reduce Commission machinery, and would indicate that in advocating reduction, we are not trying to reduce the effectiveness of control but only trying to bring the commitments of the Commission down to a scale more commensurate with the job which in fact is being done. However, we would like to have your views before going ahead with this.
15. We would like to have your views about the usefulness of the various teams and the priority each of them should have in any reduction scheme. We think Ba Ngoi and Muong Sen would be a gentle beginning which would serve to resolve the legal question of reduction within the terms of the Agreement, without getting any Delegation involved in defending the maintenance of a team to which it is particularly attached.
16. An opportunity may arise for agreeing with the Poles that the mobile team at Loc Ninh no longer serves a useful purpose. We may again have occasion to refuse to provide a member for the Phuc Hoa team. Our justification of such an action would at the same time reinforce our argument that no purpose is served by maintaining the complete machinery of the Commission as long as it is unable to perform all the functions for which it exists.
17. Once we have a clear idea of the Indian position, however, probably the first step of our campaign should be to press for the reduction in size of the six-man teams, excluding of course, Saigon and Haiphong.
18. We should appreciate your comments on the various aspects of the problem, and particularly on
The key to the problem, of course, lies with Indian policy on the subject, and the lengths to which they are prepared to go in meeting our position.
10Ce document ne contient pas de numéro de lettre de référence. This document contains no reference letter number.
11Voir volume 23, les documents 684, 687 et 688./See Volume 23, Documents 684, 687 and 688.