Important Role of former Nazis in Eastern Germany." 

November 21, 1950
Central Files Decimal Number 762B.00

Ambassador Graham Martin and the Saigon Embassy's Back Channel Communication Files, 1963-1975

Summary

State Department telegrams and White House backchannel messages between U.S. ambassadors in Saigon and White House national security advisers, talking points for meetings with South Vietnamese officials, intelligence reports, drafts of peace agreements, and military status reports offer a wealth of information on the details and workings between the American ambassador in South Vietnam and U.S. policy-makers in Washington.

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Date Range: 1963-1975
Content: 6,445 pages
Source Library: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library

Description

This collection offers a wealth of information on the details and workings between the American ambassador in South Vietnam and U.S. policy-makers in Washington. The secret backchannel communications in this collection reveal the complexity of waging a war and the attempt to build a democratic government in South Vietnam.  The documents in this collection provide a chronicle of the issues, concerns, information, analyses, discussions, and debates surrounding policy-making on the Vietnam War, predominantly within Nixon’s inner circle of national security staff, including national security advisor Henry A. Kissinger.  Ambassador Graham Martin and the Saigon Embassy's Back Channel Communication Files, 1963-1975 represents an important and unique addition to newly available historical documentation and scholarship and provides a deeper understanding of the later years of the war in South Vietnam.

The bulk of the materials in this collection are "backchannel" cables between the U.S. ambassadors in Saigon (Henry Cabot Lodge, Ellsworth Bunker, and Graham Martin successively) and the U.S. President's national security advisers (McGeorge Bundy, Henry Kissinger, and Brent Scowcroft successively) regarding the situation in South Vietnam or the peace negotiations.  In addition, documents include:

  • State Department cables, usually between the Secretary of State and the U.S. ambassador in Saigon
  • Talking points prepared for meetings between the ambassador and South Vietnamese officials
  • Meeting reports and memoranda
  • Speech drafts and proposed agreements prepared by both sides
  • Military situation reports
  • Intelligence reports

The largest segment of this collection consists of communications between Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger during the period of the Paris Peace Talks.  They include:

  1. Kissinger relaying to Bunker details of his secret talks with the North Vietnamese in Paris, and later the formal Paris peace negotiations, including drafts of proposed agreements and negotiations over signing procedures
  2. Bunker's prepared talking points for meetings with President Thieu of South Vietnam to relay that information, and his reporting to Kissinger of Thieu's reaction to the information
  3. "Think pieces" by both Bunker and Kissinger on the situation in Vietnam and the strategy for handling President Thieu
  4. Post-ceasefire diplomatic maneuvering, implementation of the agreements, and handling of allegations of ceasefire violations

Ambassador Graham Martin and the Saigon Embassy's Back Channel Communication Files, 1963-1975 consists of wide range of primary source materials essential to research in Asian and Southeast Asian studies, diplomatic history, military history, global studies, post-colonial studies, political science and more.

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