(courtesy of Mr. Larry Hadzima, Neillsville, WI)
June 18, 1954
Statement of Ngo Dinh Diem on June 18, 1954 at Paris, France.
“Several times in the past I have had to refuse to take office. This time I accept.
This is the hour of decision. I face a grave military situation which is in urgent need of correction. It is the logical result of a long series of misunderstandings and errors. A fruitful and durable peace, founded upon the independence of the nation and the liberty of the people, poses a crucial problem. Only a new political orientation can solve it, while continuation of the errors of the past will lead to a dead end and probably to an extension of the war, this war which has done us so much harm. Only the prospect of such military and political corrections can give impetus to the Geneva negotiations and reaffirm the opportunity for peace they represent.
The unwillingness to compromise which made me refuse office did not signify willful ignorance of unpleasant realities nor deliberate hostility toward the legitimate interests of a friendly country.
It stemmed from a sincere conviction, shared by the people, that as long as national ideals cannot be immediately and faithfully followed, all efforts exerted will, rather than profit the people, only deceive, divide and demoralize them and will render impossible the solution of a problem already difficult.
With regard to France, the feeling of our people was expressed on August 20, 1945, by His Majesty Bao-Dai in his message to the people of France: The Vietnamese people passionately desire their independence and France will be able to safeguard her interests in Viet-Nam only if she will remain there as a privileged friend.
No one thought it necessary to pay attention to this wise warning. Military reverses, in spite of the valor and the heavy sacrifices of the fighting forces and of the people; France’s lone effort in the battle which was, however, for a common cause; the lukewarm attitude of the Vietnamese people in a struggle which should have been their own; the hostile neutrality of Asiatic nations strategically and morally bound to Viet-Nam; the relative ineffectiveness of American aid, though still important – all of these things which have momentarily overcome us, which could cost Viet-Nam her liberty, France her rank as a world power; the free world the key to Southeast Asia, have been caused only by persistence in turning aside or even defying the intangible reality that embodies the will of the people for independence.
The people of France have been sorely tried by recent military difficulties. Just as cruelly, that late diplomatic developments at Geneva have shown the Vietnamese people the willingness of false patriots to divide the country, to subordinate it to foreign interests and the danger of false remedies.
Now that the people have no illusions and that the masks have been removed, a radical change in policy has finally become possible.
Nothing is lost yet, because the gravity of the situation itself must bring about a lucid revision of a fatal policy. I believe in my people. I believe in their unsurmountable revulsion towards lies and oppression inherent in dictatorial regimes. I believe in their profound love of truth and liberty.
The Vietnamese people, long deceived, are seeking a new path which will lead to their ardently desired ideals. I am firmly determined to lead the way to this path, overcoming any and all obstacles.
France, which has just initiated the recent treaties of independence and association, will not stint in giving effective aid. This aid alone can make real both the true sovereignty of Viet-Nam and the territory integrity whose mutual preservation constitutes the justification of the French Union.
I will not go forward alone on the path of a just and noble cause. With the peoples of France and Viet-Nam and of other free countries, we will close ranks. Together we will win the only desirable kind of peace, a peace of free and proud men.
(President Ngo Dinh Diem on Democracy, (Addresses relative to the Constitution) Press Office, Saigon - February 1958.)
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