JFK+50: Volume 6, No. 2056DE GAULLE ADVISED USA TO GET OUT OF VIETNAM 50 YEARS AGO
Phnom Penh, Cambodia (JFK+50) Fifty years ago today, September 1, 1966, Charles de Gaulle, President of France, said in a speech given to 100,000 Cambodians here in Phnom Penh that the United States should leave South Vietnam and along with Prince Norodom Sihanouk signed an agreement calling for noninterference in Indo-China by all foreign nations.
The action by the French president should not have come as a surprise. De Gaulle had been an advocate of American withdrawal from Southeast Asia back in the early days of the Kennedy administration. His four point proposal was rejected by the United States. It called for...
*recognition of Vietnamese self-determination
*withdrawal of American troops from SE Asia
*acceptance of controlled neutrality for SE Asia
*necessity of dealing with Red China directly
Sean J. McLaughlin points out that "at no point did the Kennedy administration recognize (De Gaulle's) position on Vietnam as a legitimate expression of relevant French experience nor did it believe...France...capable of acting as..." a peacemaker in the conflict.
President Kennedy was particularly upset with De Gaulle's unwillingness to commit French troops to South Vietnam. He told Ben Bradley in May 1962 "'that bastard...' would not deploy any...troops to support the American effort in Southeast Asia." In the fall of 1963, however, JFK told Walter Chronkite in a televised interview...
"General de Gaulle is not our enemy. He is our...candid friend...although sometimes (a) difficult (one)..."
De Gaulle's speech 50 years ago today represented his last effort to "sell his assessment" on Vietnam.
"De Gaulle's Peace Program for Vietnam: The Kennedy Years," by Sean J. McLaughlin, April 2010, Peace and Change, www.viet-studies.info/