Situation appraisal of Buddhism as a political force
current election period extending through September 1967
CIA Documents on the Vietnam War
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appraisal of Buddhism as a political force during current election period
extending through September 1967
of Creation: May 4, 1967
of Declassification: April 21, 1993
of Document: Intelligence information cable
of Classification: NOT GIVEN
of Copy: SANITIZED
Illustration: 13 p.
Buddhist dissident movement at present poses less threat to political stability
in South Vietnam than at any time since early 1963. The Government of Vietnam
(GVN) has had good intelligence on the activities of the militant Buddhists,
and their control measures have been calculated to control the situation
without over-reacting which might have precipitated serious disturbances.
Thich Tri Quang is at present the sole leader of the militant faction and
the only person sufficiently motivated and capable to direct anti-GVN activities.
The personal power struggle between the militant faction and the moderated
led by Thich Tam Chau is likely to continue. It is estimated that Tri Quang
might be able to control only about 180,000 votes in his areas of greatest
strength–Central Vietnam and Saigon. He is capable of stimulating and
inspiring others to action, however, and his followers in the Buddhist
hierarchy appear to be loyal and disciplined and centered around a hard
core of approximately 600 monks and nuns. Tam Chau is supported by the
northern refugee Buddhist groups, although much of this support is probably
a reaction against the extremist political activity undertaken by the militants.
Tam Chau is weak in organizational ability and has no reservoir of devoted
cadres. Although most Buddhists probably oppose the current military regime,
both the Tam Chau and Tri Quang factions will probably not oppose the presidential
and National Assembly elections but rather quietly support the election
and try to see that as many of their followers as possible are elected.
Tam Chau will probably support Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky and Thich Tri
Quang may announce for Tran Van Huong. While the Buddhists in their political
role are undoubtedly penetrated by Viet Cong (VC) there is no hard evidence
that the Buddhists are dominated and controlled by them, despite the fact
that they frequently play into the hand of the VC. The GVN appears to be
well in control of the situation, and while Tri quang will continue to
embarass the GVN whenever possible, there are indications that Buddhist
leaders disapprove of a continued struggle outside the law. In September
and October the Buddhists, both militants and moderates, will very likely
flock to the polls instead of to the barricades.
SITUATION IN SOUTH VIETNAM
Documents Reference System Location: 1993-002473
to Full Text: http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/star/images/041/04109128007.pdf
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