Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with George L. West
WEST: When I came in Mendes France was the Prime Minister in France. He was responsible for getting them out of Vietnam.
My biggest problem was the way things were going in Vietnam. I'd rather go into the Vietnam thing when I became director of WE, later. After all, remember Senator John Kennedy made some... He knew about Algiers.
Q: But I was wondering about you. Did you feel any particular pressure on you in the Western European side to give support to France? Did you find yourself beating down efforts by other parts of the department to show more sympathy towards efforts for independence?
WEST: To this extent, that there would be certain developments, be they in the Far East, be they in North Africa, for one bureau that is involved.
There are two bureaus involved: one the home team, you might say, of the African Bureau, Near Eastern Africa or the Far Eastern Bureau, and the European Bureau.
Naturally, we were expected to bring forth our perceptions of how this affects Franco-American relations or Spanish-American. These things used to lead to the argument usually, and sometimes with the CIA involved, going into the Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs' office, Alex Johnson, George McGhee.... As I say I can... Maybe this business, I'll refer to it when my experience as Director...
Q: Why don't we talk about that. We don't need the whole panorama, but let's talk about your time with the Vietnamese problem.
WEST: I prefer. Let me get off first. It really became acute later on when I got involved with George Ball, which is another, more interesting story.
While I was Deputy Director of Western Europe, I was up at the U.N. for the General Assembly as a Senior European Advisor. That was right after Suez and right after the Hungarian thing. Those were the two big topics.
Q: That was the fall of 1956.