This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
From card catalog: Bill Ryan talks about his recent trip to Southeast Asia. Influence of Communist China, Vietnam, etc. Questions from the floor.
Host, Barret, introduces Bill Ryan, who will speak about Asia. He had a "most soul-searing experience." China has a vast impact on what goes on in Asia. Break between China and Soviet Union has had a great impact on the whole of Asia. Chinese attack on India produced a startling change in India. The communists don't think in terms of conquest; they think in terms of ejecting western influence and injecting their own.
Question and answer topics include the Buddhist suicides. Ryan makes reference to yoga being an unknown, perhaps occult, practice.
Host thanks Ryan and gives information about upcoming OSPC programs. After an abrupt edit, Ryan discusses Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu's role in Vietnam (e.g., morality laws). Question and answer period continues.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 70315
Municipal archives id: T350
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
Our most valuable programs are always the ones which we put on for ourselves our own club members talking and sharing experiences with us this is by all odds the the most valuable part of our club life here and our real reason for existing and today we have a unique opportunity to hear from Bill Ryan. And his observations touring all of Asia during the last two months bill were immensely grateful to you and will we welcome you to the microphone. Thank you very much Barack. I hope all you people will forgive me. Because I feel weary and we kept all the things of that happen to me the last two or three months struggling with. Indonesia. Trying to get in there with very little success for a long while. I came back feeling beaten as a matter of fact it's nothing new to me I haven't felt well for the last fifty years or so but. I had a most so searing experience I've been out on one of these helicopter jobs you know going all around you got them hunting communists. As far as a Cambodian border and so on it was pretty wearing affair and was pretty scary too and I'm a natural born coward. And when we got back we all felt very much in the need of a drink so we. Met at the offices club in at the base and we were kicking around the situation for a while and a young fellow lieutenant he was I don't think he shaved more than twice appeared to disagree with me at times. And suddenly he interrupted and he said just a moment pops. It took the entire Air Force on hand they had to hold me off the man because I had figured all this time I'd been a young athletic type Greek god and I came back then feeling quite a bit humbled by all this well when you're talking about Asia you're talking about China and China's vast impact and influence on what goes on in Asia I noted in Warsaw Incidentally the Peace Committee has been have been meeting in Warsaw and the Chinese are very much annoyed with the Russian type Peace Committee because the Russian Thai peace committee didn't want to fight and I see the Chinese are breaking off now and getting their own Peace Committee which is not going to be so much afraid of war if you follow this you begin to follow the. Main thread of events in Asia the biggest single development in Asia in the last many years I think has been the split between the communist parties of China and the Soviet Union and Heather has had a great impact on the politics of the whole area of all of Asia on top of this there was the Chinese attack on India and this produced a startling change in India I had been in India several times before and I recall that nine hundred fifty five John ly went down there from China and he sold the Indians on the idea of punch a seal or the five principles of peaceful coexistence. And the gullible Indians ate that all up and things were just fine and then in last few years came the Chinese pressure on the border and of course last October. Was the big attack in which the Indians were pretty close to panic. Well as a place now this goes very deep into the Indians is actually their hatred of the Chinese now where before there was the willingness to accept their notion of coexistence. There's a place on Khan a place in Delhi which once served Chinese food it close for a while and reopened with a sign at the Thais in Burma he said food and there's another place right nearby which was called the Golden Dragon served Chinese food that close for four days it reopened it was calling McArdle. So. All are particularly the leaders and the leading elements in Southeast Asia very deeply aware of the presence of China. This is particularly true in fact in Thailand which is more or less of a pivotal area as far as we're concerned in Southeast Asia there's a considerable amount of nervousness and in Thailand. I had a long talk with. Turner who is the dictator of Thailand below you tend to forget that he's a dictator these days because they they've come to live with martial law and have even forgotten forgotten that it exists. Talking would serve it every time I mentioned Washington United States or something like that so reduced with speaking only in Thai sat there like a stout Buddhist or style but I should say this hands clasped on his middle and ordered a few staccato phrases and all of flunkies who were along the lot along the wall in the palace while we were talking would double up with laughter. Then the deputy foreign minister would translate and he would say something like the prime minister says he is aware of the problems that are facing Washington today and I had the impression that I wasn't getting exactly the literal translation of what was going on but sir it gave me the impression that he was very very much worried that some sort of neutralised solution would take place in South Vietnam and if this happened I got the impression also that Surratt would begin looking to the north and begin mending his fences there's a great deal of appreciation in Asia for the old Machiavelli advice which is don't wait too long to take the medicine. If there is a hint of a neutral solution I think that will be the beginning of the end of our influence in in Southeast Asia and make no mistake about it this is what the communists are out for first they do not think in terms of of conquest they are thinking in terms of the jetting western influence and imposing their own and that would satisfy them for quite a long time to come I suppose I'm mostly interested around here isn't in Viet Nam I've been asked many times what role the CIA played in that coup and I can't answer the question but I was talking to a man of Frenchmen who since he had no visible means of support must have been an intelligence agent. I couldn't place him anywhere else but I did ask him what does he think of the CIA role. In the coup and he said miss you it's impossible that the CIA had anything to do with it and I said why he said it's a perfectly simple machine or it was a success. So. Well we're still involved in this sort of a game of Vietnamese roulette in Southeast Asia an opposition isn't very happy there at the present time this is the last slice of real estate really it is the last slice of really state where we can claim any real influence in Indochina and should there be this neutralise solution. The impact would be very heavy on Thailand and I imagine on Malaysia to. Know about that coup just before the coup we were much more on happy than we are at the present time. It was so bad as a matter of fact that you know I was I was in Vietnam in nine hundred fifty four Indian food time the French been used to say to me speak only English to me I don't want to be taken for French Well just before this coup came off the Americans were saying to the French speak French to me I don't want to be taken for America things have changed a great deal but. Essentially it was pretty much the same over some morale was getting very low the jails were full the jails are full of young people and these young people were taken from the middle class there were young people who were related to these officers. So brilliant morale also was quite low this applies to the cities it doesn't apply to the to the the hinterland of the rice paddies really thing else but it's the cities where politics are made now today over some morale is fairly I imagine fairly high and civilian morale has risen a good deal. But the story isn't over by any means the future in Vietnam depends to a great extent on just how this army conducts itself and how willing it is to surrender some of the politics to the civilian side there's already an arrest in the cities right now about what about this new hunter. There have been some military setbacks because of the new hunter coming in one of the first things the communists did when that when the coup took place was to broadcast the idea that the. The war was over and the government had been taken over by the Communists which caused a lot of people in particularly in the delta area to leave the strategic hamlets and to consider that this was the end in there was no use resisting any more. And that Hamlet. Situation did sustain a set back. On the credit side a great deal of the the British problem has dissolved but to some extent the still there now what happened in the Buddhist thing there's a great deal of confusion about it is that this young government created what it feared the most it created an opposition but didn't Buddhism in Vietnam is a very sad very singular thing. I had a Buddhist friend and I spoke to him for about three or four hours one day at lunch just kicking it around and I asked him about his boots and he said yes I'm a Buddhist and I said how much you but still he said possibly fifty percent and I said Well are you Confucian he said yes partly I said how about how you say yes I'm part. I said Are you part Christian too and he thought for a while he had say about fifteen percent so. Buddhism was a mixed up thing in Viet Nam particularly in Vietnam. I couldn't but it really is a religious issue. There was another man I spoke to his name was Mario. Who was president of the Saigon Buddhist Association and here's what he said to me he said for years Buddhism has been a hodgepodge he said it merged towers in Confucianism animism polytheism and all sorts of isms and only of about a year ago the Buddhist Association began a move to revitalize Buddhism now to the palace this was organizing this with respect to politics the palace was not against Buddhism as such it was against the organization anything that looked like organization look to the palace like politics in the palace was against it unless they controlled it so eventually what the palace did was to make Buddhists out of everybody who opposed. The government that is. Many people who never thought of going near a temple suddenly consider themselves Buddhists and it was a political thought in their mind that another religious one. A man would drop a remark in a saloon for example that sounded like he might be against the government and somebody would ask him Are you a communist or you B.C. he say no I'm just a Buddhist and he didn't mean that he was a religious but as he meant he was against the palace and this is what Z.M. succeeded in creating from self and what's happening today there are about three three key figures in that. One of course is big men forty seven year old man who is not a politician and doesn't know very much about politics another is Major General contact didn't. Dennis thirty seven years old extremely ambitious very thing he considers himself a very handsome man a playboy he likes girls many people do many male people do. He likes parties champagne things of that sort he had been fairly loyal to G.M. and in fact he was in charge of the crackdown in the book the steering marshal law last August and he claims he'd seen the light and that. He broke with him unless major general didn't was with the military the coup might not have been possible because General Tun was in charge of the third quarter in Saigon which is very necessary to the accomplishment of his coop and another man is Major General Don who is let's see he would be about forty five thereabouts who is a bosom buddy of Major General Don least this man also was ambitious I have the impression that these two men would not mind a bit if they could move into the controlling position in South Vietnam which would mean you would have a military dictatorship all over again in South Vietnam. And there are already indications that these men are becoming unpopular particularly with the students in the intellectual groups and once again you must stress that these are the people who make politics is not present. The only thing we can do in South Vietnam is I magine what we've been doing all along attempting to persuade these people that it is time for a change that it is time to to to. Set up at least some sort of representative government you don't talk in terms of democracy out there the way we know what. Dictatorship is a Western concept anyway and they've lived with authoritarianism for centuries but there is an impatience among the young people it has to be taken into account and unless these men take it into account I don't think that we have any hope of eventually in the long run of salvaging what we are holding now in Southeast Asia a lot also depends upon what they do in the delta the delta is very largely held by the communists in some areas of the delta in this is particularly true of the COM open insular the car music in complete control a they conscript troops they make laws they collect taxes they do all these things that should be done by government you can't speak in terms of stability in South East or in South Vietnam until the situation is cleared up so this requires a strong offensive by the South Vietnamese government against the communists in the delta there are signs of this is beginning and they have got a bit more tough back considerably more tough since the coup but they have a long long way to go and the communists are not going to take this laying down they're going to have their own counter-offensive there are signs of that coming so if this government is going to stay. It's going it's going to have to get moving and it's going to get moving fast and it's going to have to satisfy the population that it's not going to turn into the same thing they've known before and I would say that we're pretty close to the last chance in Vietnam I don't think they're going to be many more I mean it may be that it's also the last chance in Southeast Asia and I can't say also that it's any time for any overweening optimism at this time. We've got to regard this thing with. Anxiety for a long time to come so. I guess we're all keeping our fingers crossed and in that area you know one of the I was one of the last to see a new node in New before he was knocked off I spoke to him for about two and a half hours and among one of the things he insisted on saying to me was that you know Americans don't understand Asians well maybe we don't. I recall hearing this all over Asia. There was a socialist leader in India who at the moment shall be nameless who is chewing me out a great length and telling me that you Americans are really no good. You're imperialists and you colonialist and not only that but you don't do it right you bungle and then he stopped as if a thought suddenly occurred to him and he looked at me and he said Why can't you be more mature and rotten like the British. And I got the impression that he wanted us to be mature and rotten that there were things to be fixed up that we shouldn't be apologizing about it well that's about all I have to say for the time being and I'm ready. Yes answer was really. Who was responsible for the gruesome death of you know didn't Jim and though didn't you I don't know. I doubt th