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Lodge and Gen. Taylor Reject Proposal that U.S. Take Command of Vietnam War

June 30, 1964 - Both the incoming and outgoing U.S. Ambassadors to South Vietnam rejected today a proposal by a group of Republicans that the U.S. take over operational command of the war in that country.

“If we do that, we become a colonial power,” Henry Cabot Lodge, the retiring Ambassador, said today.

“I think it is pretty well established that colonialism is over,” he added. “It would bring unfortunate results in the form of anti-American feeling, a tendency to let the Americans do it. South Vietnam is a little country, but it has brave soldiers and a competent command.”

General Maxwell Taylor (pictured last week), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is leaving Saturday night to take over the embassy in Saigon, took the same stand.

For one country to take command of the troops of another “is always difficult” and the prospects for success are “always doubtful,” Taylor said.

The proposal that the U.S. take over operational control in Vietnam instead of continuing its present advisory effort was made at a news conference yesterday by Representative Gerald Ford. The Michigan Republican released a report signed by 13 Republican members of Congress criticizing the Johnson Administration’s defense and foreign policies, including those in South Vietnam.

Members of the Republican task force include Representative Melvin Laird of Wisconsin, chairman of the Republican convention platform committee. Lodge is scheduled to go before that committee July 8.

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