Now, it was only a matter of days after your arrival that you were immediately communicating with Washington about the situation describing what was happening. How is it that you were able...this is a rather puzzling question when one looks back...how is it you were able to size up the situation as quickly as you did?
Was this your own intuition or was it a combination of that and advice from other people in the Embassy? How was it when we go back and read the cables we find you uh coming forth with analyses and opinion on the situation rather quickly?
Well, I had very good luck in that I made...I made two friends who were very remarkable men and had unusual opportunities to learn what was going on. One was Professor Patrick J. Honey of the University of London who I think is the only westerner I've ever heard of who could speak, read and write uh Vietnamese on very abstruse, philosophical subjects.
You meet occasionally an American who speaks fluent Vietnamese so that he can get himself a railroad ticket to somewhere, but a westerner who can talk fluent Vietnamese on abstruse, philosophical subjects is unusual. So he was one. And for some reason or other, the embassy had not been in touch with him.
Then the apostolic delegate, Archbishop Salvatore Asta, A-S-T-A. He turned out to be a remarkable source of the truth. As you know there are two million Roman Catholics with a corresponding number of priests. The priests are almost all Vietnamese. Uh...Archbishop Asta had very businesslike and effective relations with them, which any apostolic delegate would have.
But on top of that, Archbishop Asta was a very magnetic, dynamic man and he had many, many personal friends. So these Vietnamese priests, most of whom were in very close touch with the people, were able to give him an extraordinary picture of the situation.
Then there was a Buddhist priest, Quang Lien, L-I-E-N, the uh, this is, I'm relying on my memory which is a long time back and these Vietnamese names are very hard to remember. But he had the unique distinction I think of being a Buddhist priest who was a graduate of Yale.
And he spoke good English, he could write well in English and he was the one that the high-ranking Buddhist clergy would use all the time on anything that had to do with the Americans. So I was very lucky in very quick order to get in touch with those three very remarkably qualified men. All three could deserve the title of experts.