"For days, near anarchy reigned in Saigon, mobs rampaging through the streets, Buddhists and [Roman] Catholics waging open warfare, and gangs of thugs fighting and pillaging with hatchets and machetes. Behind the scenes, politicians and generals, Khanh included, jockeyed for power. "
From ................ AMERICA'S LONGEST WAR:
THE U.S. & VIETNAM, 1950-1975
By Gearge Herring, U. of KY
Pub. by John Wiley & Sons 1979
"America in Crisis Series"
pages 47-49 [------------] Confident that the United States could succeed where France had failed, Dulles overrode all opposition. [----------]
His arguments eventually prevailed with the National Security Council and the President. In October 1954, Eisenhower informed Diem that the United States would assist South Vietnam "in its present hour of trial." The President carefully qualified the American commitment, warning that the United States "expects that this aid will be met by performance on the part of the Government of Vietnam in undertaking needed reforms." 11
But the significance of the step was unmistakable: the experiment in nation-building had been launched. The man to whom Eisenhower made the fateful commitment had impeccable credentials as a nationalist and, from the American standpoint, more important, as an anti-Communist.
One of nine children of Ngo Dinh Kha, an official at the imperial court of Hue, Ngo Dinh Diem attended French [Roman] Catholic schools in Hue and the school of public administration in Hanoi, where after finishing at the top of his class, he was given an appointment in the bureaucracy of the protectorate of Annam.
A devout [Roman] Catholic, he became a staunch opponent of Communism before he became a nationalist. As a village supervisor in central Vietnam, he unearthed a Communist-inspired uprising in 1929 and severely punished its leaders. The French rewarded him with an appointment as Minister of the Interior, the highest position in the government, but when they refused to enact reforms which he had proposed he resigned and would not return to his post even when threatened with deportation.
For most of the next two decades, Diem was a virtual exile in his own land, living as a scholar-recluse and refusing offers from the Japanese, the Vietminh, and Bao Dai to participate in the various governments formed after World War II.
He eventually left the country, traveling to Rome and then settling at a Maryknoll seminary in Lakewood, New Jersey. While in the United States he lectured widely, and his fervent appeals for an independent non-Communist Vietnam attracted him to such luminaries as Francis Cardinal Spellman and Democratic [and Roman Catholic] Senators John F. Kennedy and Mike Mansfield.12
[as if maintaining Roman Catholic dominance over Vietnam never crossed the minds of these Roman Catholic elites ..... JP ]
Diem's nationalism and his administrative experience made him appear a logical choice for the premiership of an independent Vietnam, but he lacked many of the qualities required for the imposing challenges he faced. His most noteworthy characteristics seemed to have been a stubborn determination to persist in the face of great danger and a remarkable penchant for survival. A man of principle, he inclined toward an all-or-nothing integrity which deprived him of the flexibility necessary to deal with the intractable problems and deep-seated conflicts he confronted. His love for his country in the abstract was profound, but he was an elitist who had little sensitivity to the needs and problems of the Vietnamese people.
[never mind Diem was Roman Catholic and
Vietnam was mostly Buddhist ... JP ]
Not perceiving the extent to which the French and Vietminh had destroyed traditional political processes and values, he looked backward to an imperial Vietnam that no longer existed. He had no blueprint for building a modern nation or mobilizing his people. Introverted and absorbed in himself, he lacked the charisma of Ho Chi Minh. "He was a short, broadly built man with a round face and a shock of black hair, who walked and moved jerkily, as if on strings,"
Robert Shaplen has recalled. "He always dressed in white and looked as if he were made out of ivory." A compulsive talkerÑ" a single question was likely to provoke a dissertation for an hour or more" Ñ he was a poor listener who seemed almost indifferent to the reaction he evoked in others. 13
The circumstances of Diem's appointment as Prime Minister remain obscure. It has been argued that a so-called Vietnam lobby, composed of Spellman, Mansfield, Kennedy, and other prominent Catholic-Americans, working through Dulles and the CIA, engineered the appointment as a means of wresting control of Vietnam from France. 14
11- Eisenhower to Diem, October 1, 1954, in George M. Kahin and John W. Lewis, The United States in Vietnam [New York, 1969], pp. 456-457.
12- Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake, pp. 80-84, 98-99.
13- Shaplen, Lost Revolution, p. 104.
14- Robert Scheer and Warren Hinkle, "The Vietnam Lobby," Ramparts, 4 [July 1965], 16-24.
AMERICA'S LONGEST WAR
The Johnson administration did not follow up the Tonkin Gulf reprisals with additional attacks against North Vietnam. As the election was fast approaching, the President preferred not to jeopardize his political fortunes by escalating the war. Having established his determination to defend American interests with force if necessary, in the final months of the campaign he emphasized his wish to limit American involvement if possible. "We seek no wider war," he stated in numerous speeches.
At the same time, political turmoil in South Vietnam made caution essential. Attempting to exploit the Tonkin Gulf affair to save his political skin, Khanh on August 6 assumed near dictatorial powers and imposed severe restrictions on civil liberties. Thousands of Saigonese immediately took to the streets, and when an angry mob forced Khanh to stand atop a tank and shout "Down with dictatorships," the humiliated General resigned. For days, near anarchy reigned in Saigon, mobs rampaging through the streets, Buddhists and Catholics waging open warfare, and gangs of thugs fighting and pillaging with hatchets and machetes. Behind the scenes, politicians and generals, Khanh included, jockeyed for power.
Under these circumstances, the administration concluded that it would be unwise to escalate the war. By early September, the .....................
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This book [and several others] confirms that DIEM was picked by Roman Catholics like Cardinal Spellman and JFK to be the USA supported dictator of S.Vietnam.
DIEM'S government was incredibly corrupt [as all Roman Catholic governments become], and the religious favoritism shown to ROMAN CATHOLICS provoked an inevitable BUDDHIST backlash.
Probably over a million Vietnamese lives, 55,000 American lives, and about 150 BILLION American dollars were expended in the attempt to prop up the explicitly ROMAN CATHOLIC PUPPET GOVERNMENT OF S.VIETNAM.