This video says about itself:
My Lai Massacre, Vietnam 1968
The My Lai massacre, where the US army in Vietnam slaughtered 500 unarmed civilians, many women and children.
Some victims were sexually abused, beaten, tortured, maimed and mutilated.
Three U.S. servicemen who made an effort to halt the massacre and protect the wounded were sharply criticized by US Congressmen, received hate mail, death threats and mutilated animals on their doorsteps. Only 30 years after the event were their efforts honored.
American media first claimed 100 had been killed in a fierce firefight.
27 April 2011.
Trần Lệ Xuân (April 15, 1924 – April 24, 2011), popularly known as Madame Nhu but more properly Madame Ngô Đình Nhu, was considered the First Lady of South Vietnam from 1955 to 1963. She was the wife of Ngô Đình Nhu, brother and chief adviser to President Ngô Đình Diệm. As Diệm was a lifelong bachelor, and because the Nhus lived in the Independence Palace, she was considered to be the First Lady. …
Trần Lệ Xuân was born into a wealthy aristocratic family in Hanoi, her given name meaning “Beautiful Spring”. Her paternal grandfather was close to the French colonial administration, while her father, Trần Văn Chuơng, studied law in France, before marrying into the ruling imperial dynasty. Her mother, Thân Thị Nam Trân, was a granddaughter of Emperor Đồng Khánh and a cousin of Emperor Bảo Đại. Madame Nhu’s mother was widely reputed to have had a series of lovers, among them her future son-in-law, Ngô Ðình Nhu.
A mediocre student, Madame Nhu dropped out of Lycée Albert Sarraut, a prestigious French school in Hanoi. She spoke French at home and could not write in Vietnamese; as an adult, she drafted her speeches in French and had them translated into Vietnamese. …
During her brother-in-law’s presidency, Madame Nhu pushed for the passing of ‘morality laws’. These included such things as outlawing abortion, adultery, divorce, contraceptives, dance halls, beauty pageants, boxing matches, and animal fighting, and closed down the brothels and opium dens. Many people did not appreciate the imposition of Madame Nhu’s values on their lives. She was also widely mocked by the public who regarded her as hypocritical, with older Vietnamese believing her décolleté gowns to be sexually suggestive, in addition to widespread rumors of her own infidelity.
This hypocrisy is rather similar to Silvio Berlusconi and his party in Italy; where Madame Nhu died.
Her family also received further scorn since her sister, Trần Lệ Chi, had a French lover, and critics alleged that Madame Nhu introduced the laws so that her sister’s husband could not get a divorce. Since he was extremely wealthy, the Ngô family would have lost highly valuable assets. In addition, her brother, Khiêm, used the government connections to bilk rich entrepreneurs. …
Madame Nhu was frequently mocked by the media for her ostentatious flaunting of power, and was sometimes called the “Dragon Lady,” as well as “Lucretia Borgia” and “Queen Bee.”
She once said that “Power is wonderful. Total power is totally wonderful.” She told a group of American congressmen, “I’m not exactly afraid of death. I love power and in the next life I have a chance to be even more powerful than I am.” …
Madame Nhu often caused controversy because of her strongly anti-Buddhist, pro-Catholic ideology. When she heard that Diệm was to sign a statement offering compensation to the families of Buddhist protesters shot dead by the police of his brother Ngô Đình Cẩn, she was reported to have thrown a bowl of soup at him.
On June 8, Madame Nhu released a statement through the Women’s Solidarity Movement accusing the Buddhists of neutralism, effectively accusing them of being communist collaborators. It then implored “bonzes of good faith” to stop helping the communists, otherwise Vietnamese Buddhism would be seen as a “small anti-nationalist branch of a dubious international association, exploited and controlled by communism and oriented to the sowing of the disorder of neutralism” and calling on Diem to “immediately expel all foreign agitators whether they wear monks’ robes or not.” …
Madame Nhu publicly mocked Thích Quảng Đức, who performed a self-immolation on 11 June in a crowded Saigon street to protest against the shooting of Buddhists by Diệm’s regime. Nhu labelled it a “barbecue” and stated, “Let them burn and we shall clap our hands.” She further offered to provide more fuel and matches for the Buddhists. …
On August 3, she called the Buddhists “seditious elements who use the most odious Communist tactics to subvert the country.”
This occurred after special forces loyal to Nhu raided the Xá Lợi Pagoda in Saigon in August. The pagoda was vandalised, monks beaten, the cremated remains of Thích Quảng Đức, which included a heart which had not disintegrated, were confiscated. Simultaneous raids were carried out across the country, with the Từ Đàm Pagoda in Huế being looted, the statue of Gautama Buddha demolished, and the body of a deceased monk stolen. When the populace came to the defense of the monks, the resulting clashes saw 30 civilians killed and 200 wounded. Through her paramilitary organization, Madame Nhu claimed that the Buddhists were “controlled by communism” …
On November 1, 1963, Diệm and Nhu, were assassinated in a coup d’état led by General Dương Văn Minh with the understanding that the United States would not intervene. At the time of the assassinations, Madame Nhu was in Beverly Hills, California, traveling with her 18-year-old daughter, Ngô Đình Lệ Thủy. Two sons and a baby daughter were still trapped in Vietnam at the family retreat in Đà Lạt and she feared that they could meet the same fate as their father. The children were not harmed by the generals and were flown out of the country into exile in Rome, where they were placed in the custody of Thục. Madame Nhu later flew to Rome to join them.
In the United States Saigon puppet regime, after the bloody fall of the Diệm-Nhu clique, the next dictator became Nguyen Cao Ky.
Ky became well-known for saying:
People ask me who my heroes are. I have only one—Hitler. I admire Hitler because he pulled his country together when it was in a terrible state.
The paper of the US American nazi party praised Ky for this on its front page.
After Ky, the next dictator, until the final downfall of the Saigon regime, became Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. In 1975, Thiệu left Vietnam aboard an American helicopter with millions of dollars in gold.
Cardinal Spellman, as mentioned elsewhere, had been one of the earliest sponsors of the then unknown Vietnamese leader, Diem. From the very beginning when Diem went to seek American sponsorship in the U.S., Spellman persuaded many influential politicians, including Senator Kennedy the future President, to support Diem in preference to other candidates. He praised Diem for his honesty, integrity, religiosity, and above all for his dedication to anti-communism. It was this last quality which endeared Spellman’s protégé to the State Department, which finally decided to opt for him: here.
Ann Coulter – The American Madame Nhu: here.
Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, master defender of his homeland, dies: here.
War veterans, communist leaders and diplomats gather in Dien Bien Phu to mark the 60th anniversary of Vietnam’s victory over French colonial forces in a 56-day battle: here.
- Egypt’s Coup and the Vietnam Precedent (commentarymagazine.com)
- 1955: Ngo Dinh Diem “Elected” President of South Vietnam (christinemillard.wordpress.com)
- Tuesday, June 11, 1963: Thich Quang Duc (the60sat50.blogspot.com)
- 1963: Madame Nhu (hidden1960s.wordpress.com)
- Betsy’s Trivia: Mother’s Day Edition (presspass.nbcnews.com)
- Book review: Finding The Dragon Lady (macleans.ca)
- Ngo Dinh Diem in the Crosshairs (nsarchive.wordpress.com)
- Thich Quang Duc, A Modern Day Antigone (pos394.wordpress.com)
Reblogged this on Basil Wheel.
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Administrator on April 28, 2011 at 6:37 pm said:
Unexploded shell kills 2 fishermen
Vietnam: A US artillery shell left over from the war exploded on Tuesday killing two young fishermen who were trying to cut it up for scrap metal in Cam Binh commune.
Local official Tran Van Hoa said that the two men had collected the 155-millimetre shell from waters near a former US naval base. Another fisherman was seriously wounded in the explosion.
Unexploded ordnance has killed over 42,000 people and wounded 62,000 since US forces were driven out in 1975.
Administrator on May 26, 2011 at 6:32 pm said:
Dig uncovers 17 bodies in village
Vietnam: A mass grave of 17 North Vietnamese soldiers has been excavated in the country’s central Thua Thien Hue province.
Village chief Nguyen Thanh Minh said yesterday that the soldiers are believed to have died in an attack by US forces in May 1967. None have been identified.
The excavation took two weeks and many of the soldiers’ personal effects, such as sandals, belts and knives, were found with the bodies.
Around three million Vietnamese and 58,000 US troops were killed during the Vietnam war, which ended in 1975 when the Vietcong liberated Saigon from the US.
Administrator on June 22, 2011 at 10:56 am said:
When Muhammad Ali took the real heavy weight
On June 20, 1967, the great Muhammad Ali was convicted in Houston for refusing induction in the US armed forces.
Dave Zirin Last Modified: 21 Jun 2011 13:50
“As we remain mired in a period of permanent war, take a moment and consider the risk, sacrifice, and principle necessary to dismantle the war machine. We all can’t be boxing champions, but moving forward, all who oppose war can rightfully claim Ali’s brave history as our own.”
Ali saw the war in Vietnam as an exercise in genocide. He also used his platform as boxing champion to connect the war abroad with the war at home [GALLO/GETTY]
In an era defined by endless war, we should recognise a day in history that wasn’t celebrated on Capitol Hill or in the White House. On June 20, 1967, the great Muhammad Ali was convicted in Houston for refusing induction in the US armed forces. Ali saw the war in Vietnam as an exercise in genocide. He also used his platform as a boxing champion to connect the war abroad with the war at home, saying: “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs?” For these statements, as much as the act itself, Judge Joe Ingraham handed down the maximum sentence to Cassius Clay (as they insisted upon calling him in court): five-years in a Federal penitentary and a $10,000 fine. The next day, this was the top-flap story for the New York Times with the headline: “Clay Guilty in Draft Case; Gets Five Years in Prison.”
The sentence was unusually harsh, and deeply tied to a Beltway, bipartisan consensus to crush Ali and ensure that he not develop into a symbol of anti-war resistance. The day of Ali’s conviction the US Congress voted 337-29 to extend the draft for four more years. They also voted 385-19 to make it a federal crime to desecrate the flag. Their fears of a rising movement against the war were well-founded.
The summer of 1967 marked a tipping point for public support of the Vietnam “police action”. While the Tet Offensive, which exposed the lie that the United States was winning the war, was still six months away, the news out of south-east Asia was increasingly grim. At the time of Ali’s conviction, 1,000 Vietnamese noncombatants were being killed each week by US forces. One hundred US soldiers were dying each and every day, and the war was costing $2bn a month.
Anti-war sentiment was growing and it was thought that a stern rebuke of Ali would help put out the fire. In fact, the opposite took place. Ali’s brave stance fanned the flames. As Julian Bond said, “[It] reverberated through the whole society. . . . [Y]ou could hear people talking about it on street corners. It was on everyone’s lips. People who had never thought about the war before began to think it through because of Ali. The ripples were enormous.”
Ali himself vowed to appeal the conviction, saying: “I strongly object to the fact that so many newspapers have given the American public and the world the impression that I have only two alternatives in this stand – either I go to jail or go to the Army. There is another alternative, and that alternative is justice. If justice prevails, if my constitutional rights are upheld, I will be forced to go neither to the Army nor jail. In the end, I am confident that justice will come my way, for the truth must eventually prevail.”
Already by this point, Ali’s heavyweight title had been stripped, beginning a three-and-a-half-year exile. Already Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam had begun to distance themselves from their most famous member. Already, Ali had become a punching bag for almost every reporter with a working pen. But with his conviction came a new global constituency. In Guyana, protests against his sentence took place in front of the US embassy. In Karachi, Pakistan, a hunger strike began in front of the US consulate. In Cairo, demonstrators took to the streets. In Ghana, editorials decried his conviction. In London, an Irish boxing fan named Paddy Monaghan began a long and lonely picket of the US Embassy. Over the next three years, he would collect more than twenty thousand signatures on a petition calling for the restoration of Muhammad Ali’s heavyweight title.
Ali at this point was beginning to see himself as someone who had a greater responsibility to an international groundswell that saw him as more than an athlete. “Boxing is nothing, just satisfying to some bloodthirsty people. I’m no longer a Cassius Clay, a Negro from Kentucky. I belong to the world, the black world. I’ll always have a home in Pakistan, in Algeria, in Ethiopia. This is more than money.”
Eventually justice did prevail and the Supreme Court overturned Ali’s conviction in 1971. They did so only after the consensus on the war had changed profoundly. Ali had been ` right by history, although a generation of people in Asia and the United States paid a terrible price along the way.
Years later upon reflection, Ali said he had no regrets. “Some people thought I was a hero. Some people said that what I did was wrong. But everything I did was according to my conscience. I wasn’t trying to be a leader. I just wanted to be free. And I made a stand all people, not just black people, should have thought about making, because it wasn’t just black people being drafted. The government had a system where the rich man’s son went to college, and the poor man’s son went to war. Then, after the rich man’s son got out of college, he did other things to keep him out of the Army until he was too old to be drafted.”
As we remain mired in a period of permanent war, take a moment and consider the risk, sacrifice, and principle necessary to dismantle the war machine. We all can’t be boxing champions, but moving forward, all who oppose war can rightfully claim Ali’s brave history as our own.
Dave Zirin is the author of “Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love” (Scribner) and just made the new documentary “Not Just a Game.” Receive his column every week by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. See all of his work at edgeofsports.com.
Administrator on August 25, 2011 at 7:39 pm said:
Military man reaches century
VIETNAM: Legendary general Vo Nguyen Giap celebrated his 100th birthday in Hanoi today.
The “Eldest Brother of the Vietnam People’s Army” worked closely with former Vietnamese president Ho Chi Minh to lead the VPA to victory in two wars of national liberation, first defeating French colonialists in the mid-1950s before booting out US occupation forces in 1975.
Administrator on September 18, 2011 at 7:53 pm said:
Sixties activist/JFK researcher Carl Oglesby dies
NEW YORK — Carl Oglesby, an activist in the 1960s who headed the campus organization Students for a Democratic Society and gave an influential and frequently quoted speech denouncing the Vietnam War and those who broke his “American heart,” has died at age 76. Oglesby died Tuesday at his home in Montclair, N.J. Todd Gitlin, a friend and fellow activist who went on to write several books, said Oglesby had been fighting lung cancer that spread throughout his body.
Born in 1935 and an undergraduate at Kent State University, Oglesby was years older than Gitlin and other ’60s student radicals he befriended and was living a much straighter life at the time he met them. He was married, with three children, and was working for a defense contractor. But while studying part time at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, he was so disgusted by the Vietnam War and so taken with the then-emerging Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and the society with him, that he soon became its president and most memorable orator.
“The only other person who compared to him was Martin Luther King,” Gitlin says. “He had the mastery of vivid phrases and also the power of mobilizing people.”
The SDS had been founded in 1960 at the University of Michigan, and its early declaration, the Port Huron Statement, helped embody the idealism of the early ’60s. The SDS supported civil rights and opposed the nuclear arms race. It was strongly critical of the U.S. government and called for greater efforts to fight poverty and big business. By the mid-’60s, when Oglesby joined, the United States had committed ground troops to Vietnam and the SDS had expanded nationwide.
The earnest, bearded Oglesby helped organize teach-ins and rallies, and his power peaked in November 1965 with his speech at a massive anti-war rally in Washington. In an address titled “Let Us Shape the Future,” Oglesby spoke as a disillusioned patriot and liberal who rejected not just the war, which liberals had escalated, but much of American foreign policy since the end of World War II and the free enterprise system he believed demanded endless conflict. He was equally critical of Republican and Democratic presidents, and insisted the country’s founders would have been on his side.
“Our dead revolutionaries would soon wonder why their country was fighting against what appeared to be a revolution,” he declared to ever growing applause In his most memorable phrase, he challenged those who called him anti-American: “I say, don’t blame me for that! Blame those who mouthed my liberal values and broke my American heart.”
Activist and fellow SDS leader Tom Hayden called Oglesby a “radical individualist” in the tradition of Henry David Thoreau. He remembered Oglesby as a “brainy,” self-taught man whose research into the Cold War and national security had convinced him that Communism was not the enemy and that change in the United States would have to reach far beyond getting out of Vietnam.
“He used to think you could argue with Pentagon intellectuals like [Defense Secretary] Robert McNamara and get them to change their minds,” Hayden told The Associated Press.
But the ’60s proved an unfulfilled dream from which he never recovered, Gitlin says. By the end of the decade, King and Robert F. Kennedy had been killed, the Vietnam War was still on and Oglesby was being thrown out of the organization he helped grow. Violent activists such as the Weathermen dismissed Oglesby as a “hopeless bourgeois liberal.” Oglesby labeled the Weathermen’s politics as “road rage and comic book Marxism.”
“He suffered greatly from that, maybe more than anyone else of the older crowd, from being targeted by the Weathermen as a bad guy,” Gitlin said. “He used to say that the Weathermen were like the children of his generation, dismantling what had been achieved.”
In recent years, Oglesby became obsessed with the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He wrote the books “Who Killed JFK?” and “The JFK Assassination” and contributed an afterword to Jim Garrison’s “On the Trail of the Assassins.” In 2008, his memoir “Ravens in the Storm” was published. He also was featured in the 1991 television documentary “Making Sense of the Sixties,” which he didn’t know how to do.
“We had an experience, which I suppose is unique in American history and which nobody who ever went through it will ever forget, an experience filled with treasured moments and nightmares alike,” he said during the documentary. “The ’60s will never level out. It’s a corkscrew. It’s a tailspin. It’s a joy ride on a rollercoaster. It’s a never-ending mystery.”
From the Guardian: Carl Oglesby, who has died of lung cancer aged 76, was one of the most talented and interesting of the leaders of the 1960s American left. Within a short time of joining Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), in 1965 he became its president. He was passionate in his opposition to the Vietnam war, making a landmark speech at an antiwar rally in Washington, and became convinced that unless profound changes took place in American society, there would be more similar wars.
His honesty and intensely personal search for the truth made him a divisive figure, and he was subsequently attacked both by Marxists and by radical groups such as the Weathermen. Oglesby was invited by the Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver to be his vice-presidential running-mate for the Peace and Freedom party in 1968, but he declined.
Unlike many leaders of the American left, old and new, Oglesby came from an authentic working-class background. His family had migrated from the south, his father from South Carolina and his mother from Alabama. His father worked in a rubber plant in Akron, Ohio. Oglesby himself wore a beard, not as a badge of radicalism, but because he had suffered from acne in adolescence and his friends believed that his family were too poor to have it treated.
Oglesby was several years older than the other leaders of SDS, such as Tom Hayden and Todd Gitlin, and was married with three children by the time he became involved in radical activism. He had earlier studied at Kent State University – where the national guard later killed four students during a demonstration against the Vietnam war – but dropped out and went to live in Greenwich Village, then the bohemian quarter of Manhattan, where he worked as an actor and wrote three plays.
In 1960 he was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, working as a technical writer for the Bendix corporation, a defence contractor, and studying part time at the University of Michigan, where SDS was formed. When he wrote an article in a campus journal criticising US policy in Asia, three SDS members visited his home to recruit him. His intelligence and commitment so impressed his new colleagues that he was soon elected president of the organisation.
Oglesby was involved in a celebrated “teach-in” at Michigan, and he helped to organise the big demonstration in Washington on 17 April 1965, just after President Lyndon Johnson had started bombing North Vietnam. In November that year he spoke at a major demonstration against the war in Washington. His speech became a classic of the antiwar movement. “It was a devastating performance,” said the scholar and author Kirkpatrick Sale, “skilled, moderate, learned and compassionate, but uncompromising, angry, radical, and above all persuasive. It drew the only standing ovation of the afternoon [and] for years afterwards it would continue to be one of the most popular items of SDS literature.”
Oglesby was essentially an autodidact and developed a hybrid political philosophy of his own. He made himself unpopular with some by insisting that the men who led the US into the war were not bad people as individuals, and that the war was the product of systemic faults in American society. He came under the influence of the libertarian thinker Murray Rothbard and even aspired to a kind of fusion between the old right, in which he included such conservative figures as General Douglas MacArthur and Senator Robert Taft, and the new left.
In his 1967 essay Vietnamese Crucible, Oglesby rejected the “socialist radical, the corporatist conservative, and the welfare-state liberal” and challenged the new left to embrace American democratic populism and the American libertarian right. He refused to pay a portion of his taxes in protest at the Vietnam war.
After SDS collapsed in 1969, Oglesby worked as a musician, writing and recording two albums, described as psychedelic folk rock. He taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and settled in New Jersey. He became obsessed with the Kennedy assassination and other conspiracies and wrote several books about them. His three marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by his partner, Barbara Webster, and by two daughters and a son from his first marriage.
• Carl Oglesby, political activist, writer and academic, born 30 July 1935; died 13 September 2011
Below is an excerpt from the end of his most famous D.C. speech:
Let me then speak directly to humanist liberals. If my facts are wrong, I will soon be corrected. But if they are right, then you may face a crisis of conscience. Corporatism or humanism: which? For it has come to that. Will you let your dreams be used? Will you be a grudging apologist for the corporate state? Or will you help try to change it—not in the name of this or that blueprint or ism, but in the name of simple human decency and democracy and the vision that wise and brave men saw in the time of our own revolution?
And if your commitment to human values is unconditional, then disabuse yourselves of the notion that statements will bring change, if only the right statements can be written, or that interviews with the mighty will bring change if only the mighty can be reached, or that marches will bring change if only we can make them massive enough, or that policy proposals will bring change if only we can make them responsible enough.
We are dealing now with a colossus that does not want to be changed. It will not change itself. It will not cooperate with those who want to change it. Those allies of ours in the government—are they really our allies? If they are, then they don’t need advice, they need constituencies; they don’t need study groups, they need a movement. And it they are not, then all the more reason for building that movement with the most relentless conviction.
There are people in this country today who are trying to build that movement, who aim at nothing less than a humanist reformation. And the humanist liberals must understand that it is this movement with which their own best hopes are most in tune. We radicals know the same history that you liberals know, and we can understand your occasional cynicism, exasperation, and even distrust. But we ask you to put these aside and help us risk a leap. Help us find enough time for the enormous work that needs doing here. Help us build. Help us shape the future in the name of plain human hope.
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50 years ago: Massacre of Buddhists in South Vietnam
On May 8, 1963, the Hue Vesak killings took place when the South Vietnamese army opened fire and threw grenades at peacefully protesting Buddhists in Hue. Eight were killed. The event generated massive anger against the US puppet regime of President Ngo Dinh Diem.
Diem was Roman Catholic and his regime—the ministers, the army brass, etc.—were also Catholic; Diem’s brother was the Archbishop of Hue. The Catholic Church was the largest landowner in South Vietnam. The Diem regime discriminated against the majority Buddhist population, as had the French colonial government before it. While the Catholic elite flaunted their religion, the Buddhists were limited from public religious expression.
Such was the case on May 7, 1963, when Diem ordered that religious flags could no longer be flown, though May 8 was the celebration of Phat Dan, the traditional observance of the birthday of Gautama Buddha. Buddhist monks defied the edict. Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Hue to protest the ban on the Buddhist flag, holding signs and placards in both Vietnamese and English. After the crowd refused to disperse, soldiers opened fire and hurled grenades.
50 years ago: Washington issues secret order for removal of Diem
On August 24, the US Department of State sent Telegram 243 (or DEPTEL 243) to the newly installed ambassador to the American puppet regime of South Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge, calling for the removal of President Ngo Dinh Diem in the wake of another bloody crackdown against the nation’s majority Buddhists.
Ngo Dinh Diem
Events had come to a head in the early morning hours of August 21, 1963, when Diem and Nhu launched a series of raids against Buddhist temples, killing hundreds and arresting over 1,400. Then, at 6:00 a.m., Diem declared martial law throughout South Vietnam, which included shoot-to-kill orders for violations of a 9 p.m. curfew. The attacks were carried out by South Vietnamese army Special Forces disguised as army regulars in a clumsy attempt to shift blame away from Diem to the generals.
The secret cable, which was approved by President Kennedy and other top administration officials after some debate, essentially called for a coup d’état against Diem. It asked that Diem be told to remove his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, who dominated the US-supplied Special Forces as well as the militarized police. But the cable warned that if Diem did not adhere to this demand that he too should be forced from power. Lodge, in turn, cabled back that it was inadvisable to raise the matter with Diem at all, and that the communication should only be shared with top generals.
The “US Government cannot tolerate situation in which power lies in Nhu’s hands,” Cable 243 read. “Diem must be given chance to rid himself of Nhu and his coterie … If, in spite of all your efforts, Diem remains obdurate and refuses, then we must face the possibility that Diem himself cannot be preserved.”
Lodge was also told to approach South Vietnam’s Army generals and tell them that “if [Diem] remains obdurate, then we are prepared to accept the obvious implication that we can no longer support Diem. You may also tell [the] appropriate military commanders [that] we will give them direct support in any interim period of breakdown [of the] central government mechanism.”
Lodge cabled back, the “chances of Diem’s meeting our demands are virtually nil. At the same time, by making them we give Nhu [a] chance to forestall or block action by [the] military…. Therefore, [we] propose we go straight to [the] Generals with our demands, without informing Diem.”
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In 1963, the military dictator of South Vietnam, American’s ally, enforced a law banning the Buddhist flag, even though around 80 percent of South Vietnam was Buddhist. (With the war against North Vietnam entering its second decade, he really should have been concentrating on other things.) In Hue, the religious capital of South Vietnam, Buddhist protesters waived the Buddhist flag. Mostly-Catholic Army officers shot and killed nine of them. After this, a Buddhist monk doused himself with gasoline, and set himself on fire. That was the first time that I heard the term “self-immolation” – setting yourself on fire, and burning to death.
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It is unfortunate that historians writing about the American War in Viet Nam continue to portray The Republic of Viet Nam (South Viet Nam) as if it were a recognised and legitimate nation-state during its existence from 1956 to 1975. South Viet Nam was not a member of the United Nations nor recognised as a nation state by any other countries except America’s closest allies. It was a paper puppet state.
The Republic of Viet Nam existed by diplomatic courtesy to the USA and had no income of its own. It relied entirely on US funding for its existence. The Vietnamese Dong (piastre) currency was not traded or acceptable beyond Viet Nam and Laos, client states of the USA. President Nixon thus had an economic lever to pressure the obdurate South Vietnamese leadership in political matters when their policy was not to meet or talk peace with “the communists” (which they chose to call the NLF, the “Viet Cong”).
The USA because of its global anti-communist crusade could not simply abandon the diplomatic fiction it had created in South Viet Nam. Steady phased withdrawals of the US presence and support were the only recourse open to Nixon to extricate himself from the embarrassing quagmire. Victory of the north and the NLF were guaranteed once the policies of American withdrawal became clear.
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