Ngo Dinh Diem
Overview
 
Ngô Đình Diệm was the first president of South Vietnam
South Vietnam
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam" and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" . Its capital was Saigon...

 (1955–1963). In the wake of the French withdrawal from Indochina as a result of the 1954 Geneva Accords
Geneva Conference (1954)
The Geneva Conference was a conference which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, whose purpose was to attempt to find a way to unify Korea and discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indochina...

, Diệm led the effort to create the Republic of Vietnam. Accruing considerable U.S. support due to his staunch anti-Communism
Anti-communism
Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

, he achieved victory in a 1955 plebiscite that was widely considered fraudulent. Proclaiming himself the Republic's first President, he demonstrated considerable political skill in the consolidation of his power, and his rule proved authoritarian, elitist, nepotistic, and corrupt.
Encyclopedia
Ngô Đình Diệm was the first president of South Vietnam
South Vietnam
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam" and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" . Its capital was Saigon...

 (1955–1963). In the wake of the French withdrawal from Indochina as a result of the 1954 Geneva Accords
Geneva Conference (1954)
The Geneva Conference was a conference which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, whose purpose was to attempt to find a way to unify Korea and discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indochina...

, Diệm led the effort to create the Republic of Vietnam. Accruing considerable U.S. support due to his staunch anti-Communism
Anti-communism
Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

, he achieved victory in a 1955 plebiscite that was widely considered fraudulent. Proclaiming himself the Republic's first President, he demonstrated considerable political skill in the consolidation of his power, and his rule proved authoritarian, elitist, nepotistic, and corrupt. A Roman Catholic, Diệm pursued policies that rankled and oppressed the Republic's Montagnard natives and its Buddhist majority. Amid religious protests
Buddhist crisis
The Buddhist crisis was a period of political and religious tension in South Vietnam from May 1963 to November 1963 characterized by a series of repressive acts by the South Vietnamese government and a campaign of civil resistance, led mainly by Buddhist monks....

 that garnered worldwide attention, Diệm lost the backing of his U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 patrons and was assassinated by Nguyen Van Nhung
Nguyen Van Nhung
Major Nguyễn Văn Nhung was an officer in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam . After joining the French Army in 1944 during the colonial era of Vietnam, he soon met and became the aide-de-camp and bodyguard of Dương Văn Minh, and spent the rest of his career in this role as Minh rose up the ranks...

, the aide of ARVN
Army of the Republic of Vietnam
The Army of the Republic of Viet Nam , sometimes parsimoniously referred to as the South Vietnamese Army , was the land-based military forces of the Republic of Vietnam , which existed from October 26, 1955 until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975...

 General Duong Van Minh
Duong Van Minh
Minh was born on 16 February 1916 in Mỹ Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, the son of a wealthy landowner who served in a prominent position in the Finance Ministry of the French colonial administration...

 on November 2, 1963, during a coup d'état
1963 South Vietnamese coup
In November 1963, President Ngô Đình Diệm of South Vietnam was deposed by a group of Army of the Republic of Vietnam officers who disagreed with his handling of the Buddhist crisis and, in general, his increasing oppression of national groups in the name of fighting the communist Vietcong.The...

 that deposed his government. Rappin' Ronnie Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 loved him.

Family and childhood

Diem was born in Huế
Hue
Hue is one of the main properties of a color, defined technically , as "the degree to which a stimulus can be describedas similar to or different from stimuli that are described as red, green, blue, and yellow,"...

, the original capital of the Nguyễn Dynasty of Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

. Diệm came from the village of Phu Cam in central Vietnam. Portuguese missionaries had converted his family to Roman Catholicism in the 17th century so Diệm was also given a saint's name
Saint's name
A saint’s name is the name of a saint given to individuals at their baptism within the Catholic Church. The custom of giving the name of a saint originated in France and Germany during the Middle Ages...

, following the custom of the Catholic Church. Diệm's full name, becoming Jean Baptiste Ngô Đình Diệm. Diệm would often claim that he had descended from a blue-blooded family of mandarins
Mandarin (bureaucrat)
A mandarin was a bureaucrat in imperial China, and also in the monarchist days of Vietnam where the system of Imperial examinations and scholar-bureaucrats was adopted under Chinese influence.-History and use of the term:...

 who were so revered that people believed that it was a great honour and good luck to be buried alongside his ancestors. Most historians dismiss this as false and believe that his family were of low rank until his father passed the imperial examinations.

His father, Ngô Đình Khả, scrapped plans to become a Roman Catholic priest and became a mandarin and counselor to Emperor Thành Thái
Thanh Thai
Emperor Thành Thái of the Vietnamese Nguyễn Dynasty was born Prince Nguyễn Phúc Bửu Lân, son of Emperor Duc Duc. He reigned for 18 years, from 1889 to 1907.-Biography:...

 during the French colonisation. He rose to become the minister of the rites and chamberlain
Chamberlain (office)
A chamberlain is an officer in charge of managing a household. In many countries there are ceremonial posts associated with the household of the sovereign....

, and keeper of the eunuchs. Khả had six sons and three daughters by his second wife, whom he married after his first died childless. Devoutly Roman Catholic, Khả took his entire family to Mass every morning. The third of six sons, Diệm was christened Jean-Baptiste in the cathedral in Huế. In 1907, the French deposed the emperor on the pretext of insanity, because of his complaints about the colonisation. Khả retired in protest and became a farmer. Diệm laboured in the family's rice fields while studying at a French Catholic school, and later entered a private school started by his father. At age fifteen he followed his elder brother, Ngô Đình Thục, later to become Vietnam's highest ranking Catholic bishop, into a monastery. After a few months he left, finding monastic life too rigorous.

At the end of his secondary schooling, his examination results at the French lycée in Huế saw him offered a scholarship to Paris but declined to contemplate becoming a priest. He dropped the idea, believing it to be too rigorous. He moved to Hanoi
Hanoi
Hanoi , is the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts, 6.5 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam...

 to study at the School of Public Administration and Law, a French school that trained Vietnamese bureaucrats. It was there that he had the only romantic relationship of his life when he fell in love with one of his teacher's daughters. After she persisted with her vocation, entering a convent, he remained celibate.

Early career

After graduating at the top of his class in 1921, Diệm followed in the footsteps of his eldest brother, Ngô Ðình Khôi
Ngo Dinh Khoi
Ngô Ðình Khôi was a brother of South Vietnam’s first President, Ngô Đình Diệm, and of Archbishop Ngô Đình Thục. He served as a governor in the French administration of Việtnam during the French Indochina years. He was buried alive by the Communists for refusal to join the Việt Minh as a minister in...

, joining the civil service. Starting from the lowest rank of mandarin, Diệm steadily rose. He first served at the royal library in Huế, and within one year was the district chief, presiding over seventy villages. Diệm was promoted to be a provincial chief at the age of 25, overseeing 300 villages. Diệm's rise was helped by Khôi's marriage to the daughter of Nguyễn Hữu Bài
Nguyen Huu Bai
Nguyễn Hữu Bài was a Minister of the Interior in the Royal Court of Emperor Bảo Đại. He had taught Ngô Đình Diệm when he was a member of the royal court in the imperial capital of Huế, Vietnam....

, the Catholic head of the Council of Ministers. Bài was highly regarded among the French and Diệm's religious and family ties impressed him. The French were impressed by his work ethic but were irritated by his frequent calls to grant more autonomy to Vietnamese. Diệm said that he contemplated resigning but encouragement from the populace convinced him to persist. He first encountered communists distributing propaganda while riding horseback through the region near Quảng Trị
Quang Tri
Quảng Trị is a town district of Quang Tri province in the North Central Coastal region of Vietnam. Significantly, it was the only South Vietnamese provincial capital to be captured by the North Vietnamese forces for a limited period in the 1972 offensive....

. Diệm involved himself in anti-communist activities for the first time, printing his own pamphlets.

In 1929, he helped to round up communist agitators in his administrative area. He was rewarded with the promotion to the governorship of Binh Thuan Province
Binh Thuan Province
Bình Thuận is a province of Vietnam. It is located on the country's South Central Coast, not far from Ho Chi Minh City. It is sometimes seen as part of the Southeast Region. Binh Thuan is known for its scenery and for its good beaches...

, and in 1930 and 1931 suppressed the first peasant revolts organised by the communists, in collaboration with French forces. During the violent events, many villagers were raped and murdered. In 1933, with the return of Bảo Đại
Bảo Đài
Bảo Đài is a commune and village in Lục Nam District, Bac Giang Province, in northeastern Vietnam.-References:...

 to ascend the throne, Diệm was appointed by the French to be his interior minister following lobbying by Bài. After calling for the French to introduce a Vietnamese legislature, he resigned after three months in office when this was rejected. He was stripped of his decorations and titles and threatened with arrest.

For the next decade, Diệm lived as a private citizen with his family, although he was kept under surveillance. He was to have no formal job for 21 years. He spent his time on reading, meditating, attending church, gardening, hunting and amateur photography. Being a conservative, Diệm was not a believer in revolutions and confined his nationalist activities to occasional trips to Saigon to meet with Phan Bội Châu
Phan Boi Chau
Phan Bội Châu was a pioneer of Vietnamese 20th century nationalism. In 1903, he formed a revolutionary organization called the “Reformation Society” ....

. With the start of the Second World War in the Pacific, he attempted to persuade the invading Japanese forces to declare independence for Vietnam in 1942 but was ignored. He founded a secret political party, the Association for the Restoration of Great Vietnam. When its existence was discovered in the summer of 1944, the French declared Diệm to be a subversive and ordered his arrest. He fled to Saigon disguised as a Japanese officer. In 1945, the Japanese offered him the premiership of a puppet regime under Bảo Đại which they organised upon leaving the country. He declined initially, but regretted his decision and attempted to reclaim the offer. Bảo Đại had already given the post to another candidate and Diệm avoided the stigma of being a collaborationist. In September 1945, after the Japanese withdrawal, Hồ Chí Minh
Ho Chi Minh
Hồ Chí Minh , born Nguyễn Sinh Cung and also known as Nguyễn Ái Quốc, was a Vietnamese Marxist-Leninist revolutionary leader who was prime minister and president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam...

 proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
North Vietnam
The Democratic Republic of Vietnam , was a communist state that ruled the northern half of Vietnam from 1954 until 1976 following the Geneva Conference and laid claim to all of Vietnam from 1945 to 1954 during the First Indochina War, during which they controlled pockets of territory throughout...

, his Việt Minh
Viet Minh
Việt Minh was a national independence coalition formed at Pac Bo on May 19, 1941. The Việt Minh initially formed to seek independence for Vietnam from the French Empire. When the Japanese occupation began, the Việt Minh opposed Japan with support from the United States and the Republic of China...

 began fighting the French. Diệm attempted to travel to Huế to dissuade Bảo Đại from joining Hồ, but was arrested by the Việt Minh along the way and exiled to a highland village near the border. He might have died of malaria, dysentery and influenza had the local tribesmen not nursed him back to health. Six months later, he was taken to meet Hồ in Hanoi, but refused to join the Việt Minh, assailing Hồ for the death of his brother Khoi. Khoi had been buried alive by Việt Minh cadres.

Diệm continued to attempt to gather support for himself on an anti-Việt Minh platform. Despite having little success, Ho was sufficiently irritated to order his arrest. Diem narrowly evaded arrest but was given respite in November 1946 when clashes between the French and Vietminh escalated into full scale war, forcing to Việt Minh to divert their resources to fighting. Diem then moved south to the Saigon region to live with Thuc. Diem then jointly founded the Vietnam National Alliance, which called for France to grant Vietnam dominion status similar to the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

. The alliance was sufficient to generate support to fund newspapers in Hanoi and Saigon respectively. Both were shut down; the editor in Hanoi was arrested and hit men were hired to kill his Saigon counterpart. Diem's activities had gained him substantial publicity and when France decided to make concessions to placate nationalist agitators, they asked him to lobby Bảo Đại to join them. Diem gave up when Bảo Đại made a deal which he felt to be soft, and returned to Huế. In the meantime, the French had started the State of Vietnam
State of Vietnam
The State of Vietnam was a state that claimed authority over all of Vietnam during the First Indochina War, and replaced the Provisional Central Government of Vietnam . The provisional government was a brief transitional administration between colonial Cochinchina and an independent state...

 and Diem refused Bảo Đại's offer to become the Prime Minister. He then published a new manifesto in newspapers proclaiming a third force different to communism and French colonialism, but raised little interest. In 1950, the Việt Minh lost patience sentenced him to death in absentia, and the French refused to protect him. Ho's cadres tried to kill him while he was traveling to visit his elder brother Ngo Dinh Thuc in the Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of . The size of the area covered by water depends on the season.The...

, where he was the bishop of the Vĩnh Long diocese. Diem then left Vietnam in 1950.

Exile

Diem applied for permission to travel to Rome for the Holy Year celebrations at the Vatican. After gaining French permission he left in August with Thuc, apparently destined to become a politically irrelevant figure. Before going to Europe, Diem went to Japan, where he intended to meet Cường Để to enlist support to seize power. Neither this nor an attempt to woo help from General Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

, the American supreme commander in occupied Japan, yielded meetings.

A friend managed to organise a meeting with Wesley Fishel, an American academic who had done consultancy work for the United States government. Fishel was a proponent of the anti-colonial, anti-communist third force doctrine in Asia and was impressed with Diem. He helped Diem to organise contacts and meetings in the United States to enlist support. It was an opportune time for Diem, with the outbreak of the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 and McCarthyism
McCarthyism
McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by...

 helping to make Vietnamese anti-communists a sought after commodity in America. Diem was given a reception at the State Department with the Acting Secretary of State James Webb
James E. Webb
James Edwin Webb was an American government official who served as the second administrator of NASA from February 14, 1961 to October 7, 1968....

. Possibly intimidated, he gave a weak performance in which Thuc did much of the talking.

As a result, no further audiences with notable officials were afforded to him. However, he did meet Cardinal Francis Spellman, regarded as the most politically powerful cleric of his time. Spellman had studied with Thuc in Rome in the 1930s and was to become one of Diem's most powerful advocates. Diem obtained an audience with Pope Pius XII in Rome before further lobbying across Europe. Diem also attempted to convince Bảo Đại to make him the Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam but was turned down. Diệm returned to the United States to continue lobbying and in 1951 was able to secure an audience with Secretary of State Dean Acheson
Dean Acheson
Dean Gooderham Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State in the administration of President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War...

. During the next three years he lived at Spellman's Maryknoll seminary in Lakewood Township, New Jersey
Lakewood Township, New Jersey
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 60,352 people, 19,876 households, and 13,356 families residing in the township. The population density was 2,431.8 people per square mile . There were 21,214 housing units at an average density of 854.8 per square mile...

 and occasionally at another seminary in Ossining, New York
Ossining (village), New York
Ossining is a village in Westchester County, New York, United States. The population was 25,060 at the 2010 census. As a village, it is located in the Town of Ossining.-Geography:Ossining borders the eastern shores of the widest part of the Hudson River....

.

Cardinal Spellman helped Diệm to garner support among right-wing and Catholic circles. Diem toured the East Coast, speaking at universities, arguing that Vietnam could only be saved for the "free world" if the US sponsored a government of nationalists who were opposed to both the Việt Minh and the French. He was appointed as a consultant to Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Michigan State University is a public research university in East Lansing, Michigan, USA. Founded in 1855, it was the pioneer land-grant institution and served as a model for future land-grant colleges in the United States under the 1862 Morrill Act.MSU pioneered the studies of packaging,...

's Government Research Bureau, where Fishel worked. MSU was administering government-sponsored assistance programs for cold war allies, and Diệm helped Fishel to lay the foundation for a program later implemented in South Vietnam, the Michigan State University Vietnam Advisory Group
Michigan State University Vietnam Advisory Group
The Michigan State University Vietnam Advisory Group was a program of technical assistance provided to the government of South Vietnam as an effort in state-building by the U.S...

. As French power in Vietnam declined, Diệm's support in America made his stock rise.

With the fall of Dien Bien Phu
Dien Bien Phu
Điện Biên Phủ is a city in northwestern Vietnam. It is the capital of Dien Bien province, and is known for the events there during the First Indochina War, the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, during which the region was a breadbasket for the Việt Minh.-Population:...

 in 1954 to the Vietminh, French control of Vietnam collapsed and Bảo Đại needed foreign help to sustain his State of Vietnam. Realising Diệm's popularity among American policymakers, he chose Diệm's youngest brother Ngo Dinh Luyen
Ngo Dinh Luyen
Ngô Đình Luyện was a brother of South Vietnam’s first President, Ngô Đình Diệm, Provincial Governor Ngô Ðình Khôi, and of Archbishop Ngô Đình Thục. Ngô Đình Diệm appointed him as ambassador to the United Kingdom...

, who was studying in Europe at the time, to be part of his delegation at the 1954 Geneva Conference to determine the future of Indochina. Luyen represented Bảo Đại in his dealings with the Americans, who understood this to be an expression of interest in Diệm. With the backing of the Eisenhower administration, Bảo Đại named Diệm as the Prime Minister. The appointment was widely condemned by French officials, who felt that Diệm was incompetent, with the Prime Minister Mendes-France declaring Diệm to be a "fanatic".

The Geneva accords resulted in Vietnam being partitioned temporarily at the 17th parallel, pending elections in 1956 to reunify the country. The Vietminh controlled the north, while the French backed State of Vietnam controlled the south with Diệm as the Prime Minister. French Indochina was to be dissolved at the start of 1955. Diệm's South Vietnamese delegation chose not to sign the accords, refusing to have half the country under communist rule, but the agreement went into effect regardless.

Diệm arrived at Tan Son Nhut airport in Saigon on June 26, where only a few hundred people turned out to greet him, mainly Catholics. He managed only one wave after getting into his vehicle and did not smile. He was not a man of the people and did not intend to become one, being more interested in commanding respect than popular affection.

Consolidation of power

The accords allowed for freedom of movement between the two zones until October 1954; this was to put a large strain on the south. Diệm had only expected 10,000 refugees, but by August, there were over 200,000 waiting in Hanoi and Haiphong
Haiphong
, also Haiphong, is the third most populous city in Vietnam. The name means, "coastal defence".-History:Hai Phong was originally founded by Lê Chân, the female general of a Vietnamese revolution against the Chinese led by the Trưng Sisters in the year 43 C.E.The area which is now known as Duong...

 to be evacuated; the migration helped to strengthen Diệm's political base of support. Before the partition, the majority of Vietnam's Catholic population lived in the north. After the borders were sealed, this majority was now under Diệm's rule. The US Navy program Operation Passage to Freedom
Operation Passage to Freedom
Operation Passage to Freedom was the term used by the United States Navy to describe its transportation in 1954–55 of 310,000 Vietnamese civilians, soldiers and non-Vietnamese members of the French Army from communist North Vietnam to South Vietnam...

 saw up to one million North Vietnamese move south, most of them Catholics. The CIA's Edward Lansdale
Edward Lansdale
Edward Geary Lansdale was a United States Air Force officer who served in the Office of Strategic Services and the Central Intelligence Agency. He rose to the rank of Major General and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 1963. He was an early proponent of more aggressive US actions in...

, who had been posted to help Diệm strengthen his rule, led a propaganda campaign to encourage as many refugees to move south as possible. This effort was twofold: to strengthen the Catholic population specifically and the population generally to help win the 1956 reunification elections. This included sending South Vietnamese agents into the north to spread rumours of impending doom, such as Chinese invasion and pillaging, hiring soothsayers to predict disaster under communism, and claiming that the Americans would use nuclear weapons on North Vietnam. Diệm also used slogans such as "Christ has gone south" and "the Virgin Mary had departed from the North", alleging anti-Catholic persecution under Ho Chi Minh. Over 60% of northern Catholics moved to Diệm's South Vietnam, providing him with a source of loyal support.

Diệm's position at the time was weak; Bảo Đại disliked Diệm and appointed him mainly to political imperatives. The French saw him as hostile and hoped that his rule would collapse. At the time, the French Expeditionary Corps was the most powerful military force in the south; Diệm's Vietnamese National Army was essentially organised and trained by the French. Its officers were installed by the French and the chief of staff General Nguyen Van Hinh
Nguyen Van Hinh
Nguyễn Văn Hinh , was appointed the Vietnamese National Army Chief of Staff by Emperor Bảo Đại. On November 8, 1954, after the First Indochina War he left South Vietnam in exile for France....

 was a French citizen; Hinh loathed Diệm and frequently disobeyed him. Diệm also had to contend with two religious sects, the Cao Dai
Cao Dai
Cao Đài is a syncretistic, monotheistic religion, officially established in the city of Tay Ninh, southern Vietnam, in 1926. Đạo Cao Đài is the religion's shortened name, the full name is Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ...

 and Hoa Hao
Hoa Hao
Hòa Hảo is a religious tradition, based on Buddhism, founded in 1939 by Huỳnh Phú Sổ, a native of the Mekong River Delta region of southern Vietnam. Adherents consider Sổ to be a prophet, and Hòa Hảo a continuation of a 19th-century Buddhist ministry known as Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương...

, who wielded private armies in the Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of . The size of the area covered by water depends on the season.The...

, with the Cao Dai estimated to have 25,000 men. The Việt Minh was also estimated to have control over a third of the country. The situation was worse in the capital, where the Binh Xuyen
Binh Xuyen
Bình Xuyên, often linked to its infamous leader, General Le van "Bay" Vien, was an independent military force within the Vietnamese National Army whose leaders once had lived outside the law and had sided with the Viet Minh...

 organised crime syndicate boasted an army of 40,000 and controlled a vice empire of brothels, casinos, extortion rackets, and opium factories unparalleled in Asia. Bảo Đại had given the Binh Xuyen control of the national police for 1.25 m USD, creating a situation that the Americans likened to Chicago under Al Capone
Al Capone
Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone was an American gangster who led a Prohibition-era crime syndicate. The Chicago Outfit, which subsequently became known as the "Capones", was dedicated to smuggling and bootlegging liquor, and other illegal activities such as prostitution, in Chicago from the early...

 in the 1920s. In effect, Diệm's control did not extend beyond his palace.

In August, Hinh launched a series of public attacks on Diệm, proclaiming that South Vietnam needed a "strong and popular" leader; Hinh bragged that he was preparing a coup. This was thwarted when Lansdale arranged overseas holiday invitations for Hinh's officers. Fearing Diệm's collapse, nine members of his government resigned during Hinh's abortive bid for power. Despite its failure, the French continued to encourage Diệm's enemies in an attempt to destabilize him.

Establishment of the Republic of Vietnam

Diệm's appointment came after the French had been defeated at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu
Battle of Dien Bien Phu
The Battle of Dien Bien Phu was the climactic confrontation of the First Indochina War between the French Union's French Far East Expeditionary Corps and Viet Minh communist revolutionaries. The battle occurred between March and May 1954 and culminated in a comprehensive French defeat that...

 and were ready to withdraw from Indochina
Indochina
The Indochinese peninsula, is a region in Southeast Asia. It lies roughly southwest of China, and east of India. The name has its origins in the French, Indochine, as a combination of the names of "China" and "India", and was adopted when French colonizers in Vietnam began expanding their territory...

. At the start of 1955, French Indochina
French Indochina
French Indochina was part of the French colonial empire in southeast Asia. A federation of the three Vietnamese regions, Tonkin , Annam , and Cochinchina , as well as Cambodia, was formed in 1887....

 was dissolved, leaving Diệm in temporary control of the south. A referendum was scheduled for October 23, 1955 to determine the future direction of the south. It was contested by Bảo Đại
Bảo Đài
Bảo Đài is a commune and village in Lục Nam District, Bac Giang Province, in northeastern Vietnam.-References:...

, the Emperor, advocating the restoration of the monarchy, while Diệm ran on a republican platform. The elections were held, with Diệm's brother and confidant Ngô Đình Nhu, the leader of the family's Can Lao Party, which supplied Diệm's electoral base, organising and supervising the elections. Campaigning for Bảo Đại was prohibited, and the result was rigged, with Bảo Đại supporters attacked by Nhu's workers. Diệm recorded 98.2% of the vote, including 605,025 votes in Saigon, where only 450,000 voters were registered. Diệm's tally also exceeded the registration numbers in other districts. Three days later, Diệm proclaimed the formation of the Republic of Vietnam, naming himself President.

Under the 1954 Geneva Accords
Geneva Conference (1954)
The Geneva Conference was a conference which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, whose purpose was to attempt to find a way to unify Korea and discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indochina...

, Vietnam was to undergo elections in 1956 to reunify the country. Diệm, noting that South Vietnam was not a party to the convention, canceled these. Criticising the Communists, he justified the electoral cancellation by claiming that the 1956 elections would be "meaningful only on the condition that they are absolutely free", despite his numerically impossible tally in the 1955 contest.

After coming under pressure from within the country and the United States, Diệm agreed to hold legislative elections in August 1959 for South Vietnam. Newspapers were not allowed to publish names of independent candidates or their policies, and political meetings exceeding five people were prohibited. Candidates were disqualified for petty reasons such as acts of vandalism against campaign posters. In the rural areas, candidates who ran were threatened using charges of conspiracy with the Viet Cong, which carried the death penalty. Phan Quang Dan
Phan Quang Dan
Phan Quang Đán was a Vietnamese political opposition figure who was one of only two non-government politicians who won a seat in the 1959 South Vietnamese election for the National Assembly. Subsequently, he was arrested by the forces of President Ngo Dinh Diem and not allowed to take his seat...

, the government's most prominent critic, was allowed to run. Despite the deployment of 8,000 ARVN
Army of the Republic of Vietnam
The Army of the Republic of Viet Nam , sometimes parsimoniously referred to as the South Vietnamese Army , was the land-based military forces of the Republic of Vietnam , which existed from October 26, 1955 until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975...

 plainclothes troops into his district to vote, Dan still won with a 6–1 ratio. The busing of soldiers occurred across the country, and when the new assembly convened, Dan was arrested.

Rule

Madame Nhu
Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu
Trần Lệ Xuân , popularly known as Madame Nhu, was considered the first lady of South Vietnam from 1955 to 1963. She was the wife of Ngo Dinh Nhu who was the brother and chief adviser to President Ngo Dinh Diem...

, the wife of his brother Nhu, was South Vietnam's First Lady
First Lady
First Lady or First Gentlemanis the unofficial title used in some countries for the spouse of an elected head of state.It is not normally used to refer to the spouse or partner of a prime minister; the husband or wife of the British Prime Minister is usually informally referred to as prime...

, and a Catholic convert herself, led the way in Diệm's programs to reform Saigon society in accordance with Catholic values. Brothels and opium den
Opium den
An opium den was an establishment where opium was sold and smoked. Opium dens were prevalent in many parts of the world in the 19th century, most notably China, Southeast Asia, North America and France...

s were closed, divorce and abortion made illegal, and adultery laws strengthened. Diệm also won a street war with the private army of the Binh Xuyen
Binh Xuyen
Bình Xuyên, often linked to its infamous leader, General Le van "Bay" Vien, was an independent military force within the Vietnamese National Army whose leaders once had lived outside the law and had sided with the Viet Minh...

 organised crime syndicate of the Cholon brothels and gambling houses who had enjoyed special favors under the French and Bảo Đại. He further dismantled the private armies of the Cao Dai
Cao Dai
Cao Đài is a syncretistic, monotheistic religion, officially established in the city of Tay Ninh, southern Vietnam, in 1926. Đạo Cao Đài is the religion's shortened name, the full name is Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ...

 and Hoa Hao
Hoa Hao
Hòa Hảo is a religious tradition, based on Buddhism, founded in 1939 by Huỳnh Phú Sổ, a native of the Mekong River Delta region of southern Vietnam. Adherents consider Sổ to be a prophet, and Hòa Hảo a continuation of a 19th-century Buddhist ministry known as Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương...

 religious sects, which controlled parts of the Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of . The size of the area covered by water depends on the season.The...

. Diệm was also passionately anti-Communist. Tortures and killings of "communist suspects" were committed on a daily basis. The death toll was put at around 50,000 with 75,000 imprisonments, and Diệm's effort extended beyond communists to anti-communist dissidents and anti-corruption whistleblowers.

As opposition to Diệm's rule in South Vietnam grew, a low-level insurgency began to take shape there in 1957. Finally, in January 1959, under pressure from southern cadres who were being successfully targeted by Diệm's secret police, Hanoi's Central Committee issued a secret resolution authorizing the use of armed struggle in the South. On December 20, 1960, under instruction from Hanoi, southern communists established the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam
National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam
The Vietcong , or National Liberation Front , was a political organization and army in South Vietnam and Cambodia that fought the United States and South Vietnamese governments during the Vietnam War . It had both guerrilla and regular army units, as well as a network of cadres who organized...

 in order to overthrow the government of the south. The NLF was made up of two distinct groups: South Vietnamese intellectuals who opposed the government and were nationalists; and communists who had remained in the south after the partition and regrouping of 1954 as well as those who had since come from the north, together with local peasants. While there were many non-communist members of the NLF, they were subject to the control of the party cadres and increasingly side-lined as the conflict continued; they did, however, enable the NLF to portray itself as a primarily nationalist, rather than communist, movement.

The cornerstone of Diệm's counterinsurgency effort was the Strategic Hamlet Program
Strategic Hamlet Program
The Strategic Hamlet Program was a plan by the governments of South Vietnam and the United States during the Vietnam War to combat the Communist insurgency by means of population transfer.In 1961, U.S...

, which called for the consolidation of 14,000 villages of South Vietnam into 11,000 secure hamlets, each with its own houses, schools, wells, and watchtowers. The hamlets were intended to isolate the NLF
National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam
The Vietcong , or National Liberation Front , was a political organization and army in South Vietnam and Cambodia that fought the United States and South Vietnamese governments during the Vietnam War . It had both guerrilla and regular army units, as well as a network of cadres who organized...

 from the villages, their source of recruiting soldiers, supplies and information.

Assassination attempts

The communists in southern Vietnam resolved that "if we are able to kill Ngo Dinh Diem, the leader of the current fascists dictatorial puppet government, the situation would develop along lines more favourable to our side." Accordingly, on February 22, 1957, when Diem made a visit to an economic fair in Ban Me Thuot, a communist cadre named Ha Minh Tri carried out a directive to assassinate the president. He approached Diem and fired a pistol from close range, but missed, hitting the Secretary of Agrarian Reform's left arm. The weapon jammed and security overpowered Tri before he was able to fire another shot. Diem was unmoved by the incident. There was a further attempt to assassinate Ngo (as well as his family) in 1962 when two air force officers —acting in unison —bombed the presidential palace.

International diplomacy

Attempted coup

Diệm was the subject of a failed coup, which occurred in 1960.

Land policy

During the 1946–54 war against the French Union
French Union
The French Union was a political entity created by the French Fourth Republic to replace the old French colonial system, the "French Empire" and to abolish its "indigenous" status.-History:...

 forces, the Việt Minh, having gained control of parts of southern Vietnam, initiated land reform. During the period of war, rent collection, which hovered at around 50–70%, was impossible in some parts of the country, or the Việt Minh had compelled landlords to seek safety in the city and confiscated their land, distributing it to the peasants. When Diệm came to power, he reversed these reallocations as upper-class landowners were part of his ideological support base. In the Mekong Delta, 0.025% of landowners owned 40% of the land; most of the land was owned by absentee landlords and worked by tenant farmers.

This generated resentment among the populace, as land ownership was highly valued by Vietnamese society. Diệm declared that landlords could collect no more than 25%, but this was not enforced and in some cases the rent levels were higher than those under French colonisation. Under U.S. pressure, in 1956, he limited individual land holdings to 1.15 km², and reimbursed the landlords for the excess, which he sold to peasants. Many landlords evaded the redistribution by transferring the property to the name of family members.

Additionally, the ceiling limit was more than 30 times that allowed in South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

 and Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, and the 370000 acres (1,497.3 km²) of Catholic Church land were exempted. As a result, only 13% of the South Vietnam's land was redistributed, and by the end of his regime, only 10% of the tenants had received any land, at a high cost. This policy failure generated anger, and in turn sympathy to the Việt Minh who had given the peasants free land. At the end of Diệm's rule, 10% of the population owned 55% of the land.

Believing that the central highlands may be of strategic importance to the Viet Cong or in a potential invasion by North Vietnam
North Vietnam
The Democratic Republic of Vietnam , was a communist state that ruled the northern half of Vietnam from 1954 until 1976 following the Geneva Conference and laid claim to all of Vietnam from 1945 to 1954 during the First Indochina War, during which they controlled pockets of territory throughout...

, Diệm decided to construct a Maginot Line
Maginot Line
The Maginot Line , named after the French Minister of War André Maginot, was a line of concrete fortifications, tank obstacles, artillery casemates, machine gun posts, and other defences, which France constructed along its borders with Germany and Italy, in light of its experience in World War I,...

 of settlements. The area, inhabited by Montagnard indigenous people, had been largely allowed local autonomy in previous times, and the locals distrusted ethnic Vietnamese. Diệm initiated a program of internal migration where 210,000 Vietnamese, mainly Catholics, were moved to Montagnard land in fortified settlements. When the Montagnards protested, Diệm's forces confiscated their spears and bows, which they used to hunt for daily sustenance. Since then, and to the present day, Vietnam has been faced with a Montagnard insurgent separatist movement.

Government policy towards Buddhists

In a country where surveys of the religious composition estimated the Buddhist majority to be between 70 and 90 percent, Diệm's policies generated claims of religious bias. As a member of the Catholic Vietnamese
Roman Catholicism in Vietnam
The Roman Catholic Church in Vietnam is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome. Vietnam has the fifth largest Catholic population in Asia, after the Philippines, India, China and Indonesia....

 minority, he is widely regarded by historians as having pursued pro-Catholic policies that antagonized many Buddhists. Specifically, the government was regarded as being biased towards Catholics in public service and military promotions, as well as the allocation of land, business favors and tax concessions. Diệm also once told a high-ranking officer, forgetting that he was a Buddhist, "Put your Catholic officers in sensitive places. They can be trusted." Many officers in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam
Army of the Republic of Vietnam
The Army of the Republic of Viet Nam , sometimes parsimoniously referred to as the South Vietnamese Army , was the land-based military forces of the Republic of Vietnam , which existed from October 26, 1955 until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975...

 converted to Catholicism in the belief that their military prospects depended on it.

Additionally, the distribution of firearms to village self-defense militias intended to repel Viet Cong guerrillas saw weapons only given to Catholics, with Buddhists in the army being denied promotion if they refused to convert to Catholicism. Some Catholic priests ran their own private armies, and in some areas forced conversions, looting, shelling and demolition of pagodas occurred. Some Buddhist villages converted en masse in order to receive aid or avoid being forcibly resettled by Diệm's regime.

The Catholic Church was the largest landowner in the country, and the "private" status that was imposed on Buddhism by the French, which required official permission to conduct public Buddhist activities, was not repealed by Diệm. The land owned by the Catholic Church was exempt from land reform. Catholics were also de facto exempt from the corvée
Corvée
Corvée is unfree labour, often unpaid, that is required of people of lower social standing and imposed on them by the state or a superior . The corvée was the earliest and most widespread form of taxation, which can be traced back to the beginning of civilization...

 labor that the government obliged all citizens to perform; U.S. aid was disproportionately distributed to Catholic majority villages. Under Diệm, the Catholic Church enjoyed special exemptions in property acquisition, and in 1959, Diệm dedicated his country to the Virgin Mary. The white and gold Vatican flag was regularly flown at all major public events in South Vietnam. U.S. Aid supplies tended to go to Catholics, and the newly constructed Hue
Hue University
Huế University is a university located in Huế, the former imperial capital of Vietnam; this university is one of the important regional universities of Vietnam...

 and Dalat
Dalat University
Da Lat University is a university in the city of Da Lat, Lam Dong Province, Vietnam. The original Da Lat University was established in 1957 — after support of and requests by Archbishop Pierre Martin Ngô Đình Thục — by the Council of Vietnamese Catholic Bishops as a centre for...

 universities were placed under Catholic authority to foster a Catholic-skewed academic environment.

Buddhist crisis

The regime's relations with the U.S. worsened during 1963, as discontent among South Vietnam's Buddhist majority was simultaneously heightened. In May, in the central city of Huế
Hue
Hue is one of the main properties of a color, defined technically , as "the degree to which a stimulus can be describedas similar to or different from stimuli that are described as red, green, blue, and yellow,"...

, where Diệm's elder brother was the archbishop, Buddhists were prohibited from displaying Buddhist flags during Vesak
Vesak
Vesākha is a holiday observed traditionally by Buddhists in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the South East Asian countries of Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, and Indonesia...

 celebrations commemorating the birth of Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

 when the government cited a regulation prohibiting the display of non-government flags. A few days earlier, Catholics were allowed to fly religious flags at another celebration where the regulation was not enforced. This led to a protest led by Thich Tri Quang
Thich Tri Quang
Thích Trí Quang is a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk best known for his role in leading South Vietnam’s Buddhist population during the Buddhist crisis in 1963....

 against the government, which was suppressed by Diệm's forces, killing nine unarmed civilians. Diệm and his supporters blamed the Viet Cong for the deaths and claimed that the protesters were responsible for the violence. Although the provincial chief expressed sorrow for the killings and offered to compensate the victims' families, they resolutely denied that government forces were responsible for the killings and blamed the Viet Cong.

The Buddhists pushed for a five point agreement: freedom to fly religious flags, an end to arbitrary arrests, compensation for the Huế victims, punishment for the officials responsible and religious equality. Diệm labeled the Buddhists as "damn fools" for demanding something that, according to him, they already enjoyed. He banned demonstrations, and ordered his forces to arrest those who engaged in civil disobedience. On June 3, 1963, protesters attempted to march towards Tu Dam Pagoda. Six waves of ARVN tear gas and attack dogs failed to disperse the crowds, and finally brownish-red liquid chemicals were doused on praying protesters, resulting in 67 being hospitalised for chemical injuries. A curfew was subsequently enacted.

The turning point came in June when a Buddhist monk, Thích Quảng Đức, set himself on fire in the middle of a busy Saigon intersection in protest of Diệm's policies; photos of this event were disseminated around the world, and for many people these pictures came to represent the failure of Diệm's government. A number of other monks publicly self-immolated
Self-immolation
Self-immolation refers to setting oneself on fire, often as a form of protest or for the purposes of martyrdom or suicide. It has centuries-long traditions in some cultures, while in modern times it has become a type of radical political protest...

, and the U.S. grew increasingly frustrated with the unpopular leader's public image in both Vietnam and the United States. Diệm used his conventional anti-communist argument, identifying the dissenters as communists.

As demonstrations against his government continued throughout the summer, the special forces loyal to Diệm's brother Nhu conducted an August raid of the Xa Loi Pagoda
Xa Loi Pagoda raids
The Xa Loi Pagoda raids were a series of synchronized attacks on various Buddhist pagodas in the major cities of South Vietnam shortly after midnight on August 21, 1963...

 in Saigon. The Pagodas were vandalised, monks beaten, the cremated remains of Thích Quảng Đức, which included a heart which did not disintegrate, were confiscated. Simultaneous raids were carried out across the country, with the Tu Dam Pagoda
Tu Dam Pagoda
Tu Dam Temple is a Buddhist temple in the central city of Huế in Vietnam. Tu Dam Temple is located on a street of the same name, in Trường An ward of Huế.-History:...

 in Huế being looted, the statue of Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

 demolished and a body of a deceased monk confiscated. When the populace came to the defense of the monks, the resulting clashes saw 30 civilians killed and 200 wounded. In all 1400 monks were arrested, and some thirty were injured across the country. The U.S. indicated their disapproval of Diệm's administration when ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. was a Republican United States Senator from Massachusetts and a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, South Vietnam, West Germany, and the Holy See . He was the Republican nominee for Vice President in the 1960 Presidential election.-Early life:Lodge was born in Nahant,...

 visited the Pagoda ex post facto. No further mass Buddhist protests occurred during the remainder of Diệm's rule.

During this time, Madame Nhu, a former Buddhist herself, who had converted to Catholicism, who was the de facto first lady because of Diệm's bachelor life, inflamed the situation by mockingly applauding the suicides, referring to them as "barbecues" while Nhu, stated "If the Buddhists want to have another barbecue, I will be glad to supply the gasoline."
The pagoda raids stoked widespread public disquiet in the previously apolitical Saigon public. Students at Saigon University
Saigon University
Saigon University is a public university in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This university was established in 25 April 2007 by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, operating under the People's Committee in Ho Chi Minh City. This university was founded on the basis of the Ho Chi Minh City College...

 boycotted classes and rioted, which led to arrests, imprisonments and the closure of the university; this was repeated at Huế's University. When high school students demonstrated, Diệm arrested them as well; over 1,000 students from Saigon's leading high school, most of them children of Saigon public servants, were sent to re-education camps. Children as young as five were also sent to these camps on charges of anti-government graffiti.

Diệm's foreign minister Vu Van Mau resigned, shaving his head like a Buddhist monk in protest. When he attempted to leave the country on a religious pilgrimage, Diệm had him jailed.

Coup and assassination


Despite resistance from U.S. President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 (Douglas, 2009), Henry Cabot Lodge
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. was a Republican United States Senator from Massachusetts and a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, South Vietnam, West Germany, and the Holy See . He was the Republican nominee for Vice President in the 1960 Presidential election.-Early life:Lodge was born in Nahant,...

, the American ambassador
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

 to South Vietnam, refused to meet with Diệm. Upon hearing that a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 was being designed by ARVN
Army of the Republic of Vietnam
The Army of the Republic of Viet Nam , sometimes parsimoniously referred to as the South Vietnamese Army , was the land-based military forces of the Republic of Vietnam , which existed from October 26, 1955 until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975...

 generals led by General Dương Văn Minh
Duong Van Minh
Minh was born on 16 February 1916 in Mỹ Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, the son of a wealthy landowner who served in a prominent position in the Finance Ministry of the French colonial administration...

, Lodge gave secret assurances to the generals that the U.S. would not interfere. Dương Văn Minh and his co-conspirators overthrew the government on November 1, 1963. The coup was very swift. On November 1, with only the palace guard remaining to defend President Diệm and his younger brother, Ngô Đình Nhu, the generals called the palace offering Diệm exile if he surrendered. However, that evening, Diệm and his entourage escaped via an underground passage to Cholon, where they were captured the following morning, November 2. The brothers were killed in the back of an armoured personnel carrier
Armoured personnel carrier
An armoured personnel carrier is an armoured fighting vehicle designed to transport infantry to the battlefield.APCs are usually armed with only a machine gun although variants carry recoilless rifles, anti-tank guided missiles , or mortars...

 with a bayonet
Bayonet
A bayonet is a knife, dagger, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit in, on, over or underneath the muzzle of a rifle, musket or similar weapon, effectively turning the gun into a spear...

 and revolver
Revolver
A revolver is a repeating firearm that has a cylinder containing multiple chambers and at least one barrel for firing. The first revolver ever made was built by Elisha Collier in 1818. The percussion cap revolver was invented by Samuel Colt in 1836. This weapon became known as the Colt Paterson...

 by Captain Nguyen Van Nhung
Nguyen Van Nhung
Major Nguyễn Văn Nhung was an officer in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam . After joining the French Army in 1944 during the colonial era of Vietnam, he soon met and became the aide-de-camp and bodyguard of Dương Văn Minh, and spent the rest of his career in this role as Minh rose up the ranks...

 while en route to the Vietnamese Joint General Staff headquarters. Diệm was buried in an unmarked grave
Unmarked grave
The phrase unmarked grave has metaphorical meaning in the context of cultures that mark burial sites.As a figure of speech, a common meaning of the term "unmarked grave" is consignment to oblivion, i.e., an ignominious end. A grave monument is a sign of respect and fondness, erected with the...

 in a cemetery
Cemetery
A cemetery is a place in which dead bodies and cremated remains are buried. The term "cemetery" implies that the land is specifically designated as a burying ground. Cemeteries in the Western world are where the final ceremonies of death are observed...

 next to the house of the U.S. ambassador.

Aftermath

Upon learning of Diệm's ouster and death, Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh
Hồ Chí Minh , born Nguyễn Sinh Cung and also known as Nguyễn Ái Quốc, was a Vietnamese Marxist-Leninist revolutionary leader who was prime minister and president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam...

 reportedly said, "I can scarcely believe the Americans would be so stupid." The North Vietnamese Politburo was more explicit, predicting: "The consequences of the 1 November coup d'état will be contrary to the calculations of the U.S. imperialists ... Diệm was one of the strongest individuals resisting the people and Communism. Everything that could be done in an attempt to crush the revolution was carried out by Diệm. Diệm was one of the most competent lackeys of the U.S. imperialists ... Among the anti-Communists in South Vietnam or exiled in other countries, no one has sufficient political assets and abilities to cause others to obey. Therefore, the lackey administration cannot be stabilized. The coup d'état on 1 November 1963 will not be the last."

After Diệm's assassination, South Vietnam was unable to establish a stable government and numerous coups took place during the first several years after his death. While the U.S. continued to influence South Vietnam's government, the assassination bolstered North Vietnamese attempts to characterize the South Vietnamese as supporters of colonialism.

External links

  • JFK and the Diem Coup – Provided by the National Security Archive
    National Security Archive
    The National Security Archive is a 501 non-governmental, non-profit research and archival institution located in the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.. Founded in 1985 by Scott Armstrong, it archives and publishes declassified U.S. government files concerning selected topics of US...

    .
  • The Pentagon Papers, Vol. 2 Ch. 4 "The Overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem, May–November, 1963", pp. 201–76
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK