I’m Not Wrong, I’m Just Ahead of My Time

I’m Not Wrong, I’m Just Ahead of My Time

November 9, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomenesscultural marxismGeneral CatholichistoryreadingscandalssicknessSocietytrue leadershipunadulterated evilunbelievable BS.
1 comment so far

Four years ago, I posted my opinion, based on quite a bit of evidence, that the United States irrevocably lost the war in Vietnam after the Kennedy administration approved, and helped instigate, the assassination of the only patriot leader of sufficient standing and capability to lead the fledgling nation of South Vietnam through a domestic insurgency and foreign invasion, Ngo Dinh Diem.  I didn’t get much flak for that post – I think it was outside most reader’s area of interest – but I was gratified to see last week that an author has written a book advancing just my point – that Diem was falsely maligned by the US press and a Kennedy administration that badly wanted a pliant stooge leading Vietnam, rather than a dedicated patriot who was vehemently opposed to seeing mass US ground troops taking over the war in his country.  Diem knew that a US takeover of the war would de-legitimize his government and be the perfect propaganda piece for the communists to convince rightly nationalist Vietnamese to oppose the southern government.  This is, to a very large extent, what happened.  US involvement post-Diem expanded massively, successive unstable puppet governments ruled the country until the ineffectual and autocratic Thieu took over, and support for the government of South Vietnam remained divided and tepid, at best.

There is a long post on the book at The Federalist, which my friend, fellow Catholic, and Vietnamese Patriot Hiep Nguyen sent me.  Some excerpts below:

That man is Ngo Dinh Diem, president of the Republic of Vietnam (better known as South Vietnam) from 1955 to 1963, his rule and life cruelly ended in a military coup tacitly supported by the U.S. government. A recent book on Diem’s life, “The Lost Mandate of Heaven: The American Betrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of Vietnam,” by military historian Geoffrey Shaw clarifies why Americans would do well to mourn the tragic loss of a man many deemed to be Vietnam’s best chance of defeating communism……..

[Follows an interlude in which the dominant leftist narrative of Diem as a grasping, incompetent autocrat is described at length.  We’ll skip that]

……..Shaw’s biography of Diem paints a far different picture of “America’s Mandarin.” For starters, Diem was a deeply religious man, whose Catholic faith was central to every decision in his life. Often attracted to the religious life, Diem had to be constantly pushed to embrace his natural skills as an administrator and politician.

Diem had a reputation both as an ascetic scholar and a capable bureaucratic, one who seemed to perfectly fit the role of the ideal Vietnamese Confucian leader. Indeed, as Shaw shows, Ho Chi Minh admired Diem’s austerity, and likely sought to emulate it. Even at the height of his power, Diem lived meagerly, and was known to constantly give money away to any in need. He was known to rise early every day to attend Mass, and worked brutal 16-hour days………

…….The Buddhist protesters who so famously undermined Diem’s regime in the months leading up to his ouster were in fact a minority within the south, incited by Buddhist extremist leaders very likely supported by the communists. Rather than a reflection of the teetering authority of the government, the Buddhist crisis was more likely a propaganda effort to obstruct what so many contemporary accounts and historical documents suggest: Diem and his brother were incrementally winning on both the political and military fronts. [Winning, but as the author notes, incrementally, and not nearly fast enough for the nascent 24 hours news cycle-dominated American politics of the time.  Of course, the problem of instantaneous victory increased exponentially after mass American ground forces were committed, which is the very thing Diem refused to countenance.  He wanted to win the war for the long haul and build up a survivable independent nation at the same time, and had done a good enough job that the North under Nguyen Tat Thanh (Ho Chi Minh) was compelled to basically invade the South with massive ground forces to keep the Viet Cong from being crushed]

So how have we come to have such a skewed perception of Diem and his reign as president of South Vietnam? According to Shaw, two sources share the majority of the blame: an American press heavily biased against Diem, and a circle of senior government officials — led by Averell Harriman and Roger Hilsman — hell-bent on replacing him.

Correspondents from such publications as The New York Times and Washington Post, contrary to their portrayal by Burns and Novick’s television series, were often junior reporters in search of the next sexy story to burnish their credentials. Many spent most of their time in Saigon and other major cities, inevitably drawn into the circles of rumor and intrigue that represented only a segment of Vietnamese society. This created a skewed perception of Vietnamese popular opinion, which was particularly troublesome given that Diem’s efforts were focused largely on protecting and improving the lot of poor South Vietnamese farmers, who made up a majority of the population.

Throughout the Kennedy administration, the press corps published article after article condemning just about everything Diem did, while urging his removal. The media’s presentation of events on the ground were far more negative than those military assessments offered, or those of U.S. Ambassador Frederick Nolting, who supported Diem’s regime. The media’s hatchet job was so over-the-top that U.S. officials on a number of occasions complained directly to the editors of the New York Times and Washington Post[So here we have it, fake news a la the 1960s.  The author is right, most of the reporters in South Vietnam in the early 60s were very junior, and very ambitious.  They were not as intellectually and physically lazy as today’s media, but they were not nearly so well informed as they thought.  They were also heavily biased against Diem for a wide variety of reasons, but more importantly, generally had no idea what they were writing or talking about.  The intricacies of South Vietnamese politics, still confusing even 50 years after the fact, were way, way beyond them. They sought simplistic “good guy bad guy” scenarios to create narratives for the public back home, just as the media does to this day.]

……….As for Kennedy’s administration, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Averell Harriman  [A nominal Republican, but a very liberal, Rockefeller type] led a cadre of officials within the government vehemently opposed to Diem’s regime. Much of this stemmed from Harriman’s distaste for Diem’s attempts to maintain autonomy over his government, the latter often spurning U.S. directives he viewed as misguided, if not a threat to the survival of his country.

Probably the most famous example is Harriman’s support for the neutrality of neighboring Laos, a policy that allowed the communists to take over large parts of the Laotian countryside and use it to transfer fighters and materiel to communist insurgents (the notorious Vietcong) in the south. The route through Laos became known, jokingly, as the “Averell Harriman Memorial Highway.” Diem was adamant in calling this out for what it was: a direct attack on his nation’s security and viability. Harriman, a classic example of a condescending WASP bureaucrat, was widely known to despise Diem for resisting U.S. policy.

Shaw’s research shows it was Harriman who instigated and led growing support within the Kennedy administration for Diem’s removal, consistently setting the tone of cabinet discussions as explicitly anti-Diem. As would be expected, he sought to sideline those individuals — like Nolting — who offered a different, more sympathetic take……….

…………Harriman’s argument — that Diem’s persecution of Buddhists had “made it impossible for the United States to back him” — eventually won in the White House, despite a congressional fact-finding mission in late October 1963 (the month before the assassination) that concluded Washington should stick with Diem. The White House ignored the report, and a wealth of other information, and communicated to Vietnamese military coup plotters they would not oppose Diem’s removal.

The men who supported the coup surely must have known what would happen to Diem and his brother. When the two were discovered inside the Church of Saint Francis Xavier in Cholon on 2 November, soldiers acting on coup leaders’ orders secured them inside a personnel carrier, where their executioner “cut out their gallbladders while they were still alive, and then shot them.”

This was the ignominious end to an American ally, a man whom observers — Americans, French, British, Australian, and even North Vietnamese — believed (or in the case of the communists, feared) was Saigon’s best chance to preserve an independent South Vietnam.

………Ngo Dinh Diem came to power in South Vietnam through the help of the United States. Burns-Novick’s film and Karnow suggest even this was a farce, given Diem’s ultimate rejection of the planned 1956 nationwide elections, though Shaw’s careful research proves this a problematic thesis, as well. Although the communists quite expectedly called “foul” when Diem demurred on elections, Ho Chi Minh’s government had already been in direct violation of the 1954 Geneva Accords by building up their military forces and supporting communist insurgent networks in the south.

Meanwhile, in the north, the communists were busy suppressing revolts, murdering thousands of people during their unpopular and poorly contrived land reform efforts. Moreover, as Shaw argues, their flagrant violation of the Laotian neutrality agreement years later proves the communists would never have allowed a free and fair nationwide election anyway. Diem simply saw the sham for what it was.

Indeed.  Those purported elections, upon which so much of the left-wing criticism of Diem rest, was always going to be a sham. First of all, the North outnumbered the South, even after 1 million mostly Catholic North Vietnamese fled south during the brief period of UN control after the French collapse.  Secondly, with a violently repressive communist government, anyone but a leftist bonehead could predict that the North Vietnamese would vote 100% for the communist government, just as the people of the Soviet Union used to vote 100% for the single-party commie candidate in their sham elections.  Thirdly, as noted, the North had already violated the 1954 accords on numerous fronts.  Only an idiot would submit to an election under such circumstances.

And I think this is the ultimate rub – not so much for the mainline democrats of the day (1956), which were a very different crowd than the democrats of today – for the hardcore leftists in the media and academia who have always held such opprobrium for Diem.  They wanted the North to win. The North were part of the great leftist utopian machine, and thus sacred parts of the worldwide leftist revolutionary element.  Many of these people are the same ones who marched in demonstrations against the war shouting “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh, NLF (National Liberation Front – the Viet Cong) are going to win!”  Diem, an ardent Catholic and anti-communist, was the antithesis in what they wanted to see in government.  Bringing him down would go a very far way to seeing through the ultimate goal of a North Vietnamese communist victory.

I say that is the largely unstated motivation of the historians and media personalities who have blighted Diem’s name.  The government officials complicit in the plot to murder Diem were generally not of this cohort, they were simply liberally minded American incompetents horribly out of their depth and seeking to cover up their role in an unfolding catastrophe.

I think as time goes on there will be a general re-appraisal of Diem’s role and the inevitable events that followed after his death.  I think this historian Shaw (and I have not read the book) is very much on the right track.  Diem was a flawed man, as all men are, but he was by far the best leader the South Vietnamese had, and the one most likely to prevent the country from falling to communism.  It is quite possible to imagine a much different history to that still suffering nation had he not been betrayed by his erstwhile “allies.”

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One comment on “I’m Not Wrong, I’m Just Ahead of My Time

  1. My own experience limited as it was (being at Da Nang AB for 99% of my tour) was that most Vietnamese were too busy scraping out a living for themselves than to worry about politics. Urban and rural living in the South were starkly different. Outside of the cities, villagers were more likely to support whomever would simply let them get on with their lives with a modicum of security – especially if that included a ready supply of food. It mattered little who it was that was supporting them – be it the government or the VC. Province Chiefs were the only real power in the boonies and they owed their loyalty to no higher power.

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