Vietnam A History 1

The Commitments Deepen 5

But the Chinese camp was uncomfortable for the Vietnamese Com¬munists, who, like all Vietnamese, recalled centuries of tensions with China. Fresh in their minds as well was China’s betrayal at the Geneva conference of 1954. Now they resented the pressures being put on them by Chairman Mao Zedong, who was exhorting them to wage the war in Vietnam according to ... Read More »

The Commitments Deepen 4

Johnson subscribed to the adage that “wars are too serious to be entrusted to generals.” He knew, as he once put it, that armed forces “need battles and bombs and bullets in order to be heroic,” and that they would drag him into a military conflict if they could. But he also knew that Pentagon lobbyists, among the best in ... Read More »

The Commitments Deepen 3

My cursory impression, I later discovered, was confirmed in a more extensive survey conducted by Earl Young, the senior U.S. repre¬sentative in the province. He reported in early December that three- quarters of the two hundred strategic hamlets in Long An had been destroyed since the summer, either by the Vietcong or by their own occupants, or by a combination ... Read More »

The Commitments Deepen 2

That primitive bluster also masked Johnson’s discomfort in the com¬plicated realm of international affairs. The strange names, places and customs puzzled him. During a visit as vice president to Bangkok, he flew into a rage when a staff member of the American embassy coun¬seled him against shaking hands with the Thais, who traditionally recoil from physical contact with strangers. Dammit, ... Read More »

The Commitments Deepen

Lyndon Baines Johnson, a consummate politician, was a ka¬leidoscopic personality, forever changing as he sought to dominate or persuade or placate or frighten his friends and foes. A gigantic figure whose extravagant moods matched his size, he could be cruel and kind, violent and gentle, petty, generous, cunning, naive, crude, candid and frankly dishonest. He commanded the blind loyalty of ... Read More »

The End of Diem 15

At the church, the Ngo brothers politely shook Xuan’s hand. Diem appeared to be disappointed that a limousine befitting his rank had not been dispatched, but Xuan advised him that the armored car had been deliberately chosen for his protection against “extremists.” Acquiescing, Diem and Nhu boarded the vehicle. Nghia climbed into the gun turret overlooking them, while Nhung sat ... Read More »

The End of Diem 14

Realizing that they could not hold out for long, Diem and Nhu made a desperate move. At about eight o’clock in the evening, ac¬companied by two aides, they slipped out of the palace to a nearby street. There they climbed into a waiting Land Rover and drove to Cholon, the Chinese suburb of Saigon, where they switched to a black ... Read More »

The End of Diem 13

The generals and other senior officers, not all of them involved in the plot, had been gathering at the club since noon. They included Colonel Tung, commander of the special forces, who had been told to report to what was described as a routine meeting. Conspicuously absent, however, was Diem’s loyal navy commander, Captain Ho Tan Quyen. An hour earlier, ... Read More »

The End of Diem 12

Meanwhile, the generals had to cope with Huynh Van-Cao, the Mekong Delta commander, a Diem loyalist. His three divisions, de¬ployed close to Saigon, could not only tip the scales in Diem’s favor but transform the city into a bloody battleground. To avert that pos¬sibility, Don and Dinh devised a stratagem: Dinh’s deputy, Colonel Nguyen Huu Co, would take charge of ... Read More »

The End of Diem 11

Lodge never conveyed that order to Conein. Nor was General Don advised through any other channel. The rebel generals continued to believe, as Lodge wanted them to believe, that the Americans would “not thwart” their bid for power. Answering Bundy the same day, Lodge parried the president’s in¬structions. He refused to widen the American contacts with the plot¬ters, since the ... Read More »