Vietnam A History 1

The End of Diem 10

As they talked in the dentist’s office, Don gradually relaxed; Conein reassured him that the United States would “not thwart” a coup. He guaranteed that neither he nor Lodge was consulting Harkins and that no information on the plot was seeping out. “Mon vieux, I love my lily-white skin as much as you love your yellow skin, and I’m not ... Read More »

The End of Diem 9

A few days later, Conein conveyed the substance of that message to Minh. The green light had been flashed. Minh designated Don to keep in touch with Conein, and from then on, Conein and Don met secretly at a Saigon dentist’s office: “Whatever else happened,” Conein recalled to me later, “I certainly had a lot of work done on my ... Read More »

The End of Diem 8

But while getting out of Vietnam was excluded, nobody could come up with suggestions for relaxing the tensions in Saigon. On Mc¬Namara’s advice, President Kennedy did what is usually done in times ofindecision: he sent out a “fact-finding mission.” This one, composed of General Victor Krulak and Joseph Mendenhall, a State Department official who had served in Vietnam, flew a ... Read More »

The End of Diem 7

The principal plotters, Minh, Don, Kim and Khiem, were presti¬gious figures, but they did not themselves command troops. They had lined up infantry battalions around the country as well as air and naval units. The key to success, however, lay in Saigon. There Diem could count on the special forces headed by Colonel Le Quang Tung, a Catholic from central ... Read More »

The End of Diem 6

Originally cautious, Lodge now pleaded for giving the rebel generals the go-ahead. He told Washington that delays would only strengthen Nhu and diminish the prospects for an effective coup. He also doubted that Diem could be persuaded to drop Nhu, an impression he con¬firmed on August 26, when he met Diem for the first time to present his credentials. Both ... Read More »

The End of Diem 5

Henry Cabot Lodge, en route to Vietnam, was conferring in Hon¬olulu when the crackdowns against the Buddhists occurred. On in¬structions from Washington, he sped to Saigon, landing on August 22. Awaiting him was a cable from the State Department requesting his immediate appraisal of the situation. After a briefing by his staff, he reported that Nhu had planned to move ... Read More »

The End of Diem 4

An early plotter was Dr. Tran Kim Tuyen, a tiny man with a squeaky voice who scarcely seemed like one of Saigon’s most sinister figures. He ran the Office of Political and Social Studies, the secret government apparatus organized with CIA assistance to keep tabs on dissenters. A northern Catholic who had fled south in 1954, Tuyen feared that Diem’s ... Read More »

The End of Diem 3

At sixty-two, with a lifetime of public service behind him, Henry Cabot Lodge was healthy, vigorous and looking for work. He struck Dean Rusk as an ideal successor to Ambassador Nolting. Lodge had visited Vietnam during the 1930s as a young newspaper reporter, and he spoke fluent French, having served as a liaison officer with the French army during World ... Read More »

The End of Diem 2

The Buddhists now mobilized with astounding spped and efficiency. They were not linked to the Communists, but they adopted Com¬munist techniques. They formed three-member cells, set up head¬quarters in temples and conducted crash courses in drafting tracts, slogans and other propaganda, which they ground out on mimeograph machines. They agitated among relatives in the army and the bureau¬cracy, and they ... Read More »

The End of Diem

At Saint Francis Xavier, a French mission church in Saigon’s Chinese district of Cholon, the early morning Mass had just celebrated All Souls’ Day, the day of the dead. A few minutes later, the congregation gone, two men in dark gray suits walked quickly through the shaded courtyard and entered the church. South Vietnam’s President Ngo Dinh Diem and his ... Read More »