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Guided Course Work Paper

Guided Course Work Paper

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Published by: estrohmi on Feb 15, 2010
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000674031 1
A Plan of Investigation (2 Marks)To what extent did the US government contribute to the assassination and military coup of Diem in Vietnam in the year 1963?
By 1963, President Kennedy and his military advisers had dedicated vast amounts of funds and resources to the Vietnam conflict. By August, they believed that President Diem wasmisusing these resources; plans to spark a military coup ensued. Many blame this period of American interference for the assassination of President Diem. The aim of this investigation is to justify or derail these allegations by measuring the cause and effects of the coup. Theinvestigation will cover the plans made by the American government, the correlation betweenthese plans and the actions in Vietnam, and the brief period after the assassination. An analysisof these sections will indicate that although the US indirectly contributed to the end of theregime, it was a failure to communicate cohesively that brought about the regime's end. Most of the research will be from secondary sources, both electronic and print, and from theautobiography of Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense in 1963.
BSummary of Evidence (5 Marks)
1.United States' plan for reconstructing Diem's RegimeAt the beginning of the Vietnam War, the United States and South Vietnam relied heavily onabundant communication between the United States' Defense Department and President Diem.However, by late August, President Diem's new domestic policies made it difficult for the UnitedStates to maintain a close alliance (Vietnam Passage). Thus, the leading military advisers, alongwith President Kennedy, began brainstorming ways to deal with these problems (CNN ColdWar).
 
000674031 2There were two major opinions about how to handle Diem, and consequently, how to handle theremainder of the Vietnam War efforts. Max Taylor, a leading military advisor to JFK, believedthe best course of action was to persuade Diem to change his policies (McNamara 53). Thosewho supported this idea agreed that the resources sent to Vietnam were leverage against Diem(54). However, the opposition argued that this would allow for actions against the Viet Cong tocease (Newman 411). They believed that without a coup, the war could not be won. With thisidea, plans for the removal of Diem began (Chomsky 73).On August 28, a cable was sent to Ambassador Lodge in Saigon to "come up with ways of  building anti-Diem forces," (Chomsky 73). With this order, Lodge held meetings with thegenerals of the South Vietnamese forces to establish plans for the removal and replacement of Diem (McNamara 56).On October 2, the McNamara-Taylor Report was published, again arguing that there were moreoptions other than the military coup; the men reinstituted the idea of reconciliation and pressure(Memorandum). Again, the advisory council and Kennedy readdressed the necessity of thecomplete removal of Diem. Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, was sent to Saigon toevaluate the current opinions of Diem, both amongst the military and general public (McNamara68). New reports were made and new cables were sent daily addressing the on-going plans in bothVietnam and the United States, but by November 1, 1963, the generals committed to the coupand by the next day, news of the death of Diem and his brother was announced (Chomsky 80)(Prados).
 
000674031 32.Correlation between actions taken in DC and in SaigonOctober 5 was the day of two significant events that directly led to the coup. First, the CIAStation Chief, John Richardson, who was close to Nhu, returned to Washington; this gave theappearance that Richardson was backing away from the Diem regime. (Newman 411). Secondly,General Don made the announcement that "action to change the government must be taken or war will be lost to the Viet Cong because the government no longer has the support of the people," (411). At this point, Lodge sent a cable to Washington claiming that the generals weretoo advanced in their plan to remove Diem that the US could not thwart the coup (McNamara81).3.Time period after the coup d'etatMany historians believe the assassination of Diem and his brother were unnecessary effects of the coup. On November 2, it was announced that the two men had committed suicide (Jeffers95). Later, the two men were found shot several times, and Nhu was also stabbed several times(83). When asked to comment, General Mihn told the Americans that there was "no other choice but to kill" them; Diem was too respected for the new regime to have power if he remained alive(84). Lodge sent a cable saying that this coup would shorten the war, and President Kennedymade the announcement, that although Diem's death was regretted, plans to win the VietnamWar would continue as planned with the new regime (Presidential Recordings Program).
C. Evaluation of Sources (4 Marks)
Two of the sources used were:
McNamara, Robert S. In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam. RandomHouse New York, 1995.

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