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His 415: Vietnam & 20th Century Experience - the Coup Against Ngo Dinh Diem as a Turning Point

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The Coup against Ngo Dinh Diem as a Turning Point

Barbara A. Smith

DeVry University Online

HIST 415: Vietnam & 20th Century Experience

Professor: Traci Sumner

Submitted: January 27, 2013

Consequences or changes that occur due to an event are turning points. This is whether these

turning points are about history or someone's life. Thus, keep in mind; when a turning

point causes an event to occur in someone's life, it usually only has an effect on that person's life.

When an event causes a turning point in history; it may have an impact on the whole world, a

nation, or land. The following discusses the turning point of the Vietnam war; the assassination

of Ngo Dinh Diem.

In an article written by Drake, (1993), he explains how the U.S. initially became involved in

the Vietnam situation in 1949. Based on their fear of the spread of Communism, their interest in

Indochina developed. Previously, the government of the U.S. had been extremely pleased as

long as France was cooperating with the European defense alliances. The US provided

significant assistance to the French after the Communists had gained control of China in mid-

1949. They did not want the French to end the war as they preferred Vietminh to stay in

power. During the succeeding years, the escalation towards the Vietnam war continued.

A crucial turning point in U.S. involvement was the coup d'etat against Ngo Dinh Diem,

resulting in Diem and Nhu's deaths on November 2, 1963, (Cantu & Cantu, 2006). According to

an article by Prados, (2003), though the US government did not participate in the coup

themselves; they did not try to stop it. This was a desperate time for the U.S. government.

Their interference in the Diem leadership made them responsible for the outcome in Vietnam.

After backing Diem for years, to maintain US 'credibility", the government decided they could

not withdraw from South Vietnam. Thus, began a campaign never won.

(The Pentagon Papers, 1971), make the point that Diem's own actions contributed to his

assassination. The three main contributing factors were; Diem's nepotistic approach in

government policy, his tyrannical actions against the Buddhists, and therefore the US

government's recognition that Diem lacked the ability to control the people or the inclination to

follow their advice.

Diem's first mistake, as previously stated; Appointing government posts to his brother, Nhu,

and other relatives. His strategic hamlet program, (Brigham, 1971), in forcing peasants from

their farm land, also impacted the relationship with the people negatively, thus promoting




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