American Imperialism and the Fall of Diem

It is true that Ngo Dinh Diem was murdered by his ex-general Duong Van Minh in a military coup, but why did the coup take place?  The answer is not a simple one.  Ngo Dinh Diem is a strong leader and much of his views are contradictory to the Americans.  President John F. Kennedy and his administration wanted someone they can control, who can act on their behalf.  During the Vietnam War era the American media and much of the literature in the U.S. accuses President Diem of being corrupted, this is not true at all.


President Diem was assassinated on November 2, 1963.


One cannot deny that he was a nepotist, but he did not commit any illegal act as the leader of Vietnam as some would suggest.  The reason President Ngo Dinh Diem gets murdered by Duong Van Minh is because of was will to oppose American imperialism.  The Americans wanted him to do what they instructed him to do, something that Diem will not comply with.  President Diem’s actions were in the interest of Vietnam and not the Americans.  So for that reason, the American government looked for a man who was willing to do their dirty work for them.  They wanted someone who hated Ngo Dinh Diem, who can’t understand the complexity of the situation and was easy to mold.  The Americans discover these traits in ex-General Duong Van Minh.  So on November 1, 1963, President Ngo Dinh Diem and his younger brother Ngo Dinh Nhu were kidnapped and executed the next day.  Before Diem’s death, North Vietnam was kept in check, his assassination gave the Vietcong an opportunity to move in the army.  After Diem died, it took three years of continuous failed governments before Nguyen Van Thieu finally emerged.

The Americans acted in their own interests and not in the interests of Vietnam.  The killing of Diem caused tremendous turmoil for the people of South Vietnam.  If Diem had lived, the course of the Vietnam War may have gone in a much different direction.

3 Responses to “American Imperialism and the Fall of Diem”

  1. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it “American Imperialism,” but Kennedy definitely wanted somebody on the palm of his hand and Ngo Dinh Diem was definitely not that kind of man. It’s very similar to how President Obama is treating Karzai of Afghanistan right now.

    But that’s not to say Diem was a perfect man. There probably was corruption (and if nepotism isn’t a form of corruption, then what is?), as well as the view from some in the army that he was anti-Buddhist certainly didn’t help him.

    Of course, none of this is meant to justify what happened to him, and under Diem, Vietnam, at least part of it, tasted democracy for a short while.

    I’m always a little uneasy when people talk fondly of JFK (and the Teddy), when some of their actions in Vietnam (and Cuba) did more harm then good, in fighting off the Communists.

    • Nepotism could be and could not be a form of corruption, just depend on how the assigned individual performed his or her duty. Many presidents of the world have used their talent relatives in government, included the US. Some turned out good and some turned out bad. Therefore, it is definite to say nepotism is a form of corruption.

  2. That is a good comparison you made between Diem and Karzai, isn’t it funny how America treats foreign leaders that they claim to be helping?

    You are definitely correct that Diem was not a perfect man. He failed to appeal to the immense Buddhist population who could have made a great different in the war. Also he couldn’t manage to control his brother’s anti Buddhist dicriminations in Hue, further alienating the Buddhist population.

    I do feel a little uneasy about Kennedy, but even more so at Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger for their signing of the Paris Peace Accords and the eventual abandonment of South Vietnam.

    Thanks again for providing your input, I enjoy hearing what readers have to say.

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