Commemorating Ngo Dinh Diem

Today marks the anniversary of President Ngo Dinh Diem’s assassination at the hands of Duong Van Minh and authorized by the U.S. government.  On this day, many writers and bloggers take the time to remember the Vietnamese president, acknowledging his mistakes, but mostly celebrating his accomplishments.

In the past, the public’s perception of Ngo Dinh Diem has often been negative, backed by hundreds upon hundreds of distorted media portrayals.  Nowadays however, with more adequate evidence being published, the public opinion of President Diem has shifted drastically.

As the First President of the Republic of Vietnam, Diem resisted heavy pressure from the U.S., neutralized the political factions of Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, and Binh Xuyen, and damaged the terrorist plots of Ho Chi Minh and his Vietcong.  He created a stable government, free from French, Communist, and for a time, American saboteurs.

Under Ngo Dinh Diem, South Vietnam’s economy flourished.  Coffee shops were filled with busy people, making a quick stop on their way to work.  Echoing in the streets of Saigon were the smooth, cool melodies of Vietnam’s young Jazz musicians.  La Dalat motors, the country’s first motor company, was making their first appearance on the city streets.  In the Republic of Vietnam, business was booming.

In the eight years of his presidency, Ngo Dinh Diem successfully ridded South Vietnam of the numerous military and political threats, stabilizing the country, and making it powerful in the process.  He is a controversial figure, that is true.  However, the claims of his mistakes can now be balanced with evidence of his myriad contributions.

The debate concerning the policies of President Diem and whether his individual actions were ethical or not, is meant for another day.  Today we celebrate the life of the President, commemorating the  many sacrifices that he has made for the Vietnamese tradition.


One Response to “Commemorating Ngo Dinh Diem”

  1. This is a very interesting blog and perspective. There is a saying in foreign policy “it is sometimes dangerous to be an enemy of the United States, but it is always dangerous to be a friend”.

    The US, after propping up Diem, pulled the plug, plunging VN into further chaos which led to the death of 50,000 Americans and countless Vietnamese.

    Diem made a number of critical mistakes however. He would have been better off co opting the Cao Dai and other warlords into allies against the Viet Minh. He should have purged his government of controlling family infuences and broadened his appeal beyond Catholics and displaced Northerners and emerged as a true nationalist figure to rival Ho.

    It is tragic how the US abandoned him and ordered his execution.

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