Cố Tổng Thống Ngô Đình Diệm
Incident of Buddhist flag - US involvement - Coup Generals
Incident of Buddhist flag
What happened in Hue?
Used for political purpose
Objections by top advisors
Coup d'etat by the Generals
Last minutes Mr. Diem and Lodge
A Death in November
Top secret documents
HCM wished to negotiation
Last message President Diem sent to President Kennedy at 12h15 of 1/1/1963
Incident of Buddhist flag
Incident of Buddhist flag - US involvement - Coup Generals (1)
This article dealing with a historical issue which is based mainly on some Vietnamese books that display at least 3 perspectives compared with the common theme from at least 6 foreing books -- (1) The New Face of Buddha by Jerrold Schecter, (2) Vietnam : A Political History by Joseph Buttinger, (3) The Lost Revolution by Robert Shaplen, (4) Vietnam: A History by Stanley Karnow, (5) The Making of a Quagmire by David Halberstam, (6) Background to Betrayal by Hilaire du Berrier -- are based on the common report of Dr. Wuff and a German doctor saying generally that "Eyewitnesses and photographs taken by Dr. Eric Wuff and another German doctor on the streets of Hue and in the city morgue indicated that the people were killed by shellfire or crushed by the threads of the armored cars.
I.The 1 st version :
There's a Vietnamese book entitled "The Struggle of the Vietnam Buddhism : from the Celebration of the Birthday of Buddha" (Co^ng cuo^.c tranh dda^'u cu?a Pha^.t Gia'o Vie^.t Nam : tu+` Pha^.t DDa?n dde^'n Ca'ch Ma.ng) by Quo^'c Tue^., published in 1964 in Vietnam and republished in 1987 by Pagoda Khanh An (Kha'nh An), 14 avenue Henri Barbusse, 92220 Bagneux, Paris, France. In chapter I, author brings forward reasons for the struggle, one of which is about the tyranny of Ngo Dinh Can, Mr Diem's brother. One hardly agrees with some of cited reasons and skewed viewpoints about the political situation in South VN after 1954. For example, Mr Quoc Tue said that after 1954, SVN was divided into two regions : NVN, under the communist regime; SVN, under the patronage of the French. From 1955, the French withdrew from Vietnam leaving SVN in a state of total independence due to pressure from the U.S. Moreover, he admits that Ven. Thich Tri Quang is one of the core leaders of this struggle. As one recognizes later, after 1963, Ven. Thich Tri Quang was indeed an untrustworthy, opportunist and extremist monk taking advantage of his followers for his political purpose and political agenda ("Peace and Neutrality" which later coincides with "Concord and Reconciliation Campaign" of the National Front of Liberation of South Vietnam - Ma<.t Tra^.n Gia?i Pho'ng Mie^`n Nam) contemplated by the Central Vietnam Buddhist group -- An Quang Sect.
In chapter II, author talks about the beginning of the "open oppression" of Mr Diem's government and the reaction of the Buddhists in Hue. According to him, while the Buddhists in Hue are celebrating the Buddha's birthday and the streets are decked with international Buddhist flags everywhere, suddenly at 8 pm of 6/ 5/1963, a telegram from the presidential office informs banning the display of the Buddhist flag. The news causes immediate reaction from all Buddhists in this old imperial city. On 7/5/1963, the members of the General Association of Vietnam Buddhism (To^?ng Ho^.i Pha^.t Gia'o Vie^.t Nam) like Ven. Thich Mat Nguyen, Thich Tri Quang, Thich Mat Hien, Thich Thien Sieu go to meet the localauthority and send a message to Saigon to object the order. At 2 pm of the same day, the authority confiscates all the Buddhist flags. This gesture rouses indignation which the Buddhists must bury inside for a long time and now this is the opportunity for them to show it. It is also the starting for the struggle to spread to Saigon and all over the country (the truth is there are very few struggles of this kind in the South, from Saigon to Camau).
In the morning of 8/5/1963, Buddhists gathered at the pagoda Dieu De (Die^.u DDe^') to welcome the statue of Buddha and carry it to the pagoda of Tu Dam (Tu+ ` DDa`m) where the stadium for celebration is located. The welcoming group is stopped in many places because some Buddhists on both sides of the streets display the banners to express their aspirations. This is not agreed upon by Ven. Thich Mat Hien and Thich Tri Quang, head and vice-head of the committee organizing the Buddha's birthday celebration. The two monks tell the crowd to be calm and wait for the better understanding from the local authority and the central government. The two order people to take away the banners. Then, the welcoming delegation continues the trip as normal. However, these Buddhists ignore the order and display their banners expressing :
- Welcoming the Buddha's birthday.
- The Buddhist followers unanimously protect the just Buddhism (cha'nh pha'p) and sacrifice themselves if necessary.
- The international Buddhist flag can't be brought down.
- The Buddhist followers only support the policy of equality in religion.
- Request for equality in religion.
- It's time for us to struggle for the contention of equality in religion. We won't refuse any sacrifice.
- Objection of the dishonest and wicked policy (pha?n ddo^'i chi'nh sa'ch ba^'t co^ng gian a'c).
When the crowd arrive at Tu Dam Pagoda, Ven. Thich Don Hau goes to the stadium and requests Ven. Thich Tri Quang to explain the reason for the celebration.
Under the presence of the local authority, Ven. Thich Tri Quang expresses his ideas that the Buddhist aspirations are just and constructive; they would help the government and other religions. He promises to submit these aspirations to the government.
Then, according to the radio station, the celebration is recorded into tapes and will be broadcasted at 8h5 pm on the same day. Because of this, a Buddhist crowd gather before the station to listen to the tapes. To their surprise, they only hear songs not related at all to the celebration. This happens to Buddhists who stay home to wait before their radios. They leave home and go to the station to ask what happened. Then, the crowd of Buddhists become more abundant. At 8h15 pm, the crowd accumulate up to around 10,000 persons. Director of the station, Ngo Ganh, is questioned. Meanwhile, Major Dang Sy (DDa<.ng Sy~) brought the regular military, Security, Police and fire fighters to encircle the crowd. Then, Ven. Thich Tri Quang also comes and asks the reason why the tapes are not played. Ngo Ganh says that the authority did not permit it. Knowing that, the Buddhists become angry and protest. The fire engines are ordered to stop the protest. Some protesters react by throwing stones to the fire cruise. Mr Dang Sy orders fire into the crowd. Then gun- fire starts and grenades are thrown into the crowd. There are many Buddhists falling down and others running away.
The clash resuts in 14 injured and 9 dead. Some youths among the dead are rolled over by the amored cars. After the incident, in the morning of 9/5/1963, the army are mobilized to Hue and the streets are blocked by armored cars. But, at 9 am, Buddhists go out to streets protesting and decide to die if necessary. The mayor of Hue asks Ven. Thich Tri Quang to disperse the crowd. They obey Ven. Thich Tri Quang when he says "Disperse and be ready to wait for my order to call you back"...
The list of 8 of nine dead :
- Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan : 12 years old; female
- Huye^`n-to^n-nu+~ Tuye^'t Hoa : 12; female
- Du+o+ng Va<n DDa.t : 13; male
- DDa<.ng Va<n Co^ng : 13; male
- Nguye^~n Thi. Phu'c : 15; female
- Le^ Thi. Kim Anh : 17; female
- Tra^`n Thi. Phu+o+'c Tri. : 17; female
- Nguye^~n Thi. Ye^'n : 20; female...
II. The 2nd version :
There must be a hidden confrontation of Buddhists in Hue under the leadership of Ven. Thich Don Hau through Ven. Thich Tri Quang, head of the Central Vietnam Buddhist Association ( Ho^.i Tru+o+?ng Ho^.i Pha^.t Gia'o Trung Pha^`n; An Quang was not born yet at the time). They wanted to topple Ngo Dinh Can, Mr Diem's younger brother, whom people often called "the tyrant of the Central Vietnam".
There must be VC intrusion in the crowd of Buddhists or some instigators who would like to take advantage of the gathering. If not so, there wasn't any tragedy. This event + resentment + skill of Ven. Thich Tri Quang made the flame explode although the government had tried to calm it down.
At the time, the Buddhist crowd (around 10,000 persons) were gathering at the Radio Station to listen to earlier recorded broadcasting of the celebration of the birth of Buddha. Some sources said that the broadcast was cancelled; then the Buddhists asked why, but the director said that the government ordered so (!). Another source said that Ven. Thich Tri Quang, taking this opportunity, delivered a list of demands recorded in a tape and told the director of the station to broadcast it, but the latter refused. When the matter was going on that way, a few among the crowd would like to take this opportunity to transform this event into a protest. Then suddenly, there were some loudspeakers in some corners echoing with requests of the government to respect the freedom of religion and appeals to Buddhists to be ready in sacrificing themselves to struggle until the last drop of blood to protect Buddhism.
The director of the Hue Radio Station, Mr Ngo Ganh, became panicked and could not control himself. He phoned the head of province for help and requested to have men to protect the station. Major Da<.ng Sy~, vice-head of the province in charge of internal security concurrently head of military quarter of Thua Thien, mobilized soldiers and police, amored cars and fire-engine cruise to protect the station. However, these men could not enter the station through 10,000 excited people and intentionally became a force to encircle the Buddhists.
Major Dang Sy used loudspeaker to appeal the Buddhists to be calm and he warned that soldiers had order to shoot whoever makes riot; it might be that he just intended to maintain order and security for the city Hue. His first goal was not to let the crowd destroy the public property which he got the duty to protect. He couldn't imagine that his words made him fall into trap of instigators (not all Buddhists were opportunists for their using religion for political purpose). After his orders were announced, some "instigators" with big stones already armed threw into the force yelling to excite the rest and going forward towards Dang Sy's men. The hydrant cars used water to stop and disperse them. Then, suddenly came the explosion. Then the firings. Dang Sy's men and also Buddhists were all in extreme panic. People run in all directions. Weak persons were trampeded by the stronger.
The aftermath was 9 people dead and 14 injured. The news were broadcasted all over the world and Mr Diem's regime was trembled to its root. Some sources said that almost dead victims were decapitated and possibly it was the result of explosion which could be used by VC commando, CIA or Nhu's Special Force trained by CIA. As said, none of the victims were shot because Dang Sy's did direct his gun to the sky with some firings to discard the crowd. There was no reason to shoot at the crowd and use armored cars to run over; if that was the case the death toll must be very high.
However, this death toll disappointed communists who expected there must be at least an amount of more than hundred dead. On the next day, Nguyen Huu Tho, chairman of the National Front of Liberation of South Vietnam, sent a telegram to U.N. calling for help and accused Mr Diem's regime to oppress Buddhism, killing Buddhists who were against Catholics organizing "Religious war" to get superiority. He accused that Dang Sy, a Catholic, received directly order from Ngo Dinh Can and Can, in turn, got order from Mr Diem in Saigon.
All foreign reporters were excited by the incident and by the way did not like Mr Diem whom they accused of dictatorship, family despotism and corruption. They competed with each other to explore at utmost and made Mr Diem regime hard to explain whether or not his government really intended to do that. If he intentionally oppressed the Buddhists, his government did ban any gathering which could lead to any demonstration. It's obvious that the government did not think that this reasonable gathering could turn to a tragedy.
3. The 3rd version :
"Co^ng va` To^.i : Nhu+~ng Su+. Tha^.t Li.ch Su+?" (Credit and Sin : Historic Truths; 1991) by Nguyen Tran says that the Buddhist event happens when its author is still in Washington where he follows the report from the American press and televisions generally as follows :
"On 6/5/1963, two days before the celebration day of Buddha's birthday, the government of Mr Ngo Dinh Diem sends a circular nationwide to ban displaying the Buddhist flag in public. The lowering these flags makes Buddhists resented and as a result, they go for a protest. In the night of 8/5/1963, when Buddhists show demonstration at the radio station of Hue requesting rebroadcasting the celebration, the authority brings armored cars and the military who throw grenades to disperse the crowd, causing the death for 9 persons and injury for many people."
Major Dang Sy, vice-head of the province in charge of the security declares that he brings in the armored cars M-113 to protect the station and never orders to throw grenades to the crowd. The explosion causing deaths belongs to a plastic explosive which is only used by the VC commando; the SVN army do not use that kind of explosive.
However, the Buddhists still maintain that the government intentionally oppresses Buddhists, and force the government to take responsibility, apologize and compensate for the victims' families. Next is the self-immolation of Ven. Thich Quang Duc, 73 years old, who pours gasoline onto his body and burns himself to death at an intersection of Saigon. The picture of self-immolation makes Nguyen Tran surprised. When the American opinion and the world are thoroughly excited, Mrs. Nhu (a former Buddhist) attacked the self-immolation and called it a barbecue with foreign gasoline.
Returning to Saigon, Nguyen Tran doesn't know more than what has been reported by the press. The news says that Ven. Thich Tinh Khiet and his delegation arrive in Saigon to meet Mr Ngo Dinh Diem to request for his reviewing the royal decree 10 stipulated by the emperor Bao Dai under the French colonialism. This decree classified the Buddhist organization as an association. The delegation wants Buddhism to enjoy the equality as Catholicism, freedom to display the flag and a stop to arrest and terrorism of Buddhists in order that they are free to propagate and practice Buddhism. It asks the government to compensate satisfactorily for the victims' families.
After a 3-day discussion, Mr Diem's government and the Buddhist delegation agree on the issues as follow :
- The international Buddhist flag can be hung on the streets, but next to the bigger national flag.
- The formation of a committee of inter-ministries and inter-religions to investigate the incident. The goverment will punish culprits.
- The government will subsidize for the victim's families.
- Assembly in pagodas will be possible without permission from the authority. The government will only check generally documents related to pagoda's activities, its schools,...
- The National Assembly will study a status for Buddhism.
Ven. Thich Tinh Khiet sends a thanking letter to the government and at the same time calls his monks to go back to normal, respect the national law, obey directives of the Buddhist General Association (To^?ng Ho^.i Pha^.t Gia'o). He also declares the end of the struggle.
President Diem broadcasts an appeal to the public resquesting them to be calm and trusting his solving the problem.
When the reconciliation is in good progress, Mrs. Nhu objects the conciliatory approach of Mr Diem and accuses the monks of not real devout persons through an announcement. According to suggestion of the Information Minister Nguyen Dinh Thuan, Mr Diem has more than 3 times to neglect publishing that announcement, but at last he must yield it somehow and says that if it must be done, it would be published in a narrow scope. However, the announcement in English is put on "the Time of Vietnam", "Journal d'Extreme Orient" and on Vietnamese newspapers with Vietnamese version.
Then, the Buddhist delegation accuses the government of lacking sincerity and organizes the self-immolation of Ven. Thich Quang Duc. Meanwhile, Mr Diem is attending the requiem for the pope Jean 23rd at the basilica of Saigon with his staff, head of the National Assembly and diplomatic corps.
Informed by minister Bui Van Luong about the self-immolation, Mr Diem becomes stupefied and says, "Why did they have to do that ?". In that afternoon, he releases an appeal saying "When the reconcilation is in good progress, this morning, the radicals, hiding the truth and causing suspicion about the goodwill of the government, strive to toxicate some people and let one person die. This makes me suffered."
In August, many self-immolations occur : Duc Phong self-immolates on 4/8/1963; student Mai Tuyet Anh cut her hand as a gesture of offering to Buddha at the pagoda Xa Loi on 12/8/1963; Dieu Nu self-immolates at Hon Khoi, Nha Trang; nun Tieu Dieu, 71 years old, self-immolates at the Tu Dam pagoda in Hue, and senior nun Dieu Khong, mother of ambassador Buu Hoi, warns to do the same in Hue.
With too many accumulated happenings and worryings in his mind, Nguyen Tran doesn't know how to express his catholic viewpoints to support for the Buddhists. Then the police and the Special Force attack the Xa Loi pagoda and some other temples in Saigon, Hue, Danang,.v.v... There is the news that 1,000 monks are arrested. The monks ask Buddhists to protect pagodas using sticks and stones against the attacking forces for 8 hours.
Mr Diem convenes a meeting of ministers and announces the curfew nationwide. The military are assigned to check households and arrest people who disturb the national security, ban assembly, censor the press,... The offences will be under the jurisdiction of the military court.
General Tran Van Don is appointed as Commander-in-chief replacing general Le Van Ty. General Ton That Dinh is in charge of the military area of Saigon - Cho Lon.
Foreign minister Vu Van Mau shaves his head to object the measures and then resigns; however he just got permission to take a 5-month leave to make a pilgrimage to India. Vietnam's ambassador in Washington, Tran Van Chuong, Mrs. Nhu's father, having telegramed an objection message, is discharged from the office. Mr Do Van Ly is appointed to replace Mr Chuong, but the U.S. State Department delays his presenting credential. This action means that the State Department opposes Mr Diem. Mrs. Tran Van Chuong, Vietnam's representative at U.N. resigns. However, Nguyen Tran knows later that Mr and Mrs. Tran Van Chuong just only support Mr Diem when the latter is in success, but when Mr Diem is in difficult time, the couple change heart. They don't only oppose Mr Diem, but collaborate with the U.S. officials against Mr Diem. Mr Chuong accuses Mr Diem of killing series of Buddhists and spreading terror nationwide. He even comes to Mr Lansdale's residence to tell the latter to overthrow Mr Diem. When Father Cao Van Luan comes to Washington, Mr Chuong leads him to see American officials and politicians opposing Mr Diem.
There is the news that Mrs. Nhu tells the police and Special Force not to arrest monks in yellow dress because they are devout monks (cha^n tu). Knowing that, Ven. Thich Tri Quang puts on that dress of a young monk (sa-di) and crawls over the wall right behind the Xa Loi pagoda entering the USAID (So+? Vie^.n Tro+. My~) to seek political asylum with another monk. After arriving in Saigon and delaying the presentation of credential. Mr Henri Cabot Lodge goes to see Ven. Thich Tri Quang who has escaped to a nearby American office thanks to the dress of a sa-di named Chuong, takes a photo with him and sends him to the U.S. embassy.
After series of attacks on pagodas, Ven. Thich Tinh Khiet and Ven. Thich Thien Hoa appeal his monks to detach from politics and return to their pagodas. Especially, Ven. Thich Thien Hoa, a Southerner, agrees attacking pagodas to arrest monks involving in politics and calls it a "necessary measure to protect the country."
Staying in a military hospital where he is detained, Ven. Thich Tinh Khiet sends a letter to Mr Diem requesting him to permit Ven. Thich Thien Hoa and 3 other monks to negotiate with the government to find pacific solutions. 2 days later, the government returns all pagodas back to Ven. Thich Thien Hoa and releases some arrested monks.
From the beginning of 23/8/1963, General Ton That Dinh orders closure of universities and schools. Two days later, Buddhist students go to the streets for demonstration; they are dispersed by the police and the military. In a clash, a female student named Quach Thi Trang (Qua'ch Thi. Trang) is struck by a bullet and dies on Le Thanh Ton street, next to Ben Thanh market. After the coup d'etat 1/1/1963, her statuette is set up at the market (the square Quach Thi Trang).
On 28/8/1963, the letter of Ven. Thich Tinh Khiet is announced and the curfew is dropped. Students, Buddhists are released; most military are ordered to return to their bases.
On 10/9/1963, Ven. Thich Tinh Khiet is released; some days later, there is another release of 107 monks and Buddhists in Hue.
With the agreement of Buddhist leaders, Mr Diem orders ambassador Buu Hoi to the U.N. General Assembly to present the Vietnam case and invite a U.N delegation to Vietnam for fact finding to see whether or not there is real oppression of Buddhists. However, some days later, Ven. Thich Tri Quang changes his idea and announces that the sending of U.N. delegation to Vietnam is not necessary. This shows that Ven. Thich Tri Quang is not an honest man to seek a peaceful settlement with the government and jumps over the wagon as a monk to do politics. That is exactly what he does and will do in the days to come using slogan "Buddhist oppression" to build up his ultimate political goal -- to shake hand with communists and share power with them. This is not known by his followers on the streets. Ven. Thich Tri Quang is at last a skillful instigator for self- immolations and riots to happen so that his objetc -- government of Mr Diem -- would be target for condemnations.
Then, what's next is another wave of students and Buddhists going to the streets for a protest and this causes the police to get out of their barracks once more to block schools and arrest some students. From Saigon, the movement spreads to Vinh Long (?), Bien Hoa, Nha Trang, Da Lat and Hue. The leaflets are delivered from the Xa Loi pagoda calling students to go to the streets for demonstration.
On 11/9/1963, after attending the Conference of International Senators in Belgrade, Mrs. Nhu goes to U.S. and appears on radio and television stations at at least 17 places to confirm that the government of Mr Diem never intends to oppress Buddhists but only to cope with radical monks and the people who intend to topple his government. However, she can't convince anybody just because her way of expression does not draw sympathy from the audience. Although she has the point to make nobody in US wants to believe her.
Meanwhile, there is rumor that Mr Nhu takes all decisions and wants to make an internal coup d'etat to take the power because Mr Diem is not firm enough with Buddhists.
Do Tho (DDo^~ Tho.; nephew of Mr Do^~ Ma^.u), Mr Diem's attache', the man who stays next to Mr Diem until the morning of 2/11/1963 before the latter is killed, writes in his "Do Tho's diary" (Nha^.t Ky' DDo^~ Tho.) that Mr Diem is very down-hearted when the Buddhist incident occurs. Mr Diem, at 63, says that his horoscope of this year is very bad and he once wanted to resign, but he is afraid that the Vietnamese people will get into worse situation. Mr Do Tho also says that Mr Nhu abuses the power. Due to this rumor, Marguerite Higgins interviews Mr Nhu who lets her know that he and his wife are hated by somebody; rumors like that are nonsensical. He says that each government has a Good and an Evil (o^ng Thie^.n va` o^ng A'c). In a progressive country like U.S., president Eisenhower needs a man like Sherman Adams. Vietnam is a country having too many instigations (cuo^.c xa'ch ddo^.ng) and he is the man to take the role of that Evil to confront these bad situations. He says, "I am cursed so that somebody else is left alone."
What happened ?
Incident of Buddhist flag - US involvement - Coup Generals (2)
In searching for evidence, Nguyen Tran has found witnesses or people involved who have lived there at that time in Vietnam or abroad and gone to many libraries in U.S. to dig out many Vietnamese or English documents or microfilms related to the incident. He has been struck by different assumptions and decided to display them so that one can judge by himself.
According to Nguyen Tran, he contacts the first witness after the coup d'etat 1/ 11/1963. That is Mr. Ung Trao (U+ng Tra.o), a retiree in Phu Cam (Phu' Cam), Hue. Ung Trao is known as a straightforward and respected old man. Asked about the Buddhist incident, he says that Mr Hoang Huu Khac (Hoa`ng Hu+~u Kha<'c), Chief Justice of the court Hue and Thua Thien province, has had recourse to Mr Ung Trao to bring up his step child. Due to this intimate relationship, Mr Khac let him know that he was appointed as secretary of the board of management of the Society of Buddhist Study in the Central Vietnam of which Ven. Thich Tri Quang was secretary-general or secretary. According to Mr Khac, he once read a letter of Ven. Thich Tri Do from Hanoi to Ven. Thich Tri Quang telling the latter to organize a Buddhist movement to topple Mr Diem's regime. Due to this connection with Hanoi of Ven. Thich Tri Quang, Mr Khac has resigned from the position in the board of the management.
Mr Trao informed immediately this to Mr Ngo Dinh Can who was Trao's godson, but Mr Can did not believe this because Can and Ven. Thich Tri Quang were intimate friends.
Nguyen Tran believes that Mr Trao's story is true because when searching for evidence in writing his book, he finds Trao's 2 children -- Mrs. Ngo The Linh in Campell and Buu Thieu in Anaheim, U.S.A.. Both confirm that the story is true.
Mr Do Tho has written in his diary that after the incident at the radio station occurred, Mr Diem scolded Mr Can's wrongdoing, but reports from Can's office and head of Thua Thien province said that the incident had originated from the monks of Tu Dam pagoda, not from him.
According to Mr Do Tho, Can told Mr Diem that he often visited Tu Dam and once in a while invited these monks to his residence to drink tea. Furthermore, Can submitted annually offerings to the pagoda Tu Hieu (Tu+` Hie^'u) where the altar of paternal grand-grand-grandpa of Mr Diem was located.
Mr Diem said "All religions are good. There are only bad and good elements in every religion. We are now Catholic, but our ancestors are Buddhist. When the monks in the pagodas Tu Dam, Tu Hieu, Dieu De are in need, you must help them,..."
Mr Do Tho relates that Mr Diem never got intention to look upon Catholicism and look down on Buddhism. This can be proved as he made a tour of inspection in Vinh Binh province where head of the province had displayed the Catholic flags to please him. Seeing that, Mr Diem became frustrated and ordered to lower them down replacing them by the national flags. Mr Diem only stepped out of his airplane when the national flags were hung.
When meeting Mr Cao Xuan Vy (Cao Xuan Vy~) who is very close to Mr Nhu, Nguyen Tran asks him what reaction Mr Nhu has when the Buddhist incident occurs. According to Vy, Mr Nhu says, "That is great crusher for the regime". Nguyen Tran continues, "why let it become great problem ?". Mr Vy answers me that, "I am a Buddhist and has been told by Mr Diem to go to Hue asking senior nun Dieu Khong (Die^.u Kho^ng) for help, but that is impossible due to another element."
What happened ?
1. According to Father Cao Van Luan in "Be^n Gio`ng Li.ch Su+?", the Buddhist incident occurs as follows :
"On 7/5/1963, Bishop Ngo Dinh Thuc comes back from Lavang, pilgrimage shrine marking the apperance of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Seeing the Buddhist flags everywhere, he asks Ho Dac Khuong, representative of the government in the Central Vietnam, why people don't obey the law not to display religion or party flags outside worshipping areas or organizations.
Ho Dac Khuong telegraphs to Saigon to verify the validity of the law. He is told that the royal decree 10 is still effective. Mr Khuong gives a directive to head of Thua Thien province to lower Buddhist flags outside pagodas. Feeling uneasy, Mr Nguyen Van Dang (Nguye^~n Va<n DDa<?ng), head of the province Thua Thien, goes to see Mr Ngo Dinh Can to suggest putting on hold of the directive for now and wait until the celebration of the Buddha's birthday to be over. Mr Can agrees and sends the message to all provinces to hold it. This matter is over, but on 8/5/1963, the monks attack heavily the government... Then the Buddhists rush to the radio station forcing the director to broadcast the whole celebration's tapes... The representative and head of the province do not agree. While the authority findway to settle down the matter, suddenly a "grenade explodes in the crowd in protest...
Father Cao Van Luan suggests 3 hypotheses :
- some government officials or soldiers throw them.
- the secret police or unknown instigators are the culprits.
- a fanatic faction in the Buddhist movement do it to push the two -- Buddhists and government -- into confrontation.
Father Luan says that the 1st hypothesis is unreliable. The other two can be looked at.
2. According to Marguerite Higgins in her "Our Vietnam Nightmare", Foreign minister Bui Van Luong (Bu`i Va<n Lu+o+.ng) declares to a U.N. delegation on 3/ 12/1963 that he goes to Hue on 7/5/1963, the same day whereby there is a circular that "the national flag must be hung higher than the international Buddhist flag and there was no prohibition of hanging the Buddhist flags". But when he sees the Buddhist flags already hung all over in the city, Mr Luong tells head of Thua Thien to postpone the execution of the circular. He then goes to the pagoda Tu Dam to explain the monks about the matter of hanging the flags. All monks, including Ven. Thich Tri Quang, show satisfaction. But, unfortunately, some policemen who got late the order did confiscate some flags. Ven. Thich Tri Quang immediately grasps this opportunity ordering some monks to inform Buddhists that the government tells them to lower the flags...
Two things here may be questioned :
- Regulation of hanging the flag is urgent. It couldn't be under the form of a circular; it should be a telegram. Is there a mistake in using right words ?
- Minister Luong ordered head of Thua Thien province to hold the directive. If the latter already ordered so, he had to use all possible means to propagate the new order quickly. Are there some saboteurs ?
According to a report from the U.N. delegation from Marguerite Higgins' book :
At 8 pm of 8/5/1963, when the crowd come to the radio station, Ven. Thich Tri Quang follows suit bringing with him a tape recording his sermon attacking the government he made in the morning and wants to be broadcasted. Then lots of yelling happen from the crowd some of whom flush to the corridor of the station. Panicking, director of the station runs to inside , closes the door and phones head of the province for help. The latter comes and tries to make a frustrated Ven. Thich Tri Quang calm down, but it is impossible. The head of Thua Thien phones Mr Dang Sy, vice-head of Thua Thien, to mobilize the police, military, security and fire cruise to come to protect the station.
When Mr Dang Sy arrives, there was already chaos before the station. Buddhists block them with their motocycles and bikes. Then, men of Ven. Thich Tri Quang throw stones into the police and fire cruise. The latter use water to disperse the crowd, but this only makes the crowd more aggressive. Head of the province invites Ven. Thich Tri Quang to enter the station for discussion, ordering the fire cruise to stop action. At that moment, two explosions occur at the corridor and after that come the sounds of the broken glass, the firing and then another explosion of grenade.
Mr Dang Sy reported that he hears two loud explosions when his armored cars just come to the gate of the radio station. Due to the darkness of the night, he can't see what happens and thinks that VC are intruding the city. Due to this, he fires 3 bullets up to the air and orders his soldiers to use kind of "concussion" grenades to disperse the crowd. 15 grenades like that are shot out. The crowd run in panic.
When the head of Thua Thien runs out to the corridor, he sees many pools of blood : 7 dead and one dying kid. All victims are lying on the corridor; their hair and flesh did fly everywhere; one piece of flesh is stuck on a wheel of an armored car.
Mr Luong declares, "I observe the corpses and recognize that their heads are gone, but they don't have any injury but holes on their chests. There is no metallic pieces on the corridor or on the courtyard. I request a doctor to make autopsy on the victims and send the result to me".
"That doctor is Dr. Le Khac Quyen (Le^ Kha<'c Quye^'n), director of the Hue hospital. His report is as follows : "The death of victims is caused by an explosion on the air. It's resulted force of air to make the victims beheaded and injured. Kind of explosive is unknown."
Mr Luong continues : " Right after 8/5/1963, Mr Diem orders an investigation for this incident. A committee of 3 is formed. They are general Tran Van Don, a military surgeon (head of the military hospital in Saigon) and an officer attache'. After interviewing witnesses, this committee let people know that the cause of deaths is from a plastic explosive.
3. The book "History of the Struggle of Vietnam's Buddhism" (Li.ch su+? tranh dda^'u Vie^.t Nam) by Mr Kiem Dat (Kie^m DDa.t), published by the International Buddhist Institute, 1981, reports :
On 7/5/1963, the Hue's police force all Buddhist leaders to inform their followers to lower Buddhists flags...In that afternoon, the leaders in the Buddhist General Association comprising Ven. Thich Tinh Khiet, Ven. Thich Huyen Ton, the Committee of Organizing the Celebration of Buddha's Birthday and representatives of Orthodox Buddhism (Gia'o Ho^.i Pha^.t Gia'o Nguye^n Thu?y) go to the provincial Administrative Building presenting requests one of which is justification of hanging the Buddhist flag on the occasion of the Buddhist festival.
While the delegation is in negotiation inside, 5000 Buddhists from all over gather before the building to wait for the explanation from the head of Thua Thien. The latter declares that he is sorry because the local authority must abide with the order from the government.
To the request of the Buddhist delegation, head of Thua Thien province agrees to use cars with loudspeakers to inform the Buddhists in Hue about the decision of the local authority.
On 8/5/1963, after the ceremony to celebrate the Buddha's birthday, Ven. Thich Tinh Khiet requests Ven. Thich Tri Quang and the Buddhist delegation to explain to the crowd the content of the negotiation... Then, Buddhists gather before the radio station to listen to the celebration from tape recording. Contrary to previous announcement, the station broadcasts different program. The crowd become angry and pour to the station building to request for broadcasting the morning festival. At 8 pm, there are about 10,000 Buddhists at the station. At that moment, Major Dang Sy mobilizes forces of security, soldiers with armored cars, THE POLICE WITH CANNONS and armed to teeth with tear gas grenades, and the military police to crush the demonstration.
Meanwhile, Ven. Thich Tri Quang goes immediately to the station to meet the officials; they answer that due to technical reasons the broadcast is cancelled. Right at that moment, the police, the security force, the fire cruise pump water to the crowd. The latter scream asking for stopping this, but fail.
At 9h30, Dang Sy ORDERS TO USE CANNONS (dda.i ba'c) to fire at the crow many series of blank ammunition. Next is all kinds of arms fired at the crowd : grenades, guns,... There are 3 Red Cross vehicles which transfer plenty of injured people to the hospital of Hue; the victims are composed of 7 dead and one dying kid ..."
4. According to "How to Kill a President" (La`m The^' Na`o DDe^? Gie^'t Mo^.t To^?ng Tho^'ng) by Cao The Dung (Cao The^' Dung) and Luong Khai Minh (Lu+o+ng Kha?i Minh; doctor Tuye^'n), there is an official telegram numbered 9195 dated 6/6/1963 issued by Quach Tong Duc (Qua'ch To`ng DDu+'c), Director of Cabinet (DDo^?ng Ly' Va<n Pho`ng), to the governmental representatives in the Central Vietnam and head of Thua Thien province according to the password of Mr Diem. This telegram comes at night to both places. At 8h30 of the next day, 7/5/1963, Mr Nguyen Van Dang, provincial head, goes to inform Mr Ngo Dinh Can who in turn orders Dang to inform Hue people that,"There is nothing changed. Hang flags as normal..."
In the night of 7/5/1963, 1000 Buddhists accompanying the monks including Ven. Thich Don Hau and Ven. Thich Tri Quang go to the Administrative Building to show their standpoint. A Buddhist named Nguyen Huu Khang (Nguye^~n Hu+~u Khang) has reported what happened to both authors of the book that the provincial head must agree to let Mr Tru, head of provincial Information Branch, send 3 cars with loudspeakers informing Buddhists that the festival on 8/5/1963 would be normal; there is no change.
In the night 8/5/1963, Buddhists go to Tu Dam pagoda, but they are told to go to the radio station to wait for a carnival (xe hoa ?) coming from Da Nang. Due to this, there are lots of people gathering near the station. Like the spirit of the last no-sleeping night of 7/5/1963, requesting for the equal rights in religion, the night of 8/5/1963 implies the same spirit...
To the request for help of director of the station Ngo Ganh, provincial head ordered Major Dang Sy to mobilize the military to protect the station. Dang Sy got permission from General Le Van Nghiem (Le^ Va<n Nghie^m) to use the military force...
These forces are never ordered to oppress the people, but use water to dissolve the excited crowd. The soldiers holding rifles parallel to their chests to push the crowd back so that their cars can move closer to the station. When Dang Sy's car is about 50 m from the station, there is a big explosion and then another one. That is 10h30 pm. Afraid of VC attacks, Dang Sy fires bullets on the air and orders soldiers to use "concussion grenades"...
The explosive is a plastic one used often by CIA; the person who threw it is Captain James Scott. In 1966, in a military operation in Nam Dong (Nam DDo^ng), captain James Scott, advisor of the battalion 1/3, 1st Infantry Division from 1965, revealed to captain Buu (Bu+?u) that he did it. According to Buu, in 5/ 1963, Scott went from Da Nang to Hue on 7/5/9163. After many times of questionings by Buu who is cousin of Dang Sy's wife's, Scott admitted that he threw that explosive which is a special one used by CIA. Its size is of bigger than a match box with time detonating device.
This books says that on 7/5/1963, commander Conein who went to Hue for inspection said to a person named Tran Khoi that U.S. government had the feeling that the government of Vietnam is the one of Catholics; the American public opinion showed some discontent for Vietnam; to oppose communists, one had to mobilize Buddhists; Hue is the kingdom of bishop Ngo Dinh Thuc. In a party at an American consulat, vice-consul told Tran Khoi that, "Buddhist force is a big one; they would not participate in anti-communist activities if the government do not open door for Buddhists to join in." However, as the Americans find out later it is not the case. That is the reason for the return of Mr Henri Cabot Lodge.
5. The fifth book entitled "South Vietnam : Reesing's Reports - a Political History, 1954-1970" writes :
"On 5/5/1963, on the occasion of "Le^~ Nga^n Kha'nh" (the 25th anniversary as a bishop) of Bishop Ngo Dinh Thuc in Hue, Ngo Dinh Can requests Ven. Thich Tinh Khiet to send a congratulatory mail to bishop Thuc, but Ven. Thich Tinh Khiet refuses to do so. On 7/5/1963, the government orders to ban the Buddhist flag. On 8/5/1963, that is the Buddhist festival but the Roman Catholic flags are still on. The radio station has order not to broadcast the tape of the Buddhist festival. 20,000 Buddhists including women and kids went to the radio station for objection. Provincial vice-head comes to disperse the crowd throwing tear gas grenades. There are 9 dead including kids, and 20 injured. The government says that VC did sabotaging, but 3 professors of the Hue university and one West German came out as witnesses informing what they saw to the press, western diplomatic corps, the secretary-general of U.N., foreign military officials, International Buddhism and the Vatican. The 3 are deported 3 months later. 47 professors of the Hue university resigned on 17/8/1963 to object the arrest of Father Cao Van Luan who doesn't stop the demonstration of students."
Nguyen Tran ("Co^ng va` To^.i : Nhu+~ng Su+. Tha^.t Li.ch Su+?" [Credit and Sin : Historic Truths; 1991] writes a letter to Father Cao Van Luan asking about these allegations, he answers :
- "Le^~ Nga^n Kha'nh" of Bishop Ngo Dinh Thuc was celebrated on 29/6/1963 in Hue, not on 5/5/1963. The day of 5/5/1963 was the one Bishop Pham Ngoc Chi took the office in DA NANG AND THERE WERE FLAGS ON THE STREETS. Then there was no such thing like Mr Ngo Dinh Can told Ven. Thich Tinh Khiet to send congratulations to Bishop Ngo Dinh Thuc before 1 month and 24 days.
- The 3 German professors -- one is communist sympathizer -- stayed at the Hue university only for 2 years from 1959 to 1961, and has gone back to Germany. There were no professors to be witnesses to accuse the government.
- There were no such things like 47 professors resigning on 17/8/1963. There were only some students who gathered to beg Father Cao Van Luan to stay and not accept the new dean Tran Huu The (Tra^`n Hu+~u The^), but he dissuaded them to do it.
6. The 6th document is "US News and World Report", issue 10/10/1983, entitled "Untold Story of the Road to War in Vietnam". It says :
"On 8/5/1963, thousands of Buddhists entered the Hue city to object the law banning the raise of Buddhist flags. That is because the Roman Catholic flags were raised to celebrate the consecration of the archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc in Hue, older broher of Mr Diem. When the Buddhists in protest did not dissolve, the security force came in. There were at least 7 dead."
Needless to say, one can conclude that this is also not true.
7. There is another source of data for Nguyen Tran's book coming from a witness who is now living in Los Angeles. His name is T. Mr T. says :
"On 7/5/1963, he received an offical telegram of the Directorate of Information to its branches in all provinces saying generally that, "As compared with the circular which had been issued 5 or 6 months ago, the national flag must be respected; the flag should be hung in the middle and above all the flags of religions or organizations,..."
That is it; there is no order to ban hanging religious flags, nor to lower the International Buddhist flags. The director-general of the Information is the congressman, doctor Tran Van Tho (Tra^`n Va<n Tho.); this Directorate belongs to the Presidential Office; due to this, all letters have the header as "The Office of the Presidential Office, the Directorate of Information" (Va<n pho`ng To^?ng Tho^'ng Phu?, To^?ng Nha Tho^ng Tin). The official telegram mentioned above is the directive of the Directorate, but it does not mean that that directive is worked out directly from the Presidential Office, but from the Directorate itself.
At that time, the Information Branch in Hue belonged to the Office-5 of the 1st Infantry Division of commander Do Cao Tri (DDo^? Cao Tri'). Mr Tri brings that official telegram to lieutenant Duong Dien Nghi (Du+o+ng Die^n Nghi.), head of Office-5, who then hands it to major Nguyen Van Hieu (Nguye^~n Va<n Hie^'u who became brigadier-general and died in action later). Mr Hieu did put down :" Tranfer this to the Information Branch for public announcement". Mr T. gives the job to head of Technical Section. A moment later, this head complains that some people threw stones into his car breaking the glass. Mr T says to me that when fleeing from Vietnam, he brought this official telegram with him but through many times of moving, the document has been lost.
After that, Mr T. is informed that there is a policeman who climbs onto the post before the store "Tailleur Lien" in the main market Dong Ba (DDo^ng Ba) of Hue, rips the Buddhist flag, throws it to the ground and disappears. Mr T. checks about this with his officials who report that there was no order to lower the flag; that is a sabotage.
Informed about the flag which has been thrown, Buddhists rush to the Administrative Building to protest.
On the next day, 8/5/1963, it is the celebration for Buddha's birthday. The monks from Tu Dam pagoda give sermons calling for a struggle to the end so that Buddhism cannot be discriminated. They also attack the policy of family despotism (gia ddi`nh tri.) of Mr Diem's regime and accuse bishop Ngo Dinh Thuc of abusing the power interfering politics. Ven. Thich Tri Quang declares that he would go to the radio station to have a talk. Informed by this, Buddhists rush to the station in abundance.
Provincial head, Nguyen Van Dang, went to Tu Dam pagoda to meet Ven. Thich Tri Quang and both went to the radio station. When they arrive at the gate of the station, they must use the back door because the crowd is dense. When they enter into the station, there is an explosion... Later, provincial head and Ven. Thich Tri Quang used the back door to go toward the river bank and drive home and pagoda. Mr T says that major Dang Sy just uses armored car M-113 to protect the station when the explosion occurs.
Mr T. says that he is a Buddhist and can't lie about this.
According to Nguyen Tran's judgement, Mr T.'s words are most trustworthy because he is a Buddhist official present at the scene. About other sources, there are fluctuations of accounts and, especially informations from 2 American documents which have untrue reporting. It means that the Western news basing on what have been seen or reported by others who did distort the matter and bring down Mr Diem's regime.
About the explosive before the station in the night of 8/5/1963, it has been looked at by Father Cao Van Luan who suggested according to the public opinion that it migh be the job of CIA. Mr Cao The Dung did mention this in his book about captain James Scott. This is the same news Nguyen Tran read in an American review in 6 or 7/1975 when he stayed in his daughter's house in Arcadia after he had moved there. The man who signed under that article was James Scott who acknowledged that he threw the plastic explosive before the radio station on 8/5/ 1963. Nguyen Tran read the article loudly for his family, but because he was in a state of sadness after fleeing away from Vietnam and left behind his son he had no mood for writing anything and as a result, he did not save the article.
Writing this book Mr Nguyen Tran has tried to track down James Scott's article in many microfilms in U.S. libraries, but failed. He phoned the Defense Department asking about James Scott; they answered that there were two James Scott, but they were discharged and had no names in pension records : they did not know their addresses.
In summary, the official telegram about the regulation of hanging the flag is directly from the Directorate of Information, not from the Presidential Office. The telegram is not for lowering the international Buddhist flag, but for hanging the national flag in the middle and above the other flags.
The death at the radio station in the night of 8/5/1953 can't be done by Major Dang Sy or his soldiers by using "concussion" grenades because these ones are not fatal. The exlosive must be from James Scott or "somebody else". And this has been confirmed by a court session to try Mr Dang Sy later.
It's no doubt that the Buddhist incident of 1963 is just an event set up by the opponents of Mr Diem's regime. In other words, using faked accusation that Mr Diem oppressed Buddhism is the theme or pretext for a political purpose of religious people. Oppostion of a regime is political matter, but some factions of Buddhist hierarchy interfered heavily into politics, instigated more confrontation heating up hatred instead of using Buddhism to make peace with Mr Diem.
After Mr Diem is killed, Buddhists continue "struggle" with their incessant going to the streets, self-immolating and even bringing their altars to the streets. These events show that some An Quang Sectarian monks and followers abuse Buddhism for a political goal -- reconciling with communists by cheering Ho Chi Minh, but not with Mr Diem, and the latter has to be eliminated. Other anti-communist leaders of SVN are also objected by them when labeled as Regime-Diem-Without- Diem.
Buddhism used for political purpose
According to "A Death in November" by doctor Ellen J. Hammer, when ambassador Buu Hoi returned home in order to persuade his mother, senior monk Dieu Khong (Die^ .u Kho^ng), not to self-immolate, he received a letter from Ven. Thich Tinh Khiet and Ven. Thich Tam Chau who have complained that "Buddhism had been used for political purpose," and events in the days before the attacks on pagodas lost religious goals. The chaos became thoroughly political and when the monks went beyond their limit, the government of Mr Diem had no choice to cope with them for self-defense. Ambassador Buu Hoi submitted the two letters (from the two venerables) to U.N. It may be that these monks have had no knowledge about the letter from Ven. Thich Tri Do sent from Hanoi to Ven. Thich Tri Quang. Excluding subordinates of Ven. Thich Tri Quang, it may be that a majority of monks did not know intentions of Ven. Thich Tri Quang who has taken advantage of them.
In "Our Vietnam Nightmare", p. 28, Marguerite Higgins says that Ven. Thich Tri Quang invited her to Xa Loi pagoda. He spoke to her publicly that, "We can not negotiate with North Vietnam until we topple Diem-Nhu."
Doctor Ellen J. Hammer in "A Death in November" wrote the same and added that "Ven. Thich Tri Quang wanted also a neutral man sitting in Saigon" (Is it Duong Van Minh or Vu Van Mau ?).
Both authors wrote that "Ven. Thich Tri Quang said to an American official in Hue two days after the Buddhist incident before the radio station of the night of 8/5/1963 that he would never stop struggle until the government collapsed."
It means that the Americans knew clearly the scheme of Ven. Thich Tri Quang from the start, and especially Marguerite Higgins let president Kennedy know the intention of Ven. Thich Tri Quang after she came back from Saigon. To Kennedy, he did not react a bit or wanted also to collaborate with Ven. Thich Tri Quang to overthrow Mr Diem ? One clear thing is that Kennedy was an ally of Ven. Thich Tri Quang because he accepted Ven. Thich Tri Quang's seeking asylum at the U.S. embassy.
In the spring of 1965, McNamara called this strategy a big mistake of U.S. because great problems caused by Ven. Thich Tri Quang had created more havocs for U.S..
One of the worst scheme of Ven. Thich Tri Quang in order to topple the government of Mr Diem was to organize self-immolations, tricking devout persons to destroy their bodies; the reason is there was nothing to excite public opinion better than the picture of a man who burns himself like a torch : that was an atrocious and deplorable scene and this was also the plan urging U.S. to act when seeing that the U.S. public opinion "recognized" that that was in no doubt the crime committed by Mr Diem who oppressed Buddhism so much that it created incredible sacrifices in protest.
About Ven. Thich Tri Quang, contemplating that his Buddhist group could not topple Mr Diem, he had to lean on the hands of U.S. and as Marguerite Higgins assessed : "Ven. Thich Tri Quang wanted to take the head of Mr Diem and put it not on a silver plate but wrapped it inside an American flag."
About Major Dang Sy, standing before a military court in Saigon (after the coup d'etat 1/11/1963), he declares : I have two offences. I am a Catholic and I obey the order. Dang Sy also says that ones imprisoned him for many months in dark cell to force him to put murder charge on Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc for his own freedom, but Dang Sy refused to do so.
It's no doubt that all came from religious discrimination, but it's not Catholics to discriminate agaisnt Buddhists but on the contrary, some bad elements in Ven. Thich Tri Quang's group discriminate against Catholics. This originated from the history whereby the royal courts opposed Catholicism and tortured their Vietnamese Catholics for more than 300 years. While emperor Meiji (Vua Minh Tri.) of Japan opened his hands to Westerners and led his country to a prosperous nation, Vietnam was colonized and mixed with chaos.
Consequences caused by Ven. Thich Tri Quang were not only related to religious discrimination, but destruction of South Vietnam fit with the plan of Ven. Thich Tri Do from Hanoi.
Using the pretext that Buddhism was oppressed so that it must stand up to struggle against oppression, but after 1963 when Buddhism was seen as upper- handed bearing no oppression, these Buddhists (An Quang Sect) still created havocs and chaos (People's Council of Salvation : Ho^.i DDo^`ng Nha^n Da^n Cu+'u Quo^'c in the Central Vietnam in 1964, the Buddhist struggle in 1965, in 1966,...) which paralyzed totally the campaign against communists.
Objections by top advisors of Kennedy
Incident of Buddhist flag - US involvement - Coup Generals (6)
On Monday, CIA director John McCone, Defense Minister McNamara and General Taylor objected fiercely the sent message. Concurring with wth the military, McCone sees Mr Diem as best leader. General Taylor is angry at reading the message. He says that the people opposing Diem is grouped in the State Department which take advantage of the absence of important officials in the government to draft directive which is never accepted in a common situation.
Feeling uneasy due to contradictory ideas among his advisors, Kennedy, going around the table, asks who wants to retract the message. Although McCone and Taylor don't agree with the message, they don't suggest to cancel it. Taylor says, "We can't change our policy in 24 hrs; if so who can trust us ?". That is a strange reasoning because the message is still top secret, then how can one be afraid that "no one will trust us anymore" ? To manage a country, if knowing that something is wrong then one should correct it; if not, he would commit a bigger mistake. It is known that after the message is executed, Kennedy is so regretful because he has created a shameful picture for U.S. and brought havoc to an ally whom U.S. has committed to support. East and West have that difference.
In a meeting on the next day when the difference in ideas is still maintained, Kennedy sends a message to Cabot Lodge asking him about the plan and leaders of the coup d'etat. Taylor drafts a message telling Lodge that the message 243 of 24/8/1963 is studied again by the government because there is no words from the Defense Department and and its General Staff.
When there is another meeting taking place, officials of the State Department comprising people against Mr Diem suggest going ahead with the coup d'etat. Ambassador Nolting rejects the idea and says that doing this is breaking the promise with Mr Diem. He says straightforwardly that, "I think some people at the State Department feel happy to see me go...because they are using many ropes to squeeze Mr Diem's throat. I feel there is a movement to topple Mr Diem coming from Undersecretary of State Averell Harriman, Roger Hilsman and others of the State Department. This is against the advice of the CIA. I want this to be recorded to the document." After saying this, Nolting resigns.
U.S. News and World Report says the official message from the State Department to Cabot Lodge in the Saturday afternoon of 24/8/1963 is "leaps and bounds" of U.S. in interfering into the internal affair of SVN without a previously elaborate study.
Later, Cabot Lodge calls the message "ill-advised, reprehensible and insane". However, receiving it on Sunday of 25/8/1953, Cabot Lodge holds immediately a meeting of high-ranked officials for discussion and then he sends a message to the State Department for a permission to contact Vietnamese coup generals to let them know demands of U.S. without informing Mr Diem. The State Department agrees.
Next, Cabot Lodge orders CIA to contact the Vietnamese military to ask about the plan of a coup d'etat. To encourage Viet generals, CIA let them know that U.S. wants to eliminate Mr Nhu and Buddhist demands must be satisfied; if not U.S. will cut economic and military aid to SVN. U.S. will accept a new government. However, the success or failure of the coup d'etat is responsibility of Vietnamese generals. Conein, a CIA, contacts General Tran Thien Khiem and the latter agrees on demands and promises to answer Conein after he meets General Duong Van Minh.
On 26/8/1963, at 11 am, Cabot Lodge presents credential to Mr Diem and talks about dismissal of Mr Nhu. Mr Diem asks him :"Nhu's working for me as adviser does any matter to you ?". Cabot Lodge says, "That is the idea of Mr Kennedy."
Conein is assigned to contact General Duong Van Minh, but head of CIA Richardson tells Conein not to encourage Mr Minh and just litsen to his report. Not to agree with Richardson's restriction, Cabot Lodge orders Conein to receive his order from now on.
Cabot Lodge sends a telegram to Kennedy saying, "We come to a point of no return to overthrow Diem's government. Prestige of U.S. is put on this goal. To me, we can't win over Diem's government." To urge Vietnamese generals to act fast, Cabot Lodge requests for cutting economic aid if Vietnamese generals demand it as a signal of support from U.S..
General Harkins doen't want the coup d'etat without effort to demand Mr Diem to eliminate Mr Nhu in advance. Cabot Lodge sends a message saying that is a danger because Vietnamese generals has been fed up much. The White House gives Cabot Lodge to cut aid at his will but not to use it as an ultimatum.
Guessing that a bloodpath can occur in Saigon due to strong reaction from Mr Diem, Kennedy orders the Navy to transfer 5,000 American citizens by a special fleet out of the sea of SVN and in Okinawa in Japan. 3,000 of marine corps are in alert 24/24hrs.
From special documents of the White House, Doctor Ellen J. Hammer discovers that Roger Hilsman takes preliminary steps for possible reactions from Mr Diem's government. If Cabot Lodge and his officials were seen as "undesirable elements", U.S. would ignore them until the aftermath of the coup d'etat. If Mr Diem consents with Hanoi a neutrality for SVN or an accord, let a coup d'etat occur to set up a new government. U.S. will find all ways to make the military loyal to Mr Diem leave him. U.S. will be ready to stop loyal elements and let the rebellious military arrest Mr Diem and his family, and bring them out of Saigon. If the resistance continues, U.S. will use ready means in SVN to help the rebellious military; if necessary U.S. will let American soldiers help them to victory, including to destroy the palace Gia-Long. If Mr Diem's family is still alive, Mr Nhu will be banished; about Mr Diem, it's up to rebellious military.
While the State Department is taking care of how to overthrow Mr Diem, some Americans go to see him, especially Mr Paul Kattenburg, head of Vietnam section at the State Department who knew Mr Diem before. In a moment of emotion, Mr Diem says :"I will ready to die immediatly, if blood and sweat spent for 9 years go way just to sacrifice for a small group of instigation under the label Buddhism." Paul Kattenburg answers, "Help us in order we can help you." After that Kattenburg suggests a withdrawal of U.S. because he sees that Mr Diem's government has no future, no hope to win with or without Mr Diem. But the pressure around Kennedy forces him to escalate, not retreat.
On 31/8/1963, Kattenburg returns to Washington to report the U.S. government his observations that U.S. doesn't understand tradition, culture, history, people and opponents in SVN. He repeats Cabot Lodge's warning that :"If U.S. continues supporting the oppressing regime with bayonets at every corner and negotiations with "puppet" monks, we will be kicked out of SVN in 6 months !". So, Kattenburg concludes :"In that situation, it's better for us to decide a withdrawal with honor."
Answering Taylor's question for further explanation, Kattenburg says :"From 6 months to one year, seeing us lose the battle, the Vietnamese will gradually lean to the other side and as a result, we will be obliged to leave." The Secretary of State Dean Rusk says :"Your words are just predictions. We won't withdraw from Vietnam until victory... We won't direct the coup d'etat."
Kennedy turns to vice-president Lyndon B. Johnson whom Kennedy rarely asks his thinking about Vietnam. Johnson will replace an assassinated Kennedy. He says :" We shouldn't hold the role of a cop and a thief, but must negotiate with Mr Diem."
Johnson had many times to warn officials at the State Department that they should not misuse authority in Vietnam because the Americans as Westerners lacks experiences on the Oriental matters and as a result, they don't know what's the best for VN. Sometimes we must act, sometimes we don't. The war is going on : who knows whether or not a committee of coup generals would be more successful than a clean and deified man who overcame many impossible obstacles. Except that we know for sure the successors of Mr Diem would be better than him. The wisest thing is to continue working with the man we did know although he is complexed. Who else has determination and iron will like him ?
While his specialists on foreign policy are working out a workable plan, Kennedy announces foolishly on the CBS in the night of 2/9/1963 :"I don't think that the war will be won unless the government of SVN tries to get support from the people." When journalist Walter Cronkite asks :"Does Mr Diem got enough time to get that support ?" Kennedy answers :"I think yes if there is a change of policy and, possibly, the personnel. Without that change, I don't see any chance for that." In other words, Kennedy publicly demands Mr Diem to change policy and eliminate Mr Nhu. That declaration is too open to make Mr Diem accept. Losing face to the world, how can one get support from the Vietnamese ? It's the lofty policy of Kennedy who wants to order rather than skillfuly convinces a man of fidelity like Mr Diem to yield.
It's Cabot Lodge to create an asphyxiating atmosphere by the same lofty behavior and keep a distance from Mr Diem. A Republican colleague criticizes Cabot Lodge as follows :"I think Lodge must need at least two weeks to find out a bit the situation before reaching any decision. But Lodge is against Mr Diem from the beginning when he just arrives in Saigon. His telegrams to Washington shows denouncement. Lodge is the important obstacle for some of us to hinder a coup d'etat." A high-ranked official at the State Department says that before 1/11/1963, Lodge has many times to receive order to contact tightly Mr Diem, but Lodge answers :"My policy is not to go to Diem, but he must come to me."
Marguerite Higgins cites words from minister of Justice Robert Kennedy that "Cabot Lodge's activities in many months before the coup d'etat is terrible." However, according to Lyndon B. Johnson, "it's not Lodge's actions to be terrible because he just carries the policy of Washington." Johnson means that the policy of Kennedy puts much pressure on Mr Diem; it comes to such point that "a branch must be broken" and the coup d'etat occurs.
U.S. News and World Report, basing on minutes of a meeting at the White House at 10h30 of 6/9/1963, writes that Robert Kennedy talks about punishing Mr Diem as follows :"If we come to a conclusion that we will lose the battle to Diem, why don't we eradicate that painful prickle ?"
After that meeting, Kennedy sends a delegation to Vietnam led by General Krulak of the military and Joseph A. Mendenhall, a high-ranked official of the State Department who once served as political advisor at the U.S. embassy in SVN. They arrive at Saigon on 8/9/1963, separate right away at the airport and promise to see each other again in 36 hrs.
Krulak goes to see 80 military advisors, including 150,000 U.S soldiers in Vietnam. Investigating in detail about the ongoing war, he concludes that the South Vietnamese fight against communists is going well. Mendenhall contacts American officials along the Coast of Central Vietnam where the Buddhist matter is tense. He also meets some Vietnamese in Saigon whom he knows having knowledge and objectiveness. He depicts that Saigon, Hue and Da Nang are cities of "hate...living under a regime of terror". He concludes that from a hatred toward Mr Nhu, the people come to hate Mr Diem.
On 9/9/1963, Krulak and Mendenhall leaves Saigon to Washington with John Mecklin, a relation official at the U.S. embassy who was recalled for consultation. Each drafts own report. To Mecklin, Krulak and Mendenhall don't like each other and they just talk to each other when "it can't be avoided".
On the next day, at 10h30, Kennedy convenes a meeting at the White House for the three to report their findings. Krulak reports that the war is in good progress. It is hurt by the political crisis, but it's okay. The war against communists will win if the military and social aid is continued despite great shortcoming of the regime.
Incident of Buddhist flag - US involvement - Coup Generals (7)
Mendenhall's report is totally different. He talks about the standstill of the civilian government and the people fearing and hating Nhu. He predicts that there will be possibly a religious war or the people will lean to communists... Nhu must go if one wants to win over communists.
Due to difference between two reports, Kennedy asks :" Is that both of you come back from one country ?". Krulak answers :"Mr Mendenhall visits cities of Vietnam; I go to rural areas of Vietnam where the war occurs."
The contradiction of two reports causes a debate between two sides, for and against Mr Diem. Ambassador Nolting says the government of Saigon overcomes the hatred and terror of 1961 and survives while the war against communists is in good progress. George Bundy, security advisor, says :"One can't compare like that because 1961 was the year of terror and hatred against Vietcong, but now of opposing Diem."
At that moment, Michael Forrestal introduces Rufus Phillips to Kennedy and his advisors. Phillips was once in the military delegation of General Landsdale; he returned to Vietnam in 1962 to work with vice-director of an economic aid organization for rural areas.
Phillips says that he agrees with Cabot Lodge to let General Lansdale return to Vietnam and use his influence to neutralize Nhu, but Hilsman answers that detente policy towards Mr Diem's government has been put in the memorandum already rejected by Washington.
These "activists" in Washington don't object Lodge about his "colonialist" behavior, but also don't want to cut tie with Mr Diem; they have sent a message to Lodge telling him to discuss with Mr Diem and let Lodge decide by himself.
John Mecklin is the last man to report to Kennedy; he shows pessimism about Mr Diem's regime and this can hurt the effort of a war against communists. However, he suggests not to cut aid, but should use the military to topple Mr Diem and ameliorate that war against communists. This suggestion is rejected. Fed up with the Korean war, Kennedy says that a majority of military advisors oppose using American Army to fight against the guerilla war in Asia and an old ally.
At last, Kennedy orders to study ways to cut economic aid to SVN. He is also frustrated about division among his men.
In Saigon, there is also another division between Cabot Lodge and General Harkins about the meeting 10/9/1963 at the White House. Harkins says that Krulak's report is correct, but Lodge sends a message to Washington suspecting validity of optimistic observations of young generals. Lodge suggests to cut aid totally, but Kennedy is afraid that this would hurt the fight against communists and force Mr Diem to surrender to U.S. As a result, losing all political authority, Mr Diem can find a compromise with communists as Mr Nhu once suggested. Kennedy wants to build a pressure on Mr Diem so that the latter will eliminate Mr Nhu and change the current policy. On 17/9/1963, Kennedy orders Lodge to make a plan to urge Mr Diem to change the policy before a coup d'etat can be used.
However, Lodge insolently tells Mr Diem to see him instead. Seeing no other solution than a coup d'etat, Lodge sends a message to Dean Rusk that,"I believe that we should continue contacting Big Minh and urge him to act if he wants."
Kennedy is so feeble that he is tricked by Cabot Lodge. Once more, Kennedy sents an investigative delegation to Vietnam with Defense Minister McNamara and general Maxwell Taylor to estimate the progress of the war and future steps.
During 10-day stay, McNamara and Taylor go investigating all war areas. Taylor agrees with general Krulak that the war against communists is in good progress... The report McNamara-Taylor shares optimism of the Pentagon about the progress of the war and pessimism of the State Department about the political situation. The delegation suggests creating a pressure by cutting aid as a neutral measure rather than by overthrowing Mr Diem.
The report shows that there is no proof about the rumor that Mr Nhu can negotiate with communists. It also explains that the Special Force is kept in the capital not to attack pagodas but to protect Mr Diem.
The report is approved on 2/10/1963. Next, aid cut will be the one of 14 millions dollars for Saigon Hydroelectricity... This is also what General Duong Van Minh has waited for a long time.
Colby suggests with CIA director McCone letting him go to Saigon to convince Mr Nhu to leave Vietnam. McCone presented this idea to a higher level but it was not accepted. Next, McCone personally comes to see Kennedy and Robert Kennedy to dissuade them from using coup d'etat. He says that CIA did study and find none can replace Mr Diem and that if Mr Diem is overthrown, there is not only one coup d'etat, but many more to come... Next, McCone tells David Smith of CIA in Saigon not to support assassinating Mr Diem and involve in the affair.
General Taylor and director McCone say that a defeat is not due to the danger of a coup d'etat and if there is a success, the effort of a war against communists will come to standstill because of lack of experience of the new government. The whole administrative machine of SVN will be interrupted and all heads of provinces under Mr Diem would be all replaced.
At the time, Mr Nhu's close friends informs Mr Nguyen Tran that Mr Diem agrees to let Mr Nhu go. Mr Cao Xuan Vy is asked by Mr Nhu about the address of a hotel Mr Vy boarded before when he has taken a trip to Tokyo. Mr Nhu also calls in his friends like Nguyen Cao Thang, Nguyen Buu and Cao Xuan Vy in order to say goodbye. At that moment, Bishop Thuc just arrives; seeing Mr Nhu leave, bishop Thuc says :"Don't go anywhere". Then, Mr Nhu stays and the coup d'etat occurs.
4 days before the National Day (26/10/1963), General Harkins, head of MACV (Pha'i Bo^. Co^' Va^'n Qua^n Su+. My~ o+? VN) meets General Tran Van Don and tells him that he opposes a coup d'etat. Stunned, Mr Don calls Conein who in turn says that that's Harkins' own idea.
Started up from this, Kennedy sends a message to Lodge telling him to show Harkins all offical messages about Vietnamese coup generals' organization of a coup d'etat. After reading them, a frustrated Harkins sends consecutively 3 messages on 30/11/1963 as follow :
- "Last week, I said that I would stay out of the coup d'etat. Lodge promised to let me know the plot, but he didn't. I am mad because the plan of General Tran Van Don will be executed."
- Harkins objected Lodge's unfavored report about the military situation to Washington and this Lodge didn't let him know. He confirmed that he is against a coup d'etat.
- Harkins knows very clear about Vietnamese generals when Cabot Lodge doesn't know them well; due to this, Harkins is against the coup d'etat. Harkins says : I got many contacts with these generals and find out that none of them having a determination can replace Mr Diem, at least to the way of confronting communists. Obviously, none of them has capability to take the power." However, he says to General Taylor that he is not Mr Diem's man. He recognizes that Mr Diem has many mistakes, but one must convince him to change. He continues :"Whether it is right or not, we support him for 8 years of difficulty. I think that it is nonsensical to overthrow, kick and eliminate him."
General Tran Van Don meets Conein at Tan Son Nhat airport and invites him to Nha Trang for a talk. Here, Don let Conein know that coup generals are ready to act because they have attracted General Ton That Dinh to their side; Dinh is commander of the 3rd Military Corps and governor (To^?ng Tra^'n) of Saigon-Gia Dinh; Dinh has been discontent because he was not promoted after he has helped crush the Buddhist riots and "foreign adventurers". General Tran Van Don has exploited this from Dinh for many months.
Mr Do Mau also writes that at mid-night he goes to Ton That Dinh's house to kneel down before Dinh to beg him to participate in the coup d'etat. It's Do Mau to urge Mr Diem to withdraw the Special Force out of Saigon by lying to Mr Diem that it is needed to confront intruding communists. This Special Force has been cut U.S. aid, but they still stay in Saigon to protect Mr Diem until Mr Do Mau tricks Mr Diem.
General Tran Thien Khiem, "god-son" of Mr Diem, let him know that there is a conspiration of a coup d'etat, but Mr Diem doesn't believe this.
Next, Tran Van Don and Ton That Dinh come to Gia-Long Palace to present him a plan of renovating the government and suggest a dismissal of Mr Nhu.
On 24/10/1994, knowing that Lodge and his wife are going to Dalat for a leave, Mr Diem lets Truong Cong Cuu (Tru+o+ng Co^ng Cu+`u) to tell Lodge that they shouldn't be outside alone due to security reason. He invites the couple to fly to Dalat on Sunday so that they can attend the inauguration ceremony at the Atomic Center of Dalat and stay there with him.
At a dinner of the Sunday evening, Mr Diem talks about a rumor to assassinate Lodge and says that is nonsensical because he has the vital duty to keep Lodge safe.
Close to 1/11/1963, Kennedy complains with Robert Kennedy that Cabot Lodge refuses to show openness to Mr Diem.
Rebellious generals plan to kidnap Messrs. Diem-Nhu at a military parade on the National Day 26/10/1963, but it fails because all guns in the area must be emptied of cartridges during this occasion.
On the same day, through a go-between Conein, Tran Van Don meets Lodge at Tan Son Nhat airport. Don complains, "The spirit of the army declines gravely due to the Buddist incident". When Lodge answers that he is willing to help, Don says : "Ambassador has enough means. What we need is support of U.S. if we are successful. Don't interfere in this because it is an internal matter of the Vietnamese !"
On 28/10/1963, Don phones Conein to his office to let Conein know about the day of the coup d'etat and informs the U.S. 4hrs before the coup. Don also requests Lodge not to go to Washington on 31/10/1963 because he is afraid that Gia-Long Palace will have suspicion.
Although Lodge confirms that there would be a coup d'etat, but Washington is still worried; they send one message to Lodge telling him to dissuade rebellious generals except that Lodge is sure 100% that the coup d'etat is well accomplished. Next is the second message :"We don't accept that we have no right to postpone or dissuade the coup d'etat. Lodge answers :"It's too late. The matter is in the hands of Vietnamese generals. They don't want us to interfere. They don't want our help even...weapons...They want to direct it. Washington says that it wants to step aside; then do it."
Lodge's message makes William Colby, CIA head of the Far-East Affairs, criticizes : "Yes, that is a coup d'etat by Vietnamese generals. But I think basic things are decided in Washington because few weeks before, in a press conference, President says that it is essential to have new personnel in the Vietnamese government and this was related to Messrs. Diem-Nhu..."
On the other hand, in a secret message sent to George Bundy, national security advisor, Lodge confirms clearly :"Saigon CIA carry decisively all my directives. I myself check every contact between General Don and Conein who executes my orders in any case."
After the coup d'etat, Lodge talks about U.S. arrangement as follows :"...It is equally the ground in which the coup seed grew into a robust plant was prepared by us and that the coup would not have happened as it did without our preparation."
Later, when General Tran Thien Khiem becomes ambassador to U.S., he admits that the organization of the coup d'etat is to please the Americans, "We think that president Kennedy wants so. It's the only way to save the effort of the war against communists. We think that U.S. cutting military aid means telling us to do so..."
In "The Ten Thousand Day War" by Michael Maclear, 1981, p. 81, the Vietnamese generals effectively regarded the coup as American-ordered, and it was staged only when the generals knew they would inherit American aid. Mr Diem's press secretary, Ton That Thien, quotes one of the coup leaders, General Kim, on his motivations :"I ask him afterwards because I considered him loyal to president Diem. And General Kim said "The Americans told us to choose between Mr Diem and American Aid. We had no choice."
Few days before the coup d'etat, informed by Mr Ngo Dinh Can who says that Mr Do Mau betrayed him. Mr Diem tells General Khiem who already sided to the coup generals to arrest Mr Do Mau; Khiem lies Mr Diem that he did so.
In his diary, attache' Do Tho writes that knowing there is a coup d'etat, at 1h45 pm of 1/11/1963, Tho drives to the Gia Long Palace. Recognizing that he is only a Buddhist among 4 attache' officers and Mr Do Mau's nephew, Do Tho asks if he is trusted he will volunteer to stay next to Mr Diem because another attache', captain Le Cong Hoan, is married with one kid. Mr Diem agrees and from then on he follows Messrs. Diem-Nhu who leave Gia-Long Palace to Ma Tuyen (Ma~ Tuye^n)'s house in Cho Lon, then go to the church "Father Tam". The group organizing the coup d'etat send some officers to "receive" the two.
Incident of Buddhist flag - US involvement - Coup Generals (8)
According to Commander Nguyen Van Y (Nguye^~n Va<n Y), former director of Police and Security, informed that there is abnormal military mobilization he tells it to Mr Nhu, but the latter answers, "That is our plan".
Later, people know that Mr Nhu deploys two plans called Bravo 1 and Bravo 2. In Bravo 1, some loyal troups will organize a faked coup d'etat to trick rebellious generals to appear; then Messrs. Diem-Nhu will go to Vung Tau to hide away. Knowing who are betrayers, they will come back to re-establish order. Mr Nhu assigns General Ton That Dinh to to be in charge, not knowing that Dinh is also a betrayer. When Mr Nhu phones Dinh many times without an answer, he knows that Dinh has taken the other side. At that moment, it is too late.
According to General Tran Van Don, Mr Nhu appoints Dinh to execute Bravo 1 against the coup d'etat with a force of 3,000 soldiers, 40 armored cars and six special regiments with Dinh as head, Le Quang Tung and Nguyen Ngoc Khoi as vice-heads. On 31/11/1963, General Dinh meets Tung and Khoi to discuss about the job .
At mid-day of 1/11/1963, Tran Thien Khiem invites all high-ranked military loyal and disloyal to the General Staff Headquarter for a lunch. When they are all at place, General Duong Van Minh stands up and yells :"Coup d'etat". Next, the military police with submachine guns enter and encircle them.
The officers loyal to Mr Diem's government like Air Force Commander, Marines Commander were arrested by lower-ranked soldiers . Colonel Ho Tan Quyen (Ho^` Ta^'n Quye^`n), Navy Commander, has been tricked by his rebellious officers who invited him for a meal and killed him in a rubber plantation. Colonel Le Quang Tung, head of the Special Force, and his younger brother, lieutenant-colonel Khoi are forced before guns to let Mr Diem know that all important areas are usurped so that Messrs. Diem-Nhu should surrender. After that, they are led by escorts of General Duong Van Minh to the backyard of the General Staff Headquarter, shot to death and buried in two previously dug holes.
The coup instigators have two battalions of Marines with red scarves transported by armored cars from Bien Hoa to cease Tan Son Nhat airport, Navy Headquarter and its workshop, Defense ministry, General Office of Police and Security, Post-office, but when coming to the Radio Station they are stopped by strong resistance. Until 3h30, they cease the station. The fight is fierce at the fort Cong Hoa (tha`nh Co^.ng Ho`a) where there is a group to protect the presidential palace.
General Tran Van Don writes in his diary about Mr Do Mau, the man self-claiming as decisive plotter as follows :
"After I let Do Mau know the time of the operation by saying :"The decisive time is coming; you must stay next to me. Because you specialize in politics, I want you to help two generals Le Van Kim and Nguyen Van Chieu at the operating office." I suggest to bring Mau to Kim's office, but Mau wants to use his jeep. When I arrive, Mau is not there. Captain S. has to force Mau to come back when he see Mau use the back door of the General Staff Headquarter; this gives me some suspicion. I will talk later about this matter. I hand Mau to Kim and Chieu. From then onwards, Mau never leaves us."
Is that Mr Do Mau wakes up and doesn't want to participate in the coup ? Mr Do Mau never talks about this matter.
The coup generals call for Mr Diem to surrender, but he declines to do so. At 4 pm, Mr Nguyen Tran hear Mr Duong Van Minh talk on the radio :"Compatriots. Please listen to the president's words." But next is silence. After the coup, I know that Mr Diem goes to the corridor of the presidential palace to announce his resignation, but Mr Nhu stops him and says :"Your doing that will kill my wife and me." Hearing that, Mr Diem steps back to his palace.
Mr Diem calls Mr Tran Thien Khiem by phone, but the answer :"President, it's time for the army to meet the wish of the people."
Mr Diem taxes generals with not displaying their ideas clearly, but using violence. He invites them to the palace to have a straight talk. Afraid of a trick, Tran Van Don backs it down.
Duong Van Minh calls for Mr Diem's surrender for a second time; if Mr Diem rejects, he will flatten the Gia-Long Palace. However, Mr Diem hangs the phone. This makes Duong Van Minh shameful before other generals.
U.S. News and Reports writes that there are no generals and officers to step forward to attack the palace; this shows that Mr Diem is "still a man of prestige so great that no one would like to bear a disgrace to assault directly Mr Diem." At last, the coup generals assigned Colonel Nguyen Van Thieu, commander of the 5th Infantry, a Catholic and as seen "loyal" to Mr Diem during the Buddhist crisis, as the first man to attack Mr Diem. They want to watch a Catholic attack a Catholic president.
Last minutes between Mr Diem and Cabot Lodge
On 1/11/1963, Tran Van Don makes up another trick by insisting Pacific Commander Admiral Harry D. Felt going with Lodge to visit Mr Diem so that Don can hold Mr Diem back in Saigon instead of going to Dalat. Don also persuades Lodge not to return to Washington on 31/10/1963 because he is afraid that the Gia-Long Palace will have some suspicion.
Ton That Thien, press secretary of Mr Diem, cites that every time Admiral Felt wants to stand up and leave, Lodge puts many questions so that Mr Diem must talk to him. Until 12 pm, Felt leaves, but Lodge and his assistant Flott stay with Mr Diem. The secret file from the White House records Mr Diem's words clearly that :"Please tell President Kennedy that I am a good and frank ally, that I would rather be frank and settle questions now than talk about them later when we lose everything. Tell President Kennedy that I take all the suggestions very seriously and wish to carry them out, but it is a question of timing."
Recognizing that is a progress, Lodge telegraphs to Washington :"If U.S. wants to resolve the matter thoroughly, we can do it now. Please see Diem's announcement of releasing all Buddhists and students."
Two days before, 29/10/1963, Mr Diem recalled cultural advisor at the Vietnamese embassy in Washington Tran Van Dinh (Tra^`n Va<n DDi~nh). He told Dinh to go back to Washington to hold a press conference on 1/11/1963 with the announcement : In few days, there will be an agreement between the Vietnamese government and ambassador Cabot Lodge about a better method to suppress the insurgency of communists. These measures will aim at using more effectively the military and economic aid, creating an administrative structure at the central and provincial level. In brief, it's a change in policy and personnel."
After the suggested press conference, Dinh would go to New Delhi to meet high-ranked officials from Hanoi. Written about this, doctor Hammer says that it may be Hanoi wants to do trading with the South and stop intrusion because Hanoi was caught in between in the dispute of China and USSR. It is sure that Dinh wouldn't organize the press conference because of the difference of 12-hour timing between Washington and Saigon.
Mr Diem's words to Lodge are very important and can change totally the situation, including the ending of the war and release of Buddhist demonstrators. Mr Diem's suggestion of a change in policy and personnel is to meet totally demands of Kennedy and it's is an utmost yielding which is rarely seen in a man like Mr Diem. However, Lodge's telegram is just of second priority not an urgent one like the time when Lodge informs about the coup d'etat to Washington. When the words from Mr Diem come to Washington, the news about the coup d'etat has been known for many hours. Kennedy and Lodge are at fault not to stop the coup d'etat and let the political and military situation in Vietnam decline and that has been warned by some advisors of Kennedy.
Mr Diem's words to Lodge is 1h30 before the coup d'etat occurs and the plot can be stopped in time to wait for the order from Washington because Lodge's duty is to organize the coup d'etat when Mr Diem doesn't accept the demands of Washington.
According to Lodge's report to Washington, at 4h30 pm (the coup d'etat is at 1h30 pm) of 1/11/1963, after refusing twice to surrender, Mr Diem phones Lodge to ask about Washington's attitude towards the coup d'etat in response to what he has said to Lodge. Lodge says that he hears the gunshots, but he doesn't know what happens.
"You should have a general idea about my responses. I am head of a country. I did try to do my duty and I believe in that more than anybody else."
Lodge : "I am sure that president did your duty as I said this morning. I admire your courage and what you have done to your country. Now, I just concern about your life. I have been told that the plotters suggest to let you and your brother leave the country safely if you resign. Do you hear something like that ?"
Mr Diem : No...Do you have my phone number ?
Lodge : If thinking what I can do for you about your safety, phone me.
After that Lodge phones Father De Jaegher, Mr Diem's close friend, to have him persuaded Mr Diem to resign but he refuses to do so.
Lodge also phones bishop Astar, papal nuncio of the Vatican to have him advised Mr Diem to take refuge in the U.S. embassy, but there is no answer.
According to Michael Maclear in "The Ten Thousand Day War : 1945-1975", Mr Diem phones General Tran Van Don. Don says : Mr President. I am sorry for what has happened but what I ask you now is to be wise and understand the situation and a special plane is ready if you surrender without any conditions to carry you and your family out of Vietnam."
Tran Van Don puts many sins on Mr Diem before the coup d'etat to explain for his betrayal. To make the image of Mr Diem worse, he says that Mr Diem lost popular support, particularly among the peasantry which comprised 85% of the population, and Diem "began to be oppressive in his ambition. He would like to be King of Vietnam. He believed too much that God had ordered him to SVN with a mystic mission". These words are contrary to what Duong Van Minh admits when Minh is exiled to Bangkok.
According to Do Tho, around mid-afternoon of 1/11/1963, Colonel Lam Son brought officer cadres to protect the Gia-Long palace. The army of the 3rd Military Corps and Security at the camp Le Van Duyet arrive and encircle the General Staff Headquarter. They request Mr Diem to attack and this would make plot generals shake. But Mr Diem backs it down because he doesn't want a bloodbath. Do Tho also says that Messrs. Diem-Nhu leave the palace not "by a secret exit to escape from the palace" like written in many books (including Halberstam's one), but walk to the street Le Thanh Ton and use a car driven by Cao Xuan Vy, director of Thanh Nien Cong Hoa (Republic Youth), to Ma Tuyen's house, Mr Diem's friend, in Cholon, the Chinese quarter; Ma Tuyen is also a cadre of Thanh Nien Cong Hoa. They are well welcomed here. Both discuss to move to the church "Father Tam". There, they talk to Father Jean and attend the mass. Mr Nhu wants each to go to different place. Mr Diem will go to the West to see General Huynh Van Cao and Mr Nhu will go to the Central Highlands to be with General Nguyen Khanh. If one is arrested, plotters won't dare killing him because the other is still alive. Father Jean tells them to stay but they think that Father Jean will be in trouble.
A Death in November
Incident of Buddhist flag - US involvement - Coup Generals (5)
Mr Diem disagrees with Mr Nhu's suggestion by saying : you are hated by them and they will kill you. Stay with me and I will protect you. We have lived with each other for many years. It's the critical time; we should not separate each other. Then, Mr Diem phones general Tran Van Khiem to tell him to get him home and phones all protecting force to stop resistance. Next, he tells Do Tho to let Tran Van Don know his whereabout. However, Duong Van Minh doesn't let Don and Khiem go to get Mr Diem, but orders general Mai Huu Xuan (who still hates Mr Diem because the latter has destroyed Binh Xuyen gang which Xuan had some connection; Mr Diem did not only remember about that connection but uses and promotes Xuan to the rank of general), Colonel Nguyen Van Quan, Colonel Duong Ngoc Lam, lieutenant-colonel Duong Hieu Nghia and captain Nguyen Van Nhung to organize a convoy to get Messrs. Diem-Nhu.
Do Tho is regretful that he didn't tell both to leave Saigon-Cho Lon because he believes that Do Mau, Tran Van Don and Tran Thien Khiem will protect the men. However, Mr Diem says to Do Tho that,"I don't know whether or not I will die and I don't care. Please tell Nguyen Khanh that I love him very much and request him to revenge for me."
Duong Ngoc Lam says that when the group go to the church "Father Tam" around 7 pm, Messrs. Diem-Nhu were already there. Mai Huu Xuan approaches them and say hello (some sources say that it's Nghia to do that while Xuan stands behind); thinking that he will be sent abroad, Mr Diem asks Xuan to drop by the palace to get clothing. Xuan answers that is impossible because he must bring Mr Diem to the General Headquarter. Mr Nhu asks : Get a president by this car (they are brought into an armored car) ? Xuan says it's because of security. Mr Diem steps in the armored car without saying a word. There is only one driver in the amored car. There are 4 cars before theirs. When the convoy runs for a while, young officers ask to shot Mr Nhu, but Duong Ngoc Lam says :"Nobody shots anybody; we must go to the general headquarter." The convoy stops at many places, especially at the railway crossing on Hong Thap Tu street. Arriving at the General Headquarter, Duong Ngoc Lam comes to the armored car M113 finding that the corpses of Messrs. Diem-Nhu lied on the ground : Their hands are tied to their backs; Mr Diem was shot from behind his head; Mr Nhu was stabbed many times on breast, back and shot on the head.
Later, Tran Van Don meets Duong Van Minh at the corridor of Tran Thien Khiem's office and asks why the two must die. Minh answers disdainfully :"Does that matter to me ? They were dead." Right at that moment, Mai Huu Xuan comes to say to Minh that "Mission Accomplie". Don concludes that Duong Van Minh ordered Mai Huu Xuan to kill them and that's only Minh to decide it alone."
Nguyen Van Quang is later promoted to the rank of general and before his death, says to Tran Van Don : "Diem-Nhu were killed at the railway gate on Hong Thap Tu street (Co^?ng xe lu+?a ddu+o+`ng Ho^`ng Tha^.p Tu+.) by two persons : Duong Hieu Nghia shot both men from the turret of the armored car M113 with an automatic pistol (pistolet mitrailleur); Nhung, in the car, used pistol and bayonet to finish the task..."
According to details Mai Huu Xuan lets Don know, Duong Van Minh orders Xuan to welcome Messrs. Diem-Nhu. They are in the car with Duong Hieu Nghia and Nhung. Xuan is in the car of Quan and Lam. The first and last civilian strongman and his advisor die on the road to the General Headquarter.
Tran Van Don says that Nguyen Van Nhung has been known a cruel man and loved to kill. Ba Cut (Ba Cu.t) has been beheaded by Duong Van Minh, but Minh still ordered to let Nhung dig his corps and cut it into many pieces. Every time to kill somebody, Nhung makes a mark on his pistol.
In a readjustment coup (cuo^.c chi?nh ly') of Nguyen Khanh (Nguyen^~n Kha'nh), general Duong Van Duc (Du+o+ng Va<n DDu+'c), in the night of 30/1/1964, arrests Nhung right before Duong Van Minh and Nguyen Ngoc Tho, but Minh dares not to protect Nhung. Nhung is handed to the paratrooper army of Nguyen Chanh Thi, tortured to death and declared he hangs himself.
(In "Government and Revolution in Vietnam" by Dennis J. Ducanson, Oxford University Press, 1968, p. 340 :
Death of the president - If things had not turned out quite as General Tran Tu Oai's tape recording had been repeating over the air the previous afternoon, Ngo Dinh Diem did nevertheless surrender by telephone to Joint General Staff Headquarter during the morning of 2/11/1963. He and his brother were collected by the commandant of the Civil Guard - oaths of personal loyalty, even Can Lao ones, were forgotten in this moment - and he consigned them to a Captain Nguyen Van Nhung with an armoured car. Later in the morning, the Captain delivered their corpses to the Generals, battered and shot. General Oai announced that they had committed suicide "inside the church"; the Captain was arrested shortly afterwards on a charge of corruption, and soon General Oai's staff were putting it about that he too had committed suicide, after confessing to the regicide.
In "Assassin in our time " by Sandy Lesberg, Peebles International, London, 1976, p. 142 :
The general in charge of bringing back the prisoners rode in one of the carriers and the prisoners in the other. A major who had a grudge against Nhu for having ordered the execution of one of his close friend accompanied the prisoners. An eyewitness report described the assassination which the generals at first called suicide then "accidental suicide".
Diem and Nhu sat with hands tied behind their backs. While Diem remained silent, the major lunged at Nhu with his bayonet and stabbed him 15 or 20 times. Then he took out his revolver and shot Diem in the back of his head; seeing Nhu's body still twitching on the floor, the major administered the coup of grace by putting a bullet through Nhu's head also.)
The assassination of Messrs. Diem-Nhu unmans strongly American generals favoring the coup and U.S. public.
Mr Do Mau, self-claiming as main plotter, writes that he cries when seeing them killed. General Ton That Dinh also cries and punches onto his desk in frustration. Not knowing how to explain, general Tran Tu Oai (Tra^`n Tu+? Oai) of the Information General Office, announces :"The death of Messrs. Diem-Nhu is an "accidental suicide". A stupid announcement from a general makes people laugh at an excuse for an illegal act of coup generals.
In the morning of 2/11/1963, when Conein goes to take a shower, he receives a phone call from Cabot Lodge that Kennedy wants to know the whereabout of Messrs. Diem-Nhu. Upon arriving at the General Headquarter he sees them dead.
In Washington, the National Security Council convenes for a discussion about the situation after knowing there was a coup d'etat. An official telegram is delivered and put on the table; all are silent. Reading it, Kennedy with a faded face stands up, goes out for a while, comes back and says :"Mr Diem has fought against communists for 9 years; he should have something in return."
Michael Forrestal, one of the men favoring the coup d'etat and co-drafting the official message 243 to Cabot Lodge on 24/8/1963 requests a resignation, but Kennedy says that he should stay.
Secretary of State Dean Rusk who has been called "a man of no image" due to always repeating after Kennedy sends a message to Cabot Lodge : "I want to show my adoration to your managing the complicated event with perfection." Then, another message is :"Reports about the death of Diem-Nhu (shot with details of blood all over) on the first pages of newspapers cause high emotion. We think that is unexpected from the coup d'etat."
The truth is that it is an unavoidable consequence because in the secret file of the White House, there is no item as the prime condition to keep safe Messrs. Diem-Nhu when Kennedy directed Cabot Lodge to support coup generals.
General Maxwell Taylor who opposes the coup d'etat and replaces Cabot Lodge says :"Mr Diem's soul haunts each one of us who knew the coup. Due to our complicity, the Americans must take responsibility upon the tragedy the South Vietnamese must bear and the consequent political chaos which is the pretext of our withdrawal; by doing our role, we bring them into suffered situations and this stops people to have any suggestions..."
Forrestal, talking about Kennedy, says :"The death in Saigon makes him shocked morally and religiously, and this undermines his belief in any suggestions related to Vietnam."
Doctor Hammer criticizes touchingly :"Now, a first Catholic head of state is dead, assassinated due to the consequence of a policy of the first Catholic American president who permits the plan."
To condone Kenedy, a friend says :"Anyhow, Diem and Nhu were tyrants." Kennedy answers : "No, they were in difficult position. They did the best they could for their country" ("A death in November, p. 301).
This is too late historical contradicting statement, restoration of honor for Messrs. Diem-Nhu, rejection of propagandas related to the coup d'etat, a condemnation of coup generals who followed the inducements of the Americans by betraying their president and treason. Doctor Hammer writes :"Kennedy's statement is an offering before the graves of Messrs. Diem-Nhu."
Although I have opposed Messrs. Diem-Nhu's policies in 1958, I acknowledge that Messrs. Diem-Nhu's statement written down by Lodge in a message on 1/11/1963 is their effort of perfect compromise for the sake of the self-governed interest of VN and that is praiseworthy. It is regretful that their fate and SVN to confront a "colonialist and self-conceited" behavior of a young Kennedy and a "governor-general" Cabot Lodge; this causes their death.
When seeing Tran Van Don on 2/1/1963 at the U.S. embassy, Cabot Lodge says :"President Kennedy and American public are shocked. I say to them that I can't believe there are such deaths and are very sad".
Sadness and regret may disturb the mind of Lodge, Kennedy and other responsible people, but that is unavoidable as general Maxwell Taylor has critized them that, "They unconsciously play with fire encouraging the coup d'etat. In the first message to Lodge on 24/8/1963, a message signaling a coup d'etat. It's Kennedy who did verify that "we must cope with a such situation that Diem's life is not guaranteed."
Around 10 am of 2/11/1963, Flott, assistant of Cabot Lodge, visits me and makes excuse about his dirty suit because he did come to the Gia-Long palace to look for Messrs. Nhu and some documents. Flott boasts that he was the last man to shake hand with Mr Diem yesterday. Through an introduction of a friend, I have came to know Flott. I did draft a letter and a report and sent them to Kennedy dissuading him not to set up a coup d'etat and should not send the U.S. army to Vietnam; that is my last advice to him. Flot has come to see me many times , but I found way to avoid seeing him because we hadn't the same political viewpoint.
The death certificate for Mr Diem says that he is a small mandarin of Binh Thuan, and for Mr Nhu, a librarian (qua?n thu? thu+ vie^.n). It's ironic that Messrs. Duong Van Minh, Tran Van Don,...have had titles promoted by not a small mandarin in Binh Thuan, but by a president.
On 3/11/1963, I arrive at Tran Trung Dung's house on Doan Thi Diem street for infos. Dung confirms that Messrs, have been killed. Dung and a priest make shrouding their corpses according to Catholic ceremony. Their corpses are then buried in the backyard of the General Headquarter. However, through many coups d'etat after, generals still feel unsafe and rebury them at the cemetery Mac Dinh Chi. I drop by to visit them seeing that their graves have no tombstones.
Tran Trung Dung's wife is Hoang Anh, niece of Messrs. Diem-Nhu. Sobing, she asks the Council of Generals to verify that the two were killed not suicided because suicide is a disgrace to the family. Dung laments to me :"She is too naive."
As Marguerite Higgins writes, when exiled in Bangkok, Duong Van Minh admits to an American that he orders to kill Messrs. Nhu because "I couldn't do differently". He couldn't let Mr Diem alive because "he got sympathy from simple and rustic people in the rural areas, especially Catholics and refugees." About Mr Nhu, Minh says, "Nhu was afraid of by many people and did set up many organizations."
Mr Tran Van Huong, prime minister from 10/1964 to 1/1965, speaks to a British diplomat : "They, generals, decided to kill Messrs. Diem-Nhu because they were too afraid of them. They knew that they had no talent (ba^'t ta`i), morality (dda.o ddu+'c va` lua^n ly'), and no support from the vast majority of the Viets. They could not stop Messrs. Diem-Nhu taking back the power if these men were alive."
Informed that Messrs. Diem-Nhu were assassinated, Mrs. Nhu who is staying at the hotel Beverly Whilshire utters efficacious words :"This blood will flow to Washington." It's true that 20 days after the death of Messrs. Diem-Nhu, Kennedy is assassinated by Oswald in Dallas, Texas. Then, Robert Kennedy, his younger brother, who once said to Kennedy that "why don't we eradicate that painful prickle ?" had the same fate not long after.
Mrs. Nhu and her 3 kids are transported by an American airplane to anywhere she wants.
In an official message dated 30/10/1963 of the State Department to Cabot Lodge, George Bundy notes that coup generals may need a hefty sum of money at the last minutes to bribe the resistant group (Conein later says that that money would be used for coup general to escape if the coup failed); he also says that generals can keep that money if the coup d'etat is well-organized and successful; the use of money should be done secretly. This order is executed by Lucien Conein. However, Conein does it openly by bringing that money to the Joint General Staff Headquarter on 1/11/1963. Lucien gives 3 million dollars to Tran Van Don and Ton That Dinh. The sharing of money creates a bad reputation; due to this, in 1971, general Tran Van Don orders major Dang Van Hoa (DDa<.ng Va<n Hoa) to conduct a search for receipts. Major Hoa makes a report dated 14/8/1971 with details as follow :
- Tran Thien Khiem : VN $500,000
- Ton That Dinh : $600,000
- Le Nguyen Khang : $100,000
- Nguyen Van Thieu : $50,000
- Tran Ngoc Huye^n (Tra^`n Ngo.c Huye^'n) : $100,000
- Phan Hoa Hiep (Phan Ho`a Hie^.p) : $100,000
- Dao Ngoc Diep (DDa`o Ngo.c Die^.p) : $100,000
Total : $1,550,000
Another 1,450,000 dollars (dong ?) has been delivered to Duong Van Minh, Le Van Kim (Le^ Va<n Kim), Ton That Dinh, Nguyen Huu Co (Nguye^~n Hu+~u Co'), Tran Ngoc Tam (Tra^`n Ngo.c Ta'm), Nguyen Khanh (Nguye^~n Kha'nh) and Do Cao Tri (DDo^~ Cao Tri'). Furthermore, Mr Duong Van Minh gets another 6,000 dollars found in a suitcase of Mr Diem.
White House's top secret documents about news on Nhu negotiating with Hanoi
Two persons who have taken the important roles in the coup d'etat of 1/11/1963 are Tran Van Don and Do Mau. They all write memoirs emphasizing the reasons for their opposition to Mr Diem are : (1) oppression of Buddhists and (2) Mr Nhu's secret negotiation with communists.
To the matter (1), one can know that the oppression is just a make-up story in order to label the man Buddhists did not like and then progress their ambition; the years to come explained the unrest created by religious people abusing their rights and prestige. The Buddhist "incident" has been blown out of proportion basing on ambiguous accusation by An Quang Buddhist sect and others. At last, the 3 forces -- this Buddhist sect, U.S. and Viet generals who thought that their interest and plans would be gone if U.S. cut aid -- cooperate with or just take advantage of one another to bring down Mr Diem. Each side has its own perfect pretexts for a criminal act. McNamara's words about the failure reflected this big mistake.
About (2), as one may know, Mrs. Hammer, a Ph.D. graduate in International Relation at the university of Columbia and author of "The struggle for Indochina", has spent more than 30 years following events in Vietnam, especially the period from 1956-1966, the time span of her stay in Vietnam.
In her book "A Death in November", searching for secret files of the White House under free access act, she has found out that the news of Nhu secretly negotiating with communists is totally false. Mrs. Hammer mentions about (1) the memorandum of Roger Hilsman and Hilsman & George Bundy's telegram to Cabot Lodge in order to teach Viet generals how to spread out rumors, (2) Through the mediums of Mieczyslaw Maneli of Poland and Goburdhum of India the International Commission for Supervision and Control or ICC (U?y Ban Kie^?m soa't DDi`nh Chie^ 'n), it's Ho Chi Minh to suggest a trade with the South so that the North can get SVN's rice for a starved NVN while SVN is still independent under the presidency of Mr Diem.
Here are details :
(1) Roger Hilsman's memorandum and Hilsman & Bundy's message to Lodge : In his memorandum of 16/9/1963, Roger Hilsman records that Mr Nhu's minimal goal is to reduce abundantly the number of American advisors at essential spots having political significance like the Strategic Hamlets. His maximal goal is to negotiate with the North, withdraw the Americans out of Vietnam and keep Vietnam as separate but neutral state. Basing on these easons and calling it an adventure, Hilsman drops the moderate stand to convince Mr Diem and chooses using strong measures against Mr Diem's regime.
According to these two goals mentioned above, the majority of the Americans must withdraw. It's clear that Mr Nhu doesn't want to see too many Amricans in Vietnam and keeps SVN separate and not united with communists.
However, upon contacting ambassador Buu Hoi (Bu+?u Ho^.i), Hilsman, with a scornful behavior, detests rumors about Mr Nhu's negotiation with communists and says that he doesn't believe in any words of those, giving that Mr Nhu just lies and U.S. is never threatened by that.
Cabot Lodge did meet Mr Nhu and was let known that there has been a contact with communists with the aim at "opening arm" (chie^u ho^`i). If a treaty can't be reached, Mr Nhu will resign. He also says that he has intention to take a rest in Dalat after lifting the martial law and when the Americans are gone. It's also the reason that Cabot Lodge opposes strongly Messrs. Diem-Nhu because Lodge comes here to organize a coup d'etat.
About Hilsman & Bundy's message to Lodge in order to teach Viet generals how to prepare pretext for their action, it is as follows :
"If the coup d'etat is successful, the sympathy and recognition of the reason for it will be enhanced if generals and civilians cooperate tightly with each other by publicly developing the conclusion that Mr Nhu negotiates with communists and betrays anti-communist ideal. This must be emphasized to the public as soon as possible."
(2) Mieczyslaw Maneli and Goburdhum in the the International Commission for Supervision and Control (ICC) :
According to Mrs. Hammer's "A Death in November" :
- Maneli : In a reception at the Foreign Ministry, Maneli meets Mr Nhu and the latter says to him that he wants peace and just only peace. The ICC must play an important role in restoring peace in Vietnam. Maneli answers that he will be ready to receive an active and constructive role available for the ICC to re-establish peace and reunification for Vietnam. Nhu answers that the government of Vietnam wishes that will be done within the spirit of Geneva Accord.
In 7/1963, when Maneli goes to Hanoi for discussion, Hanoi agrees NVN will let Mr Diem to be head of SVN. This contradicts with Hanoi's Stalinist behavior and violent temper. Ho Chi Minh appeals for cease-fire and wants the Americans not to interfere in his negotiation with Mr Diem (this happens at the time the Americans are planning the coup d'etat). Maneli cites that Pham Van Dong asks him how to contact Mr Nhu. With this plan, the Americans must go so that a cease-fire can be reached, peace will be restored and reunification will be worked out basing on basic realities.
According to Maneli, the reason NVN wants peace is from 1954, NVN was in regular droughts and crop failures. The water level in rivers was so low that water couldn't be bailed up to paddy fields and as a result, seawater reached to the mainland. NVN would be starved if there was no aid of rice from the South; due to this, NVN must need rice from the Soviets and Chinese and always thinks about how to self-defend. However, the Soviets and Chinese were opposing each other and this made NVN bear the conflict, and at the same time it must stand the pressure from the Chinese. Maneli lets only the Soviets and Poles know about this, not the Chinese.
Maneli also says that in the 7/1963 trip to Hanoi, he has heard about a North- South contact; Cabot Lodge got the same rumor. According to Mrs. Hammer, the negotiation is not in detail and related to reduction of rebel and military actvities. Late in 8/1963, communists reduce relatively their activities.
- Goburdhum : Goburdhum says that when he goes to Hanoi he is informed that Hanoi wants to have trade with the South, but not in the atmosphere of war. Ho Chi Minh says :"Mr Diem is a patriot in his way. With his independent character, he will have some difficulty in his relation with the Americans because U.S. wants to control all affairs. If you see Mr Diem, make a connection for me."
Goburdhum recognizes that Ho Chi Minh, as an Asian and a citizen of a country of the Third World, sympathizes with the Saigon regime's eagerness of trying to detach from American screwing. Ho also praises Ngo Dinh Nhu to be wise enough to get out of political frame of the past. Goburdhum thinks that is a openness in diplomacy to help North and South sympathize each other in restoring peace. At that time, Vietnam can follow the way of India and other neutral countries.
- Meanwhile, general De Gaulle talks about an invitation of both North and South Vietnam to participate in a national effort towards independence, peace and reunification. He emphasizes that he doesn't want to interfere in Vietnam's affair. French Foreign Minister Maurice Couve de Murville explaines that declaration is for a long-term policy. De Gaulle will cooperate if Vietam wants so. Mrs. Hammer acknowledges that De Gaulle's words are important, pragmatic and invaluable because Pham Van Dong also admits that despite the wars with the French in the past the French-Viet friendship is still strong due to its democratic and social tradition.
However, that is also the time the Americans are striving for the coup d'etat to continue the war and searching for new men who are "more docile". Knowing about this, L'Alouette says that Vietnam will lose the opportunity to get peace because Mr Diem is the only man of determination to keep independence and peace.
Maneli telegraphs to Poland and at the same time sends "news" to Hanoi and the Soviet embassy in Hanoi.
Wish of negotiation of Ho Chi Minh
5 days after De Gaulle's suggestion, on 2/9/1963, Mr Nhu says to Maneli that he doesn't oppose a negotiation and cooperation with the North :"The Viets never forget who they are and who foreigners are even in fierce wartime. If we can talk face to face we can reach a sympathy...But in the near future, I see nothing leading to a face to face talk. However, we can wait for a clear revelation."
According to "A death in November", Mr Diem agrees to exchange letters with the North and South Vietnam's rice to North Vietnam's coal. Until 7/1963, Hanoi agrees to let Mr Diem lead South Vietnam and the South follow the Western democracy, and Ho Chi Minh no longer asks for reunification.
Mr Diem answers that he doesn't expect a neutrality for South Vietnam because that will break the tie with American ally.
Asked about his reaction to De Gaulle's announcement,Mr Nhu says :"Who doesn't participate in this war has no right to interfere. Our loyalty to the Americans doesn't permit us to scrutinize their announcements. The Americans are just the only ones on this planet who has helped South Vietnam. Due to this, I have no comment."
Declarations of Messrs. Diem-Nhu emphasize that they take side to the Americans although they don't totally accept American policies.
According to an Italian ambassador, Mr Nhu lets him know that there is a go- between to contact communists for a talk. Communists suggest peace not because the success of the Strategic Hamlets but Hanoi is under heavy pressure from the Chinese, and the trade will benefit both. The North doesn't request a neutral South Vietnam because after the war ends, the presence of the Americans are not necessary.
French ambassador L'Alouette tries to convince Cabot Lodge to let Mr Diem hold the power and says to Lodge that Pham Van Dong is ready to negotiate for a trade as he has said to Goburdhum. However, whatever he tries L'Alouette knows that Lodge's mission is to overthrow Mr Diem. On 10/9/1963, L'Alouette meets Cabot Lodge about the matter; Lodge answers :"U.S. decides not to withdraw and wants decisively that Saigon must shuffle the personel and policy. We must negotiate in a strong position."
The New York Times writes that ambassador L'Alouette tries to rally Western diplomats to convince Lodge to reconcile with Mr Diem, and France will support Mr Nhu in the task to reunite Vietnam. However, Quai d'Orsay denies the news and says that France doesn't support anybody. After this, L'Alouette is recalled to France and never returns. French embassy in Vietnam has now only officials to carry on normal business and none to be go-between in this affair.
Late in 10/1963, De Gaulle comes to Viet embassy at Rambouillet street, informs about latest news from Saigon and suggests help. De Gaulle wants to warn Saigon that may be a coup d'etat. However, there is no answer from Messrs. Diem-Nhu.
Nobody knows whether or not Mr Nhu wants to trick the Americans and has shown some behavior which seems to replace Mr Diem.
About the rumor that Mr Nhu may negotiate with communists, Chester Cooper of CIA reports to CIA Director Mc Cone that the validity of the rumors is below 50%. However, Cooper met Mr Nhu for 3 hrs in 3/1963 and recognized that Mr Nhu knew very well about communists' scheme. CIA ananlyzes that American pressure can make Messrs. Diem-Nhu mad. Cooper can not predict what one of them will decide to do.
In brief, the mentioned above details shows one that the wish of negotiation has been suggested, but that is only struck up through the medium of Maneli and Goburdhum. Furthermore, that suggestion is not from Mr Nhu but Pham Van Dong and Ho Chi Minh who may want to get out of the pressure and domination of the Chinese and Soviets and trade rice with the South.
There is no matter of reunification because Ho Chi Minh agrees to let SVN to follow Western democracy and be led by Mr Diem. It means there is no such thing as Messrs. Diem-Nhu sell the South to communists as accused by generals Tran Van Don and Do Mau in concordance with directives from Hilsman & Bundy's message to Cabot Lodge.
This is also proved by Mr Diem's words to Cabot Lodge by having him sent to Kenndy at 12h15 of 1/1/1963 as follows : "Please tell President Kennedy that I am a good and frank ally, that I would rather be frank and settle questions now than talk about them later when we lose everything. Tell President Kennedy that I take all the suggestions very seriously and wish to carry them out, but it is a question of timing."
It's these last words from Mr Diem to verify that Mr Diem shows his utmost compromise due to national interest to show his allying to the Americans.
(As one see later that the play card of "Buddhist incident" is dropped by the Americans and media. They never see any "Buddhist struggle" as genuine anymore)
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