Account for the Rise and Fall of the Diem Regime

Account for the rise and fall of the Diem regime

Cameron Murdoch

When the French left indo-china in 1954, the belief was that general elections would be held to unite all people of Vietnam. However until the elections, ruling bodies had to be created to keep law and order in the Viet Minh controlled north, and French controlled south. As leader of the Viet Minh, Ho Chi Minh was elected president of North Vietnam. The solution for South Vietnam was not so simple. It had no clear, nationalist leaders, the pre-existing government was filled with Francophiles and the general population was split into factions, some people were loyal to street gangs, others to religious sects and so on. The solution came from the United States who were eager to keep Vietnam free from communism. The United states believed that Vietnam would be the next ‘domino’ to fall to communism in Asia., Therefore if they could keep Vietnam capitalist they could better defend themselves from communism. This train of thought was popular at the time due to the ‘Domino Theory’, a theory stating that one country after the other would fall to communism in south east Asia, starting with China, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Malay, Indonesia then Australia. America wanted a capitalist, anti-communist, catholic leader in south Vietnam and so called upon Ngo Dinh Diem, a Vietnamese catholic living a monasterial life in Washington.

Diem was seen by many as a puppet for the U.S. This rise to power was supported, brutally, by Colonel Lansdale, a CIA representative, responsible for the halt of the spread of communism. Lansdale had to work hard to create an acceptable image Diem. Diem had little political experience and had no call to fame within South Vietnam. His main support therefore came from the U.S and his family. Shortly after coming to power, Diem engaged in a purge of politicians and bureaucrats and replacing them with family members, a method called nepotism. Together with his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu...