Speech Essay



o Born in 1901
o Strongly nationalist Catholic
o He served in Emperor Bao Dai\'s administration under French colonial rule until 1933.
o Refused to collaborate with the Japanese or with Ho Chi Minh during WWII
o Briefly worked with the French administration before the war but was disappointed with their efforts at reform
o At Geneva, former emperor Bao Dai was asked to choose Diem as his premier
o He was appointed on 7 July 1954
o Diem had the approval of the USA, and the support of prominent Catholics such as Senator John F Kennedy
o He was regarded a true Vietnamese Patriot
o ‘[Diem] was honest, courageous and fervent in his fidelity to Vietnam’s national cause; even Ho Chi Minh respected his patriotism’

o Karnow
o In Diem, the US government hoped that as a nationalist and anti-communist, he could rally support in the South against Ho Chi Minh
o Through the CIA, they had Diem installed as President of the South
o Once in power, the Americans discovered that Diem was unwilling to be a \'puppet\' ruler. He constantly rejected their advice and made decisions that upset the South Vietnamese people. Several attempts were made to overthrow Diem but although the Americans were unhappy with his performance as president, they felt they had no choice but to support him.
o Diem’s first actions included returning to wealthy landlords the land given to peasants by the Viet Minh; forcibly moving rural villagers from their ancestral homes and placing them in controlled settlements that were intended to suppress any Communist activity; and conscripting village males into the ARVN
o These unpopular and repressive measures deepened general opposition to Diem’s rule. They fostered the growth of what would become the National Liberation Front (NLF), a group committed to the overthrow of Diem’s regime and the reunification of Vietnam.
o Diem soon resorted to force to reform the country
o He took control of the army, which he used to eliminate rival military groups
o He drove organised group Binh Xuyhen out of Saigon, infuriating Bao Dai, who had received support from them
o Next he defeated a Buddhist group the Hoa Hao, of 15,000 men, confident that the third group the Cao Dai, could no longer find allies to defeat him
o While removing short-term threats, these moves produces disaffected armed gangs which became potential allies of the Viet Minh
o In 1955, Diem went on a series of visits to regions liberated from the Communists, where he was often greeted by large crowds, surprising even the propagandists who had prepared the way for him
o Nevertheless, Diem felt it necessary to rig a referendum in which he ousted Bao Dai, with 98% support recorded for Diem

o One voter complained afterwards: "They told us to put the red ballot into envelopes and to throw the green ones into the wastebasket. A few people, faithful to Bao Dai, disobeyed. As soon as they left, the agents went after them, and roughed them up... They beat one of my relatives to pulp’
o Diem’s own Catholicism and the preference he showed for fellow Roman Catholics made him an unacceptable to Buddhists, who were an overwhelming majority in South Vietnam
o He allowed the wave of Catholic refugees from the North to buy large areas of land, often at the expense of hill tribes, whose support he failed to cultivate
o People were encouraged to inform on their neighbours if they thought they were sympathetic to Communism
o Rural populations in South Vietnam were relocated in order to isolate the Communists, causing widespread resentment
o Later, Diem persecuted and killed hundreds of Buddhists whom he accused of helping the Communist insurgents in the South
o By alienating the people, Diem’s regime was little more successful than the French in instilling in the inhabitants of the South a willingness to fight the Communist threat from the North and from within
o Cells were either broken or forced undergroun0064
o An estimated 60000 to 80000 people were detained
o An estimated 60000 to 80000 people were detained
o Land that had been redistributed by the Viet Minh was returned to the original landlords
o After the Denunciation Campaigns and in an attempt