Tuesday, November 1, 2011

This day in 1963 - The President of South Vietnam assassinated.

1963 was a pivotal year. It was the year that OPEC acted unilaterally to raise prices for the first time. It was a time when a charismatic new American president, John Fitzgeral Kennedy, presented his proposals for tax reform for his nation. Included was a plan for the removal of the special-privilege oil depletion allowance enjoyed by large oil companies. He also issued Executive Order 11110. Its aim was to strip the US Federal Reserve Bank of its power to loan money to the United States Federal Government at interest. Kennedy ordered the printing and release of $4.2 billion in US notes, paper money issued through the Treasury Department ‘without paying interest’ to the Federal Reserve System.

In 1963 E Howard Hunt, Chief of Covert Action in America's Central Intelligence Organisation's Domestic Operations Division was involved in the subsidizing and manipulation of news and publishing organisations. Hunt was eventually implicated in the November 1963 assassination of President Kennedy .

But on this day, 2nd November, of that year, the assassination of the President of South Vietnam was another careless step toward the long drawn-out Vietnam War that cast such an ugly shadow over the decade that followed.
"The coup was very swift. On November 1, 1963, with only the palace guard remaining to defend President Diem and his younger brother, Ngô Ðình Nhu, the generals called the palace offering Diem safe exile out of the country if he surrendered. However, that evening, Diem and his entourage escaped via an underground passage to Cholon, where they were captured the following morning, November 2. The brothers were executed in the back of an armoured personnel carrier by Captain Nguyen Van Nhung ...Diem was buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery next to the house of the US ambassador.
Upon learning of Diem's ouster and death, Ho Chi Minh is reported to have said, "I can scarcely believe the Americans would be so stupid." ....After Diem's assassination, South Vietnam was unable to establish a stable government and numerous coups took place during the first several years after his death...."[1]

A White House tape of President Kennedy and his advisers, published in 2003, confirmed that top U.S. officials sought the coup against Ngo Dinh Diem "without apparently considering the physical consequences for Diem personally." [2]

The previous month US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been insisting that one thousand U.S. troops in Vietnam, "euphemistically referred to as advisers", be recalled.
"He was a prudent executive, not inclined to heavy investments in lost causes. His whole presidency was marked precisely by his capacity to refuse escalation-as in Laos, the Bay of Pigs, the Berlin Wall, the missile crisis. [3]"
Indeed, Kennedy was deeply skeptical of the recommendations presented by his Joint Chiefs of Staff for military intervention in South Vietnam.
"The military proposals for Vietnam, he said, were based on assumptions and predictions that could not be verified - on help from Laos and Cambodia to halt infiltration from the North, on agreement by Diem to reorganisation of his army and government, on more popular support for Diem in the countryside and on sealing off Communist supply routes. Estimates of both time and cost were either absent or wholly unrealistic. [4]"
In an interview with one of America's cold war warriors, Dr Walt Rostow was asked to comment about the consequences of "the war for South East Asia?"

WR: Well, for South East Asia it's turned out to be fine, because at last Indonesia has gone in to take off very fast, seven per cent now, and Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea are doing fine, even Philippines is coming along. So, South East Asia is... Lyndon Johnson achieved what he was after in South East Asia. ...As a development economist I have to say, when a country does well, like South Korea or Taiwan or something, it's because of the people in the country, otherwise you're pushing on a string. But we did play a very useful part in helping them. It's amazing, but in this period of 1960 to, what 1975, '80, they were going on average at eight per cent a year for wages. That means they more than doubled in ten years. So they're four times the size, as it were, GNP per capita at the end of this period and the beginning. They were different countries....[5]"
War to increase GNP: 'managed' capitalism.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ngo_Dinh_Diem
[2] JFK and the Diem Coup, by John Prados
Posted - November 5, 2003
[3]Arthur Schlesinger
[4] 'Kennedy', Theordore C Sorenson, special counsel to the late president. Hodder and Stoughton 1965. Page 652-653.

1 comment:

Barkley Rosser said...

The assassination of Diem was indeed a significant event in the deepening of the Vietnam War and the US involvement in it.

However, the allegations about Hunt and the JFK assassination have been discredited.

Also, while OPEC was formed in 1960, oil prices steadily fell throughout that decade. OPEC made some half-hearted attempts to influence the price of oil then, but was only able to succeed in 1973 after Libya had nationalized the competitive fringe of the market after Qaddafi came to power there.