Here’s what lies beyond that opening in the window:
- Diem possessed the Confucian “Mandate of Heaven,” a moral and political authority that was widely recognized by all Vietnamese.
- Diem was a devout Roman Catholic as well as a third-order Benedictine and daily communicant.
Using eyewitness accounts from military, intelligence and, diplomatic sources buried in the annals of U.S. history, military historian and counter insurgency expert Dr. Geoffrey DT Shaw uncovered some interesting biographical facts. For example:
- Diem was a gentle, faithful, and beloved leader.
- A patriot, Diem possessed integrity.
- Diem fell afoul of the Kennedy administration because he sought to free Vietnam from Western colonialism as well as to protect it from Communism.
- President Kennedy’s decision to order the coup that killed Diem was fueled by anti-religious bigotry.
- Diem’s death caused a second public relations disaster for his presidency—the Bay of Pigs being the first—and ultimately led to the United States losing the Vietnam War.
- Had Diem not been assassinated and Presidents Kennedy and Johnson supported Diem, Shaw concludes that the U.S. wouldn’t have lost the Vietnam War.
Did I find a veritable Conradian “Heart of Darkness?”
Yes, I did, but it was not in the quarter to which all popular American sources were pointing their accusatory fingers; in other words, not in Saigon but, paradoxically, within the Department of State back in Washington, D.C., and within President Kennedy’s closest White House advisory circle. The actions of these men led to Diem’s murder. And with his death, nine and a half years of careful work and partnership between the United States and South Vietnam was undone.
More interesting for The Motley Monk are some speculations Shaw’s account raises:
- As a faithful Catholic, did Diem die a martyr?
- Did he exhibit heroic sanctity?
- Might it be possible that Diem could be named a “Saint,” a Catholic whose murder was ordered by the first Catholic U.S. President?
Shaw's The Lost Mandate of Heaven: The American Betrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of Vietnam is a "must read" for those whose interests include U.S. history and the roles that Catholics played in writing that history.
Let the discussion begin...