History discussion

The lectures on Vietnam for this week cover the periods from 1945-1954 and 1964-1975. For the decade in between you have the section from Fire in the Lake (covering 1955-1960), and chapter 7 from Overthrow concerned with the ending of the Diem regime. So well had the Diem government in Vietnam been sold to the American public, it was considered to be America’s great success story of establishing democracy and stopping communism in Asia (now identified as ‘Nation Building’). So successful in fact that when President Kennedy was elected in 1960, there is no evidence that his transition team ever brought Vietnam up for discussion with the representatives of the outgoing Eisenhower administration; and that, with regard to the vexing issue of U. S. policy toward Cuba in 1960, the Diem instillation was considered a model for how to proceed against the revolutionary Cuban government — part of the intent of the mission that would become ‘Bay of Pigs’ was to use the preparation for the mission as a means to discover who, among the Cuban nationals involved, would reveal himself as the future ‘Diem of Cuba’.

Constrained to the usual 500 words or less, and using the Fire in the Lake and Overthrow readings, discuss how effectively Diem and his regime truly understood the concept of ‘democracy’.


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