The Lost Mandate of Heaven: The American Betrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of Vietnam

Ignatius Press
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Ngo Dinh Diem, the first president of the Republic of Vietnam, possessed the Confucian "Mandate of Heaven", a moral and political authority that was widely recognized by all Vietnamese. This devout Roman Catholic leader never lost this mandate in the eyes of his people; rather, he was taken down by a military coup sponsored by the U.S. government, which resulted in his brutal murder.

The commonly held view runs contrary to the above assertion by military historian Geoffrey Shaw. According to many American historians, President Diem was a corrupt leader whose tyrannical actions lost him the loyalty of his people and the possibility of a military victory over the North Vietnamese. The Kennedy Administration, they argue, had to withdraw its support of Diem.

Based on his research of original sources, including declassified documents of the U.S. government, Shaw chronicles the Kennedy administration's betrayal of this ally, which proved to be not only a moral failure but also a political disaster that led America into a protracted and costly war. Along the way, Shaw reveals a President Diem very different from the despot portrayed by the press during its coverage of Vietnam. From eyewitness accounts of military, intelligence, and diplomatic sources, Shaw draws the portrait of a man with rare integrity, a patriot who strove to free his country from Western colonialism while protecting it from Communism.

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About the author

Geoffrey Shaw, Ph.D., received his doctorate in history from the University of Manitoba, with a focus on US diplomatic and military history in Southeast Asia. From 1994 to 2008 he was an Assistant Professor of History for the American Military University. He has written and spoken widely about US military involvement in Vietnam and the Middle East. Currently he is the President of the Alexandrian Defense Group, a think tank on counterinsurgency warfare.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Ignatius Press
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Published on
Oct 18, 2015
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Pages
278
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ISBN
9781681496863
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Vietnam War
History / United States / 20th Century
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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In 1973, Henry Kissinger shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the secret negotiations that led to the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam. Nixon famously declared the 1973 agreement to be "peace with honor"; America was disengaging, yet South Vietnam still stood to fight its own war. Kissinger promptly moved to seal up his personal records of the negotiations, arguing that they are private, not government, records, and that he will only allow them to be unsealed after his death.
No Peace, No Honor deploys extraordinary documentary bombshells, including a complete North Vietnamese account of the secret talks, to blow the lid off the true story of the peace process. Neither Nixon and Kissinger's critics, nor their defenders, have guessed at the full truth: the entire peace negotiation was a sham. Nixon did not plan to exit Vietnam, but he knew that in order to continue bombing without a congressional cutoff, he would need a fig leaf. Kissinger negotiated a deal that he and Nixon expected the North to violate. Ironically, their long-maintained spin on what happened next is partially true: only Watergate stopped America from sending the bombers back in.
This revelatory book has many other surprises. Berman produces new evidence that finally proves a long-suspected connection between candidate Nixon in 1968 and the South Vietnamese government. He tells the full story of Operation Duck Hook, a large-scale offensive planned by Nixon as early as 1969 that would have widened the war even to the point of bombing civilian food supplies. He reveals transcripts of candidate George McGovern's attempts to negotiate his own October surprise for 1972, and a seriocomic plan by the CIA to overthrow South Vietnam's President Thieu even as late as 1975. Throughout, with page-turning dialogue provided by official transcriptions and notes, Berman reveals the step-by-step betrayal of South Vietnam that started with a short-circuited negotiations loop, and ended with double-talk, false promises, and outright abandonment.
Berman draws on hundreds of declassified documents, including the notes of Kissinger's aides, phone taps of the Nixon campaign in 1968, and McGovern's own transcripts of his negotiations with North Vietnam. He has been able to double- and triple-check North Vietnamese accounts against American notes of meetings, as well as previously released bits of the record. He has interviewed many key players, including high-level South Vietnamese officials. This definitive account forever and completely rewrites the final chapter of the Vietnam war. Henry Kissinger's Nobel Prize was won at the cost of America's honor.
A quarter century after its end, the Vietnam War still divides Americans. Some, mostly on the left, claim that Indochina was of no strategic value to the United States and was not worth an American war. Others, mostly on the right, argue that timid civilian leaders and defeatists within the media fatally undermined the war effort. These "lessons of Vietnam" have become ingrained in the American consciousness, at the expense of an accurate understanding of the war itself.

In this groundbreaking reinterpretation of America's most disastrous and controversial war, Michael Lind demolishes the stale orthodoxies of the left and the right and puts the Vietnam War in its proper context -- as part of the global conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. The Cold War, he argues, was actually the third world war of the twentieth century, and the proxy wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan were its major campaigns. Unwilling to engage each other in the heart of Europe, the superpowers played out their contest on the Asian front, while the rest of the world watched to see which side would retreat. As Lind shows, the Soviet Union and Communist China recognized the importance of Vietnam in this struggle and actively supported the North Vietnamese regime from its earliest days, a fact that was not lost on the strategic planners within the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations.

Lind offers a provocative reassessment of why the United States failed in Vietnam despite the high stakes. The ultimate responsibility for defeat lies not with the civilian policy elite nor with the press but with the military establishment, which failed to adapt to the demands of what before 1968 had been largely a guerrilla war. The high costs of the military's misguided approach in American and Vietnamese lives sapped the support of the American people for the U.S. commitment to Indochina. Even worse, the costs of the war undermined American public support for the Cold War on all fronts. Lind masterfully lays bare the deep cultural divisions within the United States that made the Cold War consensus so fragile and shows why it broke apart so easily. The consequence of U.S. military failure was thus the forfeiture of Indochina, a resurgence of American isolationism, and a wave of Soviet imperial expansion checked only by the Second Cold War of the 1980s.

The New York Times has written of Michael Lind that he "defies the usual political categories of left and right, liberal and conservative." And in an era when the United States so often finds itself embroiled in prolonged and difficult conflicts -- in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Iraq -- Lind offers a sobering cautionary tale to Americans of all political viewpoints.
The history of the Vietnam War has rarely been told from the Vietnamese perspective-and never by a leader of that country. In Buddha's Child, Nguyen Cao Ky reveals the remarkable story of his tumultuous tenure as Premier of South Vietnam, and offers unprecedented insight into the war's beginning, escalation, and heartbreaking end.

A thirty-four year old pilot and Air Force commander, known for his fighter-pilot's moustache, flowing lavender scarf and his reputation as a ladies' man, Ky in 1965 agreed to lead South Vietnam after a series of coups had dangerously destabilized the nation. Ky's task was to unite a country riven by political, ethnic, and religious factions and undermined by corruption. With little experience in governing and none in international affairs, and while continuing to fly combat missions over Vietnam, Ky plunged into a war to save his homeland. He served as premier until 1967, continued to be active in the war after his resignation, and finally left Vietnam in 1975 during the fall of Saigon.

Buddha's Child offers Ky's perspective on the crucial events and memorable images of the Vietnam War: the coup against and execution of President Diem; the self-immolation by the Buddhist monk, and the radical Buddhists' attempt to topple Ky's government; the bloody and pivotal Tet Offensive; the shooting of a Vietcong prisoner, captured in one of the war's most notorious photographs; the Paris Peace talks that sold out South Vietnam; and the last, desperate days of Saigon. In frank language, Ky discusses his own successes and failures as a leader and dramatically relates the progress of the war as it unfolded on the ground and behind the scenes-including anecdotes about Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, William Westmoreland, Henry Cabot Lodge, William Colby, Henry Kissinger, and many others.

Buddha's Child is a revelatory, fascinating account of a nation at war by a most unusual man.

In The Death of the Grown-Up, Diana West diagnosed the demise of Western civilization by looking at its chief symptom: our inability to become adults who render judgments of right and wrong. In American Betrayal, West digs deeper to discover the root of this malaise and uncovers a body of lies that Americans have been led to regard as the near-sacred history of World War II and its Cold War aftermath.

Part real-life thriller, part national tragedy, American Betrayal lights up the massive, Moscow-directed penetration of America's most hallowed halls of power, revealing not just the familiar struggle between Communism and the Free World, but the hidden war between those wishing to conceal the truth and those trying to expose the increasingly official web of lies.

American Betrayal is America's lost history, a chronicle that pits Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight David Eisenhower, and other American icons who shielded overlapping Communist conspiracies against the investigators, politicians, defectors, and others (including Senator Joseph McCarthy) who tried to tell the American people the truth.

American Betrayal shatters the approved histories of an era that begins with FDR's first inauguration, when "happy days" are supposed to be here again, and ends when we "win" the Cold War. It is here, amid the rubble, where Diana West focuses on the World War II--Cold War deal with the devil in which America surrendered her principles in exchange for a series of Big Lies whose preservation soon became the basis of our leaders' own self-preservation. It was this moral surrender to deception and self-deception, West argues, that sent us down the long road to moral relativism, "political correctness," and other cultural ills that have left us unable to ask the hard questions: Does our silence on the crimes of Communism explain our silence on the totalitarianism of Islam? Is Uncle Sam once again betraying America?

In American Betrayal, Diana West shakes the historical record to bring down a new understanding of our past, our present, and how we have become a nation unable to know truth from lies.

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