Ref: Ngo Dinh Diem: Washington’s Frankenstein Monster?” by ex-Col. Herbert Schandler. Vietnam Magazine, Vol. 19, Number 3, July 2006
I am very surprised when reading the article :”Ngo Dinh Diem: Washington’s Frankenstein Monster?” by ex-Col. Herbert Schandler. Very soon after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Vietnamese Communists themselves published hundreds of books and documentations in which they proudly confessed that they had initiated and commanded the war in Vietnam since its beginning. Such information helped us to understand the true nature of the war and what happened during the wartime are different to the information that had been distorted by the Communists and the American mass media.
** Schandler wrote “the Vietnamese concept of “People’s War” had evolved over more than a millennium of invasion and occupation by foreign powers”
This is a big mistake. The People’s war (Chinese language: 人民战争), also called protracted people’s war, is a military-political strategy invented by Mao Zedong. The basic concept behind People’s War is to maintain the support of the population and draw the enemy deep into the interior where the population will bleed them dry through a mix of ‘Mobile Warfare’ and Guerrilla warfare. The term is used by Maoists for their strategy of long-term armed revolutionary struggle.
The Vietnamese inherit the Art of War by their hero Marshall Tran Hung Dao who three times defeated the “invincible” Mongolian army in 13th century to defend the independence of the Dai Viet Kingdom. In the Indochina War as well as in the Vietnam War, the strategy of people’s war was used heavily by the Communists.
** Schandle said:”[Diem] believed he ruled with the “Mandate of Heaven…”
I am not defending his weakness in ruling the new born republic with some feudalist manners; but the concept Mandate of Heaven was totally rejected by the people since they unseated the emperor Bao Dai and chose Ngo Dinh Diem as the Chief of State.
** The author argues that Ho Chi Minh had no intend to invade South Vietnam but suggesting a “pure political struggle” to reunite the country.
This is proved totally wrong. By the time the Geneva Accord was about to be implemented, Ho Chi Minh left thousands of cadres behind in South Vietnam as sleeping cells for later use. These Communist cadres hid and blended to the villagers at remote areas, married local women to build a strong bond awaiting for the order from Hanoi to rise up. The Communists during their terror campaign, killed about 4000 South Vietnamese civilians each year. Is this what Mr. Schandler called “pure political struggle”?
** Schandler blames Diem for “refus(ing) to allow American combat forces into his nation.”
As a nationalist, Diem had done the right thing. The presence of the US troops would justify the enemy’s cause “Anti-American Aggression”. Thanked to this patriot act, Diem and his brother were murdered by their coward generals when his “supporting allies” (you must know who!) secretly switched the green light.
Today, 31 years after the end of the war, communist ex-colonel Bui Tin (Editor-in Chief of North Vietnam Army’s Quan Doi Nhan Dan newspaper) praises Diem “was much better than Ho Chi Minh in terms of patriotism and virtues” (40 years after the coup d’etat to unseat Ngo Dinh Diem: The View From Hanoi; 2003 Conference on Vietnam, Lubbock Oct. 2003). A man like Diem doesn’t deserve to be called “the maniac who sucked us into war.”
** Except for a very few of South Vietnamese dissidents who joined the Communist forces in the Hanoi-made National Liberation Front, the majority of those who opposed Diem regime were democratic-freedom loving people. After the 11/1/1963 incident, they came back to their normal life or joined the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam to fight against the Communist invasion. Mr. Schandler’s viewpoint on the NLF matches the deceitful argument of Hanoi during the war time in order to gain the support from the American public.
I only point out a few. There are more things in the article to be discussed when I have more time.
I suggest Mr. Schandler to spend more time to read recently published materials (even from Communist Vietnam) to fix his misunderstanding on Vietnam War and accept the truth that has been covered for the past half century.
Yours, very sincerely
Note: Words in italic are from Mr. Schandler’s article.