Opinion: Iraq is like South Vietnam in 1963 – the US should walk away

Diem and LodgeBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS* | intelNews.org
As I watch the dramatic collapse of the Federal government of Iraq, I keep telling myself that I cannot possibly be the only person noticing the remarkable political resemblance between the Iraq of 2014 and the South Vietnam of 1963. Just like government of Iraq today, the Republic of South Vietnam, which had been set up with direct American support flowing France’s exit from Indochina in 1954, faced increasing domestic opposition that was both political and religious. In Iraq today it is the Sunni Muslims who have taken up arms against the Shiite-controlled government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The South Vietnamese President, Ngo Dinh Diem, a westernized Vietnamese Catholic, whose family had been proselytized to Christianity in the 17th century, was shunned by South Vietnam’s Buddhist majority. The latter became increasingly agitated in opposition to the American supported government in Saigon, which they saw as alien and fundamentally anti-Vietnamese. Diem’s response was to intensify internal repression in South Vietnam. He unleashed the country’s secret police, controlled by his shadowy brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, against the Buddhist community. In the summer of 1963, Buddhist monks began resorting to self-immolation in a desperate attempt to draw public attention to their repression by Diem’s paramilitaries. Nhu’s wife, the fashionable Madame Nhu, shocked public opinion by dismissing the incidents as just some “drugged monks barbecuing themselves”. Washington immediately distanced itself from her comments, and increasingly from Diem.

In the summer of 1963, President John F. Kennedy, a personal friend of Diem, publicly accused the government in Saigon of having “lost touch” with the Vietnamese people and condemned the harsh repression of the Buddhist community. In private, Kennedy had gone a step further, instructing the Central Intelligence Agency and his Ambassador to Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge, to begin consulting with the South Vietnamese military about the possibility of deposing Diem. By that time, the Diem regime had become immensely unpopular in South Vietnam. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0219

  • Kennedy considered supporting 1963 coup in S. Vietnam, documents show. New audio recordings and documentation unearthed by George Washington University’s National Security Archive, show that US President John F. Kennedy supported a military coup against the US-backed South Vietnamese regime of Ngo Dinh Diem, even though he recognized the planned coup had no chance of a political success. See previous intelNews coverage for more Vietnam War-related declassified items.
  • Speak Farsi? Israel’s Shin Bet is interested. Israel’s Shin Bet internal intelligence agency is advertising jobs for speakers of the Iranian language Farsi. Israeli intelligence agencies appear to have similar problems with those faced by their US counterparts.

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News you may have missed #0166

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CIA documents reveal secret aspects of Vietnam War

CIA report cover

CIA report cover

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The CIA has released a six-volume internal history of its involvement in Vietnam prior to and during the Second Indochina War (usually referred to in the US as the Vietnam War). The release of the documents’ is the long-awaited result of a Freedom of Information Act request by intelligence historian and National Security Archive research fellow John Prados. The documents, which are available online in the National Security Archive’s Electronic Briefing Book No. 283, detail the CIA’s activities in Vietnam from the early 1950s, and provide what appears to be the most complete account to-date of the Agency’s operations during the US war in South and North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Read more of this post