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Reply #212: The BFEE was behind the escalation in Vietnam in 1963 [View All]

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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-18-04 11:55 PM
Response to Reply #98
212. The BFEE was behind the escalation in Vietnam in 1963
The events of August-October 1963 relating to Vietnam, climaxing in the overthrow and assassination of Presidient Diem on November 1, 1963 may have had a more than coincidental connection to the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The most mysterious of those events was the telegram of August 24, 1963 that Averell Harriman somehow managed to sneak out behind Kennedy's back.

At this time, the group proposing escalation in Vietnam (as well as preparing the assassination of President Diem) had a heavy Brown Brothers, Harriman/Skull and Bones overtone: the hawks of 1961-63 were Harriman, McGeorge Bundy, William Bundy, Henry Cabot Lodge, and some key London oligarchs and theoreticians of counterinsurgency wars. And of course, George Bush during these years was calling for escalation in Vietnam and challenging Kennedy to "muster the courage" to try a second invasion of Cuba.

Another most painful episode concerns the overthrow of President Ngo Dinh Diem, advocated by a cabal in the State Department led by undersecretary Averell Harriman. William Colby, then heading the clandestine services' Far East division, advocated caution. He said, the action "appears to be throwing away bird in hand before we have adequately identified birds in the bush, or songs they may sing." But the caution was disregarded, the coup proceeded, Diem was murdered, and the South Vietnamese government became a de-stabilized and de-legitimized revolving door of nobodies.


The storming of Buddhist pagodas on 21 August by forces directed by Ngo Dinh Nhu crystallized the "Diem must go" convictions, and on Saturday, 24 August, at a time when President Kennedy, National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, Secretary of Defense McNamara, Secretary of State Rusk, and DCI McCone happened to be out of town, a small group of strategically placed senior State Department officials smoked a fateful Top Secret/Operational Immediate cable past interagency coordinators to a receptive Ambassador Lodge. In effect, that cable told the Ambassador to advise Diem that immediate steps must be taken to improve the situation--such as meeting Buddhist demands and dismissing his brother. If Diem did not respond promptly and effectively, Lodge was instructed to advise key Vietnamese military leaders that the United States would not continue to support his government. The directive was intended to shake up Diem, neutralize Nhu, and strengthen the hands of a group of generals who opposed the two brothers' coercive policies and deplored their counterinsurgency tactics. The directive proved crucial two months later, in effect giving a green light to a coup against Diem.


Summing up White House discussions in which he participated during the last days of August 1963, CIA's Far East Division chief, William Colby, recorded that the President and the Attorney General "were apparently appalled at the speed with which the State decision was reached on Saturday afternoon, 24 August, and felt that more thought, analysis, and preparation should have preceded the instruction to Lodge." ... Years later General Taylor said of the 24 August weekend that "a small group of anti-Diem activists picked this time to perpetrate an egregious 'end run' in dispatching a cable of the utmost importance to Saigon without obtaining normal departmental clearances." ... DCI John McCone reported that he was told by Secretaries Rusk and McNamara on 4 September that they were unhappy with the manner in which the 24 August cable had been handled, McNamara adding that the cable "did not represent the views of the President."


Ambassador Frederick Nolting, displaced in Saigon by Lodge and denigrated in Washington by Hilsman because of his pro-Diem arguments (but whose counsel the President sought in August 1963 to balance that of his detractors), later wrote that in 22 years of public service he had never seen anything "resembling the confusion, vacillation and lack of coordination in the U.S. Government" at that time. Although Nolting had sympathy for President Kennedy, he deplored "his failure to take control" and concluded that "the Harriman-Lodge axis seemed too strong for him."
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