Trần Ngọc Châu

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Tran Ngoc Châu (Annam, French Indochina, 1923 or 1924 17 June 2020) was a Vietnamese soldier (Lieutenant Colonel), civil administrator (city mayor, province chief), politician (leader of the Lower House of the National Assembly), and later political prisoner, in the Republic of Vietnam until its demise with the Fall of Saigon in 1975. There are published photographs of Châu taken c.1952 and 1969, and others in his memoirs, Vietnam Labyrinth.


Much earlier in 1944, he had joined the Việt Minh to fight for independence from the French. Yet as a Vietnamese Buddhist by 1949 he had decisively turned against Communism in Vietnam. He then joined pro-French forces. When Vietnam was divided in 1954, he became an officer in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN).

For many years he worked on assignments directly under President Ngô Đình Diệm (1954–1963). He became the mayor of Da Nang, and was later a province chief in the Mekong Delta. In particular, Châu became known for his innovative approaches to the theory and practice of counter-insurgency: the provision of security ("pacification") to civilian populations during the Vietnam War. The ultimate government goal of winning the hearts and minds of the people eventually led him to enter politics.

In 1967, after resigning from the ARVN Châu was elected to the newly formed National Assembly in Saigon. He became a legislative leader. Along with others, however, he failed to persuade his old friend Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, the former general who had become President (1967–1975), to turn toward a negotiated peace. Hence Châu associated with Assembly groups in opposition to the prevailing war policies and the ubiquitous corruption.

Under the pretext that he spoke to his communist brother, Châu was accused of treason in 1970, during a major government crackdown on dissidents. Among others, Daniel Ellsberg spoke on his behalf before the United States Congress. Amid sharp controversy in South Vietnam, widely reported in the international press, Châu was tried and sent to prison for several years. Detention under house arrest followed. Soon after Saigon fell in 1975, he was arrested and held by the new communist regime, in a re-education camp. Released in 1978, he and his family made their escape by boat, eventually arriving in America in 1979. [1]

Map of South Vietnam South Vietnam Map.jpg
Map of South Vietnam

Early life and career

Temple in Imperial City, Hue Dien Thai Hoa - Dai noi Hue(1).jpg
Temple in Imperial City, Huế

Family, education

Tran Ngoc Châu was born in 1923 or 1924 into a ConfucianBuddhist family of government officials (historically called mandarins, quan in Vietnamese), [2] [3] who lived in the ancient city of Huế, then the imperial capital, on the coast of central Vietnam. Since birth records at that time were not common, his family designated January 1, 1924, as his birthday "just for convenience". [4] His grandfather Tran Tram was a well-known scholar and a minister in the imperial cabinet, and his father Tran Dao Te was a chief judge. [5] As traditional members of the government, his family had "never resigned themselves to French rule." Châu spent seven youthful years as a student monk at a Buddhist school and seminary. In addition he received a French education at a lycée. Yet along with his brothers and sister, and following respected leaders, Châu became filled with "the Vietnamese nationalist spirit" and determined to fight for his country's independence. [6] [7] [8]

In the Việt Minh resistance

Viet Minh flag Flag of North Vietnam (1945-1955).svg
Việt Minh flag

In 1944, Châu joined the anti-French and anti-Japanese "resistance" (khang chien), that is, the Việt Minh. He followed two older brothers and a sister. [9] [10] [11] Then considered a popular patriotic organization, the Việt Minh emphasized Vietnamese nationalism. [12] [13] [14] Châu was picked to attend a 3-month "Political Military Course". Afterwards he was made a platoon leader. [15]

Here Châu mixed with peasants and workers for the first time, experiencing "the great gap between the privileged... and the underprivileged" and the "vital role" played by the rural villagers in Vietnam's destiny. He participated in the rigors of Việt Minh indoctrination, the "critiquing sessions" and party discipline, and admired the dedication of Vietnamese patriots. Exemplary was his young immediate superior Ho Ba, also from a mandarin family. Châu lived the rough life as a guerrilla soldier, entering combat many times. Yet he saw what he thought a senseless execution of a young woman justified as "revolutionary brutality". He also saw evidence of similar harsh behavior by French colonial forces. Châu was selected to head a company (over a hundred soldiers) and led his compatriots into battle. Promoted then to "battalion political commissar", Ho Ba had asked him to join the Communist Party of Vietnam. [16] [17] [18]

A year after Châu had entered the rural Việt Minh, Japan surrendered ending World War II. Up north Việt Minh armed forces seized control of Hanoi in the August Revolution. Ho Chi Minh (1890–1969) proclaimed Vietnamese independence, and became the first President. [19] [20] The French, however, soon returned and war commenced anew. Several writers comment that in 1945 Ho Chi Minh had become indelibly identified with Vietnamese independence, conferring on him the Mandate of Heaven in the eyes of many Vietnamese, and that his ultimate victory against France and later America predictably followed. [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29]

Châu's promotion to battalion political officer [30] caused him to reflect on his path "from the contemplative life of a Buddhist monastery to the brutal reality of war". The Việt Minh depended on popular support, which the political commissar facilitated and propagated. In that position, Châu was called upon to show his "personal conviction" in the war and in the "social revolution", and to inspire the goodwill of the people. "It was equally vital that the political commissar be able to impart that conviction", to set "a high standard for others to emulate". To do so, Châu says, was like "converting to a new religion". About Việt Minh ideology and practices, his Buddhist convictions were divided: he favored "social justice, compassion, and liberation of the individual" but he opposed the "cultivated brutality" and "obsessive hatred" of the enemy, and the condemnation of "an entire social class". Châu found himself thinking that communist leaders from the mandarin class were using their peasant recruits to attack mandarin political rivals. "President Ho and General Giáp  ... came from the very classes" that communist indoctrination was teaching the cadres to hate. [31] [32] [33] Yet Châu's duties, e.g., in "critiques and self-criticism sessions" and fighting the guerrilla war, left him little time for "personal philosophizing". When asked to join the party, Châu realized that, like most Vietnamese people in the Việt Minh, "I really knew little about communism." [34]

After four years spent mostly in the countryside and forest; the soldier Châu, eventually came to a state of disagreement with the resistance leadership when he learned of its half-hidden politics, and what he took to be the communist vision for Vietnam's future. Although the Việt Minh was then widely considered to represent a popular nationalism, Châu objected to its core communist ideology which rejected many Vietnamese customs, traditional family ties, and the Buddhist religion. [35] [36] He quit the Việt Minh in 1949. Although remaining a nationalist in favor of step-by-step independence, he severed his ties, and began his outright opposition to communism. [37] [38] "I realized my devotion to Buddhism distanced me from Communist ideology", Châu wrote decades later in his memoirs. [39] [40] [41] [42]

In the army of Bảo Đại

France reinstalled Bao Dai, 1949-1955, last sovereign of the Nguyen dynasty. Imperial Standard of Nguyen Dynasty1.svg
France reinstalled Bảo Đại, 1949–1955, last sovereign of the Nguyễn dynasty.

Yet his new situation "between the lines of war" was precarious; it could prove to be fatal if he was captured by either the French or the Việt Minh. [44] [45] Soon Châu, unarmed, wearing khakis and a Việt Minh fatigue cap, carefully approached Hội An provincial headquarters in French-controlled Vietnam and cried, "I'm a Việt Minh officer and I want to talk". He was interrogated by civil administrators, Sûreté, and the military, both French nationals and Vietnamese. Later Châu shared his traditional nationalism with an elder Vietnamese leader, Governor Phan Van Giao, whose strategy was to outlast the French and then reconcile with the Việt Minh. [46] At a café he recognized the young waitress as a former, or current, Việt Minh. Châu's Buddhist father, Tran Dao Te, suggested he seek religious guidance through prayer and meditation to aid him in his decision making. Two brothers, and a sister with her husband remained Việt Minh; yet Châu came to confirm his traditional nationalism, and his career as a soldier. [47]

I had quit the Việt Minh because I wanted independence for my country, but not with its traditional society and roots totally destroyed, which was the Communists' goal. I wanted to preserve the value of our culture and my religion, to see peace and social justice for everyone, but without unnecessary class struggle. [48] [49]

In 1950, Châu entered a military academy at Dalat (north of Saigon) established by the French to train officers for the Vietnamese National Army, nominally under the emperor Bảo Đại. By then the US, Britain, and Thailand recognized Vietnam's 'independence'. Graduating as a lieutenant he was assigned to teach at the academy. Châu then married Bich Nhan whom he had met in Huế. The couple shared a villa and became friends with another young army couple, Nguyễn Văn Thiệu and his wife. Thiệu also had served in the Việt Minh, during 1945–46, before crossing over to the other side. [50] In 1953 Châu traveled to Hanoi (Vietnam being not yet divided) for advanced military study. On his next assignment near Hội An his battalion was surprised by a Việt Minh ambush. His unit's survival was in doubt. For his conduct in battle Châu was awarded the highest medal. He was also promoted to captain. Following French defeat in 1954, full independence, and partition of Vietnam into north and south, Châu served in the military of the southern government, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). [51] [52] [53] [54]

Division of the country resulted in massive population shifts, with most Việt Minh soldiers and cadre (90,000) heading north, [55] and some Buddhists (300,000) and many Catholics (800,000) heading south. [56] [57] [58] [59] The Việt Minh remnant and 'stay behinds' in the south used "armed propanganda" to recruit new followers. [60] [61] Eventually they formed the National Liberation Front (NLF), which soon came to be "known as the Viet Cong by its enemies" (and by the press corps and politicians of America). It fought against the Republic of Vietnam (capital: Saigon), in a continuation of its national struggle for communist revolution and control. By 1960 use of armed violence became the practical policy of the communist party that dominated the NLF, both supported by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi. [62] [63] [64]

Service in the Diệm regime

During the transition from French rule to full independence Ngô Đình Diệm, [65] the President of the Republic, although making costly mistakes managed to lead the southern state through a precarious stage in the establishment of its sovereignty. [66] Meanwhile, Châu in 1955 became commandant of cadets, director of instruction, at his alma mater the Vietnamese military academy at Dalat. He recommended curriculum changes, e.g., inclusion of Vietnamese history and guerrilla warfare, yet the American advisor resisted. For a time he also ran afoul of the secretive Cần Lao political party, a major support of the Diệm regime. [67] [68] The American military sponsored special training at Fort Benning, Georgia, for a group of Vietnamese Army officers including Châu. Later, after transferring from the Fourth Infantry Division, he became chief of staff at Quang Trung Training Center, a large Vietnamese Army facility. There Châu discovered corruption among suppliers. [69] [70] [71]

President Diem Ngo Dinh Diem - Thumbnail - ARC 542189.png
President Diệm

In 1959, at the request of his commanding officer, Châu prepared a report for the president's eyes. Unexpectedly, President Diệm then scheduled a meeting with Châu ostensibly to discuss his well-prepared report. Instead Diệm spoke at length of his high regard for Châu's mandarin grandfather the state minister Tran Tram, for his father and his accomplished family in Huế, the former Vietnamese capital. [72] [73] The President, himself of a mandarin family, cultivated a formal Confucian style. [74] [75] [76] Au contraire, Ho Chi Minh, also from a mandarin family, preferred instead a villager identity, being popularly known as "Uncle Ho" [Bac Ho in Vietnamese]. [77] [78] [79] [80]

The time-honored Confucian philosophy [81] behind the traditional mandarin ethic, remains in Vietnamese culture and elsewhere. [82] Yet it had been challenged in East Asia, methodically and decisively, since the arrival of western culture. [83] [84] [85] The revolutionary Chinese Communist Party had vilified it. [86] [87] [88] Modified teachings of the ancient sage continue, however, and across East Asia Confucian influence has increased markedly during the 21st century. [89] [90] [91] [92]

For Diệm and Châu, its values served as a major reference held in common. [93]

Investigating the Civil Guard

Soon after Diệm assigned Châu to the Civil Guard and Self-Defense Corps as inspector for 'psychological and social conditions'. Following Diệm's instructions Châu investigated the Guard's interaction with the people and its military effectiveness. [94] Diệm had told Châu that his job was extremely important as the popular reputation of the Civil Guard in the countryside largely influenced how most people thought about the entire military. [95] [96]

The Civil Guard (Bao An) was ineffective, poorly paid and poorly trained. Moreover, they preyed on the peasants whom they were supposed to protect. The Guard's political superiors, the provincial and local officials, were "holdovers from the French". To them, anyone who had participated in the independence struggle against France was suspected of being 'Viet Cong'. Châu recommended general reforms: elimination of bribery and corruption, land reform, education, and the cultivation of a nationalist spirit among the people. Châu noted that the Americans aided only the military, ignoring the Civil Guard despite its daily contact with rural people and the Viet Cong. [97] [98]

President Diệm instructed Châu to develop a "refresher course" for the Guard. In doing so Châu addressed such content as: increased motivation, efforts to "earn the trust" of the people, better intelligence gathering, "interactive self-critical sessions", and the protection of civilians. Thereafter, Diệm appointed Châu as a regional commander of the Civil Guard for seven provinces of the Mekong Delta. American officials, military and CIA, began to show interest in Châu's work. [99] Journalist Grant writes that in the Mekong "Châu's job was to set an example that could be followed throughout the country." [100] Yet despite the efforts made, Châu sensed that a "great opportunity" was being missed: to build a national élan among the country people of South Vietnam that would supplant the vapid air of the French holdovers, and to reach out to former Việt Minh in order to rally them to the government's side. [101] [102] [103] [104]

Following up on Châu's Civil Guard experience, Diệm sent him to troubled Malaysia to study the pacification programs there. Among other things, Châu found that, in contrast to Vietnam, in Malaysia (a) civilian officials controlled pacification rather than the military, (b) when arresting quasi-guerrillas certain legal procedures were followed, and (c) government broadcasts were more often true than not. When he returned to Saigon during 1962, his personal meeting with the president lasted a whole day. Yet a subsequent meeting with the president's brother Ngô Đình Nhu disappointed Châu's hopes. Then President Diệm appointed Châu the provincial governor of Kiến Hòa in the Mekong Delta. Châu objected that as a military officer he was not suited to be a civil administrator, but Diệm insisted. [105] [106]

Đà Nẵng: Buddhist crisis

Buddhist flag Flag of Buddhism.svg
Buddhist flag

In the meantime, the Diệm regime in early 1963 issued an order banning display of all non-state flags throughout South Vietnam. By its timing the order would first apply to the Buddhist flag during the celebration of Buddha's Birthday (Le Phát Dan) in May. Châu and many Buddhists were "outraged" and he called the President's office. Diệm's family was Catholic. Châu held not Diệm himself, but his influential brothers, responsible for the regime's "oppressive policies toward Buddhists". [107] [108] [109] The next morning a small plane arrived in Kiến Hòa Province to take Châu to Saigon to meet with Diệm. After discussion, Diệm in effect gave Châu complete discretion as province chief in Kiến Hòa. But soon in Huế, violence erupted: nine Buddhists were killed. Then "fiery suicides" by Buddhist monks made headlines and stirred the Vietnamese. [110] [111]

Diệm then quite abruptly appointed Châu mayor of the large city of Đà Nẵng near Huế. At the time Da Nang had also entered a severe civil crisis involving an intense, local conflict between Buddhists and Catholics. These emergencies were a seminal part of what became the nationwide Buddhist crisis. From Diệm's instructions, Châu understood that as mayor he would have "complete authority to do what [he] thought was right". During the troubles in Da Nang, Châu met with Diệm in Saigon nearly every week. [112] [113] [114] [115] [116] [117]

Pagoda in Hue Tu Dam Pagoda 1.jpg
Pagoda in Huế

Arriving in Da Nang, Châu consulted separately first with the Buddhist monks, and then later with units of the army stationed in Da Nang (most of whose soldiers Châu describes as Catholics originally from northern Vietnam [118] and anti-Buddhist). A Buddhist elder who arrived from Huế (Châu's hometown, about 100 km. north of Da Nang) endorsed Châu to his co-religionists as a loyal Buddhist. As Da Nang mayor he ordered the release of Buddhists held in detention by the army. When an army colonel refused to obey Châu, he called President Diệm who quickly replaced the rebellious colonel. "The city returned to near-normal." [119]

Yet that August, instigated by Diệm's brother Nhu, armed forces of the Saigon regime conducted the infamous pagoda raids throughout Vietnam, which left many Buddhist monks in jail. [120] [121] In Da Nang, Châu rescued an elderly monk from police custody. Then Châu met with hostile Buddhists in a "stormy session". The Buddhist wanted to stage a large demonstration in Da Nang, to which Châu agreed, but he got a fixed route, security, and assurances. During the parade, however, the Catholic Cathedral in Da Nang was stoned. Châu met with protesting Vietnamese Catholics, especially with Father An. He reminded them that "Diệm, a devout Catholic" had appointed him mayor of Da Nang. Accordingly, it was his duty to "be fair to everyone" and to favor no one. "Passions subsided gradually on all sides, and relative calm returned to the city" of Da Nang by late October. [122] [123]

A few days later Châu heard fresh rumors of a military plot against Diệm. [124] Senior elements in the military, encouraged by the American embassy (yet American support vacillated), had been meeting. They began to plan the 1963 coup d'état, which occurred on November 1. [125] [126]

Diệm's fall, aftermath

During the coup, President Diem was shot inside an Army vehicle. Corpse of Ngo Dinh Diem in the 1963 coup.jpg
During the coup, President Diệm was shot inside an Army vehicle.

When Châu arrived at the Saigon airport from Da Nang for another routine meeting with President Ngô Đình Diệm, gunfire could be heard. Speculation about the military coup was rife, causing widespread disorder and urban panic. As the military-controlled radio carried news about the ongoing coup, Châu telephoned the president's office (the "line suddenly went dead"), and then officer colleagues—in the process Châu declined an invitation to join the coup. At a friend's home he waited, apprehensive of the outcome. Diệm and his brother Nhu were both killed early the next morning, November 2, 1963. [127] [128] [129] [130] [131]

It was Châu's frank appraisal of the conspiring generals, e.g., Dương Văn Minh, that these prospective new rulers were Diệm's inferiors, in moral character, education, patriotic standing, and leadership ability. [132] The coup remains controversial. [133] [134] [135] [136] [137] [138] [139] [140] [141]

Châu arranged to fly immediately back to Da Nang, which remained calm. Yet his sense of honor caused him to persist in his loyalty to the murdered president. His attitude was not welcome among some top generals who led the coup. Under political pressure Châu resigned as mayor of Da Nang. Nonetheless, Châu for a while held positions under the new interior minister (and a coup leader), Tôn Thất Đính, and under the new mayor of Saigon, Duong Ngoc Lam. [142] [143] Meanwhile, a second coup of January 29, 1964, staged by General Nguyễn Khánh, succeeded in forcing a further regime change. [144] [145]

Regarding the war, the American advisors were then "more concerned with security in the provinces" and in 1964 Châu was sent back to Kiến Hòa as province chief. Returning to a familiar setting, his 'homecoming' went well. Châu was comforted to leave Saigon, capital of the "new 'coup-driven' army, with all its intrigues and politics." Vietnamese generals then took little notice of him, but the American CIA remained interested in Châu's work. Subsequently, the Minister of Rural Development in Saigon, Nguyen Đức Thang, appointed Châu as national director of the Pacification Cadre Program in 1965. [146] [147] [148]

Innovative counterinsurgency

In the Vietnam War pacification, a technical term of art, [149] [150] became a nagging source of policy disagreement in the American government between its military establishment and civilian leadership. Initially avoided by the military, later, as merely a low-level professional issue, the Army debated its practical value, i.e., the comparative results obtained by (a) employing counterinsurgency techniques to directly pacify a populated territory, versus (b) the much more familiar techniques of conventional warfare used successfully in Europe, then in Korea. The later strategy sought simply to eliminate the enemy's regular army as a fighting force, after which civic security in the villages and towns was expected to be the normal result. Not considered apparently was the sudden disappearance of guerrilla fighters, who then survived in the countryside with local support. later launching an ambush. From the mid-1950s the American strategy of choice in Vietnam was conventional warfare, a contested decision, considered in hindsight a fatal mistake. [151] [152] [153]

CIDG in training, early U.S. Army and CIA effort in remote regions. CIDG unit training (Colorized).jpg
CIDG in training, early U.S. Army and CIA effort in remote regions.

The Army rebuffed President Kennedy's efforts to develop a strong American counterinsurgency capability in general. [156] The Army also declined regarding Vietnam in particular. [157] [158] Marine Lt. Gen. Victor Krulak, however, in Vietnam early favored pacification and opposed conventional attrition strategy. Yet Krulak had failed to convince first Gen. Westmoreland, then McNamara at Defense, and ultimately President Johnson. [159] [160] Châu, too, spoke with Westmoreland, unsuccessfully. [161]

The Viet Cong generally avoided fielding regular army units until late in the war. The Viet Cong (supported by the National Liberation Front (NLF) and the North Vietnamese regime), continued through the 1960s to chiefly employ guerrilla warfare in their insurgency to gain political control of South Vietnam. [162] Viet Cong tactics included deadly assaults against civilian officials of the Government of South Vietnam (GSV). [163] [164] [165] The early pacification efforts of Diệm were later overtaken by the American war of attrition strategy, as hundreds of thousands of American soldiers with advanced weaponry arrived in 1965 and dominated the battlefield. Yet after several years the "other war" (pacification) was revived with the initiation of CORDS. By 1967 the military value, as auxiliaries, of American-led pacification teams, became accommodated by the MACV. [166] [167] [168] Some critics view the initial inability of the U.S. Army command to properly evaluate pacification strategy as symptomatic of its global stature and general overconfidence. [169] [170] [171]

In the meantime, first under Diệm, the GSV with participation by the CIA had contrived to improvise and field various responses to the assaults by the Viet Cong. Châu's contributions to counterinsurgency then were original and significant. Later, heated political controversy would arise over the social ethics and legality of the eventual means developed to "pacify" the countryside. [172]

In Kiến Hòa Province

Kien Hoa Province (also called Ben Tre Province) today. MapVietnamBenTre.png
Kiến Hòa Province (also called Bến Tre Province) today.

Châu served as the province chief (governor) of Kiến Hòa Province in the Mekong Delta south of Saigon, 1962–1963 and 1964–1965. Châu had focused "his efforts to devise programs to beat the communists at their own game", in the description of journalist Zalin Grant. At the time Kiến Hòa Province was considered "one of the most communist-dominated" in South Vietnam. In the event, his efforts netted surprising results. Châu's innovative methods and practices proved able to win over the hearts and minds of the people, eventually turning the tide against Viet Cong activity in Kiến Hòa. [174] [175] [176]

"Give me a budget that equals the cost of only one American helicopter", Châu would say, "and I'll give you a pacified province. With that much money I can raise the standard of living of the rice farmers, and government officials in the province can be paid enough so that they won't think it necessary to steal." [177] [178]

From his own experiences with guerrilla tactics and strategy, and drawing on his recent investigations of the Civil Guard, Châu developed a novel blend of procedures for counterinsurgency warfare. President Diệm encouraged and supported his experimental approaches to pacification teams and his efforts to implement them in the field. [179]

In Kiến Hòa Province, Châu began to personally train several different kinds of civil-military teams in the skills needed to put the procedures into practice. The purpose of the teams was to first identify and then combat those communist party cadres in the villages who provided civil support for the armed guerrillas in the countryside. The party apparatus of civilian cadres thus facilitated 'the water' in which the "Viet Cong fish" could swim. Châu's teams were instructed how to learn from villagers about the details and identities of their security concerns, and then to work to turn the allegiance or to neutralize the communist party apparatus, which harbored the VC fighters. [180] [181] These quasi-civilian networks, which could be urban as well as rural, were called by counterinsurgency analysts the Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI), which formed a "shadow government" in South Vietnam. [182] [183] [184]

When working as an instructor of the Civil Guard, Châu's innovations had already drawn the interest of several high-level American military officers. Among the first to visit him here in Kiến Hòa was the counterinsurgency expert, Colonel Edward Lansdale." [185] [186] [187] [188] [189] Later General Westmoreland, commander of MACV, came to listen to Châu's views, but without positive result. [190] [191] Eventually, CIA officer Stewart Methven began working directly with Châu. Pacification methods were adopted by CIA Saigon station chief Peer De Silva, and supported by his superior William Colby who then led CIA's Far East Division. [192] [193] [194] [195]

Census Grievance program

Châu first began to experiment with counterinsurgency tactics while commander of the Civil Guard and Self-Defense Forces in the eastern Mekong delta. President Diệm here backed his work. [179] A major spur to his development of a new approach was the sorry state of South Vietnamese intelligence about the Viet Cong. Apparently the communists cadres already knew most GSV agents who were attempting to spy on them. The VC either fed them misinformation, converted them into double agents, or compromised or killed those few GSV agents who were effective. Châu had to start again, by trial-and-error practice, to construct better village intelligence. Not only, but also better use of information to deliver effective security for the peasant villagers. [196] [197] In doing so Châu combined his idea of village census takers (better intelligence and better use of it) with that of "people's action teams" (PAT) to form a complete pacification program. [198] "Châu apparently had what the Americans with their splintered programs lacked: an overall plan." [199] [200]

Flag of the NLF
or the Viet Cong FNL Flag.svg
Flag of the NLF
or the Viet Cong

In Kiến Hòa Province, Châu begin to train five types of specialized teams: census grievance (interviews), social development, open arms (Viet Cong recruitment), security, and counterterror. First, the "census grievance" teams gathered from villagers local information, political and social; such intelligence operations were "critical to the success of the program" and included social justice issues. To compose the 'census grievance' teams, he carefully selected from the Civil Guard individuals for small squads of three to five. "They interviewed every member of the village or hamlet in which they were operating every day without exception." Second, in follow-up responses that used this information, the "social development" teams set priorities and worked to achieve village improvements: bridges, wells, schools, clinics. Third, were the "open arms" teams [Vietnamese: Chieu Hoi], [201] which used village intelligence to counter Viet Cong indoctrination, persuading those supporting the Viet Cong, such as family members and part-time soldiers, that "it was in their interest to join the government side." Fourth, a "security" team composed of "six to twelve armed men" might work with ten villages at a time, in order to provide protection for the other pacification teams and their efforts. Fifth, the "counterterror" teams were a "weapon of last resort." [202] [203] [204] [205] [206]

From the intelligence that was obtained from the entire Census Grievance program, "we were able to build a rather clear picture of Viet Cong influence in a given area." Identified were people or whole families supporting the Viet Cong out of fear or coercion, as well as at the other end "hard-core VC who participated and directed the most virulent activities." Evidence about hard-core VC was thoroughly screened and "confirmed at the province level." Only in the presence of active "terrorists" would the 'counterterror' team arrive to "arrest" the suspect for interrogation, and where "not feasible... the ultimate saction [was] invoked: assassination." Châu emphasized the care and skill which must be given to each step in order to succeed in such a delicate political task. He notes his negative opinion about the somewhat similar Phoenix Program that was later established, inferring that mistakes, and worse, eventually corrupted its operation, which became notorious to its critics. [207] [208]

The country people were naturally very suspicious at first, and reluctant to respond to any questions asked by the "census grievance" teams. Each interview was set to last five minutes. Gradually, however, the people "began to see that we were serious about stopping abuses not only by the Viet Cong but by the government officials and the military as well." Villagers made complaints about issues such as sexual abuse and theft. Charges were investigated, and if proven true, the official or tribal chief was punished by loss of job or by prison. Once in a village the Civil Guard was found to have faked Viet Cong raids in order to steal fish from a family pond. The family was reimbursed. People slowly became convinced of the sincerity of the pacification teams and then "rallied to the government side." [209] [210]

Such success carried risk, as "the census grievance teams became prime targets for assassination by the Viet Cong." Information was key. "As our intelligence grew in volume and accuracy, Viet Cong members no longer found it easy to blend into the general populace during the day and commit terrorist acts by night." The 'open arms' teams had started to win back Viet Cong supporters, who might then "convince family members to leave the VC ranks." Other Viet Cong fighters began to fear being captured or killed by the 'counterterror' teams. During Châu's first year a thousand "active Viet Cong guerrillas fled" Kiến Hòa Province. [211] Some disputed the comparative success of Châu and his methods, [212] but his reputation spread as an innovator who could get results. [213] [214] [215]

As national director

Châu's operational program for counterinsurgency, the 'Census Grievance', was observed and studied by interested South Vietnamese and American officials. Many of his tactical elements were adopted by the CIA and later used by CORDS in the creation of the controversial Phoenix Program. Formerly of the CIA and then as head of CORDS which supervised Phoenix, William Colby "knew that Châu had probably contributed more to pacification than any other single Vietnamese." [216] [217]

Flag of the Republic of Vietnam Flag of South Vietnam.svg
Flag of the Republic of Vietnam

Châu did not want to kill the Viet Cong guerrillas. He wanted to win them over to the government side. After all most of them were young men, often teenagers, poorly educated, and not really communists.... [219] [220]

Châu developed ideas, e.g., about subverting the semi-civilian networks that supported the Viet Cong, that were little understood by many American military. However, a small group of dissident officers, often led by Colonel Lansdale, appreciated Châu's work in pacification. These officers, and also CIA agents, opposed the Pentagon's conventional Vietnam strategy of attrition warfare and instead persisted in advocating counterinsurgency methods. [221] [222]

The dissidents understood the worth of Châu's appeal to the rural people of Vietnam. As a consequence, over time "a number of the programs Châu had developed in his province were started countrywide." [223]

A major motivation for Châu's approach to counterinsurgency was his nationalism. He favored Vietnamese values, that could inspire the government's pacification efforts and gain the allegiance of the farmers and villagers. Accordingly, Châu voiced some criticism of the 1965 'take-over' of the Vietnam War by the enormously powerful American military. He remembered approvingly that the former President Ngô Đình Diệm (1901–63) had warned him that it was the Vietnamese themselves who had to enlist their people and manage their war to victory. [224] [225] [226] Châu's insistence that Vietnamese officers and agents take leadership positions in the field, and that Americans stay in the background, agreed with Lansdale's view of Vietnamese participation. [227] [228]

In 1966 in Saigon the new interior minister in charge of pacification, General Nguyen Đức Thang, whose American advisor was Lansdale, appointed Châu as national director of the Pacification Cadre Program in Saigon. [229] [230] [231] [232] Châu cautiously welcomed the challenging assignment. He realized that Lansdale, Lt. Colonel Vann, and others (dissidents at CIA) had pushed his selection and wanted him to succeed in the job. Unfortunately Châu was ultimately not given the discretion and scope of authority he sought in order to properly lead the national pacification efforts in the direction he advocated. He met opposition from the Americans, i.e., the CIA Saigon leadership, and from his own government. [233] [234] His apparent agreement with the CIA station chief on "technical facets" fell short. Châu later wrote:

We never got to the cardinal point I considered so essential: devotion to the nationalist image and resulting motivation of the cadres. ... Such nationalistic motivation could only be successful if the program appeared to be run by Vietnamese; the CIA would have to operate remotely, covertly, and sensitively, so that the project would be seen and felt to be a totally Vietnamese program, without foreign influence. [235]

At the CIA compound in Saigon its leadership, joined there by other American officials from various government agencies, were apparently already satisfied with their approach to running pacification operations in Vietnam. [236] [237] Châu then appeared to lack bureaucratic support to implement his innovations. [238] [239] [240]

Châu relocated to Vũng Tàu (a peninsula south of Saigon) in order to take charge of its National Training Center. A large institution (5,000 trainees for various pacification programs), until 1966 it had been run by Captain Le Xuan Mai. Mai also worked for the CIA and was a Đại Việt proponent. Châu wanted to change the curriculum, but his difficulties with Mai led to a long and bitter struggle before the deceptive Mai left. The dispute came to involve Lt. Colonel Vann, Ambassador William J. Porter, the CIA station chief Gordon Jorgenson, pacification minister Thang, and Prime Minister Nguyễn Cao Kỳ. During the personality and political dispute, which grew in complexity, Châu sensed that he had "lost CIA support." [241] [242] [243] [244]

Ultimately, Châu resigned from the army to enter politics, which had been refashioned under the terms of the new constitution. [245] The CIA had brought in "another talented Vietnamese officer, Nguyen Be" who, after working alongside Châu, "took over the Vũng Tàu center" after Châu left. According to journalist Zalin Grant, Be was later given credit by CIA officials (e.g., by Colby) in written accounts as "the imaginative force" instead of Châu, who was "conveniently forgotten". [246] Colby's 1986 book did spotlight "an imaginative provincial chief" in the Delta, but failed to name him. [247]

CIA & CORDS: redesign

Phoenix Program, Vietnamese patch Phoenix Program (edit).png
Phoenix Program, Vietnamese patch

Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS), an American agency, was conceived in 1967 by Robert Komer, who was selected by President Johnson to supervise the pacification efforts in Vietnam. Komer had concluded that the bureaucratic position of CORDS should be within the American "chain of command" of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), which would provide for U.S Army support, access to funding, and the attention of policy makers. As the "umbrella organization for U.S. pacification efforts in the Republic of Vietnam" CORDS came to dominate the structure and administration of counterinsurgency. [248] [249] [250] It supported the continuation of prior Vietnamese and American pacification efforts and, among other actions, started a new program called Phoenix, Phung Hoáng in Vietnamese. [251] [252] [253]

Controversy surrounded the Phoenix Program on different issues, e.g., its legality (when taking direct action against ununiformed communist cadres doing social-economic support work), its corruption by such exterior motives of profit or revenge (which led to the unwarranted use of violence including the killing of bystanders), and the extent of its political effectiveness against the Viet Cong infrastructure. [254] [255] [256] William Colby, then head of CORDS, testified before the Senate in defense of Phoenix and about correcting acknowledged abuses. [257] [258] Châu, because of its notorious violence, became disillusioned and so eventually often hostile to the Phoenix Program. [259] [260]

From Châu's perspective, what had happened was America's take-over of the war, followed by their taking charge of the pacification effort. Essentially misguided, it abused Vietnamese customs, sentiments, and pride. It did not understand the force of Vietnamese nationalism. The overwhelming presence in the country of the awesome American military cast a long shadow. The war intensified. Massive bombing campaigns and continual search and destroy missions devastated the Vietnamese people, their communities, and the countryside. [261] [262] [263] [264] The presence of hundreds of thousands of young American soldiers led to social corruption. [265] [266] [267] [268] The American civilian agencies with their seemingly vast wealth, furthered the villagers' impression that their government's war was controlled by foreigners. Regarding Phoenix, its prominent American leadership put Vietnamese officials in subordinate positions. Accordingly, it was more difficult for the Phoenix Program to summons in villagers the Vietnamese national spirit to motivate their pacification efforts, more difficult to foster the native social cohesion needed to forestall corruption in the ranks. [269] [270] [271] [272] [273]

Further, Châu considered that pacification worked best as a predominantly civic program, with only secondary, last resort use of paramilitary tactics. Châu had crafted his 'Census Grievance' procedures to function as a unified whole. In constructing Phoenix, the CIA then CORDS had collected components from the various pacification efforts ongoing in Vietnam, then re-assembled them into a variegated program that never achieved the critical, interlocking coherence required to rally the Vietnamese people. Hence much of the corruption and lawless violence that plagued the program and marred its reputation and utility. [274] [275] [276] [277] [278]

Commentary & opinion

Three Pillars of Counterinsurgency,
according to David Kilcullen (2006) Kilcullen3Pillars.svg
Three Pillars of Counterinsurgency,
according to David Kilcullen (2006)

The literature on the Vietnam War is vast and complex, particularly regarding pacification and counterinsurgency . [279] Its contemporary relevance to the "War on Terror" following 9/11/2001 is often asserted. [280] Of those commentators discussing Châu and his methods, many but not all share or parallel Châu's later views on the subsequent Phoenix Program: that his subtle, holistic counterinsurgency tactics and strategy in the hands of others acquired, or came to manifest, repugnant, self-defeating elements. Châu wrote in his memoirs that the Phoenix Program, which arguably emerged from his Census Grievance procedures, became an "infamous perversion" of it. [281] The issues were convoluted, however; Châu himself could appear ambiguous. Indeed, general praise for American contributions to pacification was offered by an ARVN senior officer. [282] [283]

In the media, the Phoenix Program under Robert Komer and William Colby became notorious for its alleged criminal conduct, including putative arbitrary killing. Critics of the war often named Phoenix as an example of America's malfeasance. Journalist Zalin Grant writes:

From the start Phoenix was controversial and a magnet for attracting antiwar protests in the States. Some of the suspicion about the program grew from its very name. ... [¶] [Another cause was] Colby's and Komer's insistence on describing Phoenix in bureaucratic terms that were clear only to themselves. ... [This] contributed to a widespread belief that they were out to assassinate the largely innocent opponents of the Saigon government and trying to cover up their immoral acts with bewildering obfuscations. [284]

Frances FitzGerald called it an instrument of terror, which in the context of the war "eliminated the cumbersome category of 'civilian'." [285] Phoenix became the nota bene of critics, and the bête noire of apologists. Commentary when focused on the Phoenix Program often turned negative, and could become caustic and harsh. [286] [287] [288] [289] [290] [291] [292] [293] Others saw it differently, in whole or in part, evaluating the redesigned pacification effort in its entirety as the use of legitimate tactics in war, and focused on what they considered its positive results. [294] [295] [296] [297] [298] [299] [300] [301] [302] [303] [under construction]

Yet subtleties of grey appear to permeate both the black and the white of it, precluding one-dimensional conclusions. [304] [305] [306]

As civilian politician

Buddhist leader Thich Nhat Hanh in Paris 2006. Unlike his compatriot Thich Tri Quang who in 1966 led Hue's radical Buddhists into political action, Hanh spoke and wrote against the war but more in light of Buddhist culture and spirit. Thich Nhat Hanh 12 (cropped).jpg
Buddhist leader Thích Nhất Hạnh in Paris 2006. Unlike his compatriot Thích Trí Quang who in 1966 led Huế's radical Buddhists into political action, Hạnh spoke and wrote against the war but more in light of Buddhist culture and spirit.

After the impasse over implementation of his pacification program, and friction with CIA, Châu considered alternatives. Traveling to Huế, he spoke with his father. With his wife he discussed career choices.[ citation needed ] The political situation in South Vietnam was changing. As a result of demands made during the second Buddhist crisis of early 1966, [308] [309] national elections were scheduled. During his career as an army officer, Châu had served in several major civilian posts: as governor of Kiến Hòa Province (twice), and as mayor of Da Nang the second largest city. Châu decided in 1966 to leave the ARVN. He ran successfully for office the following year. Châu then emerged as a well-known politician in the capital Saigon. Nonetheless, he later ran afoul of the political establishment, was accused of serious crimes in 1970, and then imprisoned for four years. [310] [311]

Vietnam was not familiar with the conduct of fair and free democratic elections. The Diệm regime (1954–63) had staged elections before in South Vietnam, but saw their utility from a traditional point of view. As practiced in similarly situated countries, elections were viewed as a "national holiday" event for the ruling party to muster its popular support and mobilize the population. In order to show its competence, the government worked to manage the election results and overawe its opponents. [312] [313] [314] [315] [316]

Then in the spring of 1966, the Buddhist struggle movement led by Thích Trí Quang [317] obligated the military government to agree to democratic national elections, American style, in 1966 and 1967. The Buddhists had staged massive civil demonstrations (Phật giáo nổi dậy) in Huế and Da Nang, which resonated in Saigon and across the country. Eventually put down by the military, the Buddhists had demanded a return to civilian government through elections. The American embassy privately expressed fear of such a development. [318] [319] [320] [321] [322] [323] [324] In the event, the election campaigns were more fairly contested than before in Vietnam, but were not comparable to elections held in mature democracies. [325] [326] [327]

Lack of civil order and security, due to the ongoing war, prevented voting in about half the districts. The procedure of casting ballots and counting them was generally controlled by officials of the Saigon government who might manipulate the results, depending. Candidates were screened beforehand to eliminate politicians with disapproved views. [328] Forbidden to run were pro-communists, and also "neutralists" (pointedly, "neutralists" included Buddhist activists who favored prompt negotiations with the NLF to end to the war). [329] [330] [331] [332] [333] [334] A majority of Vietnamese were probably neutralists. [335] [336] Campaigning itself was placed under restrictions. [337] [338] [339] A favorable view held that the election was an "accomplishment on the road toward building a democratic political system in wartime." [340] [341] [342] Châu himself was optimistic about the people casting their votes. [343]

Elected to Assembly

Châu was elected to the House of Deputies of the National Assembly from the predominantly rural Kiến Hòa Province. The campaigns leading to the October 1967 vote were unfamiliar phenomena in Vietnam, and called on Châu to make difficult decisions on strategy and regarding innovation in the field. He had wanted to advance the cause of a new Vietnam, a modern nation that would evolve from its own culture and traditions. With the lessons he'd learned from his experiences in counterinsurgency warfare, he was also determined to refashion pacification efforts, to improve life in the villages, and to rally the countryside to the government's side. To spell out such a program Châu wrote a book in Vietnamese, published in 1967, whose title in translation was From War to Peace: Restoration of the Village. [344] [345]

During the six-week campaign Châu crisscrossed the province, where he had twice served as governor, contacting residents to rally support. He competed with nineteen candidates for two openings in the House of Deputies. Châu claimed to enjoy "total support, either tacit or openly, from all Kiến Hòa 's religious leaders", including Buddhist and Catholic. To them he summarized his campaign: first, to listen, to hear their voices and investigate their complaints; second, "to work toward an ending of the war that would satisfy the honor and dignity of both sides." [346] [347]

After Châu had resigned from the army, while he was preparing his run for office, his communist brother Trần Ngọc Hiền unexpectedly visited him in Saigon. Hien did not then reveal his ulterior motives, but later Châu discovered that Hien had been sent by his NLF superiors in order to try to turn Châu. Châu as usual kept his brother at arm's length, although he also entertained a brotherly concern for his safety. Both brothers, Châu and Hien, once again decidedly rejected the crafted political arguments of the other. Hien mocked Châu's run for office; Châu curtly told his brother to stay out of the election. Several years earlier in 1964 or 1965 Hien had visited Châu in Kien Hoa Province. They had not met for 16 years. Hien requested that Châu arrange a meeting with the American ambassador Lodge. Promptly Châu had informed the CIA of his brother's visit. The Embassy through the CIA sought to make use of the "back channel" contact, regarding potential negotiations with Hanoi. But later Hien broke off further communication. [348] [349]

During the campaigning Châu's evident virtues and decorated military career attracted some attention from the international press. His youth in the Việt Minh fighting the French, followed by his decision to break with the communists, also added interest. About him journalist Neil Sheehan later wrote that to his American friends, "Châu was the epitome of a 'good' Vietnamese." Sheehan states:

Saigon Opera House, where the Republic's National Assembly met. Opera, Ciudad Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, 2013-08-14, DD 02.JPG
Saigon Opera House, where the Republic's National Assembly met.

[Châu] could be astonishingly candid when he was not trying to manipulate. He was honest by Saigon standards, because though advancement and fame interested him, money did not. He was sincere in his desire to improve the lives of the peasantry, even if the system he served did not permit him to follow through in deed, and his four years in the Việt Minh and his highly intelligent and complicated mind enabled him to discuss guerrilla warfare, pacification, the attitude of the rural population, and the flaws in Saigon society with insight and wit. [350]

Apparently to some foreigners Châu seemed to conjure up a mercurial stereotype. Michael Dunn, chief of staff at the American Embassy under Lodge, was puzzled by Châu. He claimed to not be able to tell "which Châu was the real Châu. He was a least a triple personality." Dunn explained and continued:

There were so many Americans interested in Vietnam and so few interesting Vietnamese. But Châu was an extraordinary fellow. ... Many people thought Châu was a very dangerous man, as indeed he was. In the first place, anybody with ideas is dangerous. And the connections he had were remarkable. [351]

Three days before the vote Châu learned of a secret order by provincial governor Huynh Van Du to rig the vote in Kiến Hòa. Châu quickly went to Saigon to see his long-time friend Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, the newly elected president. [352] Thiệu said he could not interfere as the V.P. Nguyễn Cao Kỳ had control over it. On his way out Châu told General Huỳnh Văn Cao that he would "not accept a rigged election." Cao had prominently campaigned for Thiệu–Kỳ, and himself had led a Senate ticket to victory. Somehow, the governor did rescind his secret order. "He [Châu] won a seat in the National Assembly election in 1967 in one of the few unrigged contests in the history of the country", stated The New York Times . Châu got 42% among 17 candidates, most of whom were locals. "It was a tremendous tribute to his service as province chief", wrote Rufus Phillips, an American officer in counterinsurgency. The victory meant a four-year term as a representative in the reconstituted national legislature, where he would speak for the 700,000 constituents of Kiến Hòa province. [353] [354] [355] [356] [357]

In the legislature

Along with like-minded members of the Assembly, Châu had initially favored a legislative group that, while remaining independent of President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, would generally back him as the national leader. Based on his long-time military association, Châu had spoken with his friend Thiệu soon after the Assembly elections. He encouraged the new civilian president to "broaden his base with popular support from the grassroots level". He suggested that Thiệu reach an understanding with the nascent legislative group. Châu hoped Thiệu would consider how to end the widespread pain and violence of the debilitating war. Eventually, the Thiệu regime might establish a permanent peace by direct negotiations with the NLF and the north. With his own strategies in view, Thiệu bypassed such plans. Châu, too, stayed out of the pro-Thiệu bloc, thereby not jeopardizing his support from "southern Catholics and Buddhists". [358] [359]

In the meantime, in a secret ballot Châu was chosen by his legislative peers as their formal leader, i.e., as the Secretary General in the House of Deputies. [360] Such office is comparable perhaps to the American Speaker of the House. [361] An American academic, who then closely followed South Vietnamese politics, described the politician Châu:

Tran Ngoc Chau was the Secretary-General of the House. He was universally respected as a fair individual and one who, during his tenure as an officer of the House, had maintained a balance between criticism and support of [Thiệu's] government based on his perception of the national interest. [362]

Meeting in Saigon, the Assembly's agenda in late 1967 included establishing institutions and functions of the state, as mandated by the 1966 constitution. The new government structures encompassed: an independent judiciary, an Inspectorate, an Armed Forces Council, and provisions for supervision of local government, and for civil rights. The House soon turned to consider its proper response to the strong power of the President. Such "executive dominance" was expressly made part of the new constitution. In managing its business and confronting the issues, the Assembly's initial cliques, factions, and blocs (chiefly stemming from electoral politics) were challenged. They realigned. [363] [364]

Châu carefully steered a political course, navigating by his moderate Buddhist values. [365] He maintained his southern Catholic support, part of his rural constituency; he also appealed to urban nationalists. [366] The street power of the Buddhist struggle movement, whose leaders had successfully organized radical activists in the major demonstrations of 1963 and 1966, had collapsed. [367] [368] [369] [370] [371] Yet many other Buddhists were elected in 1967, [372] and prominent Buddhists supported Châu's legislative role. [373] Among the various groups of deputies, Châu eventually became a member of the Thống Nhất ("Unification bloc"). Professor Goodman described it as "left of center" yet nationalist, associated with Buddhist issues, and "ideologically moderate". The legislative blocs, however, were fluid; "the efficiency of blocs, as measured by their cohesion, appeared linked not to their rigidity but to the level of cooperation achieved among them." [374]

The violent Tet Offensive of January 1968 suddenly interrupted the politics of South Vietnam. [375] [376] President Thiệu requested the legislature to grant him emergency powers, but Châu speaking for many deputies "declared that the executive already had sufficient powers to cope... and suggested that the present burden be shared between both branches". The Assembly voted 85 to 10 against the grant. [377] [378]

Tet also sparked new calls for a national draft. In the back and forth with legislators, the pro-Army government of former generals criticized its civilian political opponents for their alleged avoidance of military service. These liberals then countered by charging that the sons of senior Army officers were currently themselves dodging service; names were named. Châu listened, at first sharply resenting such urban liberals as Ngô Cong Đức. Yet, as he heard the critics charge the highly politicized, coup-prone Army with malfeasance, it resonated with his own experience. In part the military was "corrupt and incompetent". It often based "promotions on favoritism rather than merit" which weakened the Army and "made it easy for the Communists to spread their message". Gradually Châu realized that these civilian politicians "formed the most active group of Southerners opposed to the government's abuse of power" and that he shared their "fight for reform". [379] [380]

Corruption had become ubiquitous; it damaged South Vietnam's prospects. [381] [382] [383] The ragged war economy, amid destruction and death, and inflation, created stress in the population, yet presented novel business opportunities, not all legitimate. [384] Incoming American war assistance multiplied many fold, as did American aid to millions of Vietnamese refugees caused by the war's escalation. Accordingly, a major source of wealth was the import of vast quantities of American goods: to support military operations, to supply hundreds of thousands of troops, and to mitigate 'collateral damage'. Misappropriation of these imports for commercial resale became a widespread illegal activity. Its higher-end participants were often Vietnamese officials, military officers and their wives. [385] [386] [387] [388] [389] [390]

Other forms of corruption were common. In the government, the hidden selling of their votes by some elected deputies disgraced the process. A pharmacist, Nguyen Cao Thang, was President Thiệu's liaison with the legislature. Part of his duties apparently included delivery of cash payments to deputies. Châu started a political campaign against corruption in general and against the "bag man" Thang in particular. [391] [392] In the National Assembly Châu "had attracted a bloc of followers whose votes could not be bought. He had also aroused Thiệu's ire by attacking government corruption." [393]

As his legislative experience accumulated, Châu thought of starting "a political party with a nationwide grassroots infrastructure". He had reasoned that many fellow deputies were unfortunately not connected to the people who voted, but more to artificial, inbred political networks. Such politicians, hopefully, would be denied reelection. In 1968 Châu spoke with two CIA agents; one offered secret financing to set up and organize a new political party, but it had to be supportive of President Thiệu and the war. The new party project appealed to Chau, but the CIA's secret deal did not. Instead Châu suggested the need for a center nationalist party, independent of the military, and "a new national agenda and policies that could win the support of most of the people." The CIA, however, required that their recipients favor Thiệu, and conform to U.S. policy on the war. [394] [395] [396]

During this period Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker was being cooperative regarding President Thiệu's authoritarian rule. [397] [398] Châu sensed his exposure to powerful elements of the Saigon establishment. [399] [400]

Peace negotiations

1971 newsreel still of the peace talks

Following the aftermath of his election to the National Assembly in October 1967, Châu traveled to America. He saw the early stages of their 1968 elections and the surge in anti-war sentiment about Vietnam. In America, direct entry into negotiations to end the war were contemplated. [401] [402] In Washington Châu gave lectures on the conflict, and conversed with experts and officials (many he'd met in Vietnam), and with members of Congress. Yet the Tet Offensive began the day of Châu's chance to talk with President Johnson, and the meeting was cancelled. [403] Several months after Châu's journey, negotiations between the North Vietnamese and the Americans began in Paris (10 May 1968). [404]

Châu and others sharply criticized the peace negotiations: in place of the Republic of Vietnam stood the Americans. Vietnamese dignity was impugned. It seemed to confirm the Republic's status as a mere client of American power. Instead, Châu insisted, Saigon should open negotiations with the communists, both the NLF (Viet Cong) and the North Vietnamese regime. Meanwhile, the Americans should remain off-stage as an observer, who'd support to Saigon. [405]

In this way a ceasefire might be arranged and the hot war (which then continued to devastate the South and kill an enormous number of its citizens) halted, allowing for the pacification of the combatants. Accordingly, the conflict could be politicized and thus returned to Vietnamese civilian control. A peace could return to the countryside, the villages, the urban areas. Thereafter South Vietnamese nationalist politicians, perhaps even in a coalition government, could nonetheless wage a democratic struggle against the NLF. The nationalists might attract popular support by pitting Vietnamese values against communist ideology. Yet the Thiệu regime's policy then condemned outright any negotiations with the NLF, as either communist or communist inspired. [406] [407] The Thiệu regime in Saigon had legally prohibited public advocacy of peace negotiations or similar deal-making with the communists. [408] "Châu wanted reasonable negotiations and a settlement while Saigon still retained bargaining power. Of course, Nguyễn Văn Thiệu's policy aimed to prevent any such settlement." [409] [Under construction]

Political trial, prison

In 1970, Châu was arrested for treason against the Republic due to his meeting with his brother Hien, who had since the 1940s remained in the Việt Minh and subsequent communist organizations as a party official. Articles about Châu's confinement appeared in the international media. The charges were considered to be largely politically motivated, rather than for questions of loyalty to country. [410] [411] [412] [413] Yet in February 1970 Châu was sentenced to twenty years in prison. That May the Vietnamese Supreme Court held Châu's arrest and conviction unconstitutional, but Thiệu refused him a retrial. [414] [Under construction]

Although released from a prison cell by the Thiệu regime in 1974, Châu continued to be confined, being kept under house arrest in Saigon. [415] In April 1975, during the confusion surrounding the unexpectedly swift Fall of Saigon, and America's ill-planned withdrawal from Vietnam, Châu and his family were left behind. [416] [417] Three Americans, a reporter and an embassy officer, and a retired general with MAAG, each tried to get Châu and his family evacuated during the final few days. Yet blocking their efforts were the sudden turmoil, the mobs, and the general confusion and danger in Saigon. The congestion and the chaotic traffic further obstructed all the exit routes. He and his wife were anxious about their fraught and pregnant daughter, which caused Châu's family "to resign ourselves to whatever we, as losers of the war, must face in the future." [418]

Under the Communist regime

Ton Duc Thang, President of the DRV Mr. Ton Duc Thang.jpg
Tôn Đức Thắng, President of the DRV

The war ended April 30, 1975, with the occupation of South Vietnam by the conventional military of the north, the People's Army of Vietnam. The timing of the Communist victory was as unexpected as the sudden collapse of the southern ARVN. The party cadres of the National Liberation Front (NLF) were naturally joyous, as these southerners had struggled since the 1950s for communist victory and national unification. A "grand victory celebration" was scheduled in Saigon for May 15, featuring Tôn Đức Thắng the president of the northern Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). He spoke of victory to the crowd from a reviewing stand filled with top communist politicians from north and south. Then down the main streets of the former capital Saigon came army divisions of the victorious north, marching in formation, looking smart in new helmets. Military bands played, and overhead the northern air force flew. Next came tank squadrons, anti-aircraft batteries, and artillery, followed by Soviet missiles, all under the flag of the DRV. Not until the very end came NLF forces (Viet Cong), but not in their own divisions. There were only a small fraction, "several straggling companies, looking unkempt and ragtag after the display that had proceed them." They, too, appeared under the DRV flag. [419] [420] [421]

Trương Như Tảng, then the NLF's Minister of Justice, called the days following victory "a period of rapid disenchantment". In southern Vietnam, a major issue of reunification became how to incorporate former enemies from the long civil war. In May, members of the defeated Thiệu regime were instructed to report for a period of re-education to last 3 days, 10 days, or 30 days depending on their rank. Such a seemingly magnanimous plan won popular approval. Hundreds of thousands reported. Several months passed, however, without explanation; few were released. Tảng reluctantlly realized that the period of confinement initially announced had been a ruse to smooth the state's task of arrest and incarceration. He confronted the NLF President Huỳnh Tấn Phát about this cynical breach of trust with the people. Tảng was brushed off. Next came a wave of arbitrary arrests that "scythed through the cities and villages". Tảng worked to remedy these human rights abuses by drafting new laws, but remained uncertain about their enforcement. "In the first year after liberation, some three hundred thousand people were arrested", many held without trial for years. Tảng's post would soon be eliminated in the reunification process, and his former duties performed by a northerner appointed by the ruling Party in Hanoi. [422] [423] [424]

Re-education camp

By April 30, 1975, control of Saigon had been taken by the northern army. About two months later, while Châu was home with his wife and children, neighborhood dogs began to bark in the middle of the night. Three armed soldiers came to the home, then handcuffed Châu and took him away for interrogation. Afterwards sent "temporarily" to a re-education camp, he was indoctrinated about the victorious revolution. Not allowed visitors nor told an expected duration, Châu would remain confined by the Communist regime at various locations for about three years. [425] [426] [427]

At what Châu came to call the "brainwashing campus" he studied Communist ideology. He found himself in company with many former civilian officials of the defunct Saigon government. Among the several thousands in this prison he found "Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Trần Minh Tiết and hundreds of other senior judges, cabinet members, senators, congressmen, provincial governors, district chiefs, heads of various administrative and technical departments, and political party leaders". Châu later estimated the country-wide total of such prisoners in the hundreds of thousands. Also included were military officers, police officers, minor officials, and school teachers. [428] [429] [430]

Two Flags of the SRV: the party & the state. Two Flags Vietnam.JPG
Two Flags of the SRV: the party & the state.

Isolated, in rough conditions, the inmates were occupied from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The first three months the prisoners worked constructing and fixing up the camp itself: "sheet-iron roofs, corrugated metal walls, and cement floors", all surrounded by concertina wire and security forces. At this campus lectures were given, usually by senior army officers from the north, presenting the Communist version of Vietnamese history. They spoke of crimes committed by the Americans and their puppets, the bright communist future ahead, and the opportunity now for prisoners to remedy their own "mischief and crimes". Ideological literature was available. Group discussion sessions were mandatory; to participants they seemed to last forever. Their 'education' was viewed by many inmates as a form of punishment. Châu thought the northern army officers "believed firmly in their teachings even when they didn't know what they were talking about." [431] [432]

Prisoners might fall ill, become chronically weak, or otherwise lose their health and deteriorate. "Some prisoners went crazy. There were frequent suicides and deaths." Each inmate was forced to write an autobiography that focused on their political views and that confessed their errors. Afterwards, each was separately interviewed regarding personal details and requested to rewrite sections. Châu was questioned in particular about his CIA connections, and made to rewrite his autobiography five times. After 14 months, outside visitors were allowed into the camp, with families often shocked at the weakened appearance of their kin. Châu's wife and children "did not recognize me at first because I had lost forty pounds." It also became clear to the prisoners that close family members 'outside' were being punished for the political 'crimes' of those held inside. [433] [434] [435] [436] Châu's wife arranged for 25 members of his family living in the north to sign a petition requesting clemency. [437]

After two and a half years, 150 inmates including Châu were moved to Thủ Đức prison near Saigon. Their new status and location was subject to transfer to northern Vietnam, where long terms at hard labor were the norm. [438] They joined here others held in the re-education grind, those deemed the "worst criminals". Among them were Buddhist monks and Catholic clergy. After his identity was confirmed, Châu feared his imminent execution. Instead, moved to the old police headquarters in Saigon, he was put in solitary confinement. In his dark cell, Châu knew, communists in prior years had been cruelly held. He practiced yoga and meditation. [439] [440] After three weeks in solitary he was suddenly taken to two elder Communists and interrogated. One told Châu his crimes had resulted in "the killing of tens of thousands of people throughout the country" and demanded a response. Châu replied that "I am defeated, I admit. Ascribe to me whatever crimes you want." He must rewrite his autobiography. In the next two months, given better food, and a table and chair, Châu wrote 800 pages, covering "the crimes I had committed against the people and the revolution". [441] [442]

Châu noticed that the four other inmates receiving the same treatment as him were "notables of the Hòa Hảo, a Buddhist-oriented religion rooted in the Mekong Delta [and] known as staunchly anti-Communist." [443] The Communists were not worried about careerist opponents, who's "brand of anti-Communism ceased to exist the day Americans stopped providing subsidies." But principled anti-Communist might mask their convictions and remain a "potential threat". A senior Communist official uncharacteristically acted friendly toward inmate Châu. Yet this official told Châu he "was the victim of an false illusion" that caused him to be "an anti-Communist by conviction" and hence "a greater threat to the revolution than people who opposed Communism only out of self-interest". [444]

Three questions were then thrown at Châu: his personal reasons for opposing the communist revolution; his motivation to help the Americans; and, the story behind his peace proposal of 1968. The senior officials wanted more precise information in order to understand better the "enemy of the people" types like Châu. Châu felt specially targeted for his personal convictions as a Buddhist and nationalist, which motivated him to serve the people. This was key to his three answers. The process became an issue, Châu mused, not really of courage but of his sense of "personal honor". The senior interrogator told him his political nationalism was mistaken, but that Châu was being given "an opportunity to revive your devotion to serve the people." Then he surprised Châu by informing him of his release. Châu "still suspicious" wrote a letter "promising to do my best to serve the country". A few days later, his wife and eldest daughter arrived to take him home. [445] [446] [447]

Release, escape by boat

After his unexpected release from prison in 1978, Châu went to live with his wife and children. He received family visitors, including his communist brother Trần Ngọc Hiền. Eight years earlier Hien's arrest in Saigon by the Thiệu regime had led to Chau's first imprisonment. Once a highly placed Communist intelligence officer, Hien had become disillusioned by the harsh rule imposed by victorious Hanoi. Subsequently, Hien's advocacy of Buddhist causes had gotten him disciplined then jailed by the Communist Party of Vietnam. Châu's sister and her husband, a civil engineer, also visited Châu. They had come down from northern Vietnam, where they had been living for twenty-five years. [448] [449] [450]

Vietnamese refugees 35 Vietnamese boat people 2.JPEG
Vietnamese refugees

In the late 1970s top Communist leaders in the north seemed to understand victory in the exhausting war as the fruit of their efforts, their suffering, which entitled northern party members to privileges as permanent officials in the south. [451] Châu viewed Communism negatively, but not in absolutist terms. While serving in the Việt Minh during the late 1940s, Chau had admired his companions' dedication and sacrifice, and the Communist self-criticism process; his break with them was due to his disagreement with their Marxist–Leninist ideology. Yet now, released from re-education camp and back in 'occupied' Saigon, Châu became convinced that in general the ruling Communists had lost their political virtue and were "corrupted" by power. [452] [453] When the country was divided in 1954, hundreds of thousands left the northern region assigned to Communist rule, journeying south. After the 1975 Communist military victory had reunited Vietnam, hundreds of thousands would flee by boat. [454]

Trương Như Tảng was present at the founding of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF) in 1960. A leftist member of Vietnam's urban intelligensia and a government official, Tang had served the NLF throughout the war, often secretly, supporting the Viet Cong in various capacities. At the war's end he was the NLF's Minister of Justice. Yet he soon totally soured on Communist rule. [455] [456] About the events in Saigon following the north's victory, Tang wrote in his memoir:

Since shortly after the first days of liberation, escape by boat had been the single great topic of conversation throughout the South. Everyone talked about it but actually making the arrangements was a dangerous business. ... A host of unsavory elements discovered they could profit from what rapidly turned into a mass movement. ... The seas were infested with pirates, and beyond the pirates lay a string of squalid refugee camps... . ¶ Escape was truly a decision that could only be made out of desperation. [457]

The new Communist regime began to question Buddhist monks and laity about their loyalty to its official ideology. The state's religious repression methodically advanced. Most of the leading Buddhist monks were arrested, went underground, or fled the country; by 1985 their ranks had been cut down to one-third. Châu heard that his friend Thich Thien Minh, who had been called a Communist and jailed by Thiệu, "was beaten to death in a Communist prison in 1979." Catholics also endured state oppression. [458] [459] [460]

In 1977 the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) had encountered sharp opposition from the People's Republic of China (PRC) when the SRV challenged the murderous Communist tyranny in Cambodia. In late 1978 the People's Army of Vietnam moved to overthrow the Khmer Rouge regime. In response the PRC's People's Liberation Army attacked Vietnam across their mutual border in early 1979; this armed conflict was brief but intense. [461]

The long-standing Chinese minority in Vietnam, also called the Hoa, was centered in the Cholon district of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). By 1977 these Sino-Vietnamese began to feel the at-first subtle hostility of their new Communist government. Soon the SRV seized the 'opportunity' of the war with China to manifest its dominance over the Hoa. The SRV's tactics of oppression increased, step by step; at the end of 1977 it had become severe, with arbitrary arrests and deportations of its Chinese minority. [462]

Following Châu's release, the friendly senior official from the prison visited him. He told Châu he'd been freed so that he could inform on his friends and acquaintances. Châu was given a position at the Social Studies Center in Saigon, an elite institution linked to a sister organization in Moscow. [463] Chau was assigned the file on the former leaders of the defunct South Vietnamese government. From indications at work he understood his role would also include writing reports on his miscellaneous contacts with fellow Vietnamese, which he silently resolved to avoid. [464] [465]

In 1979, Châu and his family (wife and five of his children) secretly managed to emigrate from Vietnam illegally by boat. They arranged to join with a Chinese group from Cholon also intent on fleeing the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. An unofficial policy then let Chinese leave if they paid the police $2500 in gold per person. [466] [467] On the open seas, a Soviet Russian ship sighted by chance provided them with supplies. The journey was perilous, the boat over-crowded. When they landed in Malaysia the boat sank in the surf. Malaysia sent them to an isolated island in Indonesia. From there Châu with a bribe got a telegram to Keyes Beech, a Los Angeles Times journalist in Bangkok. Finally, with help from Beech, they made their way to Singapore and a flight to Los Angeles. Their arrival in America followed by several years the initial wave of Vietnamese boat people. [468] [469] [470]

Later years in America

Vietnamese language in US Vietnamese USC2000 PHS.svg
Vietnamese language in US

In 1980, shortly after his arrival in California, Châu had been interviewed by antiwar journalist Neil Sheehan, who then wrote an article on Communist re-education camps in Vietnam. It appeared in The New York Times . [471] Châu's friend Daniel Ellsberg had given Sheehan his contact information. Of Châu in the article Ellsberg said, "He was critical of the communists but in a judicious manner." Sheehan, however, did not realize at the time the actual extent of the Communist repression in Vietnam. "There was no blood bath", Sheehan quoted Châu as saying. [472] For Châu the immediate impact of the article was the manifest scorn and threats from some fellow Vietnamese refugees, who were his neighbors. Ellsberg complained to Sheehan that although factually correct he had mischaracterized Châu's opinions. "You got him into trouble", Ellsberg told him. Châu, his wife and his children, weathered the angry storm, according to Zalin Grant. [473]

Châu and his family settled in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, rather than in the larger Vietnamese neighborhoods in nearby Orange County. Becoming acculturated, and improving their English, his children became achievers and entered various professional careers. Châu himself learned computer programming and later purchased a home. After five years Châu applied for American citizenship and recited the oath. [474] [475]

A reconciliation eventually occurred between Châu and the former Vietnamese President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, his friend since 1950, yet in the 1970s a punishing political antagonist. [476] From time to time Châu granted interviews, including for Sheehan's 1988 book A Bright Shining Lie which won a Pulitzer. [477] In April, 1995, he gave an interview over three days to Thomas Ahern, who had been commissioned by the CIA to write the official history of its involvement in Vietnam during the war. [478] Châu returned to Vietnam for a visit in 2006. [479] In 1991 Châu had accepted an invitation to visit Robert Thompson in England, where he talked shop with the counterinsurgency expert of 1950s Malaysia. [480]

In 2013 Tran Ngoc Châu published his book of memoirs which recount experiences and politics during the Vietnam War. He tells of his early formation as a soldier with the Việt Minh, transition to the nationalist cause, service in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam under Diệm, and his innovative pacification program with comments on war and counterinsurgency. He discusses his entry into politics, time in the legislature, his imprisonment, his years in re-education camp, and escape to America. Châu provides mature reflections on the circumstances and episodes. Writer Ken Fermoyle worked with Châu on the book, a product of many years. [481] [482] [483]

Châu appears before the camera several times, talking about his experiences and the situations during the conflict, in the 2017 PBS 10-part documentary series The Vietnam War produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. [4]

Châu died on June 17, 2020, at a hospital in West Hills, Los Angeles. He was 96, and had contracted COVID-19. [4]

See also



Vietnam War


  • Thomas L. Ahern Jr., Vietnam Declassified. The CIA and counterinsurgency (University of Kentucky 2010).
  • Dale Andradé, Ashes to Ashes. The Phoenix Program and the Vietnam War (Lexington: D.C. Heath 1990).
  • William Colby with James McCargar, Lost Victory. A firsthand account of America's sixteen-year involvement in Vietnam (Chicago: Contemporary Books 1989).
  • Stuart A. Herrington, Silence was a weapon. The Vietnam War in the villages (Novato: Presidio Press 1982); revised edition after security restrictions lifted to allow discussion of the CIA's role, re-titled Stalking the Vietcong. Inside operation Phoenix. A personal account (Presidio 1997).
  • Richard A. Hunt, Pacification. The American struggle for Vietnam's hearts and minds (Boulder: Westview 1995).
  • Edward Geary Lansdale, In the Midst of Wars (NY: Harper & Row 1972; reprint: Fordham University 1991).
  • Mark Moyar, Phoenix and the Birds of Prey. The CIA's secret campaign to destroy the Viet Cong (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press 1997).
  • Nguyen Cong Luan, Nationalist in the Viet Nam Wars. Memoirs of a victim turned soldier (Indiana University 2012).
  • Rufus Phillips, Why Vietnam Matters. A eyewitness account of lessons not learned (Annapolis: Naval Institute 2008).
  • Douglas Pike, Viet Cong. The organization and techniques of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (M.I.T. 1966).
  • Ken Post, Revolution, Socialism & Nationalism in Viet Nam. Vol. IV, The failure of counter-insurgency in the South (Aldershot: Dartmount 1990).
  • Thomas W. Scoville, Reorganizing for Pacification Support (Washington: Center of Military History, US Army 1991).
  • Tran Dinh Tho, Pacification (Washington: Center of Military History 1980), Indochina monograph series.
  • Douglas Valentine, The Phoenix Program (New York: William Morrow 1990).
    • Samuel B. Griffith, "Introduction" 1–34, to his translation of Mao Tse-tung, On Guerrilla Warfare (1940; reprint: NY: Praeger 1961).
    • Robert W. Komer, "Impact of Pacification on Insurgency in South Vietnam" in Journal of International Affairs vol. XXV/1 (1971), reprinted in U.S. House of Reps. (1971) at pp. 290–311, introduced at 289.
    • Robert W. Komer, "Was There Another Way?" at pp. 211–223, in Thompson and Frizzell (1977).
    • Bruce Lawlor, "The Phoenix" at pp. 199–202, in Santoli (1981, 1982).
    • John O'Donnell, "Life and Times of a USOM Prov Rep" at pp. 210–236, in Neese and O'Donnell (2001).
    • Lorenzo Zambernardi, "Counterinsurgency's Impossible Trilemma", in The Washington Quarterly, v. 33/3, pp. 21–34 (July 2010).
  • United States Dept. of the Army, The U.S. Army * Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manuel (2006; reprint: University of Chicago 2007).
  • United States House of Representatives, Govt. Ops. Comm., U.S. Assistance Programs in Vietnam, First Session (Washington: U.S. Govt. Printing Ofc. 1971).
  • United States Senate, Foreign Rels. Comm., Vietnam: Policy and Prospects 1970, Second Session (Washington: U.S. Govt. Printing Office 1970).

Views on the war

  • Bùi Tín, From Enemy to Friend. A North Vietnamese perspective on the war (Annapolis: Naval Institute 2002).
  • Daniel Ellsberg, Papers on the War (New York: Simon & Schuster 1972; reprint: Touchstone 1972).
  • J. William Fulbright, The Arrogance of Power (New York: Random House 1966).
  • Ernest Gruening and H.W. Beaser, Vietnam Folly (Washington, DC: National Press 1968).
  • David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest (New York: Random House 1972; reprint Penguin 1983).
  • Max Hastings, Vietnam. An epic tragedy, 1945-1975 (HarperCollins 2018).
  • David Harris, Our War. What we did in Vietnam and what it did to us (New York: Times Books 1996).
  • George McT. Kahin, Intervention. How America became involved in Vietnam (New York: Knopf 1986, reprint Anchor 1987)
  • Stanley Karnow, Vietnam. A history. The first complete account of Vietnam at war (New York: Viking 1983).
  • Henry Kissinger, Ending the Vietnam War (New York: Simon and Schuster 2003).
  • Robert W. Komer, Bureaucracy at War. U.S. performance in the Vietnam conflict (Boulder: Westview 1986), introduced by Wm. E. Colby.
  • Andrew C. Krepinevich Jr., The Army and Vietnam (Johns Hopkins University 1986).
  • John Prados, Vietnam. The history of an unwinnable war, 1945–1975 (University of Kansas 2009).
  • Harry G. Summers Jr., On Strategy: The Vietnam War in Context (Carlisle Barracks: US Army War College [1981]).
  • Trần Văn Đôn, Our Endless War. Inside Vietnam (Novato: Presidio 1978, 1987).
  • Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns, The Vietnam War. An intimate history (New York: Vintage 2017).
    • Christian G. Appy, editor, Patriots. The Vietnam War remembered from all sides (New York: Viking 2003).
    • Harvey Neese and John O'Donnell, editors, Prelude to Tragedy. Vietnam 1960–1965 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press 2001).
    • Al Santoli, editor, Everything We Had. An oral history of the Vietnam War by thirty-three American soldiers who fought it (New York: Random House 1981; reprint Ballantine 1982).
    • W. Scott Thompson and Donaldson D. Frizzell, editors, The Lessons of Vietnam (New York: Crane, Russak 1977).
    • Spencer C. Tucker, editor, The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War. A political, social, & military history (Oxford University 2000).
  • Military History Institute of Vietnam, Victory in Vietnam. The official history of the People's Army of Vietnam, 1954–1975 (Hanoi 1988, revised ed. 1994), translated by William J. Duiker (University of Kansas 2002).
  • U.S. Dept. of Defense, United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: Study proposed by the Department of Defense, 12 volumes, (Washington: U.S. Govt. Printing Ofc. 1971); the narrative history with analyses, supported by contemporary documents, was published in a condensed and annotated form as The Pentagon Papers (The New York Times 1971, reprint: Quadrangle 1971).

Civilian society

  • Larry Berman, The Perfect Spy. The incredible double life of Pham Xuan An Time Magazine reporter and Vietnamese Communist agent (New York: HarperCollins/Smithsonian 2007).
  • Bùi Diễm with David Chanoff, In the Jaws of History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin 1987). [496]
  • Joseph Buttinger, Vietnam. The unforgettable tragedy (New York: Horizon 1977).
  • Dennis J. Duncanson, Government and Revolution in Vietnam (Oxford University 1968).
  • Daniel Ellsberg, Secrets: A memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers (New York: Viking Penguin 2002, reprint 2003).
  • Bernard B. Fall, Viet-Nam Witness 1953–1966 (New York: Praeger 1966, 1967).
  • Frances FitzGerald, Fire in the Lake. The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam (New York: Atlantic Monthly-Little, Brown 1972).
  • Piero Gheddo, Cattolici e Buddisti nel Vietnam (Firenze: Vallecchi Editore 1968), transl. as The Cross and the Bo-Tree. Catholics and Buddhists in Vietnam (New York: Sheed & Ward 1970).
  • Allan E. Goodman, Politics in War. The Bases of Political Community in South Vietnam (Harvard University 1973).
  • David Halberstam, Ho (New York: McGraw-Hill 1971, 1987).
  • Hồ Chí Minh, Selected Writings 1920–1969 (Hanoi: Foreign Languages Pub. Hs. 1973).
  • Hồ Chí Minh, Selected Articles and Speeches (New York: International Publishers 1970).
  • Hue-Tam Ho Tai, Radicalism and the Origins of the Vietnamese Revolution (Harvard University 1992).
  • Charles A. Joiner, The Politics of Massacre. Political processes in South Vietnam (Temple University 1974).
  • Le Ly Hayslip with Jay Wurts, When Heaven and Earth changed Places. A Vietnamese woman's journey from war to peace (New York: Doubleday 1989; reprint: Plume/Penguin 1990).
  • John T. McAlister Jr. and Paul Mus, The Vietnamese and their revolution (New York: Harper Torchbook 1970).
  • Nguyen Duy Hinh & Tran Dinh Tho, The South Vietnamese Society (Washington: Center of Military History 1980), Indochina monograph series. [497]
  • Thích Nhất Hạnh, Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire (New York: Hill and Wang 1967).
  • Howard R. Penniman, Elections in South Vietnam (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute & Stanford: Hoover Institution 1972).
  • Pham Van Minh, Vietnamese Engaged Buddhism. The struggle movement of 1963–1966 (Westminster: Van Nghe 2002).
  • Phan Thi Dac, Situation de la Personne au Viet-Nam (Paris: Center d'Études Sociologiques 1966).
  • Robert Shaplen, The Road from War. Vietnam 1965–1971 (New York: Harper & Row 1971; revised edition: Harper Colophon 1971). [498]
  • Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie. John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam (New York: Random House 1988).
  • Robert J. Topmiller, The Lotus Unleashed. The Buddhist peace movement in South Vietnam, 1964–1966 (University of Kentucky 2002).
  • Trương Như Tảng with David Chanoff and Doan Van Toai, A Viet Cong Memoir. An inside account of the Vietnam War and its aftermath (New York: Random House 1985; reprint: Vintage 1986).
  • Denis Warner, The Last Confucian. Vietnam, Southeast Asia, and the West (New York: Macmillan 1963; reprint Penguin 1964).
  • Alexander B. Woodside, Community and Revolution in Modern Vietnam (Boston: Houghton Mifflin 1976).
    • David Chanoff and Đoàn Văn Toại, editors, Portrait of the Enemy (New York: Random House 1986).
    • John C. Donnell and Charles A. Joiner, editors, Electoral Politics in South Vietnam (Lexington: D. C. Heath 1974).
    • Keesing's Research Report, editor, South Vietnam. A political history 1954–1970 (New York: Scribner's Sons 1970).
    • Edward P. Metzner, Huynh Van Chinh, Tran Van Phuc, Le Nguyen Binh, Reeducation in Postwar Vietnam. Personal postscripts to peace (College Station: Texan A & M University 2001).
  • United States Senate, Foreign Rels. Comm., The U. S. Government and the Vietnam War. Executive and legislative roles and relationships, Part IV (U.S. Govt. Printing Ofc. 1994).


The Vietnamese
Intelligence and warfare
Historical context

Reference notes

  1. See text below for source references.
  2. Cf., Buttinger (1958) at pp. 289–290, 219 n23 & 24. A mandarin (quan) was a public official drawn from those who passed "the prescribed number of official tests" and thus a merit selection "based on a democratic principle". Such an "anti-colonial" view "became quite popular among Vietnamese nationalists" during the early independence struggle. Yet mandarins, although "not an economically anchored ruling class" nor "a closed group", had features of a social "elite".
  3. Phan Thi Dac (1966) p. 66. Traditionally Vietnam was a land of three religions (Tam Giáo): Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist.
  4. 1 2 3 Smith, Harrison (July 9, 2020). "Tran Ngoc Chau, Vietnamese counterinsurgency specialist, dies at 96 of coronavirus complications". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  5. Fermoyle (2009), p. 422 (photo of grandfather), p. 423 (photo of father).
  6. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) at pp. 4–5, 7 (family background); at 8, 25 (joins Việt Minh); 8–9 (Buddhist school, French lycée); 5 (two quotes). His mandarin grandfather (pp. 5, 79), and father (105). From a large family, Châu had three brothers and a sister who also joined the Việt Minh resistance (p. 109). Later Châu's own wife and six children, in addition to his small army pay, received income from family rental property (cf. p. 277).
  7. Grant (1991), re Tran Ngoc Châu: at 68–69 (family origins).
  8. Châu with Sturdevant (2001) p. 181. (brother joins Việt Minh), p. 182 (Châu).
  9. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) at p. 8 (family and Việt Minh); also p. 109.
  10. Grant (1991), pp. 69–70 (recruited for Việt Minh by a teacher and leader of Routiers, the French 'boy scouts'). "Châu and his brothers and sisters, all but the youngest boy, joined the Việt Minh" (p. 69).
  11. Chau with Sturdevant (2001) pp. 180–182.
  12. Tucker (2000) pp. 441–442. Việt Minh translates "Vietnam Independence League". Founded in 1941 as a "communist front organization" by 1945 it had successfully become the leading Vietnamese independence party by championing nationalism and obscuring its founders' class struggle ideology.
  13. Cf. Ho Chi Minh (1970) re Việt Minh: p. 30 [1941] (founded by communist party members, to attract nationalists and people of all classes), p. 32 [1945] (celebrates its support "from all social strata"), p. 46 [1951] (calculated concealment of communist class warfare doctrine in order to "unite the entire people").
  14. Cf. Halberstam (1971). Ho Chi Minh in 1941 was adamant that communists create a front party (the Việt Minh) to conceal their Soviet links, otherwise they would be vulnerable to charges of being controlled by foreigners. This front party must be more Vietnamese nationalist than any rival party (p. 63). Ho himself had then not set foot in Vietnam in 30 years (p. 61). Since 1924, he had worked as a professional revolutionary whose activities and travels were directed by the Communist International in Moscow (pp. 37, 39; 42, 44, 45–46; 70).
  15. Châu, paper submitted to Congress, in US Senate (1970), p. 371.
  16. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) at pp. 12 ("great gap"); 33, 42–43, 54–55, 57–58 (Việt Minh doctrine); 87, 90–92, 101, 110 (yet Ho Ba opposed his father, pp. 91–92, because of his feudal privilege); 16–18 (senseless execution), 17 ("revolution is brutal" quote), cf. 37, [43], 58, 78, 80 (French brutality); 19, 23, 33, 117, 144 (leadership role in combat); 78–79 (commissar); 90–92, 113 (asked to join party by Ho Ba). About brutality, ironically it worked to increase support from the people (p. 78). Châu began in Việt Minh intelligence (p. 9), but soon switched to combat (p. 18). Years later, when Châu had changed sides and fought against the Viet Cong, he nonetheless used the "critiquing sessions" he'd learned from the Việt Minh (pp. 122, 162).
  17. Grant (1991). As a guerrilla Châu was wounded three times (p. 70), usually had little to eat, cut up rubber tires to make his sandals, "suffered malaria, and slept in a hammock in the rain and cold" (p. 72). Grant writes (at 70–71), contrary to Châu's memoirs (p. 78), that Châu was promoted to battalion commissar after the Việt Minh leadership dishonestly sentenced to death the prior commissar "for political reasons".
  18. Châu with Sturdevant (2001) p. 181. Many communist supporters within the Việt Minh were former political prisoners. During the Japanese occupation, communist party cadres had successfully recruited within the prisons.
  19. Halberstam (1971) pp. 75–78, 80–81.
  20. Tucker (2000) p. 446.
  21. Robert Shaplen in his 1965 book The Lost Revolution presents a thesis that, in short, Ho's and the Việt Minh's national stature resulting from the independence achieved in 1945 already shaped the probable outcome of the Vietnam War. Cf. Shaplen (1970) p. xi.
  22. Karnow (1983) p. 146. In 1945 the Emperor Bảo Đại's abdication conferred on Ho traditional legitimacy and the mandate of heaven. Later, "even anti-Communists regarded [Ho] as a hero" (p. 213). Re Dewey's OSS report: p. 139.
  23. Prados (2009) pp. 18, 19. A. Peter Dewey, leader of an OSS team to Vietnam in 1945, wrote a report strongly advising the U.S. stay out. In agreement were the views of the State Department's Far Eastern Bureau of John Carter Vincent and its Southeast Asia desk of Abbot Low Moffat.
  24. Cf. Fitzgerald (1972) p. 224. By his national charisma Ho "promoted himself out of the political sphere to become the revered 'ancestor' of the revolution within his lifetime."
  25. Stephen B. Young, "The Mandate and Politics in Vietnam" pp. 13–34, in Donnell and Joiner (1974). "The central concept that runs through Vietnamese life is the ultimate power of heaven and its mandate over human affairs." Such is fundamental in local traditions and is held by Buddhists. The Mandate of Heaven (mang troi in Vietnamese) is destiny and "assigns all of us our particular fate" (p. 13). The charisma of Ho Chi Minh in 1945 conferred on him a new mandate to rule, so that Ho could "legitimately replace old village councils" because his mandate would ultimately free Vietnam from foreigners (p. 26).
  26. Phan Thi Dac (1966) p. 92: 'Heaven' as determining destiny, a widespread belief. Cf., pp. 70, 78.
  27. Halberstam (1971) p. 82: In August 1945 "the Việt Minh had in one quick stroke taken over the nationalism of the country [and] Ho had achieved the legitimacy of power." If the French "challenged him now they would only increase his authority." Ho had become the "arbiter of Vietnamese nationalism". Accordingly, the Americans worked to avoid the national election scheduled for 1956 (p. 108).
  28. J. William Fulbright, The Price of Empire (New York: Pantheon 1989) p. 110: US President Eisenhower stated later that if the 1956 Vietnam elections (specified in the Geneva accords of 1954) had been held, Ho Chi Minh would have won by 80%.
  29. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) p. 294: The "honor and glory" from their war against the French still gave the Communists "an edge" into the late 1960s.
  30. As is widely followed communist practice, Việt Minh units were led by both a political officer, who usually took priority, and a military officer. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) pp. 78, 84.
  31. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) pp. 78–79, 86–87; quotes: 78–79, 86 (re Ho and Giáp); pp. 58, 86–87, 99 (Châu observes political contradiction in Việt Minh leaders, e.g., Ho Chi Minh from the literate elite, who preached class hatred, and educated communist politicians in general who in pursuit of power manipulate rural peasants in order to eliminate their bourgeois mandarin rivals).
  32. Châu with Sturdevant (2001) p. 184. "It was the bourgeoisie, the mandarins, and the aristocrats ... who formed the backbone of Ho Chi Minh's [republic] in 1945."
  33. Halberstam (1971) pp. 70–71. Ho had a "hard and callous side rarely seen in public" and was proud of being a "tough old Bolshevik" even though he had seen the "crimes of Stalin". His lieutenants "liquidated rival nationalist elements", betraying "true Vietnamese patriots" because they were the competition. Ho's father was a mandarin (pp. 18, 43). In the 1920s Ho is said to have sold out Phan Bội Châu, a revered elder Vietnamese patriot and a friend of Ho's father, to the French for 150,000 piasters (pp. 21, 44–45).
  34. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) at pp. 79–80, 84–87; two quotes at 79–80, "about communism" quote p. 92. Châu settled on an army career (p. 116).
  35. E.g., Halberstam (1971) pp. 92–93. Peasants were advised by the Việt Minh that their political duties overrode the traditional duty of filial piety to their family.
  36. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) at pp. 98–100: Several experience turned Châu. For one, he witnessed a Việt Minh revolutionary trial of an older French governor of "honorable service" Ho Ngan (p. 91: "a mandarin of integrity"), whose son was a now communist leader (at 87, 90–92). The trial's guilty verdict and sentence of 20 years detention clarified Châu's own "change of heart". The mandarin official's son was Châu's former comrade Ho Ba.
  37. Lansdale (1972) pp. 152–153. Such a switch in political sides was not uncommon among Vietnamese during that era. Each of the semi-independent armed sects (the religious cults the Hòa Hảo and the Cao Đài, and the criminal Bình Xuyên) first joined, then decisively broke with, the Việt Minh in the late 1940s.
  38. Grant (1991): Tran Ngoc Châu at 69–76 (Việt Minh defection, becomes anti-communist). Grant's 1991 account here differs in detail from Châu with Fermoyle (2012).
  39. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) p. 102 (Buddhism vs. Communism quote).
  40. Cf., Sheehan, (1988) at p. 609. Sheehan amply notes Châu's "winning qualities" stating that "Châu proved himself an able Việt Minh fighter, rising from squad leader to acting battalion commander." Yet Sheehan, often a harsh skeptic of political explanation, evidently thought he detected another, more ambiguous reason why Châu left the Việt Minh. Châu's "dilemma was that he was too temperamental to endure the self-effacement and group discipline the Vietnamese Communist Party demanded of its cadres". Sheehan records in his book (p. 796) his interview of Châu.
  41. Grant (1991) comments on Châu's defection (p. 84) from the Việt Minh.
    Châu and the United States shared the same dilemma. Neither liked French colonialism, but both were opposed to communism. In its way, Washington's decision was as tortured bureaucratically as Châu's was personally. The difference was that many of the communists were Châu's friends, including his brothers and sisters, and however misguided he considered their ideology, he knew them as patriots – not as faceless members of a Moscow-directed conspiracy, as Washington saw them.
    Grant (1991) p. 87.
  42. Ellsberg (2002, 2003) at pp. 116–117: meeting Châu in 1965; Châu's earlier decisive choice for Buddhism and nationalism versus his respect for some facets of Việt Minh ideology. "Like other [Americans] who knew him, I found his commitment reassuring."
  43. Tucker (2000) pp. 34–35. Crowned in 1926 at age 13, his 1930s reform efforts were stymied by the French; he later became known as a playboy and preferred living in France.
  44. Cf., Lansdale (1972; 1991). Then independent Vietnamese nationalists "risked both arrest by the French as subversives and murder by the rival Communists" (p. 146). Châu's precarious situation was not very unusual, e.g., "the legendary rebel guerrilla chief" Trình Minh Thế. He had fought both the French colonialists and the Việt Minh communists. Both then "wanted him dead" (p. 184, quote). Eventually, Thế did join his forces to the national army in 1955 (pp. 192, 199), but then a sniper killed him while fighting against the Bình Xuyên in Saigon (p. 308).
  45. Cf. Phillips (2008) pp. 23, 323 n5 (former Việt Minh who joined the ARVN).
  46. Cf. Fall (1966) p. 148: 1954 letter of Cao Đài nationalist leader to Ho Chi Minh urging "reconciliation" with the emperor Bao-Dai, following the French defeat.
  47. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), at pp. 104–108 (danger crossing lines, "debriefing"); 108 (Việt Minh waitress); 108–109, 115 (inner conflict); 109–110, 115 (father's counsel), 110–111, 113–114, 114–115 (Phan Van Giao).
  48. Châu with Fermoyle at 115 (quote); cf., 85–87, 113. Nonetheless, Châu's family had divided loyalties. Two brothers, and a sister with her husband, remained with the communist side throughout the war; Châu and a younger brother chose to serve South Vietnam. Chau (2012) at pp. 109, 317–318.
  49. Grant (1991) p. 74: After leaving the Việt Minh, Châu started the short-lived magazine Fatherland to promote reconciliation.
  50. Prados (2009) p. 343. Later Thiệu became President (1967–1975) of the Republic of Vietnam.
  51. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), at pp. 114 (Vietnamese Army, Vietnam as independent 1950); 112–113, 116–117 (military academy, army career [& p. 278]); 118 (his marriage, and Thiệu); 130–131 (Hanoi); 131–135 (Hội An: battle, commendation and promotion).
  52. Grant (1991) at 21, 75, 133–135 (Châu's early army career).
  53. Lansdale (1972) pp. 129–130, 143–146 (political status of Vietnam 1945–1954).
  54. Halberstam (1971) 104. The journalist author comments: by the victory of 1954, Ho became a "national hero" and his army of "tough Communist peasants" had worked not just a defeat of the French, but of "the mandarin order".
  55. Fitzgerald (1972) p. 69 (soldiers and cadres to the north).
  56. Venerable Giac Duc, "Buddhists and Catholics, the beginning" pp. 38–42, at 39 (Buddhists going south), in Chanoff and Toai (1986).
  57. Tucker (2000) p. 360. Northern Catholics going south, with 600,000 remaining in the north.
  58. Gheddo (1968; 1970) pp. 58 (Catholics [and Buddhists] going south), 66 (many prevented from leaving the north).
  59. Huntington (1968) pp. 310–311. Forcing "unassimilable elements" into exile creates in those remaining a "new homogenous community" and hence strengthens the ruling party, e.g., Turkey, North Vietnam, Cuba, and East Germany.
  60. Duncanson (1978) pp. 11–17. The quoted phrase (p. 14) is attributed to writings of their party leader Trường Chinh and General Võ Nguyên Giáp. Duncanson comments that "if propaganda is armed its cogency is more likely to repose in the weapon than in the argument" (p. 14). The pre-1954 conflict was "fought mainly in North Vietnam" (p. 11).
  61. Cf., Warner (1964) pp. 142–144, 191–192: 'speech only' tactics of Việt Minh/Viet Cong in the south after 1954, often centered on talking to peasant farmers about the control of the land.
  62. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 132, 399 note 10 (re Việt Minh and NLF or Viet Cong).
  63. Tucker (2000), "National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam" at 284–285. The Viet Cong was supplied and reinforced by the North.
  64. Truong Nhu Tang (1985) pp. 128–129: COSVN was run by the North's Lao Dong Party; it worked to coordinate the communist-directed efforts in the south; pp. 146–147: the NLF founded its Provisional Revolutionary Government in 1969.
  65. Warner (1963) pp. 84–92 (Diệm s background). In 1933 Diem, then Interior Minister, had resigned because of French restrictions on his authority, thus gaining stature as a nationalist. In 1945 he declined the office of prime minister offered by the Japanese.
  66. Cf., Karnow (1983) at pp. 213–239, e.g., blocking a coup, disarming the militant sects (Cao Đài and Hòa Hảo), and defeat of criminal syndicate (Bình Xuyên), pp. 219–223; Diem's character and background, pp. 213–218.
  67. Tucker (2000), "Cần Lao... " at pp. 59–60.
  68. Joiner (1974) pp. 41–44: Cần Lao.
  69. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) at pp. 142–144 (Fort Benning); pp. 140, 145–150 (Dalat); pp. 148–150, 151 (Cần Lao); 151–155 (Quang Trung); cf., 231 (positions).
  70. Grant (1991) at pp. 131, 133–134 (Dalet military academy); 132 (Fort Benning).
  71. Cf. Valentine (1990) at 49–50. Châu is described as a "graduate of Fort Bragg" where he roomed with future President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. Valentine also states that in 1962 Châu completed "a six year tour as chief of the GSV's Psychological Warfare Service". These descriptions differ somewhat from Grant (1991) and Châu with Fermoyle (2012). Valentine here mentions Châu in connection with several USG agents in Vietnam in 1962 and, without more, denominates Châu as "a CIA asset".
  72. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) at pp. 156–157 (report for Diệm, interview); at p. 278:
    "When President Diệm called on me to work in his government, I felt I owed him both respect and gratitude for selecting me, though I knew his esteem for my family was at least partially responsible for my appointment."
    Châu's grandfather, the scholar and imperial minister, was Tran Tram (p. 79).
  73. Cf., Châu with Sturdevant (2001) p. 195.
  74. Cf., Warner (1963; 1964) at p. 87, on Diệm's family's mandarin status and his father Ngô Đình Khả. "The Ngô Dinhs were one of the great families of Vietnam."
  75. Grant (1991) at 69: Grant reports that Châu's father thought his Buddhist family enjoyed superior status to Diệm's which, although also mandarin, had become Catholic.
  76. Joiner (1974) p. 36. Diem was seen as a "scholar-patriot" with the two prized political virtues of the Vietnamese, "virtue and ability". His "personal incorruptibility" allowed him to appear "the recipient of the Mandate of Heaven".
  77. Trương Như Tảng (1985) pp. 10–17, at 12 (Bac Ho or "uncle Ho"). In Paris in 1946 the youthful author met President Ho who wore native clothes and sandals. Ho communicated "wisdom and caring" like the author's Confucian grandfather.
  78. FitzGerald (1972): Ho Chi Minh's father was a mandarin of Nghệ An (p. 60). Yet the austere Ho, in adopting a western social ideology (communism), consciously discarded the mandarin's formal leadership image, adopting instead the more inviting public persona of a village uncle (224–225).
  79. Woodside (1976) pp. 234–239: "The Triumph of the Mandarin Proletatrians" wherein the author describes "the determination of a part of the old elite to change its own 'class' postures in order to salvage its leadership mission."
  80. Cf., Joiner (1974) pp. 62–63: The mandarin figure in Vietnam also had "unfavorable characteristics", e.g., officials concerned with their "prestige and authority" rather than "the people's needs and wants", and civil servants who were obsequious toward superiors and harsh to subordinates. It was said, "In every Vietnamese there is a mandarin."
  81. In Vietnamese: "Nho Giao".
  82. Duiker (1989), pp. 36–37.
  83. Cf., Furth (in Goldman and Lee 2002) pp. 15–16, 41–42; Schwartz, ibid., pp. 113–118. Confucian social philosophy in China passed through a severe iconoclastic crisis in the late 19th century. By 1905 its imperial examination system sponsored by the government for millennia had come to a halt (Schwartz, p. 112). During this crisis its historical and natural orientations were thoroughly transformed, in various ways, by those neo-traditionalists who still maintained their confucian allegiance (e.g., Furth, 48–50, 63–65). Nonetheless many Chinese, including in particular the communists, abandoned Confucius altogether for a more radical philosophic change, in order to better acculturate to modernism and western science and technology (cf., Furth, 40–41, 65, 70–71, and 92–96).
  84. de Bary (1991) pp. 103–104. During the May Fourth Movement of 1919, "Confucianism was made to stand for all that was backward and benighted in China. ...policital corruption and repression, the suppression of women, concubinage, female infanticide, illiteracy, etcetera, etcetera."
  85. Pham Van Minh (2002) pp. 156–161. A similar cultural process occurred in Vietnam, where Confucian exams were also halted (p. 159). According to Pham Van Minh, a Vietnamese Buddhist, "Confucianism collapsed at the beginning of the twentieth century" (p. 238).
  86. Cf., Yang Jung-kuo, "Confucius--a thinker who stubbornly supported the slave system" pp. 1–24, and Feng Yu-lan, "A criticism of Confucius... " pp. 88–106, in Selected Articles Criticizing Lin Piao and Confucius (Peking: Foreign Languages Press 1974). Here the celebrated exemplar of Confucian virtue is unmasked to be an ideology sourced in ruling class privilege, which it effectly propagates and enforces.
  87. Cf., Schram (in Goldman and Lee 2002): Although "Mao Tse-tung also found positive elements in Confucian philosophy" (p. 327), from the beginning "Mao saw China's ancient and rigid thought-patterns as an obstacle to progress" (p. 272).
  88. Mao, "Beat back the attack of the bourgeois rightists" (1957) in Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works, 5 vols. (Peking 1960–1965, 1970) cited in Schram, The Thought of Mao Tse-tung (Cambridge University 1989, 1999) p. 125. Mao lumped together "Confucian classics and capitalist rubbish" (5.469–470) and saw "ghosts and monsters opposed to the Communist Party and the people" (5.444).
  89. Confucian traditions subsist today, e.g., in Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, and Japan, and ironically are resurgent in the PRC. Cf., de Bary ( 1991) pp. x–xi.
  90. Pankaj Mishra (2012), p. 257 (quote): Until 1980 "the Chinese Communists tried to root out Confucianism from China... . But as the appeal of communism has declined, party officials have returned to upholding Confucianism." Recently, the Chinese government has founded hundreds of Confucius Institutes throughout the world.
  91. Goldman (in Goldman and Lee 2002) p. 505, on China: "A revival of Confucianism was another effort to close the wounds inflicted by Mao's class struggle and anti-intellectualism."
  92. A leading Confucian political leader was Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew, under whose guidance (1959–1990) the city rose to prosperity and prominence. His authoritarian Confucianism was included as Asian values. By 1978 its economic success had drawn interest and praise from Deng Xiaoping, who then led China to emulate its market inclusive economy. Orville Schell, "Lee Kuan Yew, the Man who remade Asia" in the Wall Street Journal March 28, 2015.
  93. Cf., Châu with Fermoyle (2012) pp. 115, 157, 203, 278, 295.
  94. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) at pp. 158–159 (Civil Guard).
  95. Grant (1991) at pp. 134 (job importance, different version of Châu's interview with Diệm).
  96. Andradé (1990) at 35. Under the Interior Ministry, the Civil Guard "consisted of forty thousand lightly armed soldiers organized into mobile companies" to counter Communist violence. "A hamlet militia called the Self-Defense Corps was also formed and dispersed in ten man squads."
  97. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 158–167 (as Civil Guard inspector); p. 159 (quote).
  98. Cf., Karnow (1983) at 227, 229.
  99. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), p. 166 (American visitors [also British counterinsurgency expert Robert Thompson from Malaysia]); quotes: 162, 163.
  100. Grant (1991) at p. 135 (quote). American visitors were taken to see Châu's project by William Colby, then CIA station chief in Saigon.
  101. Châu with Fermoyle (2012): here Diệm, his regime, and American advisors, being too rigid in their anti-communist aims, "missed a great opportunity" to reconcile with former Việt Minh and to convert rural villagers to the national cause (p. 161).
  102. Châu with Sturdevant (2001) p. 189. "Instead, Diem's police persecuted [former Việt Minh] and drove them back into the arms of the communists."
  103. Trương Như Tảng (1985): Diem's attempt to eliminate rivals by attacking the "anti-French guerrilla fighters" was a "disastrous tactic". It resulted in his "irrevocably alienating himself from the emotional nationalism that had been the most potent force in Vietnam for a decade" (p. 38). Also "the established nationalist parties were furious" when the 1959 assembly elections were completely taken by Diem candidates; later decrees "shut off the possibility of a loyal opposition" (p. 40).
  104. Cf., Karnow (1983) pp. 224–226. In the north, the communist regime also moved to silence opposition. A land reform program based on class warfare, with liquidation quotas for village landlords, "touched off atrocities throughout the country." Party cadres themselves "seized the property of the condemned". Facing province-wide peasant uprisings, Ho stepped in, and communist rule survived. Trường Chinh was removed as head of the party. Later Chinese communist advisors were blamed.
  105. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 167–170.
  106. See "Kiến Hòa" subsection below.
  107. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) at 203 (Diệm's brothers).
  108. Châu with Sturdevant (2001) pp. 196–198. It was a "monumental blunder". Diem later considered dismissing his brother Nhu and Madame Nhu, yet he resisted American pressure.
  109. Warner (1964), pp. 116, 120. Among Diệm's brothers: Nhu (chief advisor, head of Cần Lao party, police and special forces), Cẩn (civil leader in central Vietnam), Thục (Catholic archbishop of Huế), and Luyện (ambassador to Britain). The eldest brother Khoi had been a governor, but was killed by the Việt Minh in the mid-1940s (p. 85).
  110. Fitzgerald (1972) pp. 74, 129–130.
  111. Halberstam (1972) at 307. The Diem regime had been "tainted by the foreign touch". The Buddhists in 1963 appeared to champion a thoroughly independent Vietnamese nationalism "which had no contact with the Americans, did not take their money... or visit their ambassador." Neither was it communist.
  112. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 185–188 (quotes); 199 (Diệm meetings).
  113. Châu with Sturdevant (2001) pp. 196–197: Châu given "complete authority" to "do the right thing" in Da Nang, where he is appointed mayor and governor.
  114. Valentine (1990), p. 305. In parallel with Châu, at the same time Diem appointed Nguyen Mau as mayor of nearby Hue with a similar mission. Mau, also a graduate of Dalat Military Academy (1954), later became chief of the Special Branch of the National Police.
  115. Tucker (2000), Buddhists at pp. 48–49.
  116. Karnow (1983) at pp. 279–281 (Buddhists; Buddha's Birthday in 1963).
  117. Warner (1964) at pp. 225–234.
  118. Tucker (2000) p. 360. Catholics both supported and resisted the French. Yet the Việt Minh accused all Catholics of collaboration, attacked their villages and persecuted them. 800,000 Catholics fled to the south after 1954, although 600,000 remained in the north.
  119. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 190–191, 192–193; quote at 193.
  120. Colby (1978) at 208–210. Nhu was "the devil behind the pagoda raids" (p. 209). Colby had been the CIA's station chief in Saigon until 1962; in 1963 he headed the CIA's "Far East Division".
  121. Cf., Karnow (1983) at pp. 285–286 (temple raids).
  122. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 193–197. Quotes: at p. 194, two at 197.
  123. Cf., Topmiller (2002), pp. 2–6: difficulties and tragedies met by Buddhists in Vietnamese politics, 1963–1966.
  124. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 197–198 (rumors).
  125. Karnow (1983) at pp. 304–311 (coup).
  126. Tucker (2000), p. 291: Diệm's fall, from conflicts over Buddha's birthday to the 1963 military coup.
  127. Bui Diem (1987), p. 105: Diem was killed "on personal order of Big Minh" (unverified account). Bui Diem (no relation to the President) was later the South Vietnamese ambassador in Washington, D.C.
  128. Trần Văn Đôn (1978) pp. 110–113. Dương Văn Minh [aka 'Big Minh'], a general and coup leader, was responsible for the murders, according to author Don (also a top coup leader, and later a leading Senator).
  129. Accord: Colby (1978) p. 215: Dương Văn Minh, known as "Big Minh", ordered the killings. Colby had been the CIA's COS in Saigon, was then head of its Far East division.
  130. Sheehan (1988), p. 371: Minh ordered Diem's murder.
  131. Topmiller (2002), p. 4, says merely "executed by rebellious troops". The author describes General Minh, the new head of state, as political Buddhism's point man to end the war (pp. 15–16; cf., 21, 150).
  132. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 199–204 (telephone at 201; Minh at 201, cf., 208). Diệm "was a true nationalist and resisted U.S. efforts to turn his administration into a puppet regime" (p. 203). Diệm provided "incorruptible, highly moral leadership" (p. 295). About the 1963 coup leaders, Châu at times could express harsh views. He observed:
    Unlike Diệm, who had confidence in himself, our current opportunistic Vietnamese generals in power are insecure men. They fear... that they are not capable of or qualified for their positions." Châu with Fermoyle at p. 278. The Americans staged the coup "with a group of generals who would welcome any power that could provide them with more opportunity for higher positions and material gains. They are the same opportunists who dealt with the French... ." (Châu at p. 261.)
    Châu also wrote of the generals (at 271), "Many, if not most, of our leaders are sincere, honest, and patriotic, but... ." They did not have president Diệm's "training and background" and were prone to taking "the path of least resistance". Career military then often had started as N.C.O.s for the French (cf., p. 116).
  133. Nguyen Cong Luan (2012) p. 280. "After President Ngô Đình Diệm was slain, no political leader of his caliber could restore the central power... ."
  134. Sheehan (1988), p. 610: the author critically comments that Châu had been "an ardent Diemist". At p. 502: American ambassador Lodge, who had pushed hard for the anti-Diem coup, soon "had despaired of the lackadaisical junta that had overthrown Diem and permitted them to be overthrown in turn... ".
  135. FitzGerald (1972). The overthrow of Diệm by ARVN generals resulted in "the replacement of bad leadership with no leadership at all. The generals stepped into a vacuum of power they could not fill". For the next decade the American military would complain about Vietnamese "lack of leadership" (p. 263, quotes). Ironically, after the 1966 Buddhist crisis, a Vietnamese explained dryly, "The Americans don't like the Buddhists for the same reasons they did not like Ngô Đình Diệm. The Buddhists are too Vietnamese for them" (p. 285, quote).
  136. Colby (1978) pp. 206–207, 216. Before the coup, several top American leaders, e.g., John McCone and Maxwell Taylor, supported President Diệm, some considering him "better than anyone on the horizon".
  137. Colby (1989), p. 158. About the fall of Diệm, "The leader of the National Liberation Front, Nguyễn Hữu Thọ, later called it a 'gift from Heaven for us'." Vietnamese Communist representatives in Paris had thought Diệm their "strongest and most effective opponent".
  138. Nguyen Duy Hinh & Tran Dinh Tho (1984) pp. 134, 139–140; "finding a better national leader than Diem proved to be totally illusive" (quote at 140).
  139. Warner (1963) at p. 307 makes the admittedly inexact comparison of Ngô Đình Diệm and Chiang Kai-shek: "both Christians and Confucians".
  140. Yet Prados (2009) p. 60, discusses anti-Diệm sentiment, quoting a Vietnamese army general, who joined no coup, but whose "original excitement and hope for Mr. Diệm vanished." General Lâm Quang Thi continued,
    The problem was, he acted like an emperor. He tolerated no organized opposition; his critics were harassed or arrested. His decrees became laws. He gradually transformed South Vietnam into a quasi-police state.
  141. Fall (1966) p. 112: A year before the coup, with his communist President Ho Chi Minh listening, Premier Phạm Văn Đồng said of the southern President Ngô Đình Diệm:
    "Monsieur Diệm's position is quite difficult. He is unpopular, and the more unpopular he is the more American aid he will require to stay in power. And the more American aid he receives, the more he will look like a puppet of the Americans and the less likely he is to win popular support for his side.
  142. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 204–213, Da Nang (204–209), Dinh (207–211), Lam (211–212). Châu (p. 209) told Dinh, "I don't want to appear a turncoat [to Diệm], someone who shifts with the wind to save his own hide. That seems shameful to me."
  143. Cf., U.S. Dept. of Defense (1971; The New York Times 1971, reprint) at pp. 188, 189, re General Trần Văn Đôn's late recruitment of General Tôn Thất Đính for the coup.
  144. FitzGerald (1972) p. 247. Joining in the second coup was a younger group of army officers (p. 249). Yet a year later, by February 1965, the "end of the Khánh regime left the political situation more confused than ever" (p. 260).
  145. Trần Văn Đôn (1978) pp. 121–141. For months Khánh held the leading generals of the first coup under arrest, then forced their military retirement.
  146. Châu with Fermoyle (2012): Châu's return to Kiến Hòa (213–225), Saigon quote (213), as national director (225).
  147. Grant (1991) pp. 287 (national director).
  148. Cf., Trần Văn Đôn (1978) p. 159 re Thang as pacification minister, and Phoenix.
  149. Cf., Grant (1991) p. 113: "Pacification was a term the Americans were never happy with... ." Alternatives were rural construction and revolutionary development, or simply the other war.
  150. Ellsberg (2003) pp. 105–106. Originally a French term, pacification was still used by the Vietnamese military. Some Americans preferred "revolutionary development" which term was anathema to local "landowning elites". So the ministry in Vietnamese was called "Rural Construction" but translated for Americans as RD.
  151. Krepinevich (1986), pp. 7–16, 19–26; 66, 75. About the mid-1950s U.S. Army, Krepinevich states (at p. 21):
    It was easier for the [American] military to envision a Korea-type threat in [South] Vietnam – a cross-border invasion of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) by North Vietnam – than the insurgency threat which posed a dramatically different conflict environment than the Army was used to and which it was unprepared to address.
    In Vietnam, conventional warfare remained the primary focus of the Army into the mid 1960s (cf., 138, 260).
  152. Phillips (2008) pp. xiii, xiv–xv; 151–153. The Defense Department and the Army misunderstood the Vietnamese situation, and from the start failed to focus on pacification.
  153. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) p. 229. If the "nature of the insurgency" had been understood by the early 1960s "the war would not have escalated to the scale it reached in 1965."
  154. In 1961, as an auxiliary force, CIBG was set up and trained by U.S. Army Special Forces, first in the Central Highlands; they were paid by CIA. Rural recruits, officered by the ARVN, they numbered 45,000 at their peak (in the mid-1960s). Tucker (2000) at 74–75.
  155. Cf., Valentine (1990) p. 36, re CIDG and CIA in 1960.
  156. Krepinevich (1986), pp. 27–37 (JFK rebuffed).
  157. Cf., Ricks (2012) pp. 219–220 (in 1961 U.S. Army rejects counterinsurgency and pacification, in favor of conventional warfare), 261 (U.S. Army's earlier misuse as a 'conventional warfare' tactic of the CIA's "village defense" pacification program in Vietnam), 267–274 (Marines successfully used small teams in counterinsurgency, occupied villages, and built intelligence networks, but Army in 1965 "objected vigorously to the Marine programs" at 268–269, yet both methods criticized at 272).
  158. Cassidy (2006) p. 116. Focused on conventional warfare in Europoe, the Army considered the Vietnam War to be an "aberration" and "irrelevant" to the Army as an "institution".
  159. Sheehan (1988), pp. 629–631, 634 (Krulak strategy); 632–633,636 (failed to convince Westmoreland and Johnson).
  160. Cf., Ricks (2012) pp. 267–274. Krulak and Johnson (268). Marine Lt.Gen. John Cushman twice briefed Westmoreland, without result (p. 267).
  161. Châu with Sturdevant (2001) pp. 199–200. General Westmoreland was one of several VIP military officers to visit Châu during his second term as governor of Kiến Hòa. See section below.
  162. Cf., Summers ([1981]) at pp. 47–48, 54–55. Summers describes the changing conflict: the communists began the war against South Vietnam mostly with the tactics of an insurgency using guerrilla forces (1950s, 1960s), yet gained the strategic victory in 1974–1975 with a conventional attack using regular Army units invading from North Vietnam.
  163. Pike (1966), pp. 102, 246–249: targets included village leaders, religious figures, and school teachers (p. 248).
  164. Hunt (1995) p. 41, opines that "communist terror in the early 1960s had nearly wiped out a generation of local officials."
  165. FitzGerald (1972) at 174, writes: "Political assassination, after all, formed a basic ingredient of Front strategy... . It "did not kill indiscriminately, but carefully calculated... for maximum political effect."
  166. Hunt (1995) pp. 31–35 (war of attrition), 35–42 (GSV pacification efforts), 82–98 (Office of Civil Operations (OCO) and early CORDS). Earlier under Diem the GSV itself worked at counterinsurgency. Yet pacification sometimes prompted the return of landlords to former Viet Cong-held villages. Then the demand for past rent from resistant peasants could defeat the program's purpose. Hunt (1995) pp. 14–15.
  167. Tucker (2000), "Pacification", pp. 313–316; "Counterinsurgency Warfare", pp. 85–87.
  168. Moyar (1997), pp. 3–8 (guerrilla and conventional warfare), 35–46 (pre-Phoenix, e.g., at 36: agrovilles and strategic hamlets); 47–55 CORDS and IBEX [Intelligence Coordination and Exploitation], Phoenix Program. "Diệm's successors showed that they could not fight the insurgents as well as he had" (p. 39).
  169. E.g., Sheehan (1988) pp. 285–287. Sheehan compares unfavorably the hungry and humble U.S. Army of World War II with that of the Vietnam War. By then "the dominant characteristics of the senior leadership of the American armed forces had become professional arrogance, lack of imagination, and moral and intellectual insensitivity."
  170. Cf., Ricks (2012) pp. 252–284, 325–326. President Johnson himself was suspicious of his military's advice. "They're so narrow in their appraisal of everything", Ricks at 252 quoting from Goodwin, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream (1976) p. 252. Ricks at pp. 253–254 writes that after the war many American Army generals considered the early strategy of "attrition, body count, and 'search and destroy'" was mistaken. Yet Ricks also narrates events showing that the Army brass in Vietnam fought a war circumscribed by politicians, in which mutual communication could break down (pp. 215, 253, 257–259).
  171. Cf., Fulbright (1966), pp. 15–18, 106–108, 132–138, 185–186. Civilian direction of American foreign policy in Southeast Asia has also been pointedly criticized.
  172. See section below: "CIA and CORDS: redesign" re political controversy.
  173. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) p. 170. Bến Tre was the provincial capital of Kiến Hòa.
  174. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), Chapter 14 "In Kien Hoa province, the VC 'Cradle of Revolution' (1962)" at pp. 170–184; Châu's Consensus Grievance (CG) program (179–183).
  175. Grant (1991) p. 25 (quotes: "his efforts" and "communist-dominated").
  176. Cf. Fall (1966) pp. 142 n2, 143 (map). Three provinces of the Mekong delta (Bến Tre, Vĩnh Long, Trà Vinh) were considered in 1955 by the journalist Fall to be semi-autonomous "Catholic bishoprics".
  177. Grant (1991) p. 25 (quote: "Give me a budget").
  178. Cf., O'Donnell (2001) pp. 219–223 in Kiến Hòa: Châu's personal involvement in the selection and training of small teams (221), interviewing villagers, complaint-and-action techniques to weed out abusive officials, social-economic projects to improve farming, schools, and health (221–222, 223).
  179. 1 2 Valentine (1990) pp. 71–72.
  180. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) pp. 170–175 (Châu's first survey of Kiến Hòa); 166, 228, 270 (fish and water).
  181. Cf., re fish analogy, Griffith (1940; 1961), pp. 1–34 at 8.
  182. Moyar (1997) at pp. 9–34 (Viet Cong's shadow government).
  183. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) p. 166 (VCI), 174 ("shadow government").
  184. Cf., Pike (1966) at pp. 77–84 (NLF organized as "communist-front"), 99–104 (violent attacks), 114–118 (farmer associations, People's Revolutionary Party). The Viet Cong apparatus was constructed slowly, year by year, village by village, so that by the mid-1960s it permeated the entire countryside of South Vietnam.
  185. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), prior American interest (p. 166), Lansdale's visit (p. 183). Visitors included the Robert Thompson, an expert on guerrilla warfare.
  186. Grant (1991), pp. 111–113 (Lansdale); 26 (Châu and Lansdale).
  187. Cf., Lansdale (1972; 1991), e.g., Lansdale's 1954 arrival in Vietnam at pp. 128–142. Lansdale, ostensibly an Air Force officer, often doubled as a CIA agent. Cecil B. Currey, "Introduction" p. xi.
  188. Prados (2003, 2009), pp. 64–65: Lansdale in the 1950s headed the Saigon Military Mission (psywar and political action), which functioned as a second CIA station in Vietnam.
  189. Karnow (1986), at pp. 220–221, gives an ambivalent introduction to Lansdale, indicating why the conventional Army would remain skeptical of him.
  190. Châu with Sturdevant (2001) pp. 199–200. Châu here comments that regarding pacification Westmoreland "seemed to lack a basic understanding of what the war in South Vietnam was all about" nor learning it.
  191. Phillips (2008) p. 256 re Westmoreland's visit to Châu.
  192. Grant (1991), re Methven and Châu: pp. 171–172, 173, 174.
  193. Prados (2003, 2009). Châu's innovations, CIA station chief De Salvo and officer Methven: pp. 139–140. The CIA's Colby as earlier chief of station in Saigon (p. 69), later division chief (p. 128). Colby and early pacification: e.g., pp. 144–145, 179–180.
  194. Cf., Valentine (1990) at 49–50: American "Lansdale disciples" and John Paul Vann, a friend of Châu.
  195. O'Donnell (2001) pp. 212, 213, 219 re United States Operations Mission (USOM) and Châu in Kiến Hòa.
  196. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), p. 179.
  197. Yet cf. Moyar (1997), who at p. 35 credits Diệm's Cong An, a "direct descendant of the colonial-era secret police", with the elimination of "most of the communist infrastructure" existing in the South during the mid-1950s.
  198. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), p. 235 re disagreement with CIA over composition of PATs.
  199. Grant (1991), p. 26, p. 172 (quote).
  200. Cf., Krepinevich (1986). Krepinevich presents a bleak picture of an American Army that was "unprepared" for the style of fighting required in Vietnam (p. 55). Regarding the development of specific counterinsurgency strategy and tactics, in late 1964 American military doctrine comprised only a "patchwork formulation" that indicated the Army was "going through the motions" of churning out work "it did not really understand" (p. 40).
  201. Nguyen Cong Luan (2012), p. 304. Chieu Hoi is a Sino-Viet term that means "calling the enemy to return to the right cause". Starting on January 1, 1967, the author Luan was ranking commander of the national Chieu Hoi program, in charge of the Reception Directorate (p. 305, cf., 434). 160,000 communists 'defected' to Chieu Hoi-type programs from 1962 to 1975; included were hundreds of army officers (p. 342).
  202. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 180–181 (quotes).
  203. Cf., Andradé (1990) at 44. Andradé discusses the CIA's incorporation by 1966 of a "new touch", i.e., the "Census/Grievance" program. Here the author does not mention Tran Ngoc Châu. A merit of the interview procedure was said to be that, as every villager was regularly interviewed, the Viet Cong could not easily determine who might be 'fingering' them.
  204. Valentine (1990) at pp. 55 (Châu's "innovative census grievance teams" in Kiến Hòa), 71–72 (Châu's "pet project" the "Census Grievance"), 73–74 (Châu may have adopted elements of the "Family Census program" used by Thompson against the insurgency in Malaya).
  205. Cf. Moyar (1997), p. 36 re the "open arms" teams. Moyar states, "In early 1963, at the suggestion of the CIA, Diệm created the Chieu Hoi program, which offered amnesty to members of the Viet Cong... ." Without mention of Châu, Moyar also writes (at p. 37):
    One innovation of the CIA was the Static Census Grievance program, which sent people into the villages to survey one member of each family in order to identify the villagers' grievances against the government and to gather intelligence.
    Moyar continues (at 37–38) with other "CIA initiatives" which follow pacification techniques similar or parallel to Châu's, e.g., the "Armed Propaganda Team", the "Province Interrogation Center", and the highly touted "Revolutionary Development (RD) cadres program, which imitated the Viet Cong" as well as "Counter-Terror Teams".
  206. Phillips (2008) pp. 131–132: Châu's innovative Census Grievance program described.
  207. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) at p. 181 (quotes); at p. 408 n11; cf., p. 332 (Phoenix distinguished and disapproved).
  208. Tucker (2000), "Phoenix Program", p. 329. Phoenix was directed by CORDS and included police and other forces of the Republic of Vietnam, the CIA and the American military.
  209. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) at pp. 181–183 (quotes). Châu earlier had noted that local politicians can negatively interfere (p. 165).
  210. Cf., Grant (1991), pp. 22–23, 171, 172–173, 286.
  211. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 183 (quotes); cf., 165 (local politicians).
  212. Sheehan (1988) at p. 610. "While he was no more successful when the results were counted than other province chiefs..., Châu was the exception in that he seriously tried to pacify his province."
  213. Phillips (2008) p. 140: In Kien Hoa, despite historical Communist Party entrenchment, Colonel Châu was gradually winning support."
  214. Valentine (1990) at 55. "[D]eveloped in Kien Hoa Province by Tran Ngoc Chau [the] innovative census grievance programs were proving quite successful."
  215. Prados (2003, 2009), pp. 139–140: counterinsurgency innovations by "a dynamic Vietnamese officer, Tran Ngoc Chau".
  216. Grant (1991) at p. 302 (quote re Colby on Châu). Grant opines at p. 161:
    William Colby was the most effective American political action operative to serve in Vietnam. ... Like Châu, Colby also realized that the most important target in the country was not the guerrillas fighters but the political and administrative apparatus of the Viet Cong... which he called the Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI).
  217. Yet Châu became highly critical of what the Phoenix Program eventually became, in effect disowning it. See section, "CIA and CORDS: redesign".
  218. The three stripes may reflect the Qián Kwai ("Heaven" trigram) of the I Ching.
  219. Grant (1991) at 22 (quote: Châu winning over the guerrillas).
  220. Cf., [Thich] Nhat Hanh (1967), "The war has consistently seen more civilians killed than Viet Cong." Cited by Buttinger (1977), p. 84.
  221. Cf., Krepinevich (1986) pp. 27–37. Most Army leaders were then convinced that a war of attrition using regular army units would win in Vietnam. In the early 1960s counterinsurgency, although pushed by President Kennedy, was often approached by the Army brass as a paper controversy initiated by ill-informed, civilian politicians.
  222. Grant (1991) pp. 26, 332 (Lansdale); at p. 129:
    Instead of preparing the South Vietnamese to face a communist-inspired guerrilla war inside their country at the village level, the Americans trained them to oppose an invasion of conventional forces from North Vietnam.
    Compare: United States Dept. of the Army (2006; 2007).
  223. Grant (1991) at p. 26 (quote re Châu's programs countrywide).
  224. Cf., "Interview with Tran Ngoc Chau" circa 1981–1982, WGBH Open Vault Archived 2014-01-01 at the Wayback Machine , transcript of video interview.
  225. Cf., Karnow (1984): In 1964 the Johnson administration "took over the management of the war" (p. 378), choosing to "Americanize" it (p. 386); cf., p. 342 (America's "strategic goals" redefined in 1964).
  226. Cf., Komer (1986) at 14, who describes another view. The original American policy was the employment of the French, and later of the South Vietnamese, as proxies against the communists. Only when North Vietnam by the mid 1960s, substantially infiltrated its forces south to seize control, did America directly intervene with massive military "as a last resort" because South Vietnam was on the "brink of collapse". Yet American policy sought to avoid "any risk of a direct confrontation with Peking or Moscow". Later Komer (at p. 24) describes "the 1965–1968 period of direct U.S. intervention and escalation, in which we largely pushed the South Vietnamese to one side and tried to win the war for them."
  227. Cf., Lansdale (1972; 1991), e.g., pp. 191, 233–234.
  228. Prados (2003, 2009) at 223: "Châu believed [the pacification program] could not succeed if identified as a CIA, or even an American, program."
  229. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), as national director pp. 225, 227, 237. Châu hoped the program could help "revolutionize Vietnamese society" (p. 238).
  230. Grant (1991), p. 287 (Lansdale as the General Thang's senior advisor).
  231. Valentine (1990) at pp. 71–72. According to CIA agent Donohue, when Thang had asked for a Vietnamese to run it, Donohue replied, "Châu". After Lansdale arrived, Thang "advocated transferring the entire Revolutionary Development program to the Defense Ministry" thus attenuating CIA centrality. Later Châu became marginalized by CIA administration of the Vũng Tàu training center.
  232. Hunt (1995) pp. 36–37. Maj. Gen. Thang was an ally of Kỳ. "No single South Vietnamese official since Diệm's brother Nhu had exercised such broad authority over pacification." In Jan. 1968 Thang, frustrated by Pres. Thiệu, resigned from the Joint General Staff.
  233. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), at p. 225 (help from Lansdale, Vann); at pp. 234, 237, 244, 266 (difficulty re Thang); 244 (CIA troubles). Châu laments (at p. 228): "Little did I realize that it wasn't just the enemy that was capable of sabotage. I had no inkling of the political infighting and backstabbing that would complicate my new job."
  234. Prados (2009) p. 128. Following their coup against Diệm, the generals heading the Vietnamese military government became even more reliant on their American allies and the CIA.
  235. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) p. 232 (quote). The CIA station chief Gordon Jorgenson "obviously did not grasp that point" (p. 233), rather he had wanted Châu "to work more closely with the military" and "to coordinate with other U.S. agencies" (p. 231). Châu's discussions with Jorgenson's assistant, Tom Donohue, also failed to reach agreement (pp. 234–235).
  236. Valentine (1991) pp. 71–72. Valentine relies here on CIA agent Tom Donohue, who characterized as "forced" Châu's appointment to be national director. Donohue later became deputy to George Carver as SAVA (special assistant for Vietnamese affairs) within the CIA (p. 159).
  237. Grant (1991) opines at p. 287, "With Châu in charge, the CIA men knew they would have to salute him, not vice versa."
  238. Cf., Sheehan (1988), p. 612: e.g., Lansdale's current mission to Vietnam had been undermined in a bureaucratic shuffle.
  239. Cf., Ellsberg (2003) p. 105. The CIA's Saigon station chief felt threatened by Lansdale's mystique. Lansdale was then "outmaneuvered bureaucratically".
  240. Ricks (2012): the U.S. Army then generally opposed a counterinsurgency focus, at pp. 261–262 (per CIA, and Lt.Col. Vann), 262–266, 269–271, 273–274 (Gen. Westmoreland), and U.S. Marines).
  241. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), at Vũng Tàu (239–247); Mai (241–244, 246); Kỳ (244); Châu quote (244).
  242. Grant (1991) pp. 286–289 (Vũng Tàu).
  243. Prados (2003, 2009) at 184–185 (Châu and CIA control of National Training Center at Vũng Tàu, and Vietnamese demands).
  244. Sheehan (1988) pp. 611–613 (Mai, Châu, Vann, Porter, Jorgenson).
  245. Valentine, The Phoenix Program (1990), re Châu: at pp. 71–72 (Vũng Tàu), p. 159 (National Assembly).
  246. Grant (1991) p. 289 (quotes). Lansdale encouraged Châu to enter politics.
  247. Cf., Colby (1986) pp. 232–233, 262 (re Nguyen Be). Colby went to state:
    The chief "started a program of sending teams to the area's villages to interview the inhabitants about their grievances and used the information to correct local abuses and failings. Once the villagers were convinced that the process produced results, the teams proceeded to [ask] about local Communist activities and identities to help the province's intelligence service to combat the Viet Cong infrastructure. This program too spread gradually to other areas, thanks to CIA's support." Colby (1986) pp. 32–33.
  248. Tucker (2000) at pp. 75–76 (quotes at 75).
  249. Krepinevich (1986) 216–218.
  250. Cf., FitzGerald (1972): To put pacification efforts under MACV "signified that Washington no longer gave even symbolic importance to the notion of a 'political' war waged by the Vietnamese government." Cited in Tucker (2000), p. 155.
  251. Andradé (1990) at pp. 47–75 (CORDS and MACV, ICEX (Intelligence Coordination and Exploitation) and origin of Phoenix).
  252. Moyar (1997) p. 54 (Phoenix and Phung Hoang). Both names referred to mythological birds with extraordinary powers.
  253. Cf., Valentine (1990), Appendix at pp. 431–437: a "psyops" (psychological operations) publication of a 21-page comic book. Entitled Gia dinh ong Ba va Chien Dich Phung Hoang [Mr. Ba's Family and the Phoenix Operation], the Vietnamese text (often in bubble quotes, comic-book style) accompanies the pen-and-ink illustrations. Valentine provides an English translation of the story, which tells of how two murderous Viet Cong cadres hiding in the village were stopped by locals with help from Phung Hoang, and how another VC cadre returned to his family on the government side.
  254. Andradé (1990) at pp. 171–199 ("Dirty Work: the PRUs and SEALs"); 12–13 (Army discounts its importance), 255–279 ("Enemy Strikes Back: Communist Reaction to Phoenix"); 201–228 ("Long Arm of the Law: Courts and Detention Systems").
  255. Valentine (1990), quoting informant at pp. 9–11 & 63: graphic violence of "hunter-killer teams"; and at p. 170, describing PRU (Provincial Reconnaissance Unit) personnel as "by and large" convicts: "The CIA would bail them out of jail under the condition that they would work in these mercenary units." Re "Legalities" at pp. 376–388, Valentine cites 1971 House subcommittee hearings in Washington, e.g., regarding Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions which prohibits imprisonment or execution of civilians "without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court" (pp. 377, 382).
  256. Karnow (1983) at pp. 601–603, gives convincing evidence from Communist sources that Phoenix was an effective program.
  257. Colby (1978) pp. 276, 279–280.
  258. Prados (2007) at 225.
  259. Cf., Châu with Fermoyle (2012) at 332, where an irritated Colonel Châu comments on Phoenix and "the arrest of innocent civilians caught up in [it]":
    [T]he Phoenix Program [was] the infamous perversion of a portion of the Census Grievance pacification program I had instituted in Kiến Hòa province. The Phoenix Program was aimed at kidnapping or eliminating enemy leaders, not true pacification—as I had envisioned it.
  260. Cf., Grant (1991), p. 26. Châu's ideas that were put into Phoenix had been "taken out of context". Phoenix itself was "little understood and enveloped in notorious publicity" so that it was labeled an "assassination program" by antiwar critics. "It was of the highest irony" that Châu's pacification program, which sought first to convert Viet Cong sympathizers, became eventually transformed into a symbol to some of "all that was wrong and immoral about the Vietnam War."
  261. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), at pp. 248–253, 271–275 (destruction to communities of modern instruments of war, refugees crowd the cities).
  262. Karnow (1983) pp. 437–440. "The United States... did indeed rip South Vietnam's social fabric to shreds" and the "bombing, shelling, and defoliation of rural areas" drove out peasants, creating an estimated four million refugees (p. 439). American bombing led an American army officer in 1968 to explain, "we had to destroy the town in order to save it." (p. 438–439). Ironically, Bến Tre capital of former Kiến Hòa Province was the town being saved.
  263. Gruening (1968), pp. 347–350: war's destruction and fleeing civilians. "Refugee slums have risen in the cities... ." (p. 350).
  264. Topmiller (2002) pp. 45, 46. Vietnamese resented the stereotype that "Asians placed less value on life". American military used "napalm, chemical defoliants, white phosphorus", and conducted high-altitude bombing from B-52s. The escalated war caused "revulsion at the high level of civilian casualties".
  265. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) p. 277. The many neon-lit, "primitively built nightclubs and bars" with Vietnamese women who "had been innocent country girls only a short time earlier."
  266. Cf. Prados (2009) pp. 273–276: racial discord, and drug use.
  267. Gruening (1968), p. 357, quoting journalist Neil Sheehan: "Moral degeneration cause by GI culture... mushroomed... . Bars and bordellos... bar girls and prostitutes, gangs of hoodlums and beggars and children selling their older sisters, and picking pocket have become ubiquitous features of urban life."
  268. Corruption of business and government: see subsection "In the Legislature" below.
  269. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) at pp. 145–148, 232, 235, 236–237, 240, 245–246, 255, 267 (Vietnamese nationalism); 226–227, 241, 248–253, 263, 267–268, 272–275 (MACV & army control). See also Châu's remarks in above section "Census Grievance program".
  270. Cf., Grant (1991) pp. 22–24, 288–289.
  271. Phillips (2008). Châu "an intensely proud Vietnamese nationalist" favored a "joint approach" (p. 255) but not Americanization (256).
  272. Cf., Karnow (1983), pp. 443–444: South Vietnamese politicians and Americans as sensitive to Communist charges of "neocolonialism".
  273. Cf. McGehee (1983), p. 111, where the author, a CIA officer in rural Thailand, found "it was extremely bad public relations for Americans to be seen associated with he operation" as it played into the Communist narration of "American imperialists".
  274. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) pp. 242, 243 (coherence, motivation); 217, 235, 239, 240–241, 258 (civilian vs. paramilitary).
  275. Grant (1991) at 172 (Châu's "overall plan"); 284 (DeSilva and Methven at CIA in a pre-CORDS plan to take over various pacification programs in 1964, then "expanding it countrywide"); 297–298 ("the problem with Phoenix was that it had been taken out of the context of Châu's original intentions").
    Châu's idea to use counterterror units as a last resort for eliminating the Viet Cong shadow government as an integrated part of his political action program in Kiến Hòa, was converted by the CIA into a separate operation to stand by itself." Grant (1991) p. 285. "The CIA adopted [Châu's] idea for a census grievance team, but again converted it into a separate program and took it out of the context of his original intentions" (p. 286). "Phoenix was, in effect, another bureaucratic reorganization" pushed through by Komer at CORDS (p. 293)
    Nonetheless, Grant calls Châu "the father of Phoenix, even if it had grown into the kind of organization he had never dreamed of" (p. 293, cf. p. 26).
  276. Valentine (1990) at p. 63 (DeSilva, the CIA station chief in Saigon, supervised the "job of standardizing the political action teams, along with the counterterrorists and Châu's Census Grievance Program..."); p. 72 (the CIA "took [Châu's] Census Grievance and expanded it"); p. 99 ("Phoenix eventually arose as the ultimate synthesis" of "conflicting" programs of a half-dozen American and Vietnamese agencies).
  277. Sheehan (1988) p. 608. The "special quality" of an "innovation" in pacification could be "lost as soon as it was mass-produced". Sheehan here refers to Frank Scotton's "armed propaganda teams" which became called "Political Action Teams" (PAT).
  278. Phillips (2008) p. 132. Châu's counter-terror teams renamed provincial reconnaissance teams "became the heart of the Phoenix Program". Yet "too much of the necessary close supervision and control that Châu had exercised was lost" leading to notorious incidents of "indiscriminate killing" which "while relatively few" fed the antiwar movement. "The census-grievance approach changed as well, eventually becoming more of a conventional intelligence gathering operation, losing the important complaint and action emphasis" whose social justice results might earn the population's support.
  279. Cf., Bibliography below.
  280. Phillips (2008) pp. xvi, 308
  281. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) p. 332.
  282. Tran Dinh Tho [1983], pp. 85–88, CORDS at 85. Cf., re the Phoenix Program, pp. 66–74.
  283. Cf., Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 290–291.
  284. Grant (1991) pp. 294–295.
  285. FitzGerald (1972) 411–414.
  286. Grant (1991) pp. 294–297 (media and critics)`.
  287. Cf., Lawlor (1981, 1982) at pp. 199–202 (abuses of Phoenix).
  288. Harris (1996) pp. 100–106 (notorious abuses).
  289. Valentine (1990) pp. 240–250 (atrocities).
  290. Sheehan (1988) at pp. 732, 733, 742: Phoenix Program abused by corrupt Vietnamese officials.
  291. Cf., Helms (2003) at pp. 336–338 (later abuses negated the Phoenix Program).
  292. Trần Văn Đôn (1978) pp. 158–159, opines that the Phoenix was corrupt, and a failure, "in the end there were more NFL cadres that before it started."
  293. Truong Nhu Tang (1985)at 201–202 [from the Viet Cong (NLF) view]: "dangerously effective" in some locations, but the "abuse and extortion that accompanied the program inevitably generated additional sympathy for the Front."
  294. Tucker (2000) p. 329 ("Despite negative media reports... a success").
  295. Colby (1978) at pp. 241–265 ("Fighting the People's War"), 266–288 ("Phoenix and 'Peace'").
  296. Karnow (1983), pp. 601–603: North Vietnamese later admit Phoenix Program effective.
  297. Colby (1989), pp. 269, 319, 320, 331–334. Long after the war, Colby continued to propound the effectiveness of CORDS and Phoenix. Komer left CORDS in 1968 and Colby his deputy then had taken over.
  298. Cf., Andradé (1990) at pp. 255 (Phoenix "destroyed the effectiveness" of the Viet Cong's 'shadow government' in villages); 263, 266, 270 (VC concern over Phoenix shown in captured documents); 264–265, 272 (VC campaign to assassinate Phoenix personnel).
  299. Moyar (1997) at pp. 235–241, 244–246.
  300. United States Dept. of the Army (2006; 2007), pp. 73–75 [¶ 2–52] re CORDS, a p. 75: "By 1972, pacification had largely uprooted the insurgency from among the South Vietnamese population and forced the communists to rely more heavily on infiltrating conventional forces from North Vietnam and employing them in irregular and conventional operations."
  301. Military History Institute of Vietnam (2002) pp. 237–238.
    [W]hen the United States and its puppets began to carry out their "clear and hold" strategy our battlefronts were too slow... in attacking [their] "pacification" program. [In late 1968] our offensive posture began to weaken and our... forces suffered attrition. The political and military struggle in the rural areas declined and our liberated areas shrank.
  302. Bùi Tín (2002) pp. 88–89 re Marine Lt. Gen. Cushman's 1965 proposal: if pacification had been adopted by the USG and the GSV, "the result of the war might have been different, even drastically different."
  303. Grant (1991) at 335: Phoenix instrumental in winning the war in the countryside by 1970; cf., p. 30 (effective), 294–297 (negatives in the media).
  304. E.g., Ricks (2012) at pp. 319–326 (1968 change in Army strategy). Phoenix Program effective (p. 324, cf. 321–324: North Vietnam admits success of South's "pacification" efforts after 1968), but the new strategy came too late for South Vietnam to win the war (pp. 321, 325–326). Earlier Ricks p. 272 approvingly quotes Hunt (1995) at p. 279 who, given the asymmetric, divergent politics of the war, doubts the ultimate success of a pacification strategy in Vietnam.
  305. Cf., Châu with Fermoyle (2012) pp. 290–291. Châu, despite his uneasiness and apprehension, could understand the official American view of their leadership of the war during the pre-Tet post–1965 build-up: actual military progress (however dear in its cost, with its "body counts"), which came to include apparently their "well-coordinated pacification program engineered by the CIA". Yet by 1967 Châu had intuited the ongoing conflict as endless mayhem, destructive of his nation's civil society, provoking his strong dissent (pp. 267, 274–276).
  306. Cf., Hunt (1995) at pp. 250–251, notes the pro and con arguments and finds "indecisive results". While disrupting the VCI, Phoenix "scored no knockout". Clearly it hurt the enemy, but its notorious abuses (e.g., emergency imprisonment [an tri] p. 236, reports of killings and torture p. 239) also hurt the Saigon government and "practically invited censure from American critics on legal and moral grounds". U.S. Army officers then would avoid becoming Phoenix advisors (p. 244). From the start the GSV support was inadequate. "Given the iron determination of the communists to unite Vietnam", and "the systematic problems of the Saigon government" the potential long-term success of pacification would first probably have exhausted American resolve (Hunt p. 279 [quoted by Ricks (2012) p. 272]).
  307. Cf., Daniel Berrigan, "Their speech is all of forgiveness", his forward to Nhat Hanh (1993) pp. 3–8.
  308. The 1966 civil protests by Buddhist radicals are to be distinguished from the 1963 Buddhist crisis which led to the coup against Diệm.
  309. Cf., Keesing's (1970), "Continued Buddhist resistance to Military government", chap. VIII, pp. 89–108.
  310. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 247, 277 (leaves Army); 259–264 (conversation with his father about his career and upcoming elections); 277–278 (talks with wife); p. 170 (Kiến Hòa); p. 188 (Da Nang); pp. xvii–xviii, 231 (political career overview). His father, after mentioning his communist son, Trần Ngọc Hiền (Châu's brother), made the harmonizing suggestion to Châu "to mix the best of Western democracy with a social revolution for a new and reunified Vietnam" (pp. 263–264).
  311. Grant (1991), re Châu's political career (pp. 21–22); Lansdale's role in the new constitution, encourages Châu to run (p. 289, also p. 267).
  312. Warner (1964) p. 111: elections held "to demonstrate collective loyalty". An "immensely popular" medical doctor, Phan Quang Đán, an anti-Communist and a nationalist, but an opponent of Diệm, in 1959 was elected to the National Assembly, but was not allowed to take his seat (pp. 112–113).
  313. Lansdale (1972), p. 334: in the October 1955 election, the vote was: Diệm 5,721,735; and Bảo Đại 63,017. Lansdale was an active organizer for Diệm.
  314. Buttinger (1977), cf., pp. 47–49. With American support Diệm cancelled the July 1956 national elections mandated by the 1954 Geneva Agreement (pp. 32, 46–47). Diệm then also cancelled local elections allowed by the French (p. 36). Yet Diệm asserted he favored democracy in the long run (p. 70).
  315. Huntington (1978) pp. 438–440. The author continues here addressing political "mobilization" of the populace of developing countries, in the context of a profound rural-urban (traditional-modern) divide. He mentions South Vietnam and North Vietnam, and presents a comparative discussion of Gandhi and the Indian National Congress, and Tunisia and the Neo Destour party (under Bourguiba). Huntington earlier (p. 402) commented, "Elections without parties reproduce the status quo".
  316. Moyar (1997) pp. 315–316. Moyar then opined that in much of East Asia "political and cultural traditions are authoritarian and not democratic, ... people view the destruction of one's opposition by any means as a sign of a leader's strength, not weakness... ."
  317. Joiner (1974) p. 234: Tri Quang was considered by the ruling Armed Forces Council as the "symbol of the overthrow of Diem" in the 1963 Buddhist crisis, and as a "government-toppling" force of instability. Although gaining some tactical aims (elections), his 1966 efforts would end in "bitter failure". His Buddhist faction lost its national leadership role due to the alienation of allies, and subsequent rivalries and infighting (pp. 235–237).
  318. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), p. 247, describes the "protest led by Buddhists" and others, in which Kỳ and Thiệu were "forced to pledge elections". The Buddhists wanted the military replaced with "civilian authority" but the Americans, who thought they could control Kỳ and Thiệu, supported the military instead (253–254). Châu writes that the "father" of the new 1966 Vietnamese constitution "was Thích Trí Quang or President Johnson" (p. 322).
  319. FitzGerald (2002) 283, 287, 323–324 (Buddhist demands for elections granted by Kỳ). Later Kỳ had the army violently suppress the Buddhists (288–291). Thích Trí Quang sought to follow the nonviolent lead of the Hindu Mohandas Gandhi (p. 285). Tri Quang's appeal for American intervention against the military's attack was declined (288). Ironically American officials (e.g., Lodge), who were bystanders to the election demands, were at first unhappy about it (287). They worried in private about election fraud and terrorism, yet "in public they claimed the election as the crowning achievement of the Vietnamese government" (324).
  320. Shaplen (1971) pp. 61–62, 66–67, 72–73 (Buddhist demand for elections). By the ballot "the Buddhists hoped to emerge as South Vietnam's dominant political force" (62). They sought to make "Kỳ stick to the election schedule they had virtually forced down his throat" (66).
  321. Pham Van Minh (2002) re Buddhist goal of replacing pro-war military government with (neutral) civilian rule through popular elections: 304–305, 315, [330], 334, 336, 338, 339, 366; the government's bad faith and delay: 338, 340–341, 357–358.
  322. Kahin (1986). Given the increasingly unpopular military regime and the foreign escalation of the war, the Buddhists wanted to end the brutal conflict. They wanted an American exit and negotiations with the NLF. Not able to express such a program openly, they pushed instead for democratic election of a civilian government (p. 415). After achieving peacefully an agreement, the Buddhists struggle movement stopped their street protests,"but the Americans did not keep their promises with the Buddhist and the [Vietnamese] generals also broke their promises" (p. 426: quote; 431: Lodge's betrayal). Instead, Ký ordered the military to attack the Buddhist (p. 428), and incarcerated their leaders (430).
  323. Karnow (1983) pp. 445–450. Kỳ accused the Buddhists of being "Communist agents and dupes" yet a week later agreed to their election demands. Then he attacked the Buddhist movement (supported by dissenting soldiers) in Da Nang "slaying hundreds of rebel troops and more than a hundred civilians" (446–447). In the meantime the Buddhists, incensed at American support for Kỳ, had denounced the U.S. (446). The military jailed hundreds of movement leaders, many held "in prison for years without trial". In the end the "Buddhist movement never recovered from the defeat" (450).
  324. Goodman (1973). At a conference in Honolulu in February 1966, Ký had agreed with the American President Johnson on future elections (p. 39). Yet it was the Buddhist struggle movement that spring which actually compelled the elections (p. 41).
  325. Penniman (1972) pp. 75–89 (1967 elections evaluated).
  326. Cf., Ellsberg (2003) pp. 106–108: American Embassy about the elections advised that "Vietnam should not be judged by American standards." Yet at a pre-election meeting at the Saigon embassy, former V.P. Richard Nixon expressed an open cynicism about democratic elections.
  327. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) p. 287 (Lansdale re Nixon's comment about Vietnamese elections being honest provided we win).
  328. Gruening (1968), pp. 345, 358–367 (1966, 1967 South Vietnam elections). American Senator Gruening expresses dissatisfaction, quoting Robert F. Kennedy from Senate debate, "Candidates have been barred, some because their views were 'unacceptable,' though they were loyal citizens." (pp. 361, 363).
  329. Donnell and Joiner (1974) p. 152 ("neutralist" excluded from 1967 election).
  330. Penniman (1972), p. 35 ("'person who work directly or indirectly for communism or neutralism' were excluded from candidacy."
  331. Goodman (1973) p. 42. Of the Buddhists who ran in the elections, including many Army officers, most disavowed association with Buddhist leaders to avoid government suspicion.
  332. Pham Van Minh (2002) p. 300: "the Buddhist movement became increasingly identified with 'neutralism' (the refusal to take side with North or South) and a negotiated political, as opposed to military, solution to end the war."
  333. Sheehan (1988) p. 669: Barred were "'neutralists', a category that covered pro-Communists and anyone else suspected of serious opposition to the American presence and the Saigon system."
  334. Shaplen (1971) pp. 211–212: An NLF strategy was to use unwitting "neutralists" to form a pseudo coalition government. The NLF would then blindside it and seize power.
  335. FitzGerald (1972), p. 343: In another context, Gen. William C. Westmoreland stated in 1965 that the conflict was "characterized by a substantial majority of the population remaining neutral."
  336. Nhat Hanh (1967), pp. 66, 82 (most Vietnamese wanted peace); cf., pp. 76ff (neutrals).
  337. Karnow (1983), pp. 451 re manipulation, screening, restrictions. In the September 1967 presidential election, the American-backed General Thiệu was elected, but with only 35 percent of the votes; his V.P. General Kỳ in his memoirs wrote that if nominated for president he'd have won 60% or 70% as he controlled the election results, but that he refused to rig it for Thiệu (451–452).
  338. Sheehan (1988) pp. 668–669.
  339. Tucker, ed., Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War (2000) "Elections [RVN]" pp. 117–119; 1967 elections at p. 118.
  340. Taylor (2013) p. 600. "The government was a civilian-military hybrid" which established "military authority... that required ongoing negotiation and compromise with civilian constituents."
  341. Bui Diem (1987) pp. 206–208. "American and international election observers" and "the American Embassy" found "an overall fairness". Yet some antiwar critics in the American media vilified the elections, e.g., as a "prefabricated farce" of military dictators.
  342. The New York Times, however, reported that few contests were without irregularities. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) p. 290. Châu notes election "cheating" (p. 286).
  343. E.g., Ellsberg (2003) p. 106, who quotes Châu in the context of local elections: "Give villagers a way to get rid of a corrupt or abusive district chief other than having him killed by the VC, and they'll take to it very quickly."
  344. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 263, 310 (his causes); pp. 237, 310 (Châu's book);
  345. Grant (1991) p. 26 (Châu on the war in Vietnam).
  346. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 287–288, quotes at 288.
  347. See above section "Service in Diệm regime" and subsection "In Kien Hoa province" regarding Châu as governor.
  348. Châu with Fermoyle 2012) pp. 219–221 (1964 visits); 281–283 (1967 visit), 349–350 (purpose to turn Châu). Hien's 1964 visit had followed an attempted assassination of Chau (pp. 218–219, 221).
  349. Grant (1991) at 232–237 (Tran Ngoc Hien).
  350. Sheehan (1988) at p. 609.
  351. Grant (1991) at p. 330. Grant comments, "The problem that many American military men had with Châu was that he acted—well, he acted truly equal. That was so rare in Vietnamese-American relationships as to be disconcerting" (pp. 24–25).
  352. Presidential elections had preceded the elections for the National Assembly.
  353. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 288–290 (election: vote rigging order, New York Times quote); pp. 285, 287 (Gen. Cao in campaign). Châu considered that some of the vote was rigged (p. 286, 290). Six weeks earlier Châu had gone to the Thiệu home to congratulate the new President and his wife (p. 287).
  354. Grant (1991), p. 291 (1967 election).
  355. Phillips (2008) p. 283 (election results, quote).
  356. Sheehan (1988) p. 736 (National Assembly).
  357. Châu re Fulbright (1970), p. 359 (38,000 votes for Châu out of 90,000 cast in field of 19).
  358. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 292–295; meetings with Thiệu: 295, 299; quote: 295. Chau's father had advised him to talk with President Thiệu (p. 317).
  359. Keesing's (1970), p. 131: The Assembly after the 1967 election was variously estimated, here a rough composite: pro-government 19%, moderates 18%, Buddhist 22%, Catholics 15%, secular left 12%, the sects (two) 8%, nationalist (two) 6%.
  360. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), p. 326 (secretary general). Châu also became one of eleven members of the Special Court which had impeachment-like powers (p. 321).
  361. Phillips (2008) p. 299 (Secretary General Châu).
  362. Goodman (1973) p. 119.
  363. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) pp. 292. At the end of 1967, of 137 deputies, Châu appraised the blocs as follows: Thiệu 60, Ký 15, Socialisits 20, Buddhists 30, Misc. 12 (p. 292).
  364. Goodman (1973) pp. 121–127 (first legislation), pp. 119–120, 43 ("executive dominance:" quote); pp. 141–187 (blocs), 152 (blocs in the Lower House). The legislature later challenged the executive's de facto ability to make laws, but lost (pp. 132–136). Goodman (pp. 59–63) presents the major political parties, blocs, and factions of the Assembly following the 1967 election: three political organizations, including the Farmer Worker Soldier Movement (FWSM); two Catholic groups, Greater Solidarity Force (GSF) and the Catholic Citizens Bloc (CCB); the Buddhists, who were "deeply split" but had the An Quang faction; the Cao Đài and Hòa Hảo religious cults; and two secular nationalist parties, the Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng (VNQDĐ) and the Đại Việt.
  365. Cf., Pham Van Minh (2002) pp. 161–162, 167. Since the eclipse of the Confucian mandarins during the early 20th century, many Buddhists considered themselves to be the primary historical source of Vietnamese spiritual values and traditions, and able to guide the nation.
  366. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) p. 322. As well: intellectuals and students.
  367. Topmiller (2002). The bitter "personal rivalry" between two "engaged" Buddhist leaders, the radical Thích Trí Quang and the moderate Thich Tam Chau, reached its climax during the Buddhist Crisis of 1966". It "hurt the movement badly". Tam Chau was an anti-communist refugee from the north. (P. 8, quote). Yet the engaged Buddhists formed only a minority of Vietnamese. The "well-known arrogance... or extreme self-confidence" of Tri Quang "turned off" followers, and "repelled many Americans". Buddhist radicals argued that "the GVN and the CIA" stoked the split in the movement. Tri Quang, though against communism, thought the corrupt GVN and the destructive USG intervention helped the NLF's popularity, which would weaken if the USG withdrew. The Buddhist's benevolent social agenda was blocked, Tri Quang thought, by the brutal violence caused by both the USG foreigners and the NLF. (pp. 47–48, quotes). Cf., p. 128.
  368. Goodman (1973): Buddhist struggle movements ("struggle six") pp. 38–46. Buddhist "distrust of the government" remained because of its "arrest and repression" of many Buddhists (pp. 42–43).
  369. Cf., Kahin (1986) pp. 414–417: discussion here of neutralist positions of the Buddhist struggle movement draws on author's 1966 interview with two participating monks, leaders at the Buddhist Institute [Vien Hoa Dao).
  370. Prados (2009) pp. 156–159, 330–331 (Buddhist Struggle Movement).
  371. Re collapse of Buddhist radicals in mid-1966: introduction to section "As Civilian Politician".
  372. Goodman (1973) pp. 61–62. To the senate and house: 38 Buddhists of various blocs and cliques, plus 15 militant Buddhists of An Quang (pp. 61–62); re An Quang, cf. 165–166.
  373. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), p. 341 (support for Châu). But "there were few Buddhist representatives relative to the percentage of Buddhists in the country" (p. 292).
  374. Goodman (1973): Assembly political group Thống Nhất (pp. 160–161, quotes: 160, 162–163); Châu as member (176–177); blocs as fluid (quote 177, cf. 154). Regarding the Thống Nhất bloc:
    This bloc underwent the greatest internal change. Originally it was a coalition of deputies from various VNQDĐ [nationalists], Cao Đài, and Hòa Hảo [two sects] factions... . From its initial membership of fifteen deputies, the Thống Nhất bloc had grown to a peak of twenty-nine in October 1968, when [it supported] the Hương cabinet. A year later membership declined to fifteen. ... Six of its eight new members reported ties with the militant Buddhists. This change [reduced the VNQDĐ and Hòa Hảo membership]. ... The impact of the Thống Nhất bloc's transformation, was, by the end of 1969, unclear, as were its intentions to use the bloc to introduce a formal, secular An Quang [Buddhist] interest group into national politics." Goodman, pp. 160–161.
    It is not clear when Châu joined the Thống Nhất bloc, but he was a member in mid-1969 (p. 177).
  375. FitzGerald (1972) pp. 388–400. (Tet)
  376. Karnow (1983), pp. 523–545 (Tet); pp. 545–566 (Johnson's reactions).
  377. Goodman (1973) p. 131 (quote).
  378. Keesing's (1970) p. 139.
  379. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) pp. 319–321, quotes.
  380. Joiner (1974) p. 264: The National Assembly elected in 1967 "showed more independence from the executive than had any parliamentary group in Vietnam's history."
  381. Bui Diem (1987) p. 275 (in government and military); cf., pp. 276–277.
  382. Trần Văn Đôn (1978) pp. 169–171 (in business, and government). Corruption increased under Thiệu regime (p. 170). Buddhists radicals often attacked corruption (171).
  383. Nhat Hanh (1967) pp. 73ff (corruption).
  384. Nguyen Duy Hinh & Tran Dinh Tho (1984) pp. 111–114, at 111 (corruption of society by war economy of foreigners).
  385. Hosmer, Kellen, Jenkins, The Fall of South Vietnam (NY: Crane, Russak 1980) pp. 74–76 (types of corruption).
  386. Keesing's (1970) pp. 136–138 (corruption).
  387. Nguyen Duy Hinh & Tran Dinh Tho (1980) pp. 111 (by business), 112 (office buying), 113 (by powerful wives).
  388. FitzGerald (1972) pp. 345–347 (refugees, aid); 348–353 (corruption).
  389. Phillips (2008), pp. 273–274 (American PX goods on black market, ARVN pay paltry and corruption in some army families).
  390. Gruening (1968), pp. 352–357 (corruption). AP report quoted: "up to 40 percent of United States' assistance funds and goods... [is lost through]... theft, bribery, blackmarketing, currency manipulation, and waste." (p. 354).
  391. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) pp. 293, 337.
  392. Cf., Joiner (1974), p. 291: "Legislators have been bribed and browbeaten (and worse) by the Thiệu administration."
  393. Phillips (2004) p. 299: quote.
  394. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) pp. 326–328: Châu's grassroots, CIA offer; Châu quotes at 326 and 328.
  395. Valentine (1990) at 304–305 (CIA's new party proposal to Châu). Valentine writes that CIA money was offered Châu in exchange for dropping his anti-corruption campaign against Nguyen Cao Thang the "bag man".
  396. Keesing's (1970) p. 145. President Thiệu on May 25, 1969, formed "a pro-Government alliance" called the National Social Democratic Front, composed of six major parties of the right.
  397. Bui Diem (1987) pp. 276–277: "Thiệu's dilatory instincts [were] a perfect foil to Bunker's low-key" style.
  398. Phillips (2008) p. 286.
  399. Prados (2009) p. 344. President Thiệu was intensely suspicious of and hostile "toward the Buddhists" and he persecuted "Trương Đình Dzu and Trần Ngọc Châu". Dzu, a liberal lawyer and Buddhist, ran for President in 1967; in a crowded field he came in second with 17% to Thiệu's 34% (p. 210). In mid-1968 Dzu "was condemned to five years' hard labor for advocating a coalition government" with the NLF (p. 336). Keesing's (1970) pp. 134–135 (Dzu trials).
  400. FitzGerald (1972) pp. 337–338. Besides Dzu, Thiệu jailed Thich Thien Minh "the only bonze who remained politically active" and a score of other political candidates.
  401. Tucker (2000) pp. 18–19: "Antiwar Movement, United States".
  402. Grant (1991) 351: "In 1968 books, like much of the country, turned antiwar."
  403. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 299–313 (trip to America); Tet caused cancelation of meeting (304–305).
  404. Tucker (2000) p. 317, "Paris Negotiations".
  405. Châu with Fermoyle (2012),
  406. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 325, 328, 330–331 (views on peace negotiations); 299, 325–326 (Thiệu against negotiations).
  407. Grant (1991) at 318 (Châu and negotiations); pp. 311–312 (Thiệu's commitment to war and hostility to negotiations in November, 1967).
  408. Gruening and Beaser (1968).
  409. Prados (2009), p. 223. Cf, pp. 175–179 re Nguyễn Khánh's 1964–1965 "peace feelers' regarding an NLF letter, and the CIA's 1966–1967 NLF contacts.
  410. Châu with Firmly (2012) at pp. 332–365.
  411. Cf., Pond (2009), cited in Vietnam Labyrinth (2013), p. 407 n5.
  412. Cf., "The Statement of Tran Ngoc Chau" in The Antioch Review at 30: 299–301 (1970–71)].
  413. Tran Ngoc Hien, Châu's brother, was an intelligence officer for the Viet Cong. In 1969, Hien privately spoke with the editor of the Saigon Dailey News. Thereafter, both were arrested, along with 26 other political opponents of the regime of Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. Grant (1991) at 313 (Saigon Press); Châu (2012) at 232–235 (1965 meeting with his brother); at 324–325 (1970 trial, arrest); at 331, 334 (in prison).
  414. Valentine (1990) at p. 320.
  415. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 362–363 (house arrest).
  416. Prados (2003) p. 289. Prados states that Ted Shackley at CIA declined to evacuate Châu, which decision Colby did not countermand.
  417. Phillips (2008), p. 303: report that "CIA's division chief Ted Shackley vetoed a field request to have [Châu] put on the evacuation list".
  418. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 363–365: three Americans at 363–364, Châu's quote at 365.
  419. Truong Nhu Tang (1985) pp. 258–265, quotes at 259, and 264 (NLF troops).
  420. Cf., Chanoff and Toai (1985) p. 178: Viet Cong nationalists and other southerners disappointed with "Tonkinese" domination from Hanoi.
  421. Nguyen Cong Hoan, "The Communist Assembly" pp. 187–194, at 192, in Chanoff and Toai (1985): the northern DRV flag later adopted for unified Vietnam.
  422. Truong Nhu Tang (1985) pp. 271–282; quote at 271, re-education at 271–277, President at 274–276, arbitrary quote at 279, new laws at 280–282, arrested quote at 282. Tảng personally had driven two of his brothers to their "re-education" induction points (p. 273). Nine years later one brother was still incarcerated, for being a "consultant" to a Saigon political party (p. 279).
  423. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 366–367.
  424. Cf., Metzner et al. (2001): reeducation camps.
  425. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) at pp. 362 (house arrest), 363–364 (Fall of Saigon), 366 (arrest), 366–378 (prisoner).
  426. Grant (1991), at 342–346, 358–359 (reeducation camp).
  427. Cf., Zalin Grant, "The True Phoenix. Vietnam's big misunderstanding", (Pythia Press website 2011).
  428. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), p. 367 (quote re other prisoners), 380 (his estimate).
  429. Metzner, et al. (2001), "Preface" p. xiii: such prisoners "conservatively estimated at 250,000."
  430. Cf., Tucker (2000) p. 348. The estimate cited here states one million were held, half for only three months, with 40,000 to 60,000 still imprisoned eight years later. These figures accord with those given by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Camp conditions varied widely. Common criminals were also held.
  431. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) pp. 367–369, quote at 368.
  432. Châu (2003) 476–477, quote at 477.
  433. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 368–371, quote at 368; at 371 (Châu's son denied entry to school).
  434. Châu (2003) p. 477 crazy quote, p. 478 forty pounds quote.
  435. Grant (1991) p. 343 (questioned about CIA, lost 44 pounds in 14 months).
  436. Neil Sheehan, "Ex-Saigon Official Tells of 'Re-education' by Hanoi", The New York Times, January 14, 1980, pp. A1, A8. Sheehan interviewed Châu after his escape to America. Châu then sought to give Sheehan a consciously evenhanded appraisal of post-war south Vietnam and the communist regime. See 'America' section below.
  437. Châu (2003) p. 478: his wife Bich Nhan.
  438. Cf., Nguyen Cing Hoan, "The Communist Assembly" (1985) pp. 187–194, at 193, in Chanoff and Toai.
  439. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), pp. 371–373, quote at 372 (worst criminals).
  440. Châu (2003) p. 478.
  441. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) pp. 373, 374 (quote: interrogator re killings), 375 (quote: Châu re defeated), 375–376 (autobiography).
  442. Châu (2003) p. 478: "I wrote in a manner I knew the Communists would agree with--showing my prosecution of all the crimes I had committed."
  443. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) p. 375.
  444. Châu (2003) p. 479.
  445. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) pp. 376–378, 376 (three questions, enemy quote), 377 (quotes: Châu re honor, interrogator re opportunity), 378 (quotes: Châu as suspicious, and letter). Châu "would be an object lesson of the revolution's humanitarian reconciliation" (p. 378)
  446. Châu (2003) p. 479. The Communist official told him: Americans consider Vietnamese nationalists as throw away commodities, but "the revolution is different".
  447. Cf., Nguyen Cong Luan (2012), re reeducation camps: pp. 469–513, e.g., 472–476 (escape attempts: death), 487 (prisoner autobiographies), 489–490 (interrogation), 491 (dark cell), 503 (criminal abuse by guards), 506–507 (numbers held), 509–510 (execution of defectors), 515 (author held 612) years).
  448. Châu with Fermoyle (2012). Brother Hien: intelligence officer (p. 107), visit (379), troubles after war (pp. 418 n2, 379, and 422 n24); visit of sister Hong Lien and her husband Le Van Kinh (pp. 379–380, cf. 93–94); Chau's brothers and sisters (p. 109). His sister and another brother had remained loyal communists since the 1940s, yet had "sent a petition to the Communist hierarchy seeking clemency" for Châu and his release (pp. 370–371).
  449. Châu (2003) p. 480.
  450. About his brother Hien's arrest, see above section "Political trial, prison".
  451. Troung Nhu Tang (1985) pp. 284 (Hanoi "annexing the South"); 288–290. The "thousands of northern cadres who had come south to govern" the relatively prosperous south were offensive. "They fought each other over houses, cars, prostitutes, and bribes." (p. 289)
  452. Châu (2003) p. 477 ("corrupted"). Châu was "from the privileged class" and felt guilt, yet was honored to serve "like brothers" with the mostly peasant Việt Minh forces in the late 1940s.
  453. Grant (1991) p. 343: The northern Army officers at the reeducation camps had in victory become "braggarts, practically strutting before Châu and his group."
  454. Karnow (1983) p. 222.
  455. Truong Nhu Tang (1985), at start of the NLF: pp. 56, 65–73; becomes Justice Minister: 151–152; post-victory sours on Hanoi regime: chapters 21, 22, and especially 23, pp. 283–290, cf. p. 135.
  456. Shaplen (1985) p. 164: Tang's career, his conclusion of Hanoi's intent to dominate the south, flees the country.
  457. Truong Nhu Tang (1985) pp. 292–293. Tang and his wife escaped from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam by boat in 1978, arriving in Paris six months later (pp. 296, 309).
  458. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) p. 418 n2 (Communist persecution of Buddhists). Cf., Thich Thien Minh: classmate (p. 400 n15), blesses Châu in National Assembly (341).
  459. Châu (2003) p. 479: persecution of Buddhist, Thich Thien Minh beaten to death (quote).
  460. Shaplen (1986): Religion under Vietnamese Communists: leader Thích Trí Quang: house arrest, then "in seclusion" (pp. 8–9); Thich Thien Minh: died in prison (p127); state Buddhism (126–127); Buddhism monks persecuted (127–128); Catholicism persecuted (128–130).
  461. Jonathan Spence, The Search for Modern China (New York: Norton 1990) pp. 654 (PRC support for Khmer Rouge), and 665 (PRC attack on Vietnam).
  462. Trinh Duc, The Purge (1985) pp. 197–202, at 199–202, in Chanoff and Toai.
  463. Grant (1991) p. 346 (official's visit, elite center, required to be state informant).
  464. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) 378–379.
  465. Châu (2003) pp. 479–480.
  466. Trinh Duc, The Purge (1986) pp. 201–202, in Chanoff and Toai. Also, the exiles had to forfeit any property in Vietnam.
  467. Cf., Châu with Fermoyle (2012) pp. 382. Châu paid over $25,000 for his wife and children, and had to borrow the money (repaid in 1991).
  468. Grant (1991), at 346–349 (leaves Vietnam by boat).
  469. Cf., Zalin Grant, "The True Phoenix. Vietnam's big misunderstanding" (Pythia Press website 2011).
  470. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) 180–194.
  471. Sheehan, (1980), pp. A1, A8.
  472. Cf. Prados (2009) p. 432 re the prediction, made in 1971 by a pro-war advocate, of a "bloodbath" if the Viet Cong should win the war.
  473. Grant (1991), pp. 358–360 (The New York Times article of January 14, 1980). Châu understood that Sheehan was presenting his own "personal interpretation" (p. 359).
  474. Grant, Facing the Phoenix (1991), p. 360 (life in America).
  475. Moyar (1997), at p. 351 quoting Châu: "Among my seven children, I've got two doctors, a dentist, a lawyer, two engineers, and my other daughter is working on her doctorial thesis."
  476. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), re Thiệu: [page iv] of photographs (reconciliation); cf., pp. 112, 118, 145, 410n3 to 203, 253 (friend); pp. 336–337, 342 (antagonist).
  477. Sheehan (1988) p. 796.
  478. Ahern (2010) pp. xix, 393 n20.
  479. Châu with Fermoyle (2012), re Vietnam visit: 422 n24.
  480. Châu with Sturdevant (2001) p. 195.
  481. Tran Ngoc Châu, with Ken Fermoyle, Vietnam Labyrinth. Allies, enemies, and why the U.S. lost the war (Lubbock: Texas Tech University 2012), foreword by Daniel Ellsberg.
  482. Moyar (2013).
  483. Cf., The Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech University.
  484. Comm. on Foreign Rels., Vietnam. Policy and Prospects, 1970 [2d Ses.].
  485. Châu wrote another book addressed to Vietnamese, about the pursuit of peace negotiations, while he served in the Assembly. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) p. 326.
  486. Châu with Fermoyle (2012) pp. 237, 310 (Châu's book).
  487. Châu with Sturdevant (2001) p. 202: Châu's book entitled From War to Peace: Renaissance of the Village, circa 1966–1967.
  488. Papers of Edward Geary Lansdale, Box 24, at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
  489. Ahern (2010) p. 182. Châu wrote and submitted "an encyclopedic two-volume pacification plan" after he had been selected national director for the Rural Development Ministry in November 1965. These volumes are now held by the CIA (p. 402 n42) as Pacification Plan prepared by Lt. Col. Tran Ngoc Chau.
  490. Photographic essay on Châu, his career and family.
  491. Book review of Tran Ngoc Châu, Vietnam Labyrinth (2012) and two other works.
  492. "This paper is not intended to be an exposition of the virtues of Lieutenant Colonel Châu. However, any analysis of the program in Kien Hoa must take into consideration his unusual ability and his contribution to whatever success was achieved." p. 723.
  493. "What befell Tran Ngoc Châu in 1970 is the subject of this book" (start of Grant's "Forward" at p. 17).
  494. Terrence Maitland, "Winning Their Hearts and Minds" in The New York Times, February 3, 1991, [book review of Grant (1991)]. "The Phoenix of the title refers to Mr. Châu and his remarkable survival... ."
  495. Châu is also discussed in the following: Ahern (2010), Colby (1989), Ellsberg (1972), Ellsberg (2002), FitzGerald (1972), Moyar (1997), O'Donnell (2001), Phillips (2008), Sheehan (1988), Valentine (1990), and elsewhere, e.g., U.S. Senate, Comm. on Foreign Relations, Impact of the War... hearings of May 13, 1970 (in Ellsberg 1972, pp. 191–196, 197–233). Cf. Neese and O'Donnell (2001) p. 180.
  496. By South Vietnam's ambassador to the United States of America, 1967–1972.
  497. By two former generals of South Vietnam.
  498. Contemporary articles which appeared in The New Yorker magazine.

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