Ambassador Frederick Nolting's role in American diplomatic & military policy toward the government of South Vietnam, 1961-1963

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Shaw, Geoffrey D. T
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This work, entitled "Ambassador Frederick Nolting's Role in American Diplomatic and Military Policy toward South Vietnam (1961-1963)", is concerned with the most salient years of American involvement in Vietnam. As United States Ambassador, Frederick Nolting was sent over to South Vietnam, in May of 1961. He had departed Washington with President Kennedy's instructions to ameliorate the differences that had grown between the American and Saigon governments and thereby enact a diplomatic rapprochement Relations had been badly strained between Diem and the previous American Ambassador, Elbridge Durbrow. This problem had arisen out of the fact that the Eisenhower Administration had discovered that Ngo Dinh Diem was not compliant to American direction. Owing to profound qualities of character Ambassador Nolting was able to turn American-Vietnamese relations in a more amicable direction. In the process of this difficult undertaking, his respect and admiration for Ngo Dinh Diem began to grow, as he became more aware of the basic humility and decency of the Vietnamese leader. As with Edward Geary Lansdale, and others who took the time to get to know Diem, Nolting became a fast friend as surely as he became aware of the man's greatness. Ambassador Nolting's rapprochement and American policy were undone not by the vast immutable forces of history but, instead, by the political will of powerful individual Americans. W. Averell Harriman was pre-eminent amongst these men of power and he drove all before his will, including President Kennedy. This work carefully traces a documentary trail that makes manifest the fact that when President Diem confronted Harriman over the latter's plan for making Laos 'neutral' he earned the American's undying enmity. From that point forward, Harriman steadily undermined support for Diem. Ap Bac, the Buddhist Crisis, problems with the Strategic Hamlets Program, and the purported North-South Vietnamese dialogue only added more fuel to the fire of Harriman's engine. Frederick Nolting stood in the way of this Harriman direction and he was replaced as Ambassador. Subsequently, Nolting resigned from the State Department in 1964 in protest of what had taken place in South Vietnam. Regardless of the warnings from the British experts on counter-insurgency warfare, regardless of the support for Diem coming from other concerned Southeast Asian countries such as Australia, the Philippines, Thailand and India, regardless of late-coming official French support for the Vietnamese leader, and even regardless of what their own experts in the field were telling them, the Kennedy administration succumbed to the will of W. Averell Harriman. A classical tragedy ensued: Ngo Dinh Diem was murdered, along with his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu, when they were driven from office in a Kennedy administration supported coup. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)