Rule::Dương Văn Minh


Vietnam::south    Title::power    Generals::would    Saigon::after    Jones::military    Location::their

Rule Minh took over the government under a military junta on 6 November, which consisted of 12 generals. To give the regime a civilian veneer, Diệm's figurehead Vice President, Nguyễn Ngọc Thơ, was appointed Prime Minister of a provisional civilian government overseen by the Military Revolutionary Council (MRC).<ref>Hammer, pp. 300–01.</ref> Despite his nominally being the second most important person in the Diệm regime, Thơ was a figurehead with little influence, which lay with Diệm's brothers.<ref name="jonesp">Jones, pp. 99–100.</ref> Diệm held Thơ in contempt and did not allow him to take part in policy decisions.<ref>Buttinger, p. 954</ref> Tho entered into intensive bargaining with Minh on 2 November on the composition of the interim government. Thơ knew that the generals wanted to have him head a new government to provide continuity, and he used this as leverage in bargaining with them about the makeup of the cabinet. The Americans recognized Minh and immediately restored the aid programs and that had been cut to punish Diệm in the last days of his rule.<ref name="pp"/>

With the fall of Diệm, various American sanctions that were imposed in response to the repression of the Buddhist crisis and Nhu's Special Forces' attacks on the Xá Lợi Pagoda, were lifted. The freeze on US economic aid, the suspension of the Commercial Import Program and various capital works initiatives were lifted, and Thơ and Minh were recognised.<ref name="pp"/> The first order of the new regime was Provisional Constitutional Act No. 1, signed by Minh, formally suspending the 1956 constitution created by Diệm.<ref name="pp"/> Minh was said to have preferred playing mah-jongg, playing tennis at the elite Cercle Sportif,<ref name=nyt/> tending to his garden and giving tea parties to fighting the Viet Cong or running the country.<ref name=lat/> He was criticised for being lethargic and uninterested.<ref>Shaplen, pgs. 221-24</ref> Stanley Karnow said "He was a model of lethargy, lacking both the skill and the inclination to govern". According to Karnow, Minh lamented to him that because of his role as the junta head, he "didn't have enough time to grow his orchids or play tennis".<ref name=nyt/>

Saigon newspapers, which Minh had allowed to re-open following the end of Diệm's censorship, reported that the junta was paralysed because all twelve generals in the MRC had equal power. Each member had the power of veto, enabling them to stonewall policy decisions.<ref name="s221">Shaplen, p. 221</ref> Thơ's civilian government was plagued by infighting. According to Thơ's assistant, Nguyễn Ngọc Huy, the presence of Generals Đôn and Đính in both the civilian cabinet and the MRC paralysed the governance process. Đính and Đôn were subordinate to Tho in the civilian government, but as members of the MRC they were superior to him. Whenever Thơ gave an order in the civilian hierarchy with which the generals disagreed, they would go to the MRC and make a counter-order.<ref name="j437">Jones, pg. 437</ref>

The press strongly attacked Thơ, accusing his civilian government of being "tools" of the MRC.<ref name="s223"/> Thơ's acquiescence to and corruption under Diệm's presidency was also called into question, and he was accused of helping to repress the Buddhists by Diệm and Nhu. Tho claimed that he had countenanced the pagoda raids, claiming that he would have resigned were it not for Minh's pleas to stay. Minh defended Thơ's anti-Diệm credentials by declaring that Tho had taken part in the planning of the coup "from the very outset" and that he enjoyed the "full confidence" of the junta.<ref name="s223">Shaplen, p. 223</ref>

On 1 January 1964, a 'Council of Notables' comprising sixty leading citizens met for the first time, having been selected by Colonel Phạm Ngọc Thảo for Minh's junta. Its job was to advise the military and civilian wings of the government with a view towards reforming human rights, the constitution and the legal system.<ref name="s225"/> The council consisted almost entirely of professionals and academic leaders, with no representatives from the agricultural or labour movement. It soon became engaged in endless debate and never achieved its initial task of drafting a new constitution.<ref name="s225">Shaplen, p. 225</ref>

Minh and Thơ halted Nhu's Strategic Hamlet Program. Nhu had trumpeted the program as the solution to South Vietnam's difficulties with Viet Cong insurgents, believing that the mass relocation of peasants into fortified villages would isolate the Viet Cong from their peasant support base. According to the junta, only 20% of the 8,600 existing strategic hamlets were under Saigon's control, with the rest having been taken over by the communists, contradicting Nhu's claims of widespread success. Those hamlets that were deemed to be tenable were consolidated, while the remainder were dismantled and their inhabitants returned to their ancestral land.<ref>Shaplen, pg. 220</ref>

Under Minh's rule, there was a large turnover of officials aligned with Diệm. Many were indiscriminately arrested without charge, most of whom were later released. Đính and the new national police chief General Mai Hữu Xuân were given control of the interior ministry and were accused of arresting people en masse, before releasing them in return for bribes and pledges of loyalty. The government was criticised for firing large numbers of district and provincial chiefs directly appointed by Diệm, causing a breakdown in law and order during the abrupt transition of power.<ref name="s221"/>

The provisional government lacked direction in policy and planning, resulting in its quick collapse.<ref>Shaplen, p. 213</ref> The number of rural attacks instigated by the Viet Cong surged in the wake of Diệm's deposal, due to the displacement of troops into urban areas for the coup. The increasingly free discussion generated from the surfacing of new and accurate data following the coup revealed that the military situation was far worse than what was reported by Diệm. The incidence of Viet Cong attacks continued to increase as it had done during the summer of 1963, the weapons loss ratio worsened and the rate of Viet Cong defections fell. The units that participated in the coup were returned to the field to guard against a possible major communist offensive in the countryside.<ref name="pp">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

Dương Văn Minh sections
Intro  Biography   Early years   Vietnamese National Army/battles against B\u00ecnh Xuy\u00ean and H\u00f2a H\u1ea3o  Overthrow of Di\u1ec7m  Rule  Overthrow by Nguy\u1ec5n Kh\u00e1nh  August and September power struggle with Kh\u00e1nh  Exile  Second presidency  Life in exile  Death  References  Sources  External links  

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