Vietnam 1945-1963

from the book

The CIAs Greatest Hits

by Mark Zepezauer


Long before the US military got involved there directly, Vietnam was the CIA's war. At first they waged it on behalf of the French, who struggled for nine years, from 1945 to 1954, to recapture their one-time colony (despite the war's unpopularity with the French public).

Even with CIA mercenaries fighting alongside the French, and air support from the CIA's Air America (at the time, the largest "private" airline in the world), the effort proved tobe in vain.

The 1954 Geneva Accords temporarily divided Vietnam in preparation for elections in 1956. But the US wasn't interested in elections.

In the North, CIA "psywar" expert Ed Lansdale spread the rumor that the US was planning to nuke the area. This, along with other, similar tactics, created an exodus of over one million refugees, who were ferried to the south by CIA ships and planes.

In the South, the CIA wrote a constitution for "South Vietnam" (which had never been considered a separate country before), installed Ngo Dinh Diem and gave him the job of crushing anyone who had opposed the French.

US support for Diem was based on the belief that he was the one politician in Vietnam who would never negotiate with Ho Chi Minh. When, after nine more years of futile warfare, even Diem found such negotiations desirable, he was tossed aside as casually as he'd been put in place. In November 1963, he was deposed in a CIA-sponsored coup, then assassinated.

In 1945, one US intelligence agent had described Ho Chi Minh as the "strongest and perhaps the ablest figure in Indochina, and...any suggested solution which excludes him is...of uncertain outcome." Unfortunately, such insights were ignored in Washington as the Cold War solidified.

CIAs Greatest Hits

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