What were the relative strengths and weaknesses of Ngo Dinh Diem as the leader of South Vietnam and what explains the US views of Diem’s capabilities over time?

Nation Building and Insurgency

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This discussion addresses the following outcomes:

  • Analyze US efforts at nation-building in South Vietnam (CO#1);
  • Examine the growth of insurgency in South Vietnam as well as the links between this insurgency and North Vietnam (CO#1);

As the French vacated Vietnam, the US became the de facto sponsor of the country of South Vietnam. South Vietnam, with a smaller population than its northern counterpart, was, in effect, a Cold War experiment for the United States. As the old colonialist order unraveled after World War II and communism threatened Asia, US policymakers sought to create in South Vietnam an example of how a stable, democratic (or, at the very least, passably democratic) developing country with a market economy could flourish in the postwar world. Indeed, South Vietnam would be one of the first US attempts at nation building in the Cold War.

In this activity you will examine both the nation building and growing insurgency that characterizes the era beginning with the Geneva Accords and ending with the final year of the Eisenhower presidency. Prior to completing this discussion activity, be sure to read Chapter 2 in Herring, the Final Declaration of the Geneva Conference, and the Letter from Eisenhower to Ngo Dinh Diem. In addition, make sure to view/listen to the Module 2 Notes Presentation (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. After doing so, consider the following questions as you craft a post of at least 250 words:

  • What were the relative strengths and weaknesses of Ngo Dinh Diem as the leader of South Vietnam and what explains the US views of Diem’s capabilities over time?
  • Was the southern insurgency more a product of concerted efforts on the part of North Vietnam or Diem’s weaknesses as a leader?
  • Contemplate the quandary facing Eisenhower during the final years of his second term with relation to Vietnam. In retrospect, what do you think the US should have done differently (if anything) leading up to the end of the Eisenhower years?

After you have posted, read through the postings of your peers. Choose two of your peers and respond to their posts by offering a substantive addition to their post and/or a thoughtful reflection on a particular aspect of their post. Each response to a peer should be approximately 100 words in length and should contribute to the discussion in progress. Be sure that your responses are respectful, substantive, and consistent with the expectations for discussion, as stated by the prompt. Please direct to me any questions you may have that are related to discussion interaction.

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