This book has examined how Ngo Dinh Diem solidified his power and established the basic character and mechanisms of his state with the help of the United States. When the United States replaced France as the predominant Western power in Vietnam in 1954, it got embroiled in a civil struggle over the nature of Vietnam's postcolonial political order, the lines of which had already been contorted by French intervention. Vietnam's route to decolonization was more of a multisided tug-of-war than it was a tide moving steadily in one direction, especially in the “wild” south where the communist organization was weakest, and the Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, and Binh Xuyen politico-religious organizations were firmly entrenched. Ngo Dinh Diem set out to destroy these organizations, to exclude them from his government, and to terrorize them as a part of his anticommunism. This chapter concludes by assessing the lessons that can be drawn from Washington's determination to fit Vietnam's complicated internal struggle for independence into its Cold War paradigm.
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