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Lodge in Vietnam

Lodge in Vietnam: A Patriot Abroad

Anne E. Blair
Copyright Date: 1995
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 216
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32bmmm
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  • Book Info
    Lodge in Vietnam
    Book Description:

    Henry Cabot Lodge became United States ambassador to South Vietnam in August 1963, a critical period in the evolution of American policy there. During the first of Lodge's two embassies in Saigon, a U.S. government-approved coup overthrew President Diem of South Vietnam and another U.S.-inspired coup brought to power a Vietnamese general trained in America. This book focuses on Lodge's ambassadorship from 1963 to June 1964, examining the constraints and possibilities inherent in the Vietnam situation at that time and revealing the role Lodge played in shaping President Lyndon Johnson's 1965 decision to commit U.S. troops to the war.Anne Blair is the first to draw on Lodge's collected papers, including an unpublished memoir, as well as on previously unavailable U.S. Saigon Embassy reports and on interviews with former U.S. officials and others who served with Lodge in Vietnam and Washington. According to Blair, Lodge felt strongly that U.S. troops should not be involved in the war, but his sense of the proper conduct of foreign affairs prevented him from opening a public debate on the matter. In addition, after the coup against Diem, Lodge regarded his mission in Saigon as completed and was disengaged in the vital 1964 period when the U.S. government should have reviewed its aims and vital stakes in South Vietnam. Lodge took up the Saigon mission and stayed with it because he was a patriot. But, Blair concludes, his good intentions were not coupled with effective policymaking, and the results proved disastrous for the future.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14392-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    This is the first book to deal with the initial ambassadorship of Henry Cabot Lodge II to Vietnam as a period in its own right. It seeks to explain what happened in the months immediately before the decision to commit American ground troops to the war.

    I was surprised to find that a large section of the American side of the story of the Buddhist suicides by fire in Saigon in 1963 had not been brought together. As I moved through the drawn-out and complex negotiations of President Ngo Dinh Diem and the Buddhist leaders on the one hand, and...

  4. Glossary of Acronyms
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Chapter One A Presidential Mission
    (pp. 1-23)

    When Henry Cabot Lodge II was United States ambassador to the United Nations in 1953, a question arose during debates over the Korean conflict on which the vote promised to be closely divided. After much discussion, the U.S. Department of State advised Lodge to vote yes. But the next morning Robert Murphy, head of the U.N. section of the Department of State, read in the newspapers that Lodge had voted no. He put through an urgent call to Lodge in New York. “Apparently our instructions failed to reach you?” he asked. “Instructions?” queried Lodge. “I am not bound by instructions...

  6. Chapter Two The First Eight Days
    (pp. 24-47)

    On the night of August 22, 1963, forty journalists waited at Saigon’s Tan Son Nhut Airport to greet the new American ambassador. Rain drizzled into the oppressively hot night. The city had been under curfew for twenty-four hours, the airport closed. Expectations rose as a Pan Am jet began to circle in; it was met by fire from the ground but not hit. Kenneth Rogers, staff aide first to Nolting and now to Lodge, suspected that the explosions were from firecrackers, but he checked the Luger in his shoulder strap. He had come from the tense city prepared for all...

  7. Chapter Three The Days of Silence and Correctness
    (pp. 48-70)

    Lodge and the Department of State had miscalculated in the timing of their signal to the ARVN generals that a coup might be favorably regarded. It was clear by August 31 in both Saigon and Washington that the South Vietnamese generals had been unable to unite to overthrow the Vietnam government. Gen. Le Van Kim told Rufus Phillips of his distrust of Duong Van Minh and of his own lack of faith in U.S. blessing for the overthrow of Diem. Generals Tran Thien Khiem, chief of staff of the Joint General Staff, and Nguyen Khanh, commander of 2 Corps, failed...

  8. Photographs
    (pp. None)
  9. Chapter Four Calm Before the Storm
    (pp. 71-93)

    In his evaluation for Kennedy of the November coup, Lodge summed up: “All this may be a useful lesson in the use of U.S. power for those who face similar situations in the future. Perhaps the U.S. government has here evolved a way of not being everywhere saddled with responsibility for autocratic governments, simply because they are anti-Communist…a course which can eventually lead many people to believe that the foreign Communist autocracy which they don’t know is preferable to the local autocracy which they do know.” He went on: “Nothing could put the cause of freedom into a stronger position...

  10. Chapter Five Two Coups: Saigon and New Hampshire
    (pp. 94-117)

    President Johnson was on the telephone to William Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It was December 2 and Johnson had been in the White House for ten days. He proceeded from Cuba—“I’m not getting into any Bay of Pigs deal”—to Vietnam. “Now what about Vietnam?” he asked. “Why did you send Lodge out there for God’s sake? I think he’s got things screwed up good, that’s what I think…. What would happen if I moved Lodge? Who does he satisfy?” Fulbright replied that he thought that Lodge satisfied some elements in the Republican party, and...

  11. Chpter Six The Descending Curtain
    (pp. 118-140)

    In response to Johnson’s reservations as to Lodge’s performance as U.S. ambassador in Saigon, as early as November McNamara had urged that Lodge should be provided with a deputy to act as his chief of staff. McNamara argued that this measure could help solve the problem of teamwork in the U.S. mission, but in effect he was advocating that Deputy Chief of Mission Trueheart’s replacement be a man who could take over the ambassadorial duties of direction and coordination. After his December visit to South Vietnam, the secretary of defense reported that he, Rusk, and McCone had tried to show...

  12. Epilogue
    (pp. 141-153)

    In early February 1965, McGeorge Bundy placed a confidential telephone call to Lodge in New York. “The Boss wants to have a chance to catch up with you,” he said. The president’s special assistant for national security affairs went on to explain that the appointment of General Taylor as ambassador to Vietnam had not worked out on the political side. There were “real problems of communication between Max Taylor, Ky and the Buddhists.” “More U.S. pressure was needed for police programs,” and especially “more follow up.” Could Lodge get to Washington before the end of the month?

    By late February...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 154-160)

    On his first Saturday in Saigon in August 1963, Lodge braved all his military aides’ reports of demonstrations in the streets and threats of an attack on the residence to cooperate with aLifemagazine team filming a photo-essay on the new American ambassador to Vietnam. He and Mrs. Lodge rode in an open jeep through intermittent showers to the zoo, where they were led to the prize exhibit, a large male tiger. Lodge stood by, relaxed, as the photographers prepared. Then he grasped that a persistent spray was not the rain: he turned to catch the tiger pumping a...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 161-187)
  15. Bibliographic Essay
    (pp. 188-190)
  16. Index
    (pp. 191-200)