By Guenter Lewy
1978 booklet on the US in Vietnam.
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Extra info for America in Vietnam: Illusion, Myth and Reality
41 Evidence available today—based on captured documents and the testimony of defectors familiar with internal party directives—contradicts almost all of this thesis. It is correct that the repressiveness of the Diem regime in the years 1956-59 created pressure for armed action in the South, but the rest of the argument is false. The decision to begin the armed struggle in the South was made by the Central Committee of the Vietnamese Workers' (Lao Dong) party (VWP), the communist party of Vietnam, in Hanoi in 1959.
As one defector told Jeffrey Race: "The formation of the People's Revolutionary Party had no significance to the peasantry. They live in intimate contact with the Party and thus were aware that it was still the communists. "56 The Period of "Sink or Swim with Diem" By the time John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency on 20 January 1961, the situation in Vietnam had deteriorated considerably; the Vietnamese Communists or Viet Cong (VC) for short, as the Americans began to call them, dominated large sections of the country.
78 The indicators of deterioration were indeed many, though the optimistic reports coming out of Saigon tended to downplay them. Correspondents like David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan reported that GVN troops, poorly led by officers appointed for political reasons, avoided combat whenever possible. It was common practice, recalls the head of the USIA in Saigon during the years 1962-64, for government forces to break off battle at nightfall even when they appeared to be winning. Diem insisted on maintaining outposts even in VC-dominated areas, and the VC overran these posts so regularly and easily that American advisers began calling them "Viet Cong PXs"; the guerillas were able to use them for supplies and weapons with almost the same ease as an embassy wife shopped at the Saigon post exchange.