In the aftermath of the November 1 coup that resulted in the murder of President Ngo Dinh Diem, Gen. Duong Van Minh, leading the Revolutionary Military Committee of the dissident generals who had conducted the coup, takes over leadership of South Vietnam.
U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge cabled President Kennedy, “We could neither manage nor stop [the coup] once it got started…It is equally certain that the ground in which the coup seed grew into a robust plant was prepared by us, and that the coup would not have happened [as] it did without our permission.” Lodge’s words were more than a little disingenuous since he had long been a proponent of removing Diem from power.
Following Diem’s death, a Buddhist named Nguyen Ngoc Tho became premier, but the real power was held by the Revolutionary Military Committee headed by General Minh. The new government earned U.S. approval in part by pledging not to become a dictatorship and announcing, “The best weapon to fight communism is democracy and liberty.” However, Minh was unable to form a viable government and he himself was overthrown in a bloodless coup led by Gen. Nguyen Khanh in January 1964.