Political Instability in South Viet Nam

May 26, 1965

Report Outline
Course of Politics and War in Viet Nam
Struggle of French to Retain Viet Nam
South Viet Nam Since Partition of 1954
Political Factors in a Final Settlement

Course of Politics and War in Viet Nam

Dissolution of the powerful Armed Forces Council at Saigon on May 6 marked the end of 18 months of direct control or indirect supervision of South Viet Nam's political affairs by the military. The armed forces—despite shifting alliances among contesting generals—had held the real power in the country since the military-led insurrection against President Ngo Dinh Diem in November 1963. During this period Saigon went through nine changes in government, along with several attempted coup d'états and frequent anti-government demonstrations. One military faction fought another, Buddhists fought Catholics, and politicians refused to cooperate in establishing a viable civilian government.

The United States, though by no means displeased by Diem's overthrow, viewed the subsequent political instability with dismay. Persisting turmoil at the top was a major factor in failure of the South Vietnamese to deal more effectively with the Communist-backed revolt wracking the country. American aid to South Viet Nam's war effort now has been expanded to the point where it involves, in addition to a vast economic and military assistance program, the help of 45,000 U.S. military advisers and combat troops—the whole costing this country about $4 million a day. Constant reshuffling of the command at Saigon and in the provinces hampered the utilization of American assistance and contributed to uncertainty over the will of the South Vietnamese to keep up the fight against the Viet Cong guerrillas.

The present premier of the Republic of Viet Nam, Phan Huy Quat, has held office since Feb. 16. The turbulent atmosphere that afflicted the political life of the country during previous governments has quieted to some extent. Police action was required to put down demonstrations by Buddhist sects in early March, but the martial law imposed last November was abolished in late March, and Saigon's nightly curfew was cut to two hours.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Mar. 18, 1988  Vietnam: Unified, Independent and Poor
Jul. 06, 1984  Agent Orange: The Continuing Debate
Nov. 04, 1983  MIAs: Decade of Frustration
Mar. 11, 1983  Vietnam War Reconsidered
Oct. 21, 1977  Vietnam Veterans: Continuing Readjustment
Jan. 18, 1974  Vietnam Aftermath
Feb. 21, 1973  Vietnam Veterans
Jun. 09, 1971  Prospects for Democracy in South Vietnam
May 06, 1970  Cambodia and Laos: the Widening War
Jan. 07, 1970  War Atrocities and the Law
Jul. 02, 1969  Resolution of Conflicts
Apr. 17, 1968  Reconstruction in South Vietnam
Aug. 23, 1967  Political Evolution in South Viet Nam
Jan. 11, 1967  Rural Pacification in South Viet Nam
May 26, 1965  Political Instability in South Viet Nam
Mar. 25, 1964  Neutralization in Southeast Asia
Apr. 17, 1963  Task in South Viet Nam
Jun. 14, 1961  Guerrilla Warfare
May 17, 1961  Threatened Viet Nam
Sep. 23, 1959  Menaced Laos
Cold War
Conflicts in Asia
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific
U.S. at War: Vietnam
War and Conflict