Nguyễn Văn Thiệu


Nguyễn Văn Thiệu

Nguyễn Văn Thiệu audio|Nguyen Van Thieu.ogg|pronunciation, (April 5, 1923 – September 29, 2001) was a former General and President of South Vietnam.

Biography

Born in a coastal village, central Vietnam (Ninh Thuận Province), Thiệu was a son of a small but well to do landowner. As a young man, he reportedly joined the Viet Minh Fact|date=June 2007, led by Hồ Chí Minh whose goal was to liberate Vietnam from French colonialism. He left the movement after just one year, following the return of the French to Southern Vietnam in 1946.

Thiệu initially was enrolled in the Merchant Marine Academy but later transferred to the National Military Academy in Dalat in 1949. In 1951, upon graduation, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant from the first officer candidates' course of the "Vietnam National Army", which had been created by former Emperor Bảo Đại who had agreed to collaborate with the French as the "Chief of State" of the French-sponsored "State of Vietnam" to fight against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam led by the Viet Minh.

Thiệu was an Army lieutenant-colonel when the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) was founded and it recovered full sovereignty after the withdrawal of French forces in 1955, following the 1954 Geneva Agreement.

Political career

[
Lyndon B. Johnson] He served as South Vietnam's ceremonial head of state in Prime Minister Nguyễn Cao Kỳ's government from 1965–67.

On September 3, 1967, he ran successfully for the new executive presidency of South Vietnam earning 38% of the vote and held that position until a few days before the surrender of Saigon, South Vietnam's capital, became imminent in 1975.

Thiệu's regime was accused of being far more corrupt than the regime of his predecessor. Unlike Kỳ, Thiệu created a political party and greatly centralized political power in the executive branch at the expense of the elected congress. Close allies were placed in key ministerial and military posts in order to prevent threats to the president's leadership from emerging.

In 1971, Thiệu ran for re-election, but his reputation for corruption made his political opponents believe the race would be fixed, and they declined to run. As the only candidate, Thiệu was thus easily re-elected, receiving a suspiciously high 94% of the vote on an 87% turn-out.

In January 1975, North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam. Nguyễn Văn Thiệu notified President Ford that he was of the opinion that North Vietnam had violated the 1973 Paris Peace Accords and asked for $300 million of aid, but the U.S. Congress would not release the funds. Angered, Thiệu stated, "The United States did not keep its word. Is an American's word reliable these days?" ...and, "The United States did not keep its promise to help us fight for freedom and it was in the same fight that the United States lost 50,000 of its young men." [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/21/newsid_2935000/2935347.stm BBC ON THIS DAY | 21 | 1975: Vietnam's President Thieu resigns ] ]

The North called this the "Hồ Chí Minh Campaign." All resistance crumbled. Conditions in South Vietnam deteriorated. The ARVN tried to defend Xuân-lộc, their last chance before Saigon. Even according to the Communists, these men fought very well, but it was not enough.

Just prior to the Communist victory, Nguyễn Văn Thiệu resigned and left for Taiwan, quickly handing power to his Vice President, Trần Văn Hương, who took over on April 21, 1975, nine days before South Vietnam unconditionally surrendered to the North Vietnamese on April 30, 1975.

Life in exile

Thiệu fled to Taiwan, later he settled in Surrey, Great Britain. Finally he took up residence in Foxborough, Massachusetts, in the United States, where he died in 2001.

Quotes

* "Don't listen to what the Communists say, but look at what they do."
* "But the United States did not keep its word. Is an American's word reliable these days?"
* "The United States did not keep its promise to help us fight for freedom and it was in the same fight that the United States lost 50,000 of its young men."
* "Losing a President Thiệu, the military still has a three-star General Thiệu. The people still have a soldier, Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. I pledge to fight side by side with my brothers, the soldiers."
* "You ran away and left us to do the job that you could not do." [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,982844-3,00.html Saigon] by George J. Church, Time Magazine, Apr. 24, 1995.]
* "To live without freedom is to have already died."

References

External links

* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/21/newsid_2935000/2935347.stm Vietnam's President Thiệu resigns]
* [http://community.webshots.com/album/22456441uvdpqlCoyA President Thiệu and Commandos of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam Reunion Photos]
* [http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/VNthieu.htm Thiệu Biography] From Spartacus Educational


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