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In response to Doug Macdonald's query, if we assume that it's true that the North Vietnamese government was actively trying to undermine the government of the South from the very beginning, how does that change the overall picture of the war? Specifically, it seems to me that the progressive "consensus" about the war includes three key claims: 1. The North Vietnamese government wasn't that bad---i.e. it was more legitimate and less vicious than its critics claim; and 2. The South Vietnamese government under Diem and his successors was hopelessly incompetent; therefore 3. U.S. support for the GVN (South) was both misguided and doomed. Obviously, this information about events in 1955 undermines claim no. 1 above, but I don't think that's terribly controversial anymore. My sense, at least for those of us who were to young to fight in the original intellectual war over Vietnam, is that most scholars are well aware of the massacre at Hue, the wave of boat people after the war, and the general ruthlessness of the North Vietnamese regime. The key question for me, therefore, is what these new revelations tell us about issue no. 2. The longer story about the sects, I believe, is now: a. The North Vietnamese tried to infiltrate the sects in 1955 but failed. b. Diem then crushed the sects militarily, after which c. the NLF successfully infiltrated those communities by the 1960s I think implication is that while we must reject claim 1 (the North Vietnamese regime was as brutal as Stalin's or Mao's), claim 2 looks better and better (the GVN was too weak and ineffective to survive no matter what the US did). The new biography of Diem recently reviewed on H-Diplo seems to support this view as well. Then again, I haven't researched this issue as deeply as others. What are the thoughts of those of you who have? Stuart Kaufman Professor of Political Science University of Delaware --