Jake Sullivan Gives Zelensky the Kiss of Death

“It’s not something to make light of because President Zelenskyy’s personal safety is something that that concerns us,” Jake Sullivan, the White House National Security Advisor, said Friday during the Aspen Security Forum. 

Russia needs Zelensky to sign a cease fire. Russia needs Zelensky alive.

But the US does not need Zelensky anymore when the front collapses.

When Zelensky goes, Ukraine turns to chaos for the Russians to deal with.

The Europeans are already dialing back their monetary commitments from $9 billion to $1 billion.

The South Vietnam Precedent

Recall in 1963, the JFK Administration approved the assassination of the Diem Regime leading the Republic of Vietnam.

By 1963, however, the Kennedy administration faced a dilemma. After government forces cracked down on Buddhist monks that spring, Kennedy pressed Diem for reforms.

Instead, Diem imposed martial law, and special forces directed by his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, launched raids against Buddhist pagodas.

When rumors of a possible coup began to spread in August, many in the administration wondered whether the United States should acquiesce, or indeed support the plotters. Others dissented, seeing the regime, with all its faults, as the best path to success against the southern Vietnamese Communists—derisively labeled the Viet Cong—who were supported and directed by the North Vietnamese. Inside South Vietnam, those seeking to overthrow the regime contacted US officials to ensure continued American support.

On August 26, 1963, the president discusses Diem and Nhu with senior national security officials.

(President Kennedy): If we’re unsuccessful here, and these generals don’t do anything, then we have to deal with Diem as he is, and Nhu as he is. Then the question, what do we do to protect our own prestige and also to make it- see if we can have this thing continue on successfully? Do you have any thought about that?

(Roger Hilsman): It’s pretty horrible to contemplate, sir… I- Nhu is basically anti-American. I- there’s an element of emotional unstability here, I think. I think our position will be increasingly difficult. But also, and most important, is that everyone in the field, and here, too, agree with them; that what you will have in the wake of the desecration of the pagodas and everything is a drifting away of these key, cadre fellows in the army, and that the situation will rapidly worsen.

(Dean Rusk): Mr. President, I think that the choice we have to make there is that unless there’s a major change in Diem and Nhu’s approach to this whole internal problem, is to look at the fact that we’re on the road to disaster, and whether we’d rather take it by our choice, or be driven out by a complete deterioration of the situation in Vietnam, or move in such forces as would involve our taking over the country. And… so most of those are the big decisions we have to make. I don’t think we have-

(Edit.)

(President Kennedy): Let’s… do you have any- I think we ought to get- following along with what Secretary McNamara says. It seems to me we ought to send a message down to Lodge and Harkins on these… I don’t think we ought to let the coup… maybe they know about it, maybe the generals are going to have to run out of the country; maybe we’re going to have to help them get out of there. Still, that’s not a good enough reason to go ahead, if we don’t think the prospects are good enough. I don’t think we’re in that deep, but I’m not sure the generals are. They’ve been probably bellyaching for months, so that I don’t know whether they’re- how many of them are really up to here. So I don’t see any reason to go ahead, unless we think we got a good chance of success. So I think we finally have to put it on Lodge and Harkins to tell us whether they-

(Edit.)

(Frederick Nolting): Isn’t our real sanction here for whether or not we continue U.S. support? And, uh, it would seem to me that one way of posing this question is whether we should tell Diem, or, alternatively, the generals, that we could not continue U.S. support, except under certain modified, different circumstances of government. I must say it seems to me that the proper attitude, action of the U.S. government under any situation would be to tell the chief of state this directly. We could tell him at the same time, that is, if… which won’t be news to him, that the majority of his military leaders feel the same way… and ask him what he wants.

(President Kennedy): Of course if we- we’re not really in a position to withdraw. If he doesn’t accept, then we- for us to go through with that would be pretty hard, wouldn’t it… withdraw our assistance, and pull out Americans?(Dean Rusk): I think the stakes are very high here. If you- when you make that move and fail, then you have to be ready to expect that he will throw you out.

Energy for the coup fizzled in late August, and the Kennedy administration resigned itself to working with Diem, pressuring him to make a series of political, economic, military, and social reforms that were designed to improve the counterinsurgency effort. But by late October, President Kennedy was again grappling with the possibility of a coup and what the United States should do about it. His advisors were divided. 

At a late afternoon meeting on October 29, Kennedy heard several opinions, clearly summarized in a memorandum of the conversation.

Secretary of State Dean Rusk suggested, “We should caution the generals that they must have the situation in hand before they launch a coup.” 

“Secretary McNamara,” recorded the memo, “asked who of our officials in Saigon are in charge of the coup planning.”

Averell Harriman, undersecretary of state for political affairs, “said it was clear that in Vietnam there was less and less enthusiasm for Diem. We cannot predict that the rebel generals can overthrow the Diem government, but Diem cannot carry the country to victory over the Viet Cong. With the passage of time, our objectives in Vietnam will become more and more difficult to achieve with Diem in control.”

On 1 November 1963, Ngô Đình Diệm, the president of South Vietnam, was arrested and assassinated in a successful coup d’état led by General Dương Văn Minh.

The coup was the culmination of nine years of autocratic and nepotistic family rule in the country. Discontent with the Diệm regime had been simmering below the surface and exploded with mass Buddhist protests against longstanding religious discrimination after the government shooting of protesters who defied a ban on the flying of the Buddhist flag.

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) had launched a bloody overnight siege on Gia Long Palace in Saigon. When rebel forces entered the palace, Diệm and his adviser and younger brother Ngô Đình Nhu were not present, having escaped before to a loyalist shelter in Cholon. The brothers had kept in communication with the rebels through a direct link from the shelter to the palace, and misled them into believing that they were still in the palace.

The Ngô brothers soon agreed to surrender and were promised safe exile; after being arrested, they were instead executed in the back of an armoured personnel carrier by ARVN officers on the journey back to military headquarters near Tân Sơn Nhứt Air Base.

While no formal inquiry was conducted, the responsibility for the deaths of the Ngô brothers is commonly placed on Minh’s bodyguard, Captain Nguyễn Văn Nhung and on Major Dương Hiếu Nghĩa, both of whom guarded the brothers during the trip.

Minh’s army colleagues and US officials in Saigon agreed that Minh ordered the executions. They postulated various motives, including that the brothers had embarrassed Minh by fleeing the Gia Long Palace, and that the brothers were killed to prevent a later political comeback.

The generals initially attempted to cover up the execution by suggesting that the brothers had died by suicide, but this was contradicted when photos of the Ngôs’ corpses surfaced in the media.

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