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The Unimagined CommunityImperialism and Culture in South Vietnam$
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Duy Lap Nguyen

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781526143969

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526143976

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Psychological warfare, counterinsurgency and the society of spectacle in South Vietnam

Psychological warfare, counterinsurgency and the society of spectacle in South Vietnam

(p.153) 4 Psychological warfare, counterinsurgency and the society of spectacle in South Vietnam
The Unimagined Community

Duy Lap Nguyen

Manchester University Press

Chapter four contends that the communism of the early Republic would put it directly odds with the aims of its American ally. This “misalliance” would ultimately compromise both the counterinsurgency strategy in the South (which Republic conceived as a social revolution, as opposed to a mere pacification program), as well as the psychological warfare campaign carried out in the North. For the South Vietnamese, the campaign was to be an extension of the Marxist humanist strategy of social revolution, aimed at transforming the whole of Vietnamese society. For the Americans, on the other hand, the goal of the program was to discredit the Communist government by exposing its lack of democracy. In the end, this misalliance would lead to the collapse of the First Republic. In 1963, the regime was overthrown in a coup supported by US officials in a misguided attempt to uphold the image of the Republic as a liberal democracy. The coup would create a profound political crisis, compelling the US to dramatically expand its military presence. Having undermined the Marxist humanist program of the early Republic, Washington policymakers would come to rely on a high tech war of attrition in order to overcome the insurgency.

Keywords:   psychological warfare, Cold War, US imperialism, mass media, US foreign policy, the Buddhist crisis

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