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Nguyễn Khánh

In a coup on December 19, 1964, South Vietnam's ruling military junta led by General Nguyễn Khánh (pictured) dissolved the High National Council (HNC) and arrested some of its members. Khánh needed to satisfy the wishes of some younger generals to stay in power, after they had saved him from an earlier coup attempt. They wanted to sideline older officers who had previously been in high leadership positions, hiding their motives with a plan to force all general officers with more than 25 years of service to retire. The HNC, an unelected advisory body created to give a veneer of civilian rule, recommended against this, and was then dissolved. This dismayed the United States, South Vietnam's main sponsor. The US ambassador, Maxwell D. Taylor, harshly berated the generals and threatened aid cuts. Khánh embarked on a media offensive, criticizing US policy and what he saw as infringement of Vietnamese sovereignty. He and the other generals began preparations to expel Taylor before changing their minds. Khánh's tactics rallied support for his fragile leadership, at least temporarily. The Americans did not carry through on Taylor's threats to cut off aid, even though the HNC was never restored. (Full article...)

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