Disintegration of the Vietnam-U.S. Partnership in Vietnam
The Pope John XXIII—Ho Chi Minh agreement initially contained a subtle reciprocal ruse by both negotiators. It then turned into a double-edged sword threatening the future stability of Vietnam and all of Southeast Asia.
Spellman and his supporters had watched the development of the whole affair with a sense of impotent outrage and ideological affront. This new papal dialogue with the Communists trespassed into the field of practical politics and threatened the whole grand strategy of President Diem and the U.S. military efforts in the region. Their bitterness however, soon was mollified by the sight of hundreds of thousands of North Vietnamese Catholics fleeing from an atheistic regime. In the long run this would be beneficial to the cause of Diem.
After the rivulets of emigrations had turned into a veritable human flood, the Pope came out with a masterstroke of religious emotionalism. He invoked the Virgin Mary and then solemnly dedicated the whole of the Vietnam personally to her. In this manner the Virgin Mary became at one stroke the official protectoress of all Vietnamese North and South, whether Catholics or not, including President Ho Chi Minh himself.
Ho Chi Minh had other cause for rejoicing, however, as he watched the hundreds of thousands of North Vietnamese streaming southward. As he had earlier envisioned, instead of alleviating the chaotic conditions in the South the new arrivals only increased the mounting confusion there a hundredfold. The migration, besides proving an astute political move for Ho Chi Minh, set a precedent of great importance. The pattern became a formula successfully exploited during and after the war. Following the U.S. withdrawal from the region the united Marxist Vietnam created a politically inspired “migratory wave” characterized by the world media as “the boat people.”
Hundreds of thousands of these refugees were encouraged and even helped to “escape” mostly by sea. While thousands drowned, hundreds of thousands were received by the West, the largest portion becoming guests of the U.S. This exodus turned into a long range victory for the Catholic Church. After having suffered a crushing defeat with the fall of Diem and then of South Vietnam, importation of the Catholic migrants into the U.S. helped to increase her battalions in pursuit of the Church’s final objective: to become the most powerful church in America.
Meanwhile the inter-Vietnamese conflict between North and South was being intensified, the slippery escalation leading towards a full U.S. military involvement. In 1963, Pope John XXIII, the father of the Vatican Council II, died. Yet, as he put it, he had opened the window to the wind of change. Soon after his death, this wind of change turned quickly into a veritable hurricane in the swing towards world Marxism.
His successor Paul VI, who only a decade before had been exiled from the Vatican by anti-Communist Pius XII for his extreme left wing views, went even further than John in appeasing communism.  Soon after his election, in fact while the U.S. was still heavily involved in her conflict in Vietnam, Paul Vl made the first tentative offer to Moscow. This offer was labeled by the present author the Vatican-Moscow Alliance in a book by that name.
The political results of the Vatican-Moscow Alliance was spectacular and concrete. Eastern Europe with its large Catholic population was pacified in a very short time in its struggle between the Catholic Church and their militant Communist regimes. Priests, bishops, and cardinals who until then had been systematically persecuted, arrested and imprisoned were released. Churches were opened and the clergy and the state began cooperating. To the chagrined surprise of the U.S., who was waging her vigorous Cold War against Soviet Russia and her satellites, the two former mortal enemies now began unprecedented cooperation.
In Europe the effect of the Vatican-Moscow Alliance was spectacular but in Asia caution had to be exerted. There, as the U.S. was escalating an increasingly ferocious war, the Catholic Church began to retreat as imperceptibly as she could, trying to avoid giving any formal shock to her ideological American partner. Not only must she avoid upsetting the U.S., but also not offend the patriotic susceptibilities of the American Catholics who had supported the Vietnam War. Many of them had done so in the belief that it was not only their country which had supported it, but also their Church, preoccupied with opposing the devil incarnate, world communism.
The process of the Church’s withdrawal was as subtle and imperceptible as it had been grossly overt in Europe. It was hardly noticed also because the American Church formally went on supporting the war as if the former Vatican U.S. partnership was still functioning.
This general impression was given daily substance by the frequent and much publicized trips to the Vietnamese front by the Vicar of the American Armed Forces, Cardinal Spellman. Although persona non grata at the Vatican, he was a genuine supporter of the war and acted as if Pope Pius XII was still conducting the Cold War with the Dulles brothers.
The cooling of the Vatican-U.S. Alliance, in spite of Cardinal Spellman’s efforts, finally became apparent even to the Pentagon. As the political void in Vietnam became increasingly felt at every level, military pressure was substituted to fill that void. If the Vatican-U.S. anti-Communist crusade was weakened by Pope John XXIII’s winds of change, the attitude of Pope Paul VI gave the final blow to its very existence. Thus the new policy of the Vatican had become a major contributor to the ultimate defeat of the U.S. in that region.
With the assassination of Diem and the fall of his regime Catholics both in Vietnam and in the U.S., although continuing to support the prosecution of the war, were no longer a major factor in its conduct.
In 1964, after Diem’s elimination, Vietnam was governed by increasingly incompetent presidents, generals and a corrupt amalgam of political-military puppets dancing to the tune of an ever more bewildered and confused American administration.
After Kennedy’s initial send off of the first 16,000 troops into Vietnam, the U.S. slid ever more swiftly into the abyss By 1965 President Johnson had imprudently crossed the fatal “advisory limit” to military aid and authorized a gradual escalation against North Vietnam—the beginning of a full fledged war.
Following mounting massive air operations against the Communists of the North, the U.S. dispatched an increasing number of combat troops fully entering into the land war
Pope Paul VI greeting Soviet President Podgorny at the Vatican January 30, 1967. This was the first meeting ever held between a Pope and a Russian Communist head of state. The encounter culminated in the new policy of Paul VI of full cooperation with Soviet Russia and the Communist satellites of Eastern Europe. Results of this policy were soon seen in Poland, Rumania and Hungary. The formerly persecuted clergy in those countries were freed and partial freedom was granted for religious activities. Thus Paul VI fathered the Vatican-Moscow Alliance, which undermined the anti-Russian strategy of the U.S. in Europe and Asia. This alliance became an important factor in the final defeat of the U.S. in Vietnam.
which she had tried to avoid a few years before by supporting a Catholic dictator in the recently partitioned South Vietnam on the advice of the Catholic lobby in Washington.When Pope Paul VI finally died in 1978, only one year after Vietnam had become a united Marxist nation, the chapter of the Vatican-Washington-Vietnam Alliance came officially to a close.
The same year a new Pope, hailing from Poland, a Communist country and a satellite of Soviet Russia succeeded him (1978). The new Pope, John Paul II, initiated at once an even more ambivalent policy toward Soviet Russia and world communism. He has sponsored an ambiguous kind of radicalism, though disassociated from that of Soviet Russia, yet openly encouraging social unrest and ideological conflict in both the West and the East. The unrest and revolution in Communist Poland and in Central America are the most striking examples of his policy.
Meanwhile the history of the tragedy of Vietnam terminated when the new Marxist nation, the United People’s Republic of Vietnam, was made to spin along the orbit of the great Asian giants, Soviet Russia and Marxist China, as another Red satellite.
For the U.S. however, the bitter aftermath of an unimagined military defeat had become a national humiliation unmatched since the War of Independence. A timely reminder to the still idealistic young America that her eagle, as a symbol of national might, should avoid the example of the legendary rapacity of the imperial eagles of the great superpowers of yore. In the future she had better instead identify herself with the legendary dove, as the harbinger and the keeper of peace. 
By disregarding the counsel of the Founding Fathers to exert the utmost prudence when dealing with world problems, the U.S. became embroiled in unpredictable misadventures and uncalculated calamities.
Ignoring the maxim of the Monroe Doctrine, she trespassed into the military quicksand of the Asian conflict, and was caught in the vortex of a major global political military turbulence which she had never expected, first in Korea in the fifties, and then in Indo-China in the sixties and the seventies.
This she did reluctantly, even if imprudently, in the pursuit of an unreachable chimera. The encouragement of interested allies who prompted her to go for the chase. Chief amongst these was the Catholic Church, determined since the end of the Second World War to promote her own religious and ideological schemes of expansionism in the wake of American political power.
The imprudence of a vigorous superpower like the U.S., associating herself with an aggressive religious crusader like the Catholic Church will yield as it did in the ancient and recent past, not dreams, but nightmares. And in the case of the Vietnamese tragedy the nightmare became the greatest traumatic politico-military misadventure experienced by the U.S. since the American Civil War. A lesson and a warning.
1. See the author’s THE VATICAN MOSCOW WASHINGTON ALLIANCE, Chick Publications, 1982.[Back]
2. See the author’s THE VATICAN MOSCOW ALLIANCE, Ralston-Pilot Inc., Los Angeles, 1977.[Back]
3. Benjamin Franklin wished the turkey and not the eagle to become the national symbol of the U.S. When asked the reason, he replied that he considered the eagle “a bird of bad moral character” because it lives “by sharping and robbing.”[Back]
4. The eagle was the symbol of the Roman, Napoleonic, Russian, Austria-Hungarian, and other empires, which became characterized by their territorial and military expansionism.[Back]
Return to Contents
The Religious Beginnings of an Unholy War
The Shocking Story of the Catholic “Church’s” Role in Starting the Vietnam War