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In history Ngo Dinh Diem has largely been viewed as a dictator whose despotic and repressive regime to maintain power led Vietnam into a dangerous relationship with the United States and to a disastrous civil war Born in 1901 when Vietnam was under the colonial rule of the French Diem was part of an aristocratic Roman Catholic family with close relationships to the emperor His father was a prominent government official and adviser to the Emperor Bao Dai Diem was educated in French Catholic schools including the School for Law and Administration in Hanoi After his graduation he became a colonial civil servant and rose to the position of provincial governor in 1929 In 1933 Diem was appointed the minister of the interior by the Emperor During this time he became strongly opposed to French colonial rule and the communist-led national independence movement After World War II Diem rejected an offer to serve in Ho Chi Minhs post war government seeing the Communists as a threat to his Catholic Values and his vision of an independent Vietnam In 1950 Diem left Vietnam for a self-imposed exile in the United States Being a strong nationalist and anti-communist he would eventually return eager to make Vietnam an independent country During several years in exile Diem made political contacts and gained crucial American support He came to the attention of President Dwight D Eisonhower whose administration feared that the growing popularity of North Vietnams Communism would permeate South Vietnam The Americans saw Diem as a Vietnamese nationalist capable of countering the Communist Viet Minh While Diem was living in exile the Viet Minh were fighting the French who sought to reclaim their Asian colonies after World War II In 1954 the French conceded defeat and the leaders of Viet Minh believed that Vietnam would gain full independence However the agreements that ended the war between the French and the Viet Minh gave the Viet Minh control of
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