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Conflict in Indochina 1954–1979

The players

The players: Cambodia

General Lon Nol led the 1970 coup against Sihanouk and waged war against the KR. Prime Minister until 1975.
Hun Sen former low ranking KR officer; Vietnamese supported leader of Cambodia until 1989; presently Prime Minister of Cambodia.
Ieng Sary Pol Pot's brother-in-law and "Brother Number Three" in the KR hierarchy; still at large in Cambodia.
Khieu Samphan the theorist behind the KR; Foreign Minister under the KR government; the public and "acceptable" face of the KR.
Kong Kek Ieu commandant of the infamous Tuol Sleng interrogation centre; recently captured by the government.
Norodom Sihanouk the main player in Cambodian politics: appointed King of Cambodia in 1941, but stepped down to become Prime Minister until his overthrow in 1970. Cooperated with the KR until they arrested him in 1976 and kept him under house arrest. Later re-emerged as head-of-state.
Nuon Chea "Brother Number Two" in the KR hierarchy; still at large in Cambodia.
Pol Pot the second main player in Cambodia in the period under study; leader of the Khmer Rouge; known as Brother Number One; died in 1999.
Sirik Matak non-military leader of Cambodia under Lon Nol; executed by the KR.
Son Senn first leader of the Vietnamese puppet regime in Cambodia.
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The players: Vietnam

Bao Dai the last Emperor of Vietnam (1911–99); deposed in 1955 by Diem.
Duong Van Minh known as "Big Minh"; one of the generals who led the coup against the Diem regime; head-of-state of South Vietnam in 1964; surrendered to the North Vietnamese in April 1975.
Ho Chi Minh (1890–1969) charismatic leader of the Vietminh; founder of the Indochinese Communist party; led North Vietnam until his death in 1969; embalmed in a mausoleum in Hanoi.
Hun Sen chief Vietnamese negotiator at the Geneva Conference; extraordinary negotiator and shrewd politician.
Le Duc Tho Ngo Dinh Diem: (1901–63) Minister of the Interior under Bao Dai; exiled in 1945; President of the US backed Republic of Vietnam [South Vietnam]; Catholic leader in a Buddhist country; assassinated by a CIA-supported coup in November 1963.
Ngo Dinh Nhu corrupt and hated brother of Diem; extreme anti-communist; assassinated along with his brother; married to the notorious Madame Nhu who described the immolation of Buddhist priests as "barbecues".
Nguyen Van Thieu leader of the coup against Diem; President of South Vietnam 196–73.
Nguyen Khanh Prime Minister of South Vietnam in 1964.
Nguyen Van Thieu President of South Vietnam 1967-75; brought corruption and inefficiency to an art form.
Pham Van Dong Ho Chi Minh's loyal deputy and long-term Prime Minister of Vietnam after unification; died a day before the 25th Anniversary of the North Vietnamese Victory in April 2000.
Thich Quan Duc (The Venerable) Buddhist monk from Hue who was the first to self-immolate in protest against the excesses and persecution of the Diem regime.
Van Tien Dung North Vietnamese General who led the final offensive against the South in 1975.
Vo Nguyen Giap (1912– ): co-founder of the Vietminh; much admired commander-in-chief of the Vietminh armed forces; victor against the French at Dien Bien Phu; defence minister in united Vietnam; living in retirement in Hanoi.
Vo Van Kiet Vietnamese Prime Minister who with Party boss Doi Muoi oversaw Vietnam's move away from doctrinaire communism under the policy of doi moi in 1986; first Vietnamese Prime Minister to visit Australia.
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The players: America

Calley, Lt William S. US army officer upon whom the responsibility for the infamous My Lai massacre was ultimately laid; served a nine-month gaol sentence; lives quietly in Illinois.
Johnson, Lyndon Baines (1908–73) US President following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963; increased US military involvement in Vietnam; refused to seek re-election in 1969; regarded as the president most responsible for the escalation of the Vietnam War.
Kennedy, John Fitzgerald (1917–63) US President (Democrat) in January 1961; increased military aid to Vietnam following US involvement under President Eisenhower; assassinated 22 November 1963.
Kissinger, Henry US President Nixon's Special Negotiator at the Paris Peace talks 1969–73; Secretary of State until 1977.
McNamara, Robert Secretary of Defense from 1961 until his resignation in 1968; considered one of the strongest "hawks" in the Vietnam War, but later became a "dove"; regarded as an architect in committing US forces to Vietnam.
Nixon, Richard Milhaus US Vice-President 1953–61; elected President (Republican) in 1968; ordered the secret bombing of Cambodia and stepped up bombing of North Vietnam while trying to withdraw US forces under a policy of "Peace with honour" and the "Vietnamisation" of the war; resigned as President following the so-called Watergate scandal.
Westmoreland, General William US Military Commander in Vietnam (1964–68)
Henry Cabot Lodge US Ambassador to Vietnam (1963–64)
General Maxwell Taylor US Ambassador to Vietnam (1964–65)
Henry Cabot Lodge US Ambassador to Vietnam (1965–67)
Ellsworth Bunke US Ambassador to Vietnam (1967–73)
Graham Martin US Ambassador to Vietnam (1973–75)
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The players: Australia

Davis, Neil news cameraman whose images vividly captured the war in Vietnam and Cambodia over a ten-year period; filmed his own death in Bangkok; his story is told in Frontline and the book One Crowded Hour.
Gorton, John Prime Minister 1968–71; Liberal; maintained the policy of Holt to Vietnam.
Holt, Harold Prime Minister 1966–67; Liberal; dramatically increased the Australian Army presence in Vietnam, including conscription into the army for young men based on a lottery system; remembered for his famous "All the way with LBJ" sycophantic comment; drowned while swimming.
McMahon, William Prime Minister 1971–72; Liberal; began the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam in order to win an election, but lost the election.
Menzies, Robert Prime Minister 1949–66; Liberal; made the first commitment of Australian advisers to Vietnam, based on a lie that Vietnam had asked Australia for help, when in fact they did not want it.
Noak, Errol the first conscript to be killed in Vietnam.
Whitlam, Gough Prime Minister: 1972–75; ALP; secured the total withdrawal of Australians from Vietnam and ended conscription; only PM to be dismissed by the Governor-General.
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