Graham Greene was a journalist in Vietnam during 1951-1954. His 1955 novel The Quiet American depicts the US as plotting with Trình Minh Thế's Caodaiist faction to bomb a military parade in Saigon, so that the communists could be falsely blamed.

This tale is apparently based on actual bombings that were conducted by Trình Minh Thế's faction in Saigon. In

Jammes, J. (2011). La répression comme fonction sociale complexe. Etat, religion et répression en Asie-Chine, Corée, Japon, Vietnam (XIII-XXI ième siècles).

the historian of Caodaiism Jérémy Jammes asserts that Trình Minh Thế's faction "stood out for its terroristic actions in Saigon during 1951-1953." Is there any evidence to suggest US culpability in any of those actions?

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    Quick search for bombing of parades in Saigon in the 1950's didn't turn up any results. Were there any attacks, on parades in Saigon in the 1950's? If there was no operation, then the probability of a false flag operation drops significantly.
    – MCW
    Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 12:22
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    @MCW the wp article on Trinh Minh The asserts that there were several attacks in Saigon at the time, though it does not mention parades. Given that this was the time of the French Vietnam War, it is quite plausible that there would have been attacks against the military or also against civilians.
    – Jan
    Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 13:13
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    @Jan Wondering: did you know that beforehand or were you made to research this — in order to understand what the question simply asserts, or even means? Such info needs to be part & parcel of the actual text of any question (or perhaps eventual answer?), even if just via links, but not part of a debate in comments that comment on each other? Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 13:34
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    @LangLangC I knew beforehand that the French war in Indochina started after 1945 and ended kn 1954. I believe this historical context is well-known enough that I myself might forget to explicitely mention it when asking a relevant question here. I agree the question might have been better with a wp link (as shown by MCW's comment)
    – Jan
    Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 15:04
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    A good evaluation concerning the historical accuracy of this work is here It mentions an actual attack on Jan 9, 1952. I believe this is the bombing referred to. The article evaluation of the story is " While the story of Fowler, Pyle, and Phuong is fictional, Greene’s timely access to the time period—it’s people, places, and politics—lends an air of authenticity to the premise of the story. "
    – justCal
    Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 22:23

1 Answer 1


The attack depicted in Greene's novel resembles the terrorist attacks on the opera house and city hall in Saigon on January 9, 1952. Initially attributed to the communists, the bombings were the work of Trình Minh Thế's faction.

Greene suspected American involvement, and was told by the French commander in Vietnam, Raoul Salan, that an American diplomat had been arrested during this period in the possession of plastic explosives. The journalist Jean Lartéguy reported that French investigators concluded that the US had supplied Trình Minh Thế with detonators and bomb timers during the same period.

Source: Davis, M. (2017). Buda's Wagon: a brief history of the car bomb. Verso Books.

There does not seem to be reason to doubt the thrust of these allegations that the US supplied Trình Minh Thế with bombmaking materials during the relevant time period.

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    Problems with this: 1) I'm unable to find any corroboration (online at least) for this claim of Larteguy's and its suspiciously hearsay-ish. If investigators had actually concluded that, that conclusion should be recorded somewhere. 2) Even if true, having supplied a terrorist some materials doesn't means said supplier directed the use they were eventually put to. 3) What we do have recorded is that the US negotiated to have him back up the NVRC 2 years later. If they were a simple US cat's paw, no negotiation would have been necessary.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 13:15
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    4) If that had happened, we'd probably know about it from other sources by now. For example, the CIA carried out similar false-flag operations (a point in this posts' favor admittedly) against the Iranian Prime Minister this same year (1953). But we know rather a lot about their TPAJAX Project today. Here's a full paper on it.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 13:27
  • You can find the ultimate source for those claims in the citations of Davis's book, which i reproduce below. Regarding Larteguy, my understanding of the claim is that Larteguy reported a leak of an internal French government finding, not something the French ever publicized.
    – Colin
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 14:56
  • > Jean Lartéguy, Soldats perdus et fous de Dieu: Indochine 1945–1955, Paris 1986, pp. 179–81. > Norman Sherry, The Life of Graham Greene, Volume II (1939–1955), London 1994, p. 431.
    – Colin
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 15:00
  • From the Sherry source: the French commander in chief in Vietnam Salan indeed told Greene that the French had arrested an american diplomat in possession of "plastic [explosive]". The American ambassador to French Vietnam who arrived later in 1952 cabled back to Washington regarding French documents which concluded regarding the Jan 9 attack that "explosive devices were provided by US".
    – Colin
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 15:42

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