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After Watergate, America was a ship without a rudder. Vietnam was left to its own devices, drifting along towards its fate.

Nguyen Cao Ky

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Thảo consulted Kỳ—who wanted to seize power for himself—before the plot and exhorted him to join the coup but the Air Force chief claimed he would remain neutral. Over time Australian attitudes toward South Vietnam became increasingly negative despite a contribution of ground troops to assist the fight against the communists. At first Kỳ tried to ignore the demonstrations and wait for them to peter out but the problem escalated and riots broke out in some places.

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Nevertheless Kỳ and Thiệu were able to end the cycle of coups and the Americans backed their regime. In November 1963 Kỳ participated in the coup that deposed president Ngô Đình Diệm and resulted in Diệm's assassination. Thiệu then passed legislation to restrict candidacy eligibility for the 1971 election banning almost all would-be opponents; Kỳ and the rest withdrew as it was obvious that the poll would be a sham; Thiệu went on to win more than 90 percent of the vote and the election uncontested while Kỳ retired.

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