By HUGH KAY
WHEN a little man with an umbrella, and not much more, left his retreat in a Belgian monastery eight years ago to save his people in South Vietnam. everyone said he wouldn't last six months. But President Ngo Dinh Diem, who survived the bomb attack on his palace last week, is still there.
Child of a line of Catholics ho shed their blood for the faith, reared in the Mandarin tradition, an ardent Vietnamese nationalist in the days of French colonialism, this shy, roundfaced, soft-spoken ascetic was chosen by the United States to save its protege, South Vietnam, from the Viet Minh of the Communist north.
In the eight years since he returned from his self-chosen exile, Ngo Dinh Diem has smashed the rebel warrior sects, subdued importunate generals and won over the army. thrown out the Emperor who sought to dislodge him, and absorbed800,000 refugees from the Reds into his highly successful land reform and industrial programmes. It was a monumental task, though backed by shoals of American dollars. After the Geneva conference of 1954, the Communists kept the industrial north and the rich mineral deposits. The south was largely agricultural and undeveloped, steeped in poverty. The Reds have fought back, and 20.000 Communist guerillas of the Viet Cong wage war from within all over South Vietnamese soil. Against this insidious build-up the U.S. tanks and heavy armour