Vietnam in the Post-World War II Era

In a serendipitous convergence of historical circumstances, the three countries that ultimately had such a profound and largely negative impact on Vietnam and its people China, France, and the U.S. found themselves in Vietnam at the end of World War II, competing for influence, each attempting to determine the fate of this geopolitical pawn and to jockey for regional influence. For China, this was an opportunity to reclaim a politically and economically important area.For France,it was a time to consolidate its power after World War II and settle in for the long term. The U.S. was at a crossroads, with the option of supporting the fledging state. Instead, because of the Cold War politics of the day, the U.S. chose to support France as a foreign occupier in Vietnam.
 On September 2, 1945, before a crowd of half a million people in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh square, Ho Chi Minh proclaimed Vietnam’s independence from France,* invoking the words of the U.S. Declaration of Independence with one minor modification: “All people are created equal.They are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; among these are life,liberty,and the pursuit of happiness.”Among those in atten-dance were military officers from the Office of Strategic Services (OSS),the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency, which had provided support during and immediately after the war to Viet Minh forces—the Vietnamese guerrillas who were fighting the French in “hit-and-run” fashion.
    President Ho Chi Minh declared independence in Ba Dinh Square (02/09/1945)

Ho’s use of the word people is notable in a Confucian society in which women were essentially property, belonging first to their fathers, then to their husbands, and, upon their husband’s death, to their eldest sons. As Lady Borton wrote in an essay entitled “The One-Word Revolution:

*The surrounding context of this declaration and related events was the French and, for a shorter period of time, Japanese legacy of famine, poverty, illiteracy, and oppression. The famine of 1945,which resulted in the deaths of two million Vietnamese,was caused not by a shortage of rice but by the fact that so much of it had been exported to Japan during the war. Those who are old enough to remember speak of starving people and corpses lying in the streets of Hanoi. (Vietnam is now one of the world’s leading rice-exporting countries.) 
Ho Chi Minh and the U.S.‘Declaration of Independence,’” “By changing one word in his translation, Ho subtly but definitively announced to his own people and to the world a second revolution: Ho Chi Minh also declared independence for Vietnamese women” (
  Ironically, Ho and his fellow revolutionaries also found inspiration in the French Revolution, which they had studied in school, and its promise of freedom, brotherhood, and equality. As in other colonial or neocolonial regimes, they learned from the ideals espoused by the mother country, if not the policies and practices of its government.
  Ho Chi Minh, that same day, also asserted Vietnam’s right to enjoy freedom and independence: “The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilize all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard their freedom and indepen-dence”(Duiker 2000, 323). The years that followed—and two more wars, ending with the unification of Vietnam in April 1975 proved him right.
After the president of the new Democratic Republic of Vietnam concluded his remarks,the legendary General Giap,then minister of the interior and commander in-chief of the army, and widely viewed as one of the greatest military strategists in world history, delivered a speech in which he praised the U.S. for its contributions to “the Vietnamese fight against fascist Japan, our enemy, and so the great American Republic is a good friend of ours”(Jamieson 1995, 196). 
  Quotes attributed to Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen Giap in the years leading up to the crushing French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, which concluded the First Indochina War, affirm Vietnam’s long term commitment to ridding the country of foreign invaders. Ho omi nously warned the French,“You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours, yet even at those odds, you will lose and I will win.” Similarly,General Giap spoke of fighting “ten, fifteen, twenty, fifty years, regardless of cost, until final victory” (Karnow 1983, 18). What U.S. and other military leaders later viewed as insanity was simply a protracted defense of the homeland and a commitment to winning at all costs. And, just as the French had vastly underestimated the fighting prowess and tenacity of their Vietnamese opponents, so U.S. policymakers, ignoring their own intelligence, would later write off Ho Chi Minh, though an avowed Communist, as simply a Soviet pawn and “North Vietnam”as a satellite state.
  In July 1954, the Geneva Accords ended the First Indochina War in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Under the terms of the agreement, the country was to be temporarily divided into two zones at the 17th parallel until free elections could be held two years later. In 1955, however, the president of South Vietnam, Ngo Diem, convinced that Ho Chi Minh would win the elections, rejected this attempt to unite the country. This was the beginning of direct U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Share your views...

0 Respones to "Vietnam in the Post-World War II Era"

Post a Comment


© 2010 Travel in Vietnam|Vietnamese Food and Cooking|Customs and Festival All Rights Reserved Thesis WordPress Theme Converted into Blogger Template by Hack