The French withdrawal from Vietnam in was the product of global pressures and triggered significant global consequences.
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By treating the war as an international issue, this book places Indochina at the center of the Cold War in the mids. Arguing that the Indochina War cannot be understood as a topic of Franco-US relations, but ought to be The French withdrawal from Vietnam in was the product of global pressures and triggered Toggle navigation. New to eBooks.
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Filter Results. Last 30 days Last 90 days All time. English Only. But the British refused and asserted that a diplomatic solution should be sought in the framework of the conference that was to be held in Geneva. At the end of intensive discussions, the United States decided to increase its military assistance to France but not to intervene directly. Thus Eisenhower became the first president who had to decide about the possible direct intervention by the United States in Vietnam. But his decision against sending American forces only postponed this intervention by a decade.
The end of the First Indochina War : a global history / James Waite | National Library of Australia
On May 4 the senior command realized that the hope for victory was lost. The last attack was launched on May 6, and a day later the remaining French soldiers surrendered. It is a mistake to suppose that the French army was beaten by a handful of guerrilla fighters. In the two years before the battle, Giap had built up a regular army equipped with heavy armaments and a supporting logistical system. The Battle of Dien Bien Phu was therefore one that was held between two regular armies.
Moreover, the defeat did not change the strategic situation in Indochina. The French continued to control the urban centers and the deltas, and their hold over South Vietnam and Cambodia did not collapse.
However, the defeat marked a political death blow to French colonialism in Asia and assisted in ending the war since it provided a motive for those who opposed French colonial policy in general and war in particular to reach an honorable political arrangement. The means to do this was the international conference that had opened in Geneva on April 26, about two weeks before the surrender of the French troops stationed in Dien Bien Phu. At the Geneva Conference, other issues relating to East Asia were discussed, including the issue of Korea.
Representatives also arrived from the two Vietnamese states. The American delegate to the conference, secretary of state John Dulles, decided to pull the United States out of the talks for two reasons. The first was that he had already understood at the beginning of the discussions that no agreement would be formulated to which the United States could agree.
The second was the reluctance to side at the same table with the Chinese delegate since at that time the United States had not yet recognized communist China as a legitimate political entity representative of the Chinese people. Thus only the lowest rank of American representatives remained as mere observers to report the developments of the discussion to the State Department.
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We may then regard the conference at Geneva, like the talks that ended the war in Korea, as a central event that shaped the initial years of the Cold War. But the Chinese and Soviet representatives actually supported the French proposal for a temporary division of Vietnam along the 17 th parallel.
The reason for this was that China and the Soviet Union were afraid that this demand for unification would also be made by North Korea and East Germany, and thus the communists would lose their control over these countries. At the end of long discussions the Geneva Agreement was signed on July 21, , which redefined the political configuration of Indochina.
It was decided to establish Laos and Cambodia as independent countries. The most important decision was the division of Vietnam into two states and the creation of a demilitarized zone of six kilometers with the aim of avoiding military clashes that might lead to the escalation of warfare. It was also decided that the future of Vietnam as an independent and unified country would determined by a referendum that would be held in July The Vietnamese people would then decide whether it wanted to be under the rule of the Communist Party or under the rule of Emperor Bao Dai.
To supervise the application of the agreement a committee was appointed composed from members from a Western state, Canada; a communist state, Poland; and a nonaligned country, India. The representatives of the Viet Minh left Geneva in disappointment because they were unable to convert their military successes into political ones. Perhaps this fact may prove that despite the important victory in Dien Bien Phu, the Viet Minh did not achieve a decisive victory and that the political arrangement which was forced upon them expressed the wish of France to end the war but did not express decisive military defeat.
The very fact that France remained in control in the south and in the urban centers denied full victory to the Viet Minh and helped France to create a political system that reflected the strategic realities of the summer of Waite examines the first war in Vietnam mainly through the prism of the Cold War, but there were in fact three wars in Indochina.
When the State of Vietnam was established by France, the war took on another dimension and can be defined as a civil war. With the outbreak of the Korean War and the beginning of United States intervention on the side of France, the war in Indochina became part of the broad and general framework of the Cold War.
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The United States ignored or was not able to understand the three-fold nature of the conflict. Moreover, in it was already faced with another example of a war that contained three conflicts--the Korean War. The war in Korea broke out because of the patriotic aspirations of the northern leader Kim Il Sung to bring about the national unification of Korea. Between the years , a confrontation occurred between the two Koreas which can be defined as a civil war which exploded in full force with the massive invasion by the North in June At the start of United States intervention in the war and the intervention of China November there was no doubt among the American policymakers that the Korean War was caused by communist aggression directed by Moscow, and that this was the first hot war in the framework of the Cold War.
It may be said that already in American foreign and defense policy defined communism as the main and perhaps exclusive enemy of the free world. Therefore, any popular uprising was marked by the United States as instigated by the Soviet Union. This line of thought would steer American foreign policy towards Vietnam until the end of The book under review can be placed within a number of historical frameworks. It is also a book about the foreign and internal policy of France after the Second World War and a book on the origins of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
This is also an important work for the understanding of global history after the Second World War. Through the war in Vietnam as a test case, we may learn about the relations among the powers and the complex interrelations within every coalition under the direction of the superpowers. The book therefore constitutes another example of the fact that the communist bloc was not monolithic, and that in spite of Soviet seniority, we can already find at this stage the roots of the ideological and political dispute between the Soviet Union and China.
Another historical framework incorporates the war as an important event in the period after the Second World War, with an emphasis on it as a means for understanding the spread and escalation of the Cold War. The value of the book lies in providing a balanced analysis which does not place exclusive blame on the United States for involving Indochina in the Cold War. It also analyzes the creation of a communist coalition which thus converted the antiolonial struggle into a part of the Cold War. Quite simply, it should be claimed that the two processes influenced and were influenced by each other, and that it is not possible to determine which was the more important one, and certainly not during the first two decades after the Second World War.
The last part of the book which deals with the first two years after the signing of the Geneva Agreement, describes with great care the problematic merging of the two historical processes. We therefore have before us a book that departs from the borderlines of analyzing a single event and is instead a study that merges within it a number of historical issues that clarify their importance during the reading process.
The book is worth reading by all those who are engaged in global political history after the Second World War and the beginning of the Cold War.
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