VIETNAM ( SERIES -52 )
INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT OF VIETNAM
HO CHI MINH returned to VIETNAM in 1941 to lead VIET MINH independence movement after staying in SOVIET UNION , THAILAND, INDIA and CHINA and taking part in numerous COMMUNIST activities . Men in Black were a 10,000 member guerrilla forces that operated with the VIET MINH . He oversaw many successful military actions against the VICHY FRANCE and the JAPANESE occupation of VIETNAM during the second world war . He was jailed in CHINA by CHIANG KAI-SHEK’S local authority . He was then rescued by the CHINESE COMMUNISTS and was released in 1943 . He returned to VIETNAM . In 1945 , he met with the OSS agent ARCHIMEDES PATTI asking him for ‘a line of communication’ between his VIET MINH and the ALLIES forces . The OSS (OFFICE OF STRATEGIC SERVICES) was the intelligence agency of the US during the second world war . The OSS agreed to the proposal of HO CHI MINH . It sent a military team of OSS members to train HO’s men . The OSS doctor also treated HO CHI MINH for malaria and dysentery during this period . And following the August Revolution of 1945 organized by VIET MINH, HO CHI MINH became Chairman of the Provisional Government and issued a Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of VIETNAM . It was written by HO CHI MINH and announced in public at the BA DINH FLOWER GARDEN ( NOW BAN BINH SQUARE ) in HANOI on 2nd September 1945 . Now NGUYEN DYNASTY was replaced by the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM . Emperor BAO DAI was convinced by HO CHI MINH to abdicate . But the new government of HO CHI MINH could not get recognition by any country despite repeated petition to President HARRY S. TRUMAN for VIETNAMESE independence . But TRUMAN never responded . When ISRAELI Prime Minister DAVID BEN-GÙRIÒN and HO CHI MINH became acquainted with each other during their stay at the same hotel in PARIS , latter offered BEN-GURION a JEWISH home-in-exile in VIETNAM . But he refused to take it by telling ” I am certain we shall be able to establish a JEWISH government in PALATINE “. At home front , HO CHI MINH’S subordinates imprisoned 2,500 non-COMMUNISTS and forced 6,000 others to flee . Hundreds of political opponents were jailed or exiled in July 1945 . Most of the rival parties including the NATIONAL PARTY OF VIETNAM and the DAI VIET NATIONAL PARTY were thereafter banned . And local governments were purged . However , two-thirds of members of the first Congress of the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM came from non-VIET MINH political factions. Some without even an election . So, they were given four out of ten ministerial positions . And NGUYEN HAI THAN , the leader of the NATIONALIST PARTY OF VIETNAM was named for the post of Vice President .
PRESIDENT HO CHI MINH & VIETNAM
With the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE OF VIETNAM on 2nd September 1945 , violence between rival VIETNAMESE factions and FRENCH forces increased many folds . The BRITISH commander SIR DOUGLAS GRACEY declared martial law . The VIET MINH leaders responded with a call for a general strike on 24th September 1945 . At the same time , a force of 200,000 NATIONAL REVOLUTIONARY ARMY (CHINA) troops reached HANOI to accept the surrender of the JAPANESE occupiers in northern INDO-CHINA . HO CHI MINH made a compromise with their General LU HAN to dessolve the COMMUNIST PARTY and to hold an election that would yield a coalition government . The agreement of 6th March 1946 between the CHIANG forces and the FRENCH to give VIETNAM an autonomous status in the INDOCHINESE Federation and the FRENCH union was executed . The purpose of the agreement was to free VIETNAM from CHIANG army from northern VIETNAM . But the agreement failed . And fighting broke out in the North soon after the CHINESE left . HO CHI MINH said , he “would rather smell FRENCH shit for five years than eat CHINESE shit for a thousand”, as STANLEY KARNOW wrote in his book VIETNAM : A HISTORY . But such statements , by many scholars , was refuted as HO CHI MINH believed that there was no danger of CHINESE troops staying in VIETNAM . The VIETNAMESE at that time were busy in spreading anti-FRENCH agenda against FRENCH atrocities in VIETNAM . And HO CHI MINH showed no hesitation accepting CHINESE aid after 1949 . In February 1950 , he met with JOSEPH STALIN and MAO ZEDONG in MOSCOW after the SOVIET UNION recognized his government . They all agreed that CHINA would be responsible for backing the VIET MINH . CHINA had planned to train 60,000 to 70,000 VIET MINH members to fight against the FRENCH regime throughout INDO-CHINA . At the outset of the conflict , HO CHI MINH reportedly said to a FRENCH visitor , ” You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours . But even at those odds , you will loose and I will win .” The first INDO-CHINA war in 1954 came to an end after decisive Battle of Dien Bien Phu , where more than 10,000 FRENCH soldiers surrendered to VIET MINH . To ARTHUR DOMMEN , between 100,000 and 150,000 civilians were assassinated by VIET MINH forces during the war . And in GENEVA peace Accords , VIETNAM was portioned in North and South at 17 PARALLEL . As per Accords , 300-days were given for free movement between two regions of VIETNAM . Between 800,000 to 1,000,000 people , mostly catholic , migrated to the south . In 1955 , FRENCH INDO-CHINA was dissolved living DIEM temporarily under control of the South . Between 1953 to 1956 , the North VIETNAMESE government instituted various agrarian reforms including ‘rent reduction’ and ‘land reform’ accompanied by political repression .
HO CHI MINH was not only a politician but also a writer , journalist , poet and polyglot . Etymologically speaking , HO is a common VIETNAMESE surname ; CHI means ‘spirit’; and MINH means ‘bright’ . So, CHI MINH means ‘bright spirit’. And he was really a bright spirit . He used to live with a CHINESE woman , ZENG XUEMING, whom he married on 18th October 1926 . When Camrades objected this match as the former was 36 years old and the latter of 21 years , he said , ” I will get married despite your disapproval because I need a woman to teach me the language and keep house .” Such was the personality of Camrade HO CHI MINH which would help us to understand the VIETNAMESE WAR in its letter and spirit . In 1959 , he urged the POLITBURO to send aid to the VIET CONG in South VIETNAM . A ‘people war’ was on the South was approved at a session in January 1959 and this was confirmed by the POLITBURO in March . Now HO CHI MINH TRAIL started . It was a logistical network of roads and trails that ran from North VIETNAM to South VIETNAM through the Kingdom of LAOS and CAMBODIA . This system , named by the U.S. after the North VIETNAMESE President HO CHI MINH , provided support, in the form of manpower and material to VIET CONG (VC) and the PEOPLE’S ARMY OF VIETNAM (PAVN) during the VIETNAM WAR . The construction work for that started following NORTH VIETNAMESE invasion of LAOS in July 1959 using 30,000 manpower. NORTH VIETNAM created National Liberation Front of SOUTH VIETNAM in December 1960 as a United Front to encourage participation of non-COMMUNISTS . HO CHI MINH officially named LE DUAN as party leader in 1960 and he himself remained only as the Head of the State and a member of POLITBURO . In early 1960s , the NORTH VIETNAMESE POLITBURO was divided into the NORTH FIRST faction focusing on the economic development of NORTH VIETNAM, and the SOUTH FIRST faction, which favoured a guerrilla war in SOUTH VIETNAM so that VIETNAM could be reunited shortly . Between 1961 and 1963 , 40,000 COMMUNIST soldiers infiltrated into SOUTH VIETNAM . HO corresponded with his counterpart of the SOUTH VIETNAM, President DIEM in hope of achieving a negotiated peace . Then started MANELI AFFAIR with the help of the four principal deplomats : 1. RAMCHUNDUR GOBURDHUN , the Indian Chief Commissioner of the ICC ; 2. MIECZYSLAW MANELI , the Polish Commissioner to the ICC ; 3. ROGER LALOUETTE , the French Ambassador to South VIETNAM ; and 4. GIOVANNI d’ORLANDI , the Italian Ambassador to South VIETNAM . MANELI reported that HO CHI MINH was very much interested in the sign of a split between President DIEM and President KENNEDY . He said ,” Our real enemies are AMERICAN, get rid of them , and we can cope with DIEM and NHU afterward .” At a meeting in HANOI , HO CHI MINH told GOBURDHUN that he should meet DIEM next time and ” shake hand with him for me ” because DIEM was a Patriot . MANELI met with NGO DINH NHU , the younger brother of DIEM to discuss the FRENCH peace plan . On 1st November 1963, a coup overthrew DIEM , who was killed the next day together with his brother. Due DIEM’S policy of ‘deconstructing the state’ by creating several overlapping agencies , SOUTH VIETNAM collapsed into factionalism and infighting , while the VIET CONG continued to win the war . So, to President LYNDON JOHNSON, only AMERICAN military intervention could save SOUTH VIETNAM . In late 1964 , PEOPLE’S ARMY OF VIETNAM (PAVN) combat troops were sent southward into officially neutral LAOS and CAMBODIA . In March 1965 , AMERICAN combat troops began arriving in SOUTH VIETNAM . As fighting escalated , a widespread ariel and artillery bombardment all over NORTH VIETNAM by the US Air Force and Navy began with OPERATION ROLLING THUNDER . On 9th April 1965, HO CHI MINH secretly met MAO ZEDONG in BEIJING . The CHINESE government sent 320,000 CHINESE soldiers to VIETNAM during 1960s and spent over $20 billion to support HANOI’S regular NORTH VIETNAMESE ARMY and VIET CONG guerrilla units . To counter the AMERICAN bombing the entire population of NORTH VIETNAM was mobilized for war efforts and repair done after the bombing, astonished even AMERICAN . HO regarded AMERICAN bombing as an encroachment over VIETNAM’S sovereignty . With HO CHI MINH’S permission , the VIET CONG a massive TET OFFENSIVE , the largest military campaigns of the VIETNAMESE WAR , launched on 30th January 1968 by the forces of VIET CONG and PAVN against the forces of the SOUTH VIETNAMESE ARMY OF REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM (ARVN) and the US ARMED FORCES and their ALLIES . In early 1969 , HO CHI MINH suffered a heart attack . JEAN SAINTENY , a former FRENCH official in VIETNAM, secretly brought a letter of President RICHARD NIXON for ailing HO CHI MINH . The letter contained a proposal of ending ‘tragic war’ with consequential threat also . HO CHI MINH welcomed peace talk with US to end the war but made no concession , as NIXON’S threat made no impression on him. HO CHI MINH died on 2nd September 1969 at the age of 79. But ultimately SAIGON fell to NORTH VIETNAMESE FORCES on 30th April 1975 . And thus , VIETNAM was reunified .
NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .
TO BE CONTINUED ……………….
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